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Snapshot of Italy – The official language of Italy is Italian. The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest religion in Italy, with the vast majority of the population belonging to it, however, only about a third of these are active. Protestant churches and other religious groups are also present in smaller numbers. Italy has a distinct history in architecture, art and sculpture, literature, science, and fashion. Opera also originated in the country. Modern popular musical styles include dance, electronic, pop, and hip hop. Soccer is Italy’s most popular sport, though volleyball, basketball, and auto racing are also quite popular. Skiing is a popular activity in the north of the country. Italian cuisine is well-known for having many different types of pasta, ranging from spaghetti to stuffed pastas and lasagnas. Other common ingredients in meals include different types of sausage (such as salami), fish, tomatoes, pesto, and cheeses. There are many regional differences in the types of pasta, meats, and sauces used in cooking. In some areas rice dishes, such as risotto, are more common than pasta dishes. Cheese and fruits, as well as cakes, are common dessert items. Lunch is traditionally the largest meal in Italy, though a lighter mid-afternoon snack and dinner are also common. Italian meals can be lengthy and involve many courses.
Snapshot of Malta (Part of the Italy Rome Mission)
The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English, though Italian is also widely spoken. Maltese is more used than the other languages in most day-to-day conversations. Over 90% of Malta’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, though other religions are present in smaller numbers. Malta’s culture has been influenced by various Mediterranean countries, as well as British culture. Malta’s population is very charitable, and the culture places great importance on having children within a marriage. Local festivals such as saint’s days, and Carnival, are popular events. Soccer is Malta’s most popular sport, though water polo, rugby, and a local variant of bocce are also popular. Rock climbing is another popular activity. Maltese cuisine shows both Sicilian and English influences. Many pork dishes are popular, as well as stewed rabbit. Fish and and stewed snails are especially popular during Lent, though other seafood dishes (such as octopus stew and fried swordfish) are also eaten. Several different types of pastries and sweets are available at different times of the year.
The Vatican City is within the boundaries of the Italy Rome Mission, but since its actual population (only about 800 people) is entirely made up of Catholic clergy, state officials, and Swiss Guard, it is unlikely that there is any missionary work done there.
Each day, more Italians are finding out about the Church and are receiving its message openly. Although the country is predominately Catholic, people are accepting the message and the Church is growing. Construction of the Rome, Italy temple is underway, as well as a stake center, a visitors’ center and patron arrival and housing center. Italy is currently divided into two missions, the Rome mission and the Milan mission.
Lorenzo Snow was one of the first missionaries in Italy in 1850. In 1966, the Church opened the first Italian mission in Florence. In just 20 years, membership grew to 12,000 members. In 1993 the Italian government gave formal legal status to the Church and in 2012, it granted the Church official status as a church and “partner of the state”–allowing the Church more freedom to do more good.
Until the completion of the Rome temple, the closest temple for members is the Bern Switzerland temple. There are about 500 miles between Rome and Bern.
There are currently 24,970 members with 100 congregations and 49 Family History centers.
There are always fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season and grown locally. They are easy to find in any market or grocery store.
Breakfast usually consists of a pastry or a roll and jam. Other foods like breakfast cereal, fruit or yogurt are becoming more popular in a meal.
Lunch is usually the largest meal of the day and Italians will spend hours preparing the meal. Most shops close for a lunch break and most schools allow children to go home and have lunch. Italians usually have a first course (pasta or rice) and a second course (meat or fish) and fruits.
Dinner is traditionally a light meal and often Italians will dine out. Dinner usually consists of soup, broth, salad, cold meats or leftovers of lunchtime.
A traditional Italian meal starts with an antipasto, or appetizer which consists of cheese and sliced meats or bruschetta. The first course consists of hot food and non-meat dishes like risotto, pasta, soup and broth, gnocchi, polenta, casseroles or lasagnas. The second plate is usually the meat plate and includes fish, turkey, sausage, pork, steak, stew, beef, lamb and chicken. Side dishes are usually served alongside the meat and usually include raw or cooked vegetables or a fresh salad. After the full meal, Italians will often eat fruit and cheese or a dessert like tiramisu or gelato.
The easiest and most efficient way to get around Southern Italy is with public buses. The mission is primarily a walking mission, but there may be times in Rome where you could ride the metro.
To catch a bus, find where and when it stops and flag down the bus driver so he or she knows you are waiting for that particular bus. Each bus will have a number on the front. Depending on the time of day or the location, the bus can be extremely crowded where there is limited standing room only.
