A Guide to Italian Custom & Etiquette
Traveling to a new country is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and see what sort of adventures the world has to offer. You get to see a different culture and life you haven’t experienced. BUT, you should always do some research on the customs of your intended destination, as to not upset anyone or have a social faux pas. Italy is no exception. Make sure you check out these tips we have for you before taking a trip to Il Bel Paese (The Beautiful Country).
Introductions in Italy
When being introduced to an Italian, it is common to say ‘good day’(buongiorno) and shake hands. If the introduction is formal, it’s best to say ‘pleased to meet you’ (molto lieto) and again, shake hands. Ciao is usually only said between friends and young adults, because it isn’t considered polite to address strangers this way. Before you part ways, be sure to shake hands once more as a sign of respect. Often times, Italians will also exchange calling cards with each other as well, which are somewhat akin to business cards.
Buongiorno, buonasera and buonanotte as greetings should all be used within their respective timeframes (morning, afternoon, and night). It is also customary to say ‘good day’ or ‘good evening’ upon entering a shop, or any other small public space, and ‘good day’ or ‘goodbye’ (arriverderci) upon leaving.
While addressing an Italian, titles are important, particularly when the holder is elderly. Professionals should be address by their titles, e.g.: professor (professore) or doctor (dottore). If you don’t know someone’s title, you can always use signore (male) or signora (female).
If you’re invited to dinner by an Italian family, make sure to bring a gift such as pastries or chocolate, but be wary about bringing wine, as Italians value quality over quantity. Before starting the meal, Italians will say ‘good appetite’ (buon appetito), so you should too. If you’re offered a glass of wine, wait until your host has made a toast (salute!) before drinking. However, you don’t want to drink excessively, otherwise you may be seen as a drunkard and not be invited back!
Dress code in Italy
Italians dress well and admire a good sense of style and elegance. Presentation and first impressions, both known as Bella Figura, are everything to Italians. Italians also tend to wear more formal attire than northern Europeans and North Americans. Although Italian dress code doesn’t include shorts or leggings, they also aren’t at the other end of the spectrum, constantly wearing tuxedos. Like your image, the way you act also carries weight in your presentation for an Italian. Being rude or harsh in conversation will get your dirty looks, or worse!
With a little more light shed onto Italy’s customs, you can feel prepared to travel to Italy with basic etiquette nailed down! If you’re looking for some Italian authenticity and class, be sure to stop by Italian Garden in San Marcos, Tx for some of the best Italian food in Central Texas! You can view all our offerings and hours HERE. So for now, Ciao!