Traveling to a foreign country can be stressful, especially if you aren’t sure about local etiquette customs.  How late or early should you show up to a meeting?  What sort of table manners are expected of you?  What topics of conversation should be avoided at all costs?  Especially if you’re traveling to Italy—Italians are known for being incredibly friendly and welcoming to visitors, but also quite rude to those who offend them—being able to follow the general rules of deportment will ensure that you have smooth travels from start to finish.


  1. First Impressions: Many Italians have a very extraverted, ebullient persona, and it is common in Italian culture to hug or kiss friends hello.  This probably won’t happen if you’re meeting someone for a first time, but in case it does it would be appropriate to respond with a hug back and one light kiss to the cheek.  By no means back away from hugging, as this may depict you as a cold person.  When speaking in English, keep your voice down—Americans are known in Europe for being extremely loud, and most people find it obnoxious.
  2. Table Manners: Always keep your hands above the table and do not attempt to share food with colleagues—this isn’t done in Italy.  Italian hosts are food-pushers, so you may have to be very insistent that you don’t want any more once you’re finished eating.  Make sure you keep your wineglass at least half-filled, otherwise your server will continually top it up.  A 10-15% tip at a restaurant is appreciated, but not necessary.  And if you really want to go local, don’t order cappuccino after breakfast—only espresso.
  3. How To Dress:  Italians are very fashion-conscious, so always be sure to dress formally when you meet with colleagues.  A dark suit with a white shirt and an expensive tie is always sure to impress—if you are a woman, dress stylishly and wear business-professional makeup and jewelry.  Even during leisure time, try to steer away from wearing shorts and sandals, as this will mark you out as a tourist.


  1. What Topics To Avoid:  Anything about politics, American foreign policy, religion, and the Mafia.  It may also be considered forward if you ask a new acquaintance about their family without their offering this information, and of course never ask a woman her age.  Italy is diverse country with deeply engrained rivalries between regions, particularly in the North and the South, so never compare different areas of Italy—you will be sure to offend someone.
  2. Learning Italian: The best way to demonstrate a deep respect and interest in Italian culture is to learn their language.  Even just knowing the basics will help you immensely, both in your travels and in developing relationships in the business world.  Overall, Italians are very patient and supportive of those trying to learn their language, and they will be thrilled to see that you’re making an effort to communicate with them on their own ground.  Inquiry about your Italian course today and get started as soon as possible learning what many consider the most beautiful language in the world.