Florence Business Tips
(Florence, Tuscany, Italy)
Business in Florence, Italy can often be relaxed and Italians are quite laid back about timekeeping, so don't be too alarmed if an arranged meeting is not on time. Also, when meeting over lunch or dinner, never mix business with food - the Italians tend to enjoy the food first and then discuss business matters afterwards.
A firm and friendly handshake is usually the customary greeting in most social and business situations, although when meeting friends, the Italians tend to be more enthusiastic and kiss and hug. New acquaintances are normally addressed on first name terms as the Italians are a casual, comfortable nation who are not too particular about strict codes of etiquette. Business cards are used throughout Italy and are often exchanged.
Hours of Business
In general, most offices operate between the hours of 09:00 and 16:30, Monday to Friday, although business hours do vary from one industry to another. Most Florence banks open between 08:30 to 13:30 and 14:45 to 15:45. Monday to Friday, with major branches often opening for a couple of hours on Saturday mornings. Many are in the heart of the city and usually have ATMs outside that accept a wide network of cards and offer excellent wholesale exchange rates.
There are many opportunities to exchange currency in Florence and the places to obtain the best rates are banks. There are also foreign exchange outlets in the airports, train, bus stations, and even in hotels and restaurants, although the rates are usually not as favourable. Although hotels and travel agencies may offer bureau de change services, using an ATM to obtain cash provides one of the best rates of exchange.
Public access to the Internet is easy to find, with terminals appearing in cyber cafés, shopping centres, hotels and hostels throughout the city centre.
A chemist or drugstore is known as a Farmacia and most of them tend to keep the same working hours as other shops. If your nearest drugstore is closed it will list other chemists open at lunchtimes, holidays or at night.
In general, Italians dress smartly and appearances in business settings are very important. Both men and women wear suits, and even when not at work, Italians enjoy dressing up, particularly for trips to the theatre or restaurant. In churches, any revealing kind of dress is not allowed and shorts, tank tops and miniskirts are banned.