10 little differences between Italy and Canada

There are so many differences between Italy and Canada. When you think of these two countries, you probably have two completely different ideas in mind. The first one has a lot of very old buildings, the second one is very modern. One is a small country and very populated, the other one is huge and full of inhabited land. In Italy around 90% of the population is Italian, Canada is much more diverse. Italy is very well known for good weather, a beautiful seaside, and food. Before living in Canada, all that I’ve heard people saying about this country was that winter was cold up here.


After living in Canada for more than a year, I feel like I now had an extensive (still not complete) experience of life and culture here. I’ve seen a lot of differences between Italy and Canada: some I love, some I still find funny. While I was planning my move, I found a very interesting website that allows you to compare life in two different countries. It turned out that by moving from Italy to Canada everything would get better (make more money, pay fewer taxes, more free time, and I was even more likely to see coastlines).

Of course, all of these things are great! But I always find the biggest differences between Italy and Canada in the little things. For a while, on my phone, I had a running list of things I found weird or cute or just different. As you may know, if you follow me on Instagram or if you’ve read my previous post, I’ve spent the holidays back in Italy. That gave me the opportunity to actually check if I was remembering things correctly. So, here my random list of differences between Italy and Canada.

1. Lines

My favourite thing about Canada is how easy it is to wait for your turn, whether it is at the bus stop, at a concert, or to get free samples in a shop. Waiting in “line” in Italy can get very frustrating as you will always find someone trying and succeeding at cutting the “line”.

2. Restaurant experience

Dining at a restaurant in Italy is so different than doing the same in Canada, and it is not just about the food. In Italy, you would wait outside for your whole party to arrive (unless someone is terribly late) and then you all walk inside together. Once there, you will have to pay for all your drinks, that include water. In your bill, there will also be a service fee (coperto) that can vary between 2€ and 5€ depending on the restaurant. The good thing is that, after paying for all of that, you are not required to leave a tip.

In Canada, people usually wait at the table or sometimes at the bar for the whole party to get to the restaurant. I find that Canadian restaurants offer more options: on average there are more dishes listed on the menus. Other things I love about dining out in Canada are: they will happily let you customize your order, you get to bring home your leftovers, split bills, and tipping directly from the credit card machine.

3. Bakeries and cafes ≠ pasticcerie

I love pasticcerie. They are the perfect place where to spend some time with friends or family at every hour of the day. There, you can have breakfast, aperitivo, a small lunch, coffee, merenda, and dessert or tea after dinner. If the place is also a gelateria, it is even better.

I couldn’t find anything similar in Canada. Sure you can have coffee and a croissant or cookies at a coffee shop and you can get a bagel with cream cheese or a sandwich for lunch at different bakeries. But I feel like the atmosphere is different. Also, most of these places aren’t open until late at night. But, most of all, there are no pasticcini in cafes and bakeries.

4. Transportation

Although I’ve heard plenty of Torontonians complaining about the TTC, I believe public transportation within the city of Toronto is pretty decent. We have different subway lines, streetcars (tram), and buses in Milan as well. But, probably because of how the two cities are structured, it is so much easier to travel within Toronto than it is in Milan.

One thing that is better in Italy is travelling between major cities. Here in Canada, because of the huge distances, your only real option is taking a plane, unless you enjoy being stuck on a bus for hours days. In Italy, there is a good railway system with regional, inter-regional, and high-speed trains. Sure, train delays are very common, but you can go from the North to the South in about 5 hours with as many pieces of luggage as you can carry. While taking a plane would take 2 hours, you have to be at the airport 2 hours before departure, and it’s usually more expensive.

5. Walk-in clinics

I’ve always heard of these in movies and tv shows, but I’ve never actually understood how they worked and why people wouldn’t just go to their doctor’s office or to a hospital. After a year in Canada, I’ve had to go to walk-in clinics a couple of times, mostly for vaccinations for school and work, also to get a prescription. In general, this is how it works: you register at the counter, you wait for hours (I mean like 2 or even 3 hours!), and then you see the doctor for 2 minutes.

At first, I was shocked by the fact that you have to pay a fee (75$ at the clinic I usually go to; luckily it was covered by my insurance) just to see the doctor there. The thing is the conversation with the doctor went like this: “I have to get a tetanus booster shot”, “When did you get your last one?”, “More than 10 years ago” (and he didn’t even ask to see any proof of that or my immunization record), “Okay, you can go into that other room and the nurse will give you the shot”, the end.

When I went to get a prescription the conversation was somewhat similar: “I am taking this in Italy, can I please have a prescription for something similar here in Canada?”, the doctor searched something on her computer, “Here you go, this is good for nine refills”, I walked out and walked to the pharmacy to get medication for almost a whole year.

6. Peeling fruits

Everyone I know back home and their moms peel their apples and pears. Maybe that has to do with the fact that we do not eat fruits while walking to the subway or at the library, but at home, seating at the table, usually after a meal.

Here I guess people just don’t have the time to peel their fruits and they always ask me why I do it since the skin is where the most vitamins are. Believe me, I have tried to eat fruit with the skin as I am the worst at peeling fruits but I just can’t.

