Customs in Italy
The official language of Italy is Italian, spoken by over 93% of the population.
The currency used in Italy is the Euro (EUR) - €
Italians pride themselves on their strong family values. Obligation to the family is the number one priority of Italian people.
In Italy, first impressions and appearance mean everything. Your clothing style can signify your social status, education, and family history.
Customs and Etiquette in Everyday Life and Socialization
Customary greeting is a quick handshake with a smile. Italians are very warm and friendly. If your Italian counterpart comes in for a hug, do not shy away, embrace them back.
If you are invited to an Italian home for dinner, dress stylishly and bring a gift. Acceptable gifts to bring your hosts are a bottle of good wine, (Italians know their wine, so be choosy!) a box of fine chocolates or a bouquet of flowers. If you opt to bring flowers, avoid red and/or white flowers, roses and chrysanthemums.
Until you are shown your seat, remain standing. Wait to begin eating until after the hostess begins. The host will offer the first toast, but the guest may return the toast later in the meal. Use your utensils for everything, except bread, from which you should tear morsels -don't bite into the whole piece. Try and make your first serving of dinner quite small, then ask for seconds (which will compliment the chef). It is not considered impolite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you are full.
When it comes to gratuity, tipping is acceptable and appreciated in Italy.
• Restaurants - Although many
restaurants may charge a service fee (check your bill), it is acceptable
to leave a 5-10% for your server.
Customs and Etiquette in Business
Men should wear dark colored, conservative suits. Women should wear conservative dresses, stylish pantsuits or a business suit. Both men and women should compliment their outfits with tasteful and elegant accessories.
Appointments are necessary and should be made in writing (in Italian) at least 3 weeks prior. Punctuality is very important, so do not be late for your meeting. Small talk usually precedes the meetings, and sometimes initial meetings are merely a period for getting to know one another.
In general, the further south into Italy you go, the more relaxed things tend to be, both socially and in business matters.