When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

As seen on:

We (my sister, mom, aunt and I) are venturing off on a girls trip to Italy this week in celebration of my sisters 50th birthday.  In preparation for our trip, we’ve been studying various guidebooks and practicing our basic “Italian” phrases such as buongiorno (good day), per favore (please), grazie (thank you), and prego (you’re welcome).

Here are some Italian Table Manners you may find interesting:

– DON’T leave the table during dinner. It’s considered rude.

– DO keep your hands above the table, even when you are finished eating.

– DO insist repeatedly that you don’t want more food once you are full. Otherwise, you will be offered more.

– DO keep your wine glass relatively full if you do not wish to drink anymore, otherwise your glasses will be topped off if it looks only half full. Do not refuse when you are offered a top off.

– DON’T eat with your fingers. Use a fork and knife, even for food that you may normally eat with your hands, such as a piece of bread.

In America, the ‘dress code’ in many churches has gone from ‘coat and tie’, to ‘come as you are’.  Not so in Italy.  Shorts, tank tops, and sleeveless tops are forbidden in most churches throughout the country.  Ladies, if you plan to visit a church or cathedral, make sure to carry a sweater or wrap to cover your bare shoulders before entering a church.  Gentlemen, make sure to wear long pants and appropriate tops as well.

And be careful not to find yourself pointing with your index finger and pinky finger at the same time. Italians consider this to be very vulgar.

One of my favorite multicultural resources is the “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” series of books written by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway.  In the section for Italy, they point out from a cultural note “the Italians – and their ancestors, the Romans – invented many of the business practices we use today.”

I can’t wait to dive into the Italian culture and soak it all in and learn more about ‘why we do the things we do’ all the while remembering the phrase ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’.

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