Custom and Traditions of Italy

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  • Topic: Italian language, Cheek kissing, Italy
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  • Published : July 19, 2010
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Custom and Tradition of Italy

Greetings in Italy
When we introduced to an Italian, we should say ‘good day’ (buongiorno) and shake hands (a single pump is enough). ‘Hello’ (ciao) is used among close friends and young people, but it is not considered polite when addressing strangers unless they use it first. Women may find that some men kiss their hand, although this is rare nowadays. When being introduced to someone in a formal situation, it is common to say ‘pleased to meet you’ (molto lieto). When saying goodbye, you should shake hands again. It is also customary to say ‘good day’ or ‘goodbye’ (arriverderci or, when addressing only one person, arrivederla) on leaving friends say ciao.

Kissing in Italy
Italian families and friends usually kiss when they meet, irrespective of their sex. If a lady expects you to kiss her, she offers her cheek and between members of the opposite sex, the kiss is deposited high up on the cheek, never on the mouth and is not usually really a kiss, more a delicate brushing of the cheeks accompanied by kiss noises. There are usually 2 kisses, first on the right cheek, then on the left. It is also common in Italy for male relatives and close male friends to embrace each other.

Lei and Tu
When talking to a stranger, particularly older Italians, you should use the formal form of address (lei), do not use the familiar form (tu) or call someone by their Christian name until you are invited to do so. Generally the older or in a business context, senior person invites the other to use the familiar tu form of address and first names. The familiar form is used with children, animals and God, but almost never with your elders or work superiors. However, Italians are becoming less formal and younger people often use tu and first names with colleagues. It is customary to use lei in conversations with shopkeepers, servants, business associates and the local mayor.

If you are invited to dinner by an Italian family, you...
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