In Italy culture is as varied as its regions, but there are many things that tie the Italian people together. The people of Italy have roots in their country that are thousands of years old.

Family is the cornerstone of Italian society. Family is supported emotionally and financially, and – in the south – large groups of extended family often live together.

The primary religion in Italy is Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church is the single largest influence on Italian society, customs, and architecture. In your travels, you will notice crosses in the architecture of office buildings as well as churches.

Be aware that looks mean everything in Italy! Your personal style speaks volumes, indicating your social status as well as your familial influence and educational level.

Because of the hierarchy present in all areas of Italian life, this is especially important to remember. People are respectful of and defer to people who are older than they, who hold a higher social status, or who have reached a high level in business.

In the same vein, in Italy culture, remember that people there are especially influenced by first impressions. Be polite and respectful, as well as friendly, to make the best impression.

Among strangers, a firm handshake and direct eye contact is accepted, and as you become more familiar to someone, air kissing on both cheeks is the expected method of greeting.

Don't use first names until you're invited to. If you're staying in Italy for a long time, have calling cards made up when you arrive. These are used in social situations…it doesn't do to give a business card in a social setting in Italy!

As food is central to Italian life, table etiquette is good to know. Never sit until invited to do so, and always follow the lead of the hostess. She will be the first to sit, eat, and stand at the end of the meal. The host gives the first toast, and honored guests are expected to return the toast later during the meal.

Italy culture is distinct and wonderful, and will be a lovely backdrop for your trip.

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