7. Touching

No cheek kissing or hugs or people randomly putting hands on your shoulders or your arms in Canada! I have to admit, this is probably the main reason I love it here.

I love how most people are usually asking for consent before stepping in too close. Working with kids, I’ve seen not only staff but also parents asking children what could be done to make them feel better when they were upset and if it was okay to hug them before doing so. Coming from a culture where kids are expected and encouraged to kiss or give a hug to everyone in their extended family (even people they’ve never met before), this is just so refreshing.

8. Politeness

Canadians just love to sugar coat everything. I had no idea what a compliment sandwich was until I started attending college here and they said that it is a technique we should always use. For my fellow Italian readers, a compliment sandwich is when you praise a person for something good, then you provide the critical feedback, and then again some more praise.

Italians will just tell you exactly where you screwed up. They will probably yell a lot and be mad at you for a whole day or two.

9. Resume

The different formats of resumes used in Italy and Canada reflect the different policies in place and the oh-so-different ideas of who a good candidate might be. The first thing you put on an Italian/European standard cv (curriculum vitae) is a picture of yourself. You also have to provide your date of birth, nationality, gender, and sometimes even your civil status.

When I say this to my Canadian friends, they are usually shocked. A Canadian resume is the easiest thing to write: you start with your name, address, and contact information. Then, you list some of your skills. Finally, your work and education history, either in chronological or functional order.

10. The post office

In Italy, the post office is just another form of torture. Hours of operation are short (the one in my town is open just in the morning), lines are always too long, and most people that work there have no clue of what they’re doing. That might also do with the fact that you can do more than just shipping packages at an Italian post office.

Here in Canada, I still haven’t seen a proper post office. The one I go to (just to get my Amazon packages) basically consist of a counter in a Shoppers. Not only it is open from early in the morning till late at night, but also I’ve never had to wait for more than 10 minutes!

Bonus: Marble cheese

What even is in marble cheese and why is it a thing?

Have you ever been in one of these countries? Did you notice a lot of differences between Italy and Canada? Is there any difference between Italy or Canada and your country?

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  • It sounds like life in both countries differ so much! I’ve only visited Italy for a few days, and I’ve never been to Canada, but I’ve known people really well from both (after working on cruise ships for a year), so I can imagine how different they must be. Every Canadian I’ve ever met is extra friendly, which I love because I’m from the south, and being polite is definitely a lifestyle.

  • Super interesting reading these comparisons! My little sister decided to go to college in Canada and I took her to tour the school before she formally accepted and I pretty much begged her to let me go to college with her haha I loved the time we spent in Canada and everyone is seriously so nice!

  • I didn’t even think about comparing these two countries! Such an interesting read.

  • How interesting! I lived in Scotland for a year, and I didn’t notice too much of a difference – aside from amazing public transportation there haha!

  • I’ve never been to either country but I’d love to travel to both 🙂

  • I love comparing dining experiences! When I was in HK, they had a 10% service charge so tipping wasn’t normal.


    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post as I expected major differences, but it really was the little things you mentioned !Living in the US, I WISH we had pasticceries. The local coffee shop is filled of people on computers. There is no space to meet friends and chat and have a meal without going to a restaurant.!

    • Yes, there are some major differences as well, but the little things are what I notice on a daily basis. I totally agree with you! I forgot to mention that there is usually no free wifi at restaurants or pasticcerie so you either pay for your internet or you enjoy your time with your friends (which is the better option).

  • This is such a fun post! And I’m glad to see that you are enjoying your time in Canada! How long are you going to be here for? 🙂

    • Thank you, Amelie. I’m going be here for another year for sure and then I’ll have to decide what to do with my life.

  • Ashley Vickney

    Haha this is so fun! I love that you did this!

    • Thank you, Ashley.

  • What a fun comparison! Now I know more about Canada and Italy!

    • Thank you, Olivia.

  • So fun to learn about life in two different countries! I lived in China for 6 months and they also didn’t have a concept of “lines” and that was hard to get used to.

    • Oh, yes, I’m pretty lining up in China is even so much more difficult than doing it in Italy. I’ve seen pictures from their train stations; were you able to adapt to that?

      • I did my best, haha! It wasn’t so bad in the city I lived in, but when we traveled to Beijing, it was really intense

  • Miss ALK

    This post is so interesting to read!! I went to Italy last year and enjoyed visiting the pasticceries with my mom- you’re right, there isn’t really a North American equivalent! I hope you continue to enjoy your Canadian adventures!

    xoxo A

    • I’m so happy that you got to experience a pasticceria. Here in Toronto there are a few “Italian pasticcerie” but still they are so americanized.

  • I love comparisons like these! I grew up in Austria and moved to New York for a while and there were so many differences! Both good and interesting though 🙂

    • What was the biggest difference that you’ve experienced?

  • I live in Vermont so Canada is so close! I really need to explore more there!

    • Well, I need to explore Vermont! A road trip through New England is on my bucket list!

  • so interesting to see the “little” differences. Love the #noTouching culture in Canada