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Home » Country Etiquette » Italy

Italian Etiquette Tips

Making a good impression and building strong relationships are very important to Italians, so impress the people in Italy by learning a little about Italian customs and etiquette. Below are some more Italian etiquette tips to take with you on your trip to Italy.


1. Dress Attire

  1. DO dress formally when invited to business and social gatherings. Ties and suits are acceptable for men, while a simple but elegant dress with accessories is suitable for women.
  2. DON'T wear shorts or tank tops at church.

2. Table Manners

  1. DON'T leave the table during dinner. It's considered rude.
  2. DO keep your hands above the table, even when you are finished eating.
  3. DO place your fork and knife on the right side of the plate to indicate to your server that you are done eating.
  4. DO insist repeatedly that you don't want more food once you are full. Otherwise, you will be offered more.
  5. DO keep your wine glass relatively full if you do not wish to drink anymore, otherwise your glasses will be topped off if it looks only half full. Do not refuse when you are offered a top off.
  6. DON'T eat with your fingers. Use a fork and knife, even for food that you may normally eat with your hands, such as a piece of bread.

3. Tipping

  1. DO tip if the service is good. In Italy, a service charge is usually included in the restaurant bill. Most restaurants also include a cover charge (coperto) added to the bill. However, restaurant employees don't make much money, so tipping is a nice thing to do if you enjoyed the service. Tipping porters and taxi drivers is also often appreciated.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DO give gifts such as chocolate or flowers, but gift-wrap them, and not in black and gold. Those colors are reserved for funerals.
  2. DON'T give chrysanthemums or roses, unless you know the meaning behind them. Chrysanthemums are for funerals and roses indicate romance.

5. Body Gestures

  1. DON'T point with your index finger and pinky finger at the same time. It is called “la corna” and it is considered extremely vulgar in Italy.

6. Greetings

  1. DO shake hands upon meeting someone
  2. DO use titles and surnames unless you have been invited to use first names. Use "Signore" for "Mister" and "Signora" for "Mrs." along with the surname, unless they have a specific title such as Doctor.
  3. DON'T pull away or get offended if an Italian associate wishes to hug you. Embrace him or her in return!

7. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO give your host a nice gift.
  2. DON'T decline an invitation to go to dinner. It is considered rude, unless there are extreme circumstances that prevent you from being able to attend.

8. Business Meeting

  1. DON'T be late to business engagements. Punctuality is not a priority, but as a guest to Italy, you will make a far better impression if you are on time.
  2. DO check the hours for the business you are working with ahead of time. Many businesses close for the entire month of August, and office hours can vary on the weekends. However, office hours will usually be 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM Monday through Friday, with morning hours on Saturdays.
  3. DO dress semi-formally for business meetings. Your attire should be immaculate and clean, without scuffs, rips, or stains. Dark suits are most common for men, with expensive ties, cuff links, and watches. Women should dress stylishly with make-up and jewelry. Perfume and cologne is also acceptable.
  4. DON'T discuss politics, religion, the Mafia, or family with business associates.
  5. DON'T offer a gift in a business meeting until one has been given to you.

By following basic Italian etiquette you are much more likely to make a strong impression while on your trip to Italy. Since Italians put a lot of value into interpersonal relationships, this is very important, especially in business. Enjoy your trip to Italy!

 
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