Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, the Italians are often described as outgoing people who like to talk and talk a lot, and they make a more polite impression than most northern Europeans.
A visitor should therefore think of things like keeping the door open to others, especially women, and not be seated when greeting someone. And it is not wrong to flatter and give compliments. Don’t be annoyed if an unknown Italian stares at you, just stare back. It is quite natural to sit and watch the people’s life with intense eyes.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Italy, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
The flexible Italians may be effective in that regard, but a stranger may think they seem restless and undisciplined. Those who have a case, for example, at a post office rarely find any arranged queues; it is important to elbow up to the counter.
Know and label
Punctuality is no virtue. On the contrary, one should assume that one must wait when a meeting is arranged. Maybe it will only be a quarter to the north, but in the south, so much else may have “come between” that it may take up to three quarters. However, at a business meeting one should keep the time.
If you meet for the first time you shake hands, keep eye contact, preferably with a smile. If there are several people, you will be introduced to the older people first. Italians attach great importance to the first impression of a person. Take everyone back in hand as you part. When you become closer acquainted, you are usually greeted with an embrace and / or two cheek kisses; left cheek first, and men happily pat each other on the back.
When Italians talk, both standing and sitting, the distance between them is shorter than a Swede is used to. And this Swedish should not retreat, as it can be perceived as rude. The conversation is often loud and lively.
Anyone who wants to win an Italian’s appreciation, both in conversations “on the street” and in business context, should not be afraid to be personal. Ask about wife, children and parents and how they feel, show pictures of their own children. Ask about their leisure time and travel. It is completely acceptable to show religious and political values and opinions. Nor are Italians as sensitive to criticism. For example, it is possible to raise critical views on Italy as long as one does not seem rude. Avoid implicit, wrapped up statements, was straightforward without becoming burdus. Among the topics of discussion that one should be careful about include fascism and Mussolini as well as the mafia and corruption.
Although the conversations are open and lively, the formality of the Italians, who appreciate titles, is addressed with such, or Signore / Signora, and the surname until someone suggests title removal. Incidentally, it is not uncommon – if there is uncertainty about title – that people, sometimes playful but also flattering, be addressed with Dottore (Doctor).
Meals and invitations
Food and drink are central to the Italians’ lives, and traditionally the meal in the middle of the day has been the foremost. The breakfast, on the other hand, is very spartan, often just coffee and a cornetto or croissant, similar to pastry. However, the well-known long lunches that can last for at least two hours, accompanied by a siesta, are less common today and occur mainly on weekends. In the evening you do not eat so much, maybe just pasta, soup or a piece of pizza at home or out. However, extended evening meals at a restaurant have become more common as the family has become more difficult to gather in the middle of the day.
Anyone who is invited home for a meal should be generous with compliments both in terms of housing and food, and do not neglect the children. Do not take off your shoes when you visit a home, it is considered unfair.
The host / hostess sits first at the table, is also the first to start eating and to rise from the table afterwards. If possible, avoid leaving the table during the meal and always keep your hands visible. The best bet is not to start with large portions as the host couple estimates that you are taking a second or third round. It can be a dinner with four to five dishes so be careful with the saturating pasta. It is not wrong to leave a little on the plate. Be as careful with the wine as the Italians, which rarely appear affected. After the meal, guests should not be allowed to leave.
Anyone invited to a meal usually leaves over a bottle of fine wine, a chocolate box or flowers. Giving a red or yellow bouquet is not appropriate, nor is chrysanthemum, used at funerals.
Business meetings and upholstery
The most important thing at the first meeting is to establish trust and good contact between the parties. Italian’s knowledge of foreign languages is not always good, and both business cards and documents to be handed over should therefore also be in Italian. Anyone who is not entirely sure of the Italian language should bring an interpreter, especially as the discussions can be lively, versatile and loud when several speak at the same time. Although an agenda is drawn up, it is not always followed so closely and no decisions are made until formal negotiations are initiated. These often drag on over time, which may require patience and some of the flexibility that the Italians often exhibit.
It is no coincidence that Italy has a successful clothing industry. It is important to dress nicely and elegantly, and a stranger is carefully valued for his attire. Everyday, men often wear high quality suits, combined with a plain or striped shirt and elegant tie. The woman can choose between skirt, dress or costume as long as the impression is quality and elegance.
On the weekends not only the young people but also many older people wear jeans or other comfortable long pants, but it should preferably be combined with stylish shirts and black shoes – while the younger ones usually choose sports shoes. But at least as important, both everyday and on the weekend, are expensive accessories, such as sunglasses, watches, jewelry and sharpening.
Traditions and holidays
The role of religion is not as evident as before, and it is mainly older generations outside the big cities who participate daily in the Catholic Mass. However, on Sundays and on special weekends, many families still attend church. Two-thousand-year-old Catholicism is constantly present in the street scene, especially in Rome: cardinals, priests, monks, nuns, religious processions, churches and other holy places. Every day of the year is dedicated to at least one patron saint. Even today, many reverence the saintly religions – real or not – that exist in many churches, and in addition to this, a great deal of superstition still lives on with belief in “the evil eye”, divination and other magic.
In addition to Christmas and Easter, the most important religious holidays are the Ascension of August 15 (assunzione, also called ferragosto, traditional midsummer day), All Saints Day, November 1, Immaculate Conception December 8 (immacolata concezione) and Thirteen Day of July 6 (epiphany). Before the last weekend, Befana, a kind of “Easter cut”, presents gifts and sweets in socks for the children.
According to Countryaah, New Year’s Day is considered both a religious and secular holiday. Other national holidays are the liberation day after World War II April 25 (Festa della Liberazione), May 1 (Festa dei Lavoratori) and Republic Day 2 June (Festa della Repubblica). In addition to the holidays there are several local harvest parties.
In 1847, both the lyrics and the music were written to Il Canto degli Italiani (Italian song) which became the national anthem when the republic was founded in 1946. The Italians usually use the name Inno di Mameli (Mameli’s hymn after the lyricist) but it is also called Fratelli d’Italia (Italy’s brothers).