Working with Italians everyday and visiting them every year for twenty years, they never cease to make me laugh with their ways and sayings. The Italian language is very beautiful and their proverbs and idioms when translated are so very funny. One of my favourite is when someone is cranky or angry you say that ‘ He has a fly up his nose”!! “Gli è saltata la mosca al naso, si è arrabbiato”! The Italian way is very different from English, Australian and American culture……

Their way of viewing the world is often very different also. While this makes Italians at times very difficult to work with in business, the balance is provided by the humorous situations that occur. At times even in the middle of a difficult negotiation they will say something that will cause me to start laughing and then we both come around and things are softened. This is what I really love.

Laughter sometimes is the best medicine and in the west we take business so ‘terribly terribly’ seriously. As we spend the major part of our lives working, there should be more lightheartedness in the workplace. People actually work harder if they enjoy it.

Every morning when I begin work there is always at least one email that makes me laugh even if it is just the Italian way of saying things or the funny translation into English. This morning one of my first emails was an Italian apartment owner describing the furniture in his apartment for rent. He wrote “ the beds are all from the 18th century but not the matresses and pillows”! I laughed out loud!!

You can always rely on Italians doing or saying the unexpected. They never cease to surprise me and this is the thing that makes it fun and keeps one on your toes. When in Italy one has to keep all senses aware. However for the normal tourist travelling, this is not really an issue, it is only really when trying to negotiate a problem or trying to get something fixed. It is best in these cases to have no expectations at all and to accept what comes, otherwise it can become very stressful. When in Rome do as the Romans do and that is go and have a cup of coffee and chat about it!!

There are many wonderful things about the Italian people and the best is their kindness to people who are in distress or who are sick. I have been with an Italian driver who having taken the wrong turn onto a highway then decides to reverse backwards into the traffic of the four lanes. The cars just parted and let him through kindly. I was speechless!! If one tried to do that in my country you would be blocked and attacked by road rage or fined by the police.

I have been on a bus where a man fainted because the heating was up too high and he had a large coat on. The Bus stopped on the highway and the whole bus got up to fan him and give him water and lollies. I wanted to stand up and shout –“ Forget the lollies – Take his coat off” !! If one fainted in public here, buonanotte!! I hope Italians never become ‘westernized’ and lose this wonderful compassion.