Country Profile: Italy

General Information:


• Located in Southern Europe and extends into
the Mediterranean Sea
• Austria, France, San Marino, Slovenia,
Switzerland border Italy
• Capital is Rome
• Member of the European Union
• Currency is the Euro
• Government type: Republic
• Natural resources: coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land
• Climate is Mediterranean; Alpine in far north;
hot, dry in south

Italy’s industrial north, is controlled by private companies; the south is the agricultural center and is burdened by high unemployment.

Italy is a manufacturer of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized companies.
It has a large underground economy with in the agriculture, construction, and service sectors.

Information sourced from:

Culture Etiquette:

• Greetings:
Man greeting Man - Men shake hands when greeting one another and maintain direct eye contact. A relatively firm handshake is the way to go. Light hugs are common between good friends and family. Woman greeting Woman- At a first meeting, a light handshake will suffice. Light hugs are common between good friends and family. Man greeting Woman- At a first meeting a regular handshake will do. Light hugs are common between good friends and family.

• Communication Style:
Italians tend to be direct but in a diplomatic way. The will tell you the truth but often in a polite manner. Communication tends to be more on the formal side when in public and much less so in private. Italians are known for being very animated and dramatic
(sometimes overly) during conversations.

Large displays of emotion are very common and acceptable in public situations. Often times it may appear that people are arguing when in fact they are just having a conversation.

• Personal Space and Touching:
An arm's length distance or a bit less is usually an appropriate amount of personal space during conversations. This space tends to be considerably less between friends and family. Italians tend to touch quite a bit during conversations. This is more common with good friends and family then say in business or formal situations.

• Eye Contact:
Direct eye contact tends to be the norm and is expected and appreciated. It is usually considered extremely rude to not look
someone in the eyes when speaking, especially when shaking hands.

• Views of Time:
Appointments and deadlines tend to be kept and most transportation services run on time. The view of time may shift slightly depending on the region. For example in rural areas
people tend be more relaxed about time than in urban. Many restaurants and shops will close in the middle of the day for 2-3 hours.

• Gender Issues:
Women are socially and legally equal to men. That being said, there is still discrimination and older generations tend to view women as the housewife and homemaker. Women hold a variety of positions of power in several industries, although salaries tend to be lower.

• Gestures:
Tapping the side of your head with the index finger mean someone is “crazy”. The chin flick; flicking your fingers under your chin signifies not knowing or not caring.

Business Etiquette:
• Dress:
For Men: Stylish suits with shirts and ties. Bright color shirts are usually acceptable. For Women: Stylish business suits or dresses and blouses. Accessories are usually worn as are high heels. Somewhat revealing clothing may be acceptable in various situations.

• Titles and Business Cards:
Titles are important and it is best to address people directly by using Mr., Mrs., or Miss, followed by the surname. Note: “Signore” is for Mr., "Signora” is Mrs. and "Signorina”" is Miss. You should always wait to be invited to use first names before doing so yourself.

• Meetings:
It is important to be on time to meetings, perhaps five minutes late will be accepted but not ten. If you are the younger or more junior party involved, it is especially important to be on time as a sign of respect. Most meetings start with some small talk, such as comments on the facilities or weather, but this does not usually last long.

• Negotiations:
It is important to understand internal politics; sometimes one’s job description does not exactly correspond with the real decision making power. It is best to be straight forward and direct when negotiating.

• Gift Giving:
Gifts are generally not given in business settings, unless perhaps there is a very important delegation that visits. Gifts tend to be opened when received.


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