Meals, Clothing Code & Gifts

Lunch during the working day is very quick and informal

The person invited may offer to pay the bill but, usually, the host will decline

The tip is included in the bill but it can be appropriate to leave an additional tip

In Italian business culture, gift giving is not particularly common

Dress and presentation  plays an important role in Italian culture

Fashionable style is considered a sign of wealthy social status and success

Formal attire is generally expected for business meetings, for the most part dark colours for businessmen

Businesswomen tend to wear elegant and modest pant or skirt suits, accessorised with simple jewellery and makeup

only after a tried and trusted  familiar relationship has been established, might it appear natural to give a small and not obviously expensive gift as a sign of friendship

A small gift may also be appropriate as a token of appreciation for Italian hospitality

Gift may include liquors, delicacies or crafts from the visitors’ country

When invited for a family lunch or dinner small presents can be given in an informal way

Avoid chrysanthemums as they are used for funerals

Keep in mind that Italy is a major centre of European fashion design and production. Even casual clothes are smart and chic

Men often wear accessories such as cuff links, tie clips, and stylish watches

Your gift could be a prestigious brand name that is at the same time small and not obviously expensive

Gifts of alcohol or crafts from your own country are often good choices

Good choices for presents include fine pens, a framed picture, silver key chains. Make sure your gift is a reputable name brand

Secretaries generally appreciate a gift of flowers or chocolates

If you are staying with a family, good gift selections can include coffee table books about your home country

Choose only quality fabrics, such as lightweight wools and silks

Women are advised to dress simply and with elegance. Accessorizing is also widely practiced here

When you receive an invitation stating “informal” dress, don’t assume that you’ll be welcome arriving in a t-shirt and sweatpants

Gift giving in Italian business is not standard practice, although it is fairly common for suppliers to give a gift to clients around Christmas time

For particularly important customers a more expensive gift such as a silver ornament, clock etc may be used

Potential or current customer may be given some examples of product to take home and try after a company visit especially if they make a high value product

It would not be usual to bring a gift to a new business contact

A small gift from your home town would be appreciated

If you are invited to dinner at someone’s home, you should always bring a gift such as a bottle of very good wine, flowers or chocolates.

It is better to bring one bottle of good wine than three medium priced ones

Gifts are usually opened at the time they are given and received

Holiday cards are a nice idea

A break for lunch during a meeting, might feature simple sandwiches or possibly a single dish in a restaurant

A moderate consumption of wine, during the meal is considered a way to socialize

To alert the waiter, try to make eye contact. If necessary, you may raise your finger or hands to call a waiter

The host always pays the bill

Avoid bringing Knives or any other type of sharp object

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