Italian in Italy

Greetings and Partings

Two people shaking hands

Female friends and acquaintances frequently greet each other by kissing each cheek, starting with the right cheek. Women may or may not exchange hugs. Older men shake hands, while younger men will either shake hands or give each other hugs or pats on the shoulder. Between acquaintances or strangers meeting for the first time, a handshake is the norm. When parting, people simply say goodbye, rather than shaking hands again. However, friends may exchange hugs and kisses. The amount of personal space that is considered appropriate between individuals is much less than in the United States, so do not feel intimidated if the individual speaking is much closer to you than you consider normal.

It is essential for a non-Italian to understand the different forms of "you" used in Italian society. One must always use the formal pronoun for "you" ( Lei third person singular or Loro plural) when greeting elders, someone to whom one wishes to show special honor or respect, or anyone to whom one has just been introduced.