Written by: Ng Scherly Hansopaheluwakan, S.E, MIB
Smoking etiquette. In Italy, smoking in restaurants, bars, offices, factories and any public place without special non-smoking areas, is illegal. The law is applied quite extensively in public places and in most offices.
Mobile etiquette. Mobile phones are widely used by Italians of all ages, cultures and social status to communicate and socialise. Generally, “mobile etiquette” is based on concepts of courtesy and respect, but it is not unusual, in public conferences or during business meetings, to hear mobiles ringing. In fact, the use of mobile phones can be rather intrusive in Italy: conversations can be loud even in public places (restaurants, public transport, etc. and incoming mobile calls can be given precedence over a face-to-face conversation.
Religion. Italians are mostly raised as Roman Catholics even if the influence of the Church is decreasing and large sectors of society are open to civil rights issues (e.g. divorce and abortion were made legal in the 1970s opposing Catholic principles; artificial insemination and unconventional families are current issues).
Women. The presence of women in technical and business positions is increasing, although it is still relatively unusual to find them in the highest position of an organisation.
Only 38% of Italian women under 65 are in the labour market – one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe. Nonetheless, the Italians are generally not inhibited when working together with the opposite sex and foreign women can do business in Italy without great difficulty.
Sense of humour. Italians are generally not easily offended and you can criticize them and joke with them indeed, your sense of humour may well be appreciated by Italians.
Regionalism. Italian regions should be grouped into three “macro-regions”, usually indicated by: the South, the Centre and the North of the Country. This distinction reflects a series of linguistic, geographic, and socio-economic regional differences.
There are many tradition-related differences that exist between Northern and Southern regions. Some of them make Northern people appear more reserved and Southern people more open and relationship oriented.
From a linguistic point of view, Italy has a large number of dialects and linguistic inflections that characterise all regions, towns, and even small villages.
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