Rome, Italy

Italy’s capital is not only full of cultural relics such as the Colosseum and Pantheon, it’s also the country’s centre for major corporate head offices.

Rome, known as the Eternal City, is a hub of financial and cultural significance. Home to approximately 2.8 million residents, tourism is the biggest contributor to the city’s economy, attracting tens of millions of Italians and foreigners every year. Chock full of cultural relics such as the Colosseum and Pantheon, it’s also brimming with a wide variety of famous museums and churches. Rome is also Italy’s centre for the corporate head offices of major Italian companies.


In Rome, it’s important you dress to impress, as appearance goes hand in hand with professionalism.

And while being punctual is a critical part of doing business in North America, don’t be offended if your Italian counterpart is late for an appointment. As the guest, however, you are held to a different standard — so be on time. Regardless of whether you’re meeting with one person or five, shake hands with everyone in attendance as a sign
of respect.

Another factor to keep in mind is the value of your Italian counterparts liking and trusting you. In Italy, initial meetings are often not the time to make heavy business decisions, but rather are opportunities to establish relationships and evaluate colleagues.


  1. In Italy, there is a tremendous respect for age, so show respect for your elders by using last names or appropriate titles such as signore and signora (Mr. and Mrs.).
  2. Make eye contact and maintain it. This is a sign that you are interested in what is being said and are an active member of the conversation.
  3. Hospitality is key in Italian business culture so refusing an invitation of any kind can be viewed as an insult. Have a very good reason if you’re going to politely decline.
  4. No topics are off-limits - but passionate views on soccer teams could get you in some hot water. Be sure not to speak ill of the Roman team.


  1. Italy was ranked 65th out of 189 economies in 2013 for its Ease of Doing Business, as compiled by the World Bank.
  2. Foreign investors are granted the same incentives as locals such as subsidized loans, cash grants and tax credits.
  3. Rome was ranked 76th in the Innovation Cities Index 2014, which ranks 445 cities around the world according to innovation. It ranked 37th within Europe.


  1. If you’re renting a car, be warned: Italian drivers have places to go and people to see. They’re in a hurry and lack patience, so if you can’t cope with driving stress, avoid this option. Also, be sure to specify well in advance if you don’t want to drive a standard-transmission vehicle, as that’s the norm.
  2. Be wary of pickpockets when you’re in crowds — keep all personal belongings close to you and keep a close eye on them.
  3. Know your route in advance if you’re planning on taking public transportation. Rome can be a confusing city for even the most seasoned traveller.
  4. Credit cards are widely accepted but — if you want to play it safe — Visa or MasterCard are always your best bet. Bring cash for taxis.

About the Author

Vanessa Santilli

Vanessa Santilli is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

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