A Guide to Surviving in Rome
It is not easy to adapt to a new culture and set of customs. I am here to save the day, I know… I know… you can thank me later. It is important to know these things before you experience major culture shock.
In Italy it is a custom to greet friends with two kisses, one on each cheek starting from the right to left, the opposite of reading a book. It is something that is done upon arrival and departure. Of course, if you are in Italy on business, a firm handshake with eye contact will do.
Upon walking into small shops it is customary to greet the staff members when you walk in and when you leave. It is always nice to say either good morning or good evening (in Italian). If you scroll down to the bottom of this post you will see common phrases to know when arriving in Italy. It is also a custom when paying merchandise, to place the money down on the table or dish rather than handing the shop owner the money directly.
It is not hard making friends in Italy. Most of the people living here in Rome and Trastevere are very friendly and forward. Yes, I have experienced this first hand. If you want to pursue a friendship it is usually a good idea to pay a compliment to this person. A good compliment might be about Rome. Italians are very proud of where they come from.
The women visiting in Italy may feel like they are being sexually harassed by the forward men, but it is not regarded the same way in Italy. Women that do not look Italian will for sure get some remarks, and men will sometimes yell after you ‘bella’ (beautiful). The verbal attention women receive is a cultural matter and should not cause you to fret. If you really do not want to be bothered, a great word to learn is (Vai Via). Also, the best advice I could give you is to just ignore them. Be proud and confident –do not let them get the best of you!
Family is a big part of the Italian culture. They view family as a strong support network whether that is emotionally or financially. Most of the time you can count on extended families all living together.
Etiquette and Customs
Italians are quick to judge on appearance, so do not fret if you are given the once over, unless it’s by a creepy Italian man of course.
It is good to make a strong first impression. One of the best ways to make a great impression is to greet someone in Italian (see below). One of my favorite customs is about wine, ha-ha of course. Wine is always consumed with meals, especially dinner. It is a common practice to have your wine glass topped off, so watch out lightweights! If you do not prefer to have more wine, just make sure you keep your glass relatively full.
Christianity and strong ties to the Catholic Church are prevalent in Italy. If you do visit churches, which I strongly suggest you do because it is basically a free museum, make sure that you are dressed appropriately with your shoulders and cleavage covered. Do not visit churches in your beach clothes. Modest is always hottest.
Table Manners in Italy can be read up on this link
Common Phrases in Italian
- Buon giorno! (pronounced bw-own jorno) Good day! Hello!
- Ciao! (pronounced chow) Hi! (informal)
- Salve (pronounced sal-vay) Hello! (slightly more formal)
- Buona sera! (pronounced bw-own-a sarah) Good afternoon!
- Grazie! (pronounced grah-zee-ay) Thank you!
- Prego! (pronounced pray-go) You are welcome!
- Scusi! (pronounced scoo-zee) Excuse me!
- Vorrei… (pronounced voh-ray) I would like… (used when ordering)
- Dov’è si trova… (pronounced dov-ay see trohva) Where is the….?