Etiquette

Italy is a surprisingly formal society; the following tips will help avoid awkward moments.

  • Greetings Greet people in shops, restaurants and bars with a 'buongiorno' (good morning) or 'buonasera' (good evening); kiss both cheeks and say 'come stai' (how are you) to friends.
  • Asking for help Say 'mi scusi' (excuse me) to attract attention; use 'permesso' (permission) to pass someone in a crowded space.
  • Dress Cover shoulders, torso and thighs when visiting churches and dress smartly when eating out.
  • At the table Eat pasta with a fork, not a spoon; it's OK to eat pizza with your hands.
  • Gifts If invited to someone’s home, traditional gifts are a tray of dolci (sweets) from a pasticceria (pastry shop), a bottle of wine or flowers.