Etiquette – Italy Part II

Happy Monday! 

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. 

Here’s Part II on Italian etiquette.  

Meeting and Greetings 

Italians are warm individuals. Upon first meeting, someone a handshake is good. It is common for Italian friends and families to kiss on the cheek left to right when they meet, irrespective of their gender. For business settings, exchange business cards after a formal introduction, making sure to take a recognizable moment to examine the content of the card you are given before putting it away. First impressions guide Italians, so you must demonstrate dignity and respect when greeting people, especially when meeting them for the first time.


Photo credit: Dolce Gabbana
  • Dressing well is a priority in Italy.
  • Men should wear dark-colored, conservative business suits.
  • Women should wear either business suits or conservative dresses.
  • Elegant accessories are equally important for men and women.
  • Casual attire (e.g., barefoot, beachwear) is generally inappropriate in public and can make one seem unsophisticated.
  •  Italy is full of churches, and many of them contain significant works of art. They are also places of worship, be sure to dress appropriately by covering up your arms and legs below the knee.  
  • It is impolite to remove one’s shoes in front of others.
  • They are extremely fashion conscious and judge people on their appearance.
  • You will be judged on your clothes, shoes, accessories, and the way you carry yourself.
  • Bella figura is more than dressing well. It extends to the aura of projection- i.e., confidence, style, demeanor, etc.
  •  Appearances matter in Italy.
  • The way you dress can indicate your social status, your family’s background, and your education level.
  • First impressions are lasting impressions in Italy.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Photo credit:
  • Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals.
  • Do not give red flowers as they indicate secrecy.
  • Do not give yellow flowers as they indicate jealousy
  • If you bring wine, make sure it is a good vintage. Quality, rather than quantity, is important.
  • Do not wrap gifts in black, as is traditionally a mourning color.
  • Do not wrap gifts in purple, as it is a symbol of bad luck.
  • Avoid giving knives or scissors as gifts. These are considered bad luck. I do not know who would do this, but I wanted to share this piece of advice.  
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.
  • Gifts are not the norm to exchange in business settings.

Time business/socially 

Showing up on time for business appointments is the norm and expected in Italy. There are more business lunches than business dinners, and even business lunches aren’t typical, as Italians view mealtimes as periods of pleasure and relaxation. As for social occasions, people usually are 30 – 45 minutes late. 

 It is uncommon for Italians to make phone calls between 2 pm and 4 pm, since this is when many people have a ‘pisolino‘ (nap). If they must call during these hours, they will apologize for disturbing the household.

Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments below. 

Sending baci vibes! 💋

Feature photo credit: Ketevan Giorgadze, Pinterest


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