If you're travelling to Italy you should know some things...

Dining Etiquette

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.

Table manners

  • 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.

Business Etiquette

  • 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.

Dress Etiquette

  • 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

  • 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.

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