Better Business Etiquette In Italy: 10 Ways To Impress


Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a business professional planning to venture into the Italian market, understanding and respecting business etiquette in Italy is crucial for forging successful relationships and sealing deals.

Italy is a country that holds significant importance in the global business arena. Therefore, this time we’ll explore the key aspects of Italy business etiquette, including communication styles, dress codes, dining customs, and the importance of building personal relationships.

The Power Of Personal Relationships

Italians are known for their warm and friendly demeanor, and personal relationships play a significant role in their business interactions. Building trust and rapport with potential partners or clients is essential before any serious business discussions take place. Italians prefer to do business with people they know and like, so investing time in getting to know your Italian business partners on a personal level is highly beneficial.

Greetings And Introductions

When meeting your Italian counterpart for the first time on a business trip, a firm handshake accompanied by eye contact and a warm smile is the appropriate greeting. Italians place great emphasis on titles and forms of address. Use the appropriate titles like “Signore” (Mr.) or “Signora” (Mrs./Ms.) followed by the person’s last name until you are invited to use their first name. Be patient and courteous during the initial introductions, as small talk about non-business matters is common and helps establish a friendly atmosphere.

Communication Style

Italians value eloquence and expressive communication. When engaging in business discussions, expect your Italian business associates to be passionate, animated, and direct in their approach. Non-verbal cues like hand gestures are also prevalent and should not be misunderstood as aggressive behavior. It’s essential to reciprocate the enthusiasm and demonstrate your engagement in the conversation.


While Italians are known for their laid-back lifestyle, business meetings follow a more formal schedule. Being punctual is a sign of respect and professionalism in Italian culture. However, it’s not uncommon for Italians to arrive a few minutes late, so it’s best to be patient and understanding. However, as a foreigner, it’s recommended to arrive on time to showcase your business mentality and commitment to the business relationship.


Dress Code

Italy is famous for its fashion and style, and this extends to the business environment. Dressing well is vital, as Italians tend to judge others based on their appearance. Men should opt for a conservative style of tailored suits and accessorize with quality ties, while women should choose elegant and sophisticated attire. Remember to pay attention to details, as even minor elements can make a difference in how you are perceived.

Business Cards

Exchanging business cards is a common practice in Italian business culture. Make sure your business cards are of high quality and include your title and any relevant academic or professional achievements. When receiving a business card from an Italian business associate, take a moment to study it before placing it in a cardholder or a respectful spot, such as your pocket or the table in front of you. This gesture shows that you value the presented information from your Italian partner.

Business Gift Giving

Gift-giving is a thoughtful way to express appreciation and strengthen relationships in Italy. When invited to someone’s home or office, bringing a small gift like a bottle of wine, chocolates, or a gift representing your home country is a gracious gesture. However, avoid extravagant gifts, as they may be seen as excessive or even inappropriate. Personalized gifts that reflect your counterpart’s interests are especially well-received.

Business Meetings And Negotiations

Italian business meetings are often lively and engaging affairs. It’s common for multiple people to speak at once, leading to what might seem like chaotic discussions. Don’t be intimidated by this passionate exchange of ideas; instead, remain composed and contribute your thoughts confidently. Building a strong case supported by facts and figures is crucial during negotiations.

Language Considerations

While English is widely spoken in the business world and Italian society, especially in major cities and multinational companies, learning some basic Italian phrases is appreciated and demonstrates your commitment to understanding and respecting the local business culture. If language barriers arise during discussions, consider hiring an interpreter to ensure clear communication.

Dining Etiquette

Sharing a meal is a cherished social activity in Italy and is often used as an opportunity to strengthen business relationships. When invited to a business meal, it’s essential to exhibit good table manners. The host typically selects the restaurant and foots the bill. Wait until the host gives the signal to start eating, and always use utensils, as eating with hands is considered impolite at business lunches and dinners.


Essential Italian Business Vocabulary

BusinessGli affari
MeetingLa riunione
PresentationLa presentazione
Business cardIl biglietto da visita
CareerLa carrier
OccupationL’impiego/il lavoro/
ContactsI contatti
ClientIl/la cliente/
SalaryLo stipendio

Doing business in Italy is a rewarding experience that requires a delicate balance of professionalism and warmth. By understanding and embracing Italian business etiquette and employing cross-cultural skills, you can pave the way for successful collaborations and create lasting partnerships. Remember, respect for cultural norms and a genuine interest in building personal relationships are the keys to unlocking the doors of opportunity in this vibrant and dynamic business landscape.

Become Better At Business Etiquette In Italy With Ling App

As we have seen, better business is done if you know the etiquette rules and can speak the native language, and Ling app will have you doing business in Italy like a native in no time. If it is small talk over a business lunch or presenting a major presentation, Ling app is the perfect language resource to help you win. Begin building your Italian business empire by downloading Ling at Google Play or the App Store now!

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