We all know the expression ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans’ and I recommend doing as well as you can, even if some things might be worth not trying. Traffic is probably more intense than you’d think and a three course meal in Italy in reality consists of a minimum of seventeen dishes…
Italians don’t say ‘thank you for the food’. If you’ve been invited for lunch or dinner in an Italian home, you’ve already thanked by saying yes to the invitation. But praise the hosts for their company and the food. Show your appreciation by eating more than you normally do.
Remember that if you invite an Italian mother to a birthday, a dinner etc, assume that the whole family will join.
When you turn to adults you must use formal language until you get to know each other better. It’s the oldest one of you who should propose an informal attitude.
It can be frustrating to negotiate with an Italian if you just consider the ‘general rules’. Italians make their final decisions based on friendship, family and their social conditions – what we normally know as the ‘gut feeling’. The outcome may therefore turn out different than you expected…
It is not totally uncommon that private conversations are trusted with friends or family. You might prefer some things remain very private, but for many Italians private matter is also up for discussion, say, during family dinner.
Moreover, the Italians are often very loud and have an energetic body language. Outsiders may believe conversations to be harsh arguments or quarrelling, when people really are just exchanging information.