Etiquette

  • Greetings Shake hands and say buongiorno (good morning) or buonasera (good afternoon/evening). If you know someone well, kiss both their cheeks (starting with their left).
  • Polite language Say mi scusi to attract attention or say 'I'm sorry'; grazie (mille) for 'thank you (very much)'; per favore to say 'please'; prego for 'you're welcome' or 'please, after you'; and permesso if you need to push past someone in a crowd.
  • Cafes Don't linger at the bar; drink your espresso and go.
  • Body language Be wary of making a circle with two hands (which in Italy means 'I'll kick your arse'), an A-OK signal ('You might be gay') or the devil horns with your hand ('Your wife is cheating on you').
  • In churches Never intrude on a mass or service.
  • Selfie sticks Officially banned in Florentine museums. Elsewhere don't stick them in front of people's faces or those trying to view art in peace.