If you have luggage or heavy items that make taking the bus or metro a challenge, you may be able to take a taxi. Taxis can be found at train stations, but be sure that the driver does not overcharge you.
The train is the best way to get between cities that are too far apart for the bus. Most bigger cities will have a train station where you can easily buy train tickets.
Make sure to validate your tickets before boarding any form of public transportation.
The biggest safety concerns are theft. In the metro, carry your backpack in front of you and do not keep any valuable items in front pockets. For sisters, keep on hand on your purse and keep it in front of you. Theft is more likely in big cities like Rome and Naples.
Adhere to common sense safety–avoid poorly-lit city areas at night, and don’t make your home address public.
Mosquitoes in Italy can be bad in the summer months. Be sure to wear mosquito repellent to fend off any unwanted pests.
Italians are usually warm and enthusiastic when meeting people, even for the first time. They will usually look you directly in the eyes when they shake your hand. It can be considered rude to call someone by his or her first name until that person specifically gives you permission.
When you arrive in a house, you should greet the host and wait to be invited to sit down. While eating, Italians hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left. Leaving a small amount of food on your plate is generally acceptable, but leaving large amounts is considered disrespectful. Almost all food is eaten with a knife and fork and rarely with your hands.
Italians use hand gestures to animate their language and provide more emphasis to an expression. In different parts of the country, certain hand gestures mean different things. The hand gestures are not difficult to pick up, and you will learn them quickly while in Italy.
The southern part of Italy has a mostly humid, subtropical climate, meaning the summers are hot and wet, while the winters are moderately cold. To acclimate, pack many layers that can easily stored in your bag for the day. Summer months will be hot and humid, so pack lightweight clothing that will dry quickly from sweat or rain.
Make sure to bring warm layers for the winter months. The humidity during the winter makes the cold air so that you will need a heavy jacket, gloves and a hat. Scarves are recommended and Italians insist upon you having them. Although many parts of this mission are in a tropical location, the winters can be cold and brutal.
Be sure to pack good walking shoes since you will spend a good portion of your mission walking. Some good brands are Keens, Eccos and Danskos. Rainboots are also helpful during the rainy seasons, but they can be purchased at Italian markets for about 20 euros.
You may want to bring shoe inserts or moleskin to support your feet and prevent blisters, especially if you are not used to long hours of walking.
It is important that you have a good umbrella or rain jacket. If you bring a rain jacket, make sure it is light enough to wear during the wet summer months.
Messenger bags are probably the best bags to bring on the mission.
Basic toiletries are easy to find, but they are all local brands. If you have certain brands you like, you might be better off packing your own.
You must pay to receive packages in the mail, so plan accordingly. Italian post offices will often open your packages and charge you according to weight and contents.
Piazza Carnaro, 20
00141 Rome RM
Straight from the Mission field:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“We could find most anything we really wanted.”
“Peanut Butter, Wheat Chex, oatmeal — except from the African store, and deodorant (just kidding, it was just really expensive).”
*What did you eat the most of?
“pasta, sea food.”
“Pasta, pasta, PASTA, and pasta!”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“eel” “horse meat”
“Spaghetti del diavolo – It’s spaghetti and octupus — they cut open the ink sack and stain the spaghetti black. Don’t spill that on your white shirt.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“They live to eat, whereas we eat to live.”
“I was shocked by how similar life is anywhere in the world — people have the same concerns, their family, their job, their friends, finances etc. They work, sleep, and eat. I loved how similar they were to life in Idaho where I grew up.” -David
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Italy Rome Mission?
“Just enjoy the people and the food.”
“Love them with all your heart. If you will love those the Lord has asked you to serve, they will fill it, and miracles will happen bringing souls into the Kingdom of God through baptism.” -David
“Spiritual preparation, strong testimony, use his priesthood every day to bless the people and see the power of God in his life” -Victor
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Comprehend the importance of restored priesthood in this days” -Victor
“Love is the greatest measure of any missionary. If you love the Lord, yourself, your companion, and all those you are called to serve, then obedience will be easy and you will feel the Holy Ghost guiding your very footsteps.” -David
“Italy is a wonderful country and the people are fascinating.” -Brett
“Follow every prompting of the Spirit. If you do, you’ll never regret it. :)” -David
**Did you serve in the Italy Rome Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**