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Business etiquette in Italy

It can be hard to navigate the world of work in a new country. Thankfully, our guide has everything you need to know to make a great start in your Italian workplace.

Once you’ve got your job, you’ll want to ensure that you follow Italian business etiquette.

  • Courtesy is expected at every business meeting.
  • Try never to appear arrogant or patronising at your business meeting.
  • Despite the advent of the email, you should send a letter inviting someone to a meeting a few weeks in advance of the date, the letter should be written in Italian. If you’re in any doubt about your language skills, then ask someone to help you.
  • Better still, if you have a colleague or friend who knows someone whom you wish to meet, ask them to carry out an introduction on your behalf. This will imply a certain degree of trust, which will promote the success of your meeting.
  • Always return handshakes. The Italians are a tactile race and will be offended if you don’t return this simple gesture. You might even be embraced, this is quite normal.
  • The smarter you look, the better. Italy is a country where first impressions really count.
  • Always have your business card translated into Italian.
  • Enjoy a general chat as well as the nuts and bolts of the business that you are trying to transact.
  • Be prepared for a slow decision making process, and try not to become too impatient.

There are 11 national holidays in Italy, and in some parts of the country you may find that other days are added. As Italy is a Roman Catholic country, expect to find that different parts of the country celebrate different saints’ day. This can get quite confusing.

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 6 January – The Epiphany
  • Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Liberation Day
  • 1 May – Workers Day
  • 2 June – The founding of the Italian Republic
  • 15 August – Feast of the Assumption
  • 1 November – All Saints Day
  • 8 December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – St Stephen’s Day

Annual leave is generally taken during the month of August.

Diversity is prevalent throughout the workplace, as the Italian Constitution states that, ‘all citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before law without distinction of sex, race, language, political opinion, personal and social conditions.’ Italy revised its disability legislation in 2016. The state is actively promoting the employment of those with disabilities and will pay 70% of their salary for the first 60 months of employment as an employer incentive.