What time is it?

Time is different in Italy or at least it’s told differently. There’s no a.m or p.m. and a funny thing happens after midday. Hours aren’t repeated but all 24 are used to express time throughout the day. It avoids confusion among locals but can take mental calculating by everyone else. What time is 17:00 or 21:00? Is it time for an apperitivo*  or ora della cena**? It’s easy to give up telling time altogether and forget about hour or day. That’s when you know you’re in Italy.

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Commuters waiting for a tram in Florence. What time is it?


*apperitivo is a pre-dinner refreshment served with light snacks that begins in the late afternoon and precedes dinner.
**ora della cena means hour of the dinner. It is served late in Italy and usually begins between 19:30 and 20:00. It is often postponed by an hour or more in summer when daylight hours are long and afternoons hot.


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