When doing business abroad you cannot afford to just focus on your business proposal and ignore the possible impact of a different culture. Italy, like any country in the world, has its own business etiquette and a unique way in which business meetings and negotiations are conducted.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re planning on doing business in Italy:


Italians value good manners and courtesy so when doing business in Italy make sure your conduct is impeccable. Shake hands when meeting and departing as it shows respect. In addition, Italians are personal and tactile so try not to impose a distance as it may be interpreted as unfriendly.

Dress to impress

You probably already know that Italians are very fashionable so dress to impress. First impressions are critical and the image you present through the clothes you wear can make all the difference. So, take the time to update your wardrobe if you have to before traveling to Italy on business. You might even consider wearing a few elegant accessories as this display of wealth often translates to power in the business arena.

Be punctual

While Italians are not as punctual as German people, you still need to be respectful of their time and never be late without a good reason.

Going to lunch or dinner

When you’re doing business in Italy, you’ll most likely be invited for lunch or dinner. Here are a few things to keep in mind: the most honored guest sits at the middle of the table or on the right of the host; the host is the one who pays; dishes need to be passed to the left. Most importantly, do not answer phone calls at the table as it’s considered disrespectful.

Meetings and Negotiations

One very important thing to consider before arranging a meeting is that Italians are more likely to do business with someone they know. So, use your contacts to introduce you before setting up a meeting. When you’re ready to arrange a meeting, write the email in Italian to show you appreciate their culture. Try to avoid the month of August as it’s when most Italian people schedule their family holidays.

When it comes to negotiations, don’t rush into it. Start the meeting with small talk to build a relationship and take it from there.

Prepare your Italian translations

Make sure you have Italian translations of all your business documents, including agendas, proposals, contracts and any other documents that you need to share with your Italian partners. You can easily do that with SYSTRAN’s Italian translation software. Simply install the software and you’ll be able to translate your documents, no matter how large, in a matter of minutes with just a click of a mouse.

You will be able to:

• Convert text from English to Italian or Italian to English
• Translate e-mail messages and documents to/from the Italian language
• Translate business letters, memorandum, and report into Italian or English
• Convert Word, Excel, Power Point and PDF files.

Tip: If you rely on software completely to do the translation and do not have a human translator to proof your documents, send both the English and the Italian translations and put a note on the translated text to let the recipient know you have used software to do the translation for you. This way if there is any question they can refer back to the original English document.

Have any other tips for doing business in Italy? Share them with us in a comment below.