Customs and traditions
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
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
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
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.
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).