Are you planning a trip to Italy?
While there, you'll probably meet many people and possibly make new friends, as Italians are a sociable bunch who like talking. Well known for their passionate views and vivacious communicative style, Italians are all about connecting and conversation. If you'd like to participate in these exchanges, the first thing you'll need to know is how to introduce yourself. Of course, when meeting new friends it's always advisable to steer clear of touchy religion or race issues - and you might also not want to mention if you happen to be a fan of a rival football (soccer) team. Here are some tips on introducing yourself and making new friends in Italy:
First of all, smile because you want to appear warm, friendly and easy going. In Europe it is common to offer your hand for a handshake and keep eye contact, as this shows that you are alert, genuine and interested in what is being said.
Your handshake should be firm, and don't be surprised if your new friend moves in for a cheek kiss or shoulder slap. When greeting friends, cheek kisses on both sides are as common as shaking hands in Italy. Remember, though, if you're even in Russia or places like Lebanon they'll be expecting three kisses, not two.
When you introduce yourself tell someone your name, first and last. For "my name is..." you can say "Io mi chiamo..." or "Il mio nome è...". If you have a nickname or prefer to be called by a shortened version of your name let people know up front.
Eating and dining are an important part of Italian culture and one of the main ways friends connect with one another. If you meet Italians during your vacation, don't be surprised if you're invited for a long, lazy dinner where conversation and laughter is shared over some good food. What better way to bond and unwind?
Here is an example of a conversation that may occur between two people who have just met. The scene is a private home in Naples...
YOU: "Ciao, mi chiamo Carlo, Carletto per gli amici, piacere di conoscerti. Come ti chiami?" = "Hi, I'm Carlo, but my friends call me Carletto. Nice to meet you. What's your name?"
NEW FRIEND: "Io mi chiamo Claudia." = "I'm Claudia."
Y: "Come va?" = "How are you doing?" or "How are you?"
NF: "Io sto bene, grazie." = "I'm great, thanks."
Y: "Di dove sei?" = "Where are you from?"
NF: "Io sono italiano e vivo a Roma e tu?" = "I'm Italian and I live in Rome and you?"
Y: "Io vengo da Sidney." = "I'm from Sydney."
NF: "Sei mai stata in Italia?" = "Have you ever been to Italy before?"
Y: "No, questa è la prima volta." = "No, this is the first time."
NF: "Prego, accomodati!" = "Please, take a seat!"
NF: "Vorresti un caffè o qualcos'altro da bere?" = "Would you like a coffee or something else to drink?"
Y: "Si, grazie un caffè." = "Yes, please, a coffee."
NF: "Ti stai divertendo qui?" = "Are you having a good time here?"
Y: "Si certamente." = "Yes, of course."
NF: "Cosa hai fatto di bello oggi?" = "What did you do today?"
Y: "Oggi sono andata al Maschio Angioino e ho fatto delle belle foto." = "Today I've been to the Maschio Angioino and I've taken some beautiful pictures."
NF: "Napoli è una bella città, e penso che valga la pena vederla una volta nella vita." = "Naples is an amazing city, I think it's worth seeing it once in a lifetime."
Y: "Non molto tempo fa ho pensato a questo viaggio in Italia alla scoperta del paese natio di mio nonno." = "Not too long ago I decided to make this trip to explore the country where my grandfather was born."
NF: "Che bella idea! Ricercare le tue radici è interessante. Dove vuoi andare precisamente?" = "What a great idea! Discovering your roots is very interesting. Where would you like to go, exactly?"
Y: "Mio nonno era di Caserta, e domani vado là." = "My grandfather was born in Caserta and tomorrow I'm going there."
NF: "Dal momento che non conosci bene la strada, posso procurarti una cartina." = "Given that you're not familiar with the area I can get you a map."
Y: "Grazie, molto gentile." = "Thank you, that's very kind of you."
NF: "Ad ogni modo se vuoi stare qui a lungo, mi piacerebbe farti fare un giro qui attorno." = "By the way, if you want to stay here longer, I would love to show you around."
Y: "Grazie, sarebbe bello!" = "Thanks, that would be great!"
NF: "Allora, fa' buon viaggio!" = "Well, then, have a great trip!"
Y: "Grazie per la tua ospitalità" = "Thanks for your hospitality."
This is only an example about what can be talked about when you meet someone at a party. Of course, just like at home the conversation can span from movies and music to your hobbies. I truly hope my advice will make your visit to Italy much more enjoyable.
By Elisa Bressan