What to consider when doing business in Italy


Following on from our stop-overs in France and Germany, Italy is the next stop on our infographic tour. This post brings you important cultural and language considerations when planning business or market research in Italy.

Language

  • Unsurprisingly, Italian is the main language in Italy and is spoken as a mother tongue by 70 million people in Italy (Italian Language Guide) and another 66 million across numerous countries (Ethnologue).
  • Many of the Italian ‘dialects’ are considered separate languages in their own right. The main ones include Neapolitan, Friulian, Piedmontese, Sardinian and Venetian.
  • When translating a text it’s likely it will increase by 10 -15% as Italian often needs more words to express a concept than English does.
  • Italian is also an official language in Switzerland and is commonly spoken in Argentina – after Argentinian Spanish of course.

Culture

  • In Italy there are 12 national holidays, and up to 17 if you include the regional holidays. You can find an extensive list on our infographic of international public holidays.
  • Punctuality is important in Italy. Making an appointment is mandatory, if you’d like a business meeting, and should be made in writing (in Italian) two to three weeks in advance.
  • Try to avoid booking a meeting in August as many Italian companies close for the month or, if not, have a lot of staff members taking holidays during this time.
  • For business meetings it’s good practice to have all your printed material available in both English and Italian.
  • Italians prefer face to face contact in order to develop long-lasting relationships. In the north, Italians spend less time on social conversation before getting down to business than those in the south do. During meetings it’s best to follow the lead of your Italian counter-parts who will set the pace they prefer.
  • First impressions count. The concept of “bella figura” is important to Italians. More than just about dressing well, “bella figura” is the way you come across to others, how you seem to feel about yourself and the demeanour and style you project. All of this may be taken into account when you meet an Italian for the first time.

Italy

To Italy and beyond

In order to achieve “bella figura” and make a good first impression when dealing with Italian prospects, clients and colleagues, you can count on The Language Factory. Whether you need our translators’ help with the translation of business cards, transcriptions of previous meetings or just proofreading your Italian meeting agenda, get in touch so we can make sure your first impression is the best it can be. All our Italian linguists come with at least five years’ experience in their chosen field as well as a qualification in translation. In addition, they’re all native speakers so they know how important it is to keep in mind certain aspects of language and Italian culture when translating.

 

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