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Guide: Italy




Italian Republic

CAPITAL: Rome GOVERNMENT: Democratic Republic (since June 2, 1946)
NATIONAL DAY: June 2 LAND AREA: 301,230 sqkm (as big as the Philippines)
LOCATION: Located in Southern Europe
TERRAIN: mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains; coastal lowlands
CLIMATE: 21 November-21 March: Winter; 21 March-21 June: Spring; 21 June-21 September: Summer; 21 September-21 November: Autumn
NATURAL HAZARDS: Volcanic eruption, avalanche, earthquake, flooding
POPULATION: 61,016,804 (as of July 2011)
PEOPLE: Primarily Italian, but there are small groups of German, French, Slovene, and Albanian-Italians
RELIGION: 90% Roman Catholic; 10% Jewish, Protestants, Muslims
WORKING WEEK: Monday-Friday: 8:30AM to 1:00PM and 3-6PM. A lot of businesses are open Saturday mornings
CURRENCY: Euro, Exchange Rate:  1 Euro = 59.1495857 PHP (as of September 30, 2011)
TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT + 2:00; Philippines is ahead of Italy by six (6) hours



1.  Italians are not very punctual.  However, as a visitor, you must arrive on time.  Be prepared to wait 15-45 minutes before your Italian counterpart appears.

2.  When you arrive in the workplace, stores or restaurants, it is considered polite to greet "Buon Giorno" or "Buona Sera" and "Arrivaderci" upon leaving.

3.  Verbalizing one's feelings especially to your employer is important to get a message across, rather than keeping your feelings to yourself.

4.  Italians show their interest through direct eye contact.  Looking away may be seen as a sign of boredom or even rudeness.

5.  Holding your hand palm down with the index and little fingers straight out, and the others curved inward, symbolized the devil's horns, and the message is to ward off evil.

6.  Talk about:  Italian architecture, Italian art and films, sports, especially soccer, Italian food and wine, Italian landscape, opera, praising the hospitality you're receiving, and current events.

7.  When dining, keep both hands above the table, not one resting on the lap.


DONT'S:  Living in ITALY

1.  DON'T use first names until you are invited to do so.

2.  NEVER give an even number of flowers.  Don't give chrysanthemums since they are used for funerals.  Don't give a brooch, handkerchiefs, or knives since they connote sadness.

3.  When someone places the hand on the stomach, this implies dislike, usually for another person.

4.  When one rubs the chin with fingertips, and the propels them forward, this a gesture of contempt.  Stroking your fingertips under your chin and thrusting them forward is also a sign of defiance and/or derision.

5.  Holding your hand with the index and little fingers straight out, and the others curved inward, with the fingers pointing upward is an obscene message.

6.  When one points with the index and little finger, this signifies wishing someone bad luck.  Also offensive is when someone slap one's raised arm above the elbow and thumbs the nose.

7.  In public, gum chewing, leaning, and slouching are frowned upon.

Italians tend to speak loudly or even shout a lot even if they're not necessarily angry, so don't get offended immediately if you feel that your employer is raising his/her voice.

8.  DON'T get offended when Italians argue loudly and throw strong words at you or with another Italian.  They tend to forget soon after the argument and all is well again.

9.  DON'T be surprised if your Italian colleagues stand much closer to you than you are used to or even feel comfortable with.

10.  DON'T talk about:  religion/the Vatican and its policies, politics, taxes, the Mafia, World War II, criticizing Italian culture even if your Italian counterparts are doing so, questions about private family concerns, and Italian stereotypes.