Volumes have been written on Italian etiquette, as there are rules on everything. Yet, Italians are pretty forgiving of foreigners; and, if you are observant and mold your behavior to theirs, you'll stay away from most blunders.

Appropriate Attire: Italians tend to dress more formally than Americans, particularly in urban settings. Shorts and tank tops are reserved for the beach. Women tend to dress more conservatively, particularly if they are alone. The Catholic Church has strict dress codes for both women and men: No showing of shoulders or legs above the knee in a chiesa or on sacred ground.

Courtesy: Get up for anybody who's hampered by packages or children, for the elderly, and for women; and open doors for them especially if you are a man. Offer your seat to the elderly and to pregnant women, or anybody carrying a small child. Don't cut in line: Italians might not queue in an orderly manner like the English, but they respect the order of arrival at an establishment, from the ice-cream counter to the post office. Always acknowledge people when entering and exiting a place, such as a shop, with "Buongiorno" and "Grazie."

Gestures & Contact: Italians do gesticulate a lot, but pointing at someone with your index finger is considered rude. Shake hands with your right hand, and hugging and kissing on the cheek among friends is common.

Eating & Drinking: It is customary for two parties to "argue" over the dinner bill, and you are expected to offer to pay, even if you won't be allowed. If you have been taken out for a meal, then it is good manners to return the invitation. If that is impossible, a small gift (flowers, for example) sent to their home (if it was a private party) or a thank-you note (if it was a business meal) will do the trick. If you are invited to someone's home, never go empty-handed: Flowers, pastries, chocolates, a bottle of wine, or a small gift for the children is the right way to go.

Photography: It is forbidden to take photographs of military, police, or transport (including subway and airport) facilities.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.