Greeting Italians, Italian Customs, PEOPLE AND CULTURE

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PEOPLE AND CULTURE >> Italian Customs >> Greeting Italians

Greeting Italians

The use of Tu/Lei and Introductions

When one first is introduced to a person, one always uses the formal lei,until the Italian says to you diamoci del tu, which means, that you are now on informal terms but the standard code is to wait until they say it, unless you really know the social codes of Italy.

The degree of intimacy also determines the form of greeting one uses on greeting.
On introduction, in formal and informal situations one says Piacere, pleased to meet you, and in only strictly informal situations, with young people for example, would one use ciao.
On subsequent meeting, you use ,good morning/ good afternoon/evening to say hello,
and arriverderci/arriverderla ( the latter is more polite) to say goodbye.
Only if you are on informal terms do you say ciao of which salve is a more formal version.
If you are under 40 years of age (and thus still a ragazzo) you must use the lei form with older people even though they use the tu form with you.
Italians tend to greet strangers far more than Anglo-saxons do, e.g. people passed in the palazzo/apartment building or lifts etc.

Physical Greetings
For social occasions, it is normal to shake hands with people whom you do not know well, particularly for men and mixed couples.
Women usually kiss, as from the farewell of their first meeting.

On subsequent meetings,if they are more than aquaintances by now, they will usually kiss you hello and goodbye. In central and Southern Italy, it is normal for men to kiss each other as much as they do women. This is often more a ritual than a display of genuine affection.
However the degree of warmth of greeting is also subject to the occasion especially if you have not seen them for a long time.
For Business appointments please keep your kisses to yourself!!! or maybe you could try kissing the ring of your prospective client!! No I am just joking!!!

Social Appointments
The terms in Italian ci vediamo/ci sentiamo, let?s see/speak to each other soon, really means a casual ?see you around? so do not take it literally even if they say stasera, domain/ this evening, tomorrow, it could mean to the Italian a couple of days. If you wish to make sure it is going to happen, you need to confirm it by a telephone call and even then do not get outraged if they stand you up or are outrageously late as in Italy, this is not a reason to get annoyed. They please themselves and as they say When in Rome....

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