Every country and every city has its social customs and etiquette. If you’re planning a trip to Italy for business or leisure, it is essential to be well-informed about the dos and don’ts when traveling. Being prepared about these things will let you shed your awkward tourist aura and have a more fulfilling and relaxing trip.
If you’re talking to someone for the first time, make sure to initiate a handshake and say your greetings. “Ciao” is usually the greeting that will first come into mind, but it is for greeting friends and acquaintances. Instead, say “Buon Giorno” for good morning or “Buono Sera” for good afternoon/evening.
Italians also have great respect for their elders. Standing up when older people enter the room is a sign of respect.
It is common for Italian friends and families to kiss on the cheek when meeting, but if you feel that you are not close enough to do that, a handshake will do. In addressing someone, it is best not to call them by their first names upon meeting for the first time. Wait until you’re invited to do so.
Most Italians dress elegantly and formally daily. As a tourist in the country, natives will evaluate you based on how you dress and how you present yourself, so it is important to dress neatly and respectfully.
Italians prefer fitted shirts and fitted clothes, so you might want to rethink wearing that oversized shirt for now. Flip flops and sandals are usually worn in beaches and swimming pools and not in the streets, especially not when dining in restaurants. Removing hats when indoors is a sign of respect, while taking off your shoes in front of someone is seen as imp lite.
Italy is home to many famous churches and sacred places. It is a must to see the beautiful structures and abundant history of these places. Make sure you dress appropriately when visiting these religious landmarks. Most tourists can get away with it, but knowing this will let you blend in more with the locals. They will appreciate it if you know how to dress accordingly in different contexts.
Eating And Table Manners
In Italy, table manners are formal. Italians rarely share food from their plates. Be polite and formal to waiters when eating in restaurants. If you need something, go straight to the counter for assistance. Calling staff or waiters across the room for attention is considered rude and impolite.
Italians regularly consume wine, beer, and other alcoholic drinks as a part of their meal. Public drunkenness, however, is not tolerated. If you smoke while waiting outside or after meals, know that all public establishments in Italy ban it.
You don’t need to speak Italian fluently to survive your trip to Italy. Learning a few essential words and phrases will be enough for you to get by. Moreover, in large cities like Venice, Florence, and Rome, most people speak English or can at least converse in English. Most hotel staff have English speakers whom you can ask for assistance during your entire stay.
You may still have trouble communicating even if you know the essential words. But locals will surely appreciate it if you at least attempt to speak their language. Don’t forget phrases like “per favore” or “Please” and “prego” or “You’re welcome.”
Always bring your tourist information guides and be mindful of these tips. Then, you will have a memorable and fun trip to Italy!