Italy‚ Don’ts

  • Do not wear shorts which are unacceptable in public. Be sure that your shoulders, knees and midriff are covered when visit churches. If possible, wear a hat or scarf.
  • Do not use first names in Italian business. Personal and professional titles are used constantly in either casual conversation or formal writing.
  • Do not enter a taxi without a meter.
  • Do not keep wallets in pockets or handbags. Carry only what is needed for the day.
  • Do not use ATMs if possible. Invisible portable devices installed on ATMs, and wireless technology has been blamed for the cloning of credit cards.
  • Do not walk in dark, deserted streets near train or bus stations. Bag snatchers treat these streets their hunting places.
  • Do not talk about religion, Vatican, Mafia and politics, or questions about private family concerns.
  • Do not show up ten minutes early. Italians are not very punctual. Be prepared to wait 15-45 minutes before your Italian counterpart appears.
  • Do not give even number of flowers. Do not give chrysanthemums which are used for funerals. Do not give a brooch, handkerchiefs, or knives as they connote sadness.
  • Do not eat with your hands, not even fruits. Do not leave the table during dinner, which is considered rude.
  • Do not point with your index finger and pinkie finger at the same time, which is considered extremely vulgar in Italy.
  • Do not do right turns on red which are forbidden in Italy. Driving is on the right. Using hand phones while driving is illegal, and fines can exceed 100.
  • Do not book long distance overnight train journeys, which could be dangerous for gangs of thieves.


Italy Do’s

  • Do shake hands for greeting. Use ‚Signore‚ (Mr.) and ‚Signora‚ (Mrs.), plus the family name for strangers. Do not use first names unless you are asked to do so.
  • Do wear stylish clothing. Italians take pride in their appearance. Dark suits are most common for men in business, with expensive ties, cuff links, and watches. Women should dress stylishly with make-up and jewellery.
  • Do use public transportation, which is usually capillary and fast.
  • Do carry cash that is only enough for the day, and leave the rest in the hotel safe.
  • Do be aware of groups of children in or around train or bus stations. Some of these baby gangs have been trained to pilfer wallets, cameras, even jewellery.
  • Do keep both hands above the table when dinning, even when you are finished eating.
  • Do expect a 10%-15% service charge to be added to your restaurant bill and do leave a small tip on top if the service was really good.
  • Do give your host a nice gift such as gift-wrapped chocolate, a wine or flowers, but not in black or gold, as those colors are reserved for funerals.
  • Do insist repeatedly that you don‚t want more food once you are full. Do place your fork and knife on the right side of the plate to indicate that you are done eating.