What you Should Know about Italian Culture before Moving to Italy
Before you make your move to Italy it helps to understand Italian customs, business etiquette in Italy and Italian traditions.
Knowing a little about what makes Italian people tick helps expats in Italy integrate better in to a new home country.
The Italian people are individualistic, traditional and proud and they demand respect and consideration from those they come in to contact with. The approach to life in Italy is generally laid back, particularly in the South of Italy.
Italian Customs and Regional Differences
The different regions influence the culture and traditions in Italy. For example many regions have their own linguistic dialect and North Italy is more industrialized and economically richer than the rural south. Even the weather is region dependent.
Any expats interested in fashion, history, the arts or the classics will find something to fascinate them in Italy. Culture in Italy is in abundance from the Sistine chapel in the Vatican City, the art and science enveloped in Florence and the canals of Venice.
Religion also plays an important role in Italy with a dominance of the Roman Catholic Church, which is highly influential in the country.
Italian Customs – The Italians at Home
The extended and nuclear family are the foundation of life in Italy. In South Italy is it still common to find the extended family living together.
If you are invited to an Italian’s home, it is customary to bring a gift such as flowers or wine but ensure the quality of the gift is good. Avoid flowers and gift wrapping colors that are associated with negative events or emotions such as jealously or just plain old bad luck.
It is acceptable to be between fifteen and thirty minutes late to a social event depending on the type of gathering.
Business Etiquette in Italy
Italian business relations are based on trust and personal relationships. Italian business people are pre-occupied with networking and expats in Italy will find that third party introductions are highly beneficial. Ensure that you get to know your colleagues and business associates and allow them to get to know you. Ask about their family and their interests outside of the workplace.
Face to face communication is essential in the Italian business world and meeting appointments must be pre-arranged. Hierarchy is all-important in Italy.
Business attire for both men and women is conservative but fashionable and stylish, with accessories playing an important role for both genders.
Italian Customs – Business Meetings
When you meet someone for the first time in Italy a handshake is sufficient. As relationships deepen air kisses are common, but greetings remain fairly formal.
Business meetings are not for making decisions but used as a platform to exchange ideas and although written agendas are used these act as a guideline only.
It is common for Italian people to interrupt each other and talk at the same time. Italians are expressive with their communications and use facial expressions and hand gestures much more than in some other countries.