Sunday, February 23, 2014

Published 12:05 PM by with 0 comment


The Italian Language

Italian is the official language of Italy, and 93% of population are native Italian speakers. Around 50% of population speak a regional dialect as mother tongue. Many dialects are mutually unintelligible and thus considered by linguists as separate languages, but are not officially recognised. Friulian, one of these dialects, is spoken by 600,000 people in the north east of Italy, which is 1% of the entire population. Other northern minority languages include Ladin, Slovene, German, which enjoys equal recognition with Italian in the province of Alto-Adige, and French, which is legally recognised in the Alpine region of the Val d'Aosta. 

Albanian is spoken by 0.2% of the population, mainly in the southern part of Italy, as too areCroatian and Greek.

Catalan is spoken in one city, Alghero, on the island of Sardinia, by around 0.07% of the population. On the rest of the island, Sardinian is spoken by over 1m, which comes to 1.7% of the Italian population. 

Why not learn some useful Italian phrases

Italian Society & Culture

Italian Family ValuesMap of Italy

  • The family is the centre of the social structure and provides a stabilizing influence for its members.
  • In the north, generally only the nuclear family lives together; while in the south, the extended family often resides together in one house.
  • The family provides both emotional and financial support to its members.

Italian Style

  • Appearances matter in Italy.
  • The way you dress can indicate your social status, your family's background, and your education level.
  • First impressions are lasting impressions in Italy.
  • The concept of 'bella figura' or good image is important to Italians.
  • They unconsciously assess another person's age and social standing in the first few seconds of meeting them, often before any words are exchanged.
  • Clothes are important to Italians.
  • They are extremely fashion conscious and judge people on their appearance.
  • You will be judged on your clothes, shoes, accessories and the way you carry yourself.
  • Bella figura is more than dressing well. It extends to the aura your project too - i.e. confidence, style, demeanour, etc.


  • The primary religion in Italy is Roman Catholic.
  • There are more Catholic churches per capita in Italy than in any other country.
  • Although church attendance is relatively low, the influence of the church is still high.
  • Many office buildings will have a cross or a religious statue in the lobby.
  • Each day of the year has at least one patron saint associated with it.
  • Children are named for a particular saint and celebrate their saint's day as if it were their own birthday.
  • Each trade and profession has a patron saint.
  • The church promulgates hierarchy, which can be seen in all Italian relationships.
  • They respect and defer to those who are older, those who have achieved a level of business success, and those who come from well-connected families.

Etiquette & Customs in Italy

Meeting Etiquette

  • Greetings are enthusiastic yet rather formal.
  • The usual handshake with direct eye contact and a smile suffices between strangers.
  • Once a relationship develops, air-kissing on both cheeks, starting with the left is often added as well as a pat on the back between men.
  • Wait until invited to move to a first name basis.
  • Italians are guided by first impressions, so it is important that you demonstrate propriety and respect when greeting people, especially when meeting them for the first time.
  • Many Italians use calling cards in social situations. These are slightly larger than traditional business cards and include the person's name, address, title or academic honours, and their telephone number.
  • If you are staying in Italy for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to have calling cards made. Never give your business card in lieu of a calling card in a social situation.

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals.
  • Do not give red flowers as they indicate secrecy.
  • Do not give yellow flowers as they indicate jealousy
  • If you bring wine, make sure it is a good vintage. Quality, rather than quantity, is important.
  • Do not wrap gifts in black, as is traditionally a mourning colour.
  • Do not wrap gifts in purple, as it is a symbol of bad luck.
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

If invited to an Italian house: 

  • If an invitation says the dress is informal, wear stylish clothes that are still rather formal, i.e., jacket and tie for men and an elegant dress for women.
  • Punctuality is not mandatory. You may arrive between 15 minutes late if invited to dinner and up to 30 minutes late if invited to a party.
  • If you are invited to a meal, bring gift-wrapped such as wine or chocolates.
  • If you are invited for dinner and want to send flowers, have them delivered that day.

Table manners

  • Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be shown to a particular seat.
  • Table manners are Continental -- the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Follow the lead of the hostess - she sits at the table first, starts eating first, and is the first to get up at the end of the meal.
  • The host gives the first toast.
  • An honoured guest should return the toast later in the meal.
  • Women may offer a toast.
  • Always take a small amount at first so you can be cajoled into accepting a second helping.
  • Do not keep your hands in your lap during the meal; however, do not rest your elbows on the table either.
  • It is acceptable to leave a small amount of food on your plate.
  • Pick up cheese with your knife rather than your fingers.
  • If you do not want more wine, leave your wine glass nearly full.


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