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Customs & Traditions in Italy

Updated: May 5, 2021

Home> Countries> Europe> Italy> Customs & Traditions

General Etiquette

  • It is common for Italian friends and families to kiss on the cheek when they meet, irrespective of their gender.

  • Stand up out of respect when an older person enters the room.

  • It is important to dress neatly and respectfully.

  • Cover your mouth when yawning or sneezing.

  • It is impolite to remove one’s shoes in front of others.

  • Open doors for the elderly.

  • Men often open doors for women.

  • Stand to greet any senior person that walks into the room.

  • Italians are generally quite open and open to constructive criticism. However, don’t let this lead you to think they are immune to an offense.

  • It is uncommon for Italians to make phone calls between 2 pm and 4 pm since this is when many people have a ‘pisolino’ (nap). If they must call during these hours, they will apologize for disturbing the household.


  • The family provides both emotional and financial support to its members.

  • In the north, generally, only the family (2 parents and their children) lives together; while in the south, the extended family often resides together in one house.

  • Italian families on average have become smaller in size over the past few decades as the fertility rate has declined.

  • There may also be less contact time with the extended family. But, relationships remain extremely close.

  • Italian parents generally have a lot of authority over their children throughout their lives.

  • Most Italians seek freedom and independence, but many stay at home for years into their adulthood.

  • Indeed, Italians leave their parents’ home at one of the highest ages in Europe. Even when children move away, family ties are still very strong.

  • In Italian culture, the man is usually the primary income earner. Traditionally, a woman was expected to fulfill the roles of motherhood.

  • Today, most Italian women receive a high level of education and work to contribute to household income; however, they are still expected to be responsible for the majority of the household duties.

  • Gender roles may vary between rural and urban areas. For example, those from urban areas or belonging to the upper classes are more likely to share responsibilities.

  • Engagements may happen earlier on in a relationship, couples generally wait until the man has stable employment before marrying. There