Customs & Traditions in Italy
Updated: May 5, 2021
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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