If you're travelling to Italy you should know some things...
If invited to an Italian house:
- Punctuality is not mandatory. You may arrive between 15 minutes late if invited to dinner and up to 30 minutes late if invited to a party.
- If you are invited to a meal, bring gift-wrapped such as wine or chocolates.
- If you are invited for dinner and want to send flowers, have them delivered that day.
- Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be shown to a particular seat.
- The fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
- Follow the lead of the hostess - she sits at the table first, starts eating first, and is the first to get up at the end of the meal.
- Women may offer a toast.
- Don't keep your hands in your lap during the meal; however, do not rest your elbows on the table either.
- It's acceptable to leave a small amount of food on your plate.
- Pick up cheese with your knife rather than your fingers.
- If you don't want more wine, leave your wine glass nearly full.
- Italians prefer to do business with people they know and trust.
- Italians much prefer face-to-face contact, so it's important to spend time in Italy developing the relationship.
- Your business colleagues will be eager to know something about you as a person before conducting business with you.
- Italians judge people on appearances and the first impression you make will be a lasting one.
- Take time to ask questions about your business colleagues' families and personal interests, this helps to build the relationship.
Business Meeting Etiquette
- Appointments are mandatory and should be made in writing (in Italian) 2 to 3 weeks in advance.
- Reconfirm the meeting by telephone (again in Italian).
- The objective of the initial meeting is to develop a sense of respect and trust with your Italian business colleagues.
- People often speak loud to be heard over other speakers, not because they are angry.
- Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits.
- Women should wear either business suits or conservative dresses.
- Elegant accessories are equally important for men and women.
- Business cards are exchanged after the formal introduction.
- To demonstrate proper respect for the other person, look closely at their business card before putting it in your card holder.