Are there only ten differences between the two? No there are many more, but these are the ones that I deal with most often. And just as there are many differences, there are also many similarities.

However, for today’s post I feel like discussing differences between my favourite countries.

1.Food: I think this is an obvious one and something that people perhaps expected to see on this list. I do feel the need to stress exactly how important this one actually is. It’s not just about the types of dishes people create in Italy and how different they are from the Netherlands. It’s just as much about the quality of food and the demand of high quality, which is different in both countries. The entire attitude towards food is of another level in Italy than in the Netherlands. In Italy they don’t mess around. They buy high quality food, which is also a lot easier to find in their supermarket than in any Dutch supermarket. People know how to cook and refrain a lot more from going out to dinner. In Italy food is their culture. In the Netherlands just not so much.

2.Weather: Another obvious one, but it makes all the difference in the world. Generally, all seasons are a little bit colder and wetter in the Netherlands. Even though summer is making a huge comeback. The biggest benefit of Italian weather compared to the Dutch one, is the sun. There is much more sun to enjoy.

3.Efficiency: Sometimes people in the Netherlands complain about the bureaucracy of their government, but it is nothing… absolutely nothing compared to Italian bureaucracy, which is basically derived from the Roman system and doesn’t seem to have undergone any update. This can lead to being without water for four days, or being unable to register in your new country due to illogical and complicated rules. The rapidness and effeciency of the Netherlands is like a dream come true.

4.Healthcare: Healthcare in Italy is simply cheaper than healthcare in the Netherlands. Is it just as good? Yes (apart from some efficiency issues, as mentioned above). When you work, your boss pays your health insurance. When you don’t have a job, the state pays. And when you’re from another country and you don’t have a job (but savings instead), you can get a private health insurance, which can be as cheap as 28 euros a month (believe me, it covers plenty). Don’t get me started on medication costs. I sometimes had to pay 20 euros in the Netherlands, and paid only 2,50 to 5 euros (and this is without Italian health insurance) in Italy.

5.Peanut butter: I know I’ve already discussed food, but this one is in favour of the Netherlands. In Italy they seem to have no idea about the treasure that in the Netherlands people know as peanut butter. Maybe because they already have plenty of delicious food, but I still miss it. The variety and surprising quality of proper peanut butters you can find in Dutch supermarkets are simply outstanding.

6.Social behaviour and body language: Italian people talk with their hands (I’ve been told that one of the reasons has to do with the fact that Italy used to consist of small kingdoms before it became a unity and to help each other understand their dialect/language they used their hands to convey messages). In general, they talk a lot more. Especially face to face. They regularly go to have a coffee with someone, even though they only have 15 minutes to talk to each other, but at least they have talked face to face. In the Netherlands this is not done so often. If you meet up with someone, you tend to spend more than one hour with each other and if you don’t have time to do this (which is mostly the case) you just write them a quick message instead. Lastly, ending up in elaborate conversations with strangers in the supermarket is way more common in Italy than in the Netherlands.

7.Driving: I think plenty of Dutch parents who go by car to Italy for the first time as a family, are somewhat unpleasantly suprised by the Italian way of driving. In the Netherlands we hold a sacred place in our hearts for our pedestrians and especially cyclists. In Italy they are pretty much ignored. In the north of Italy people tend to drive too fast and in the south of Italy they tend to break any kind of traffic rule. Fortunately, Italians are (at least most of them) technically good drivers. Perhaps even better than the Dutch. However, considering the excellence of Dutch roads and their appreciation of other traffic participants, driving a car in the Netherlands is a much more peaceful means of transporting oneself compared to Italy.

8.Being in love: This topic is of course not that black and white. So, I’m now going to generalise a little bit, but keep in mind that when it comes to love, everyone has their own way. What I’ve noticed from my own experience, but also from noticing other people, is that there is a difference in how people express that they’re in love. Public affection in Italy is not unknown, it’s even quite common. In the Netherlands I don’t see public displays of affection that often. That doesn’t mean that people are less in love, it means that generally there is tendency to express it differently. Also, being jealous is demonstrated more openly in Italy, I would say, than in the Netherlands.

9.Living accomodation: Something I’ve noticed is that houses are more or less of equal size in both countries, but in the Netherlands there is often more focus on quality of furniture and decorations. Houses seem to be more frequently updated and modernised. In Italy, however, there is more focus on the garden or terrace. Because of the warmer weather people spend more time outdoors than in the Netherlands and therefore are perhaps less interested in their indoor furniture.

10.Religion: Italy is a more religious country than the Netherlands. Catholicism is still an important part of their culture and community. Even though they don’t really strictly apply the rules that belong to this particular religion and sometimes people don’t even truly believe in God, it’s still such a meaningful aspect of their traditions. So they incoporate it into their life, regardless of their true beliefs. The Catholic part in the Netherlands is relatively small, but in general people go to church less or are not religious at all. I think that neither country is impacted in a negative way by their own approach. It seems to suit both places equally well.

With this last one I’d like to conclude this extensive post. If there’s another striking difference that you feel like sharing, you can write it in the comments.

From Italy with love,

Merel