Our site By Cinzia Antonelli

Trastevere-locali-di-S_M<in-Trastevere-9-f_F_QIn Italy, a land very rich in history and tradition, the shops represent – in all respects – our typical lifestyle, and is a real expression of the soul of our economy.

All the shops, large or small, with their unique colors, smells and advertising signs vye for our attention, and are an essential feature of the Italian cities, towns and villages.

Since ancient times, Italy has always been one of the few European countries characterized by its small business: a myriad of shops, inns, and restaurants that are mainly family-owned. However, within just a few decades, with the birth of supermarkets, shopping centers, department stores, outlets, fashion districts and malls, we have witnessed a rapid evolution of the trade. This has deeply changed our habits and behaviors as Italians, where we used to be accustomed to a much slower lifestyle and daily rhythm.

Until a short time ago, a real legal restriction on shopping hours was enforced.  They had to remain closed once a week, including public holidays and had to respect the lunch break between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. daily.  I can say that this was a real “nuisance;” especially for the younger generations, but even more so for tourists.


Everything about Italy can be understood, just by knowing our history and lifestyle.  We have a much slower pace of life, for example, than our American counterparts who lead a much more hectic life with a stronger focus on consumerism.

I recall when the pace of our everyday life was regulated by the religions calendar, the seasonal demands of agriculture, and especially our folk traditions. For example, on Saturday all the shops were closed, because the seventh day of the week was considered one devoted entirely to the family. We didn’t go out for shopping, focusing instead on fun with the children, taking walks, playing sports, going to the cinema and museums, or simply enjoying a tasty ice cream.

During the workweek, the majority of workers would come home for lunch and a nap, only to return to work at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. This meant that all the shop owners were always watching the time.  Now, with the advent of big shopping centers, malls, and department stores, we are experiencing a revolution of our traditional habits of everyday life, so consequently the smaller shops have transformed their opening hours adapting them to the big stores.

In the last two years, the liberalization of the trade opening has also made it possible to stay open 24 hours a day, all year round, including Sundays, holidays like a Christmas and New Year’s Day.  So now, I can admit that in Italy we do work 24 hours a day and 7 days on 7!  Walk down the streets of our wonderful cities, between 1:00 and 2:00 in the afternoons, and you will no longer see any more narrows and streets with closed shops and deserted sidewalks.

antico_caffe_grecoAs I always do, I invite you to visit and spend some time relaxing and enjoying some of your holidays here in Italy. You can walk around the cities, towns and villages – treat yourself to all the whims that you want, buy many souvenirs and local products, and do not ever go back home empty handed.  Visit our magnificent masterpieces of art and monuments, and don’t forget to try our unique and tasty Italian food!

Ciao from Italy…

Cinzia Antonelli.


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