Kiss, Kiss, Bacio, Bacio


Have you ever greeted an Italian with a hand shake? It just feels weird doesn’t it? Like, maybe you’re not one of the “club” unless they slobber all over you with kisses upon greeting. I am a bit of a touchy, feely person myself, so this sweet Italian gesture is something I find very endearing about the culture. But, it is also in direct conflict with my alter-ego the “Germa-phobe” when the flu is going around.

Sometimes I think all this kissy kissy can get a bit ridiculous too. One time I was on a very crowded bus (when are they not?), only to be trampled on so that some woman could pass through all the people like a line-backer on the football field just to give the mandatory kisses to some friend of hers and then I watched her do it again 2 minutes later before departing at her stop. I got dizzy watching this spectacle!

I partake in a website called pinkitaly. It’s a community of female Expats living all over Italy. It’s a great forum and I really enjoy reading all the posts and perspectives of life in Italy. One of the girls wrote that she likes to give Italian’s “long uncomfortable hugs”. This made me laugh. As a Canadian, we all hug. I have a friend here in Genoa, and I always love to greet her because she always gives me that familiar Canadian hug and makes me feel at ease no matter how bad my day is going.

Italians generally don’t know how to hug. They are far too busy kissing everyone! And no matter how many times I have done this kissing practice, I just cannot seem to get the hang of it. I always end up trying to kiss on the wrong cheek first (is there a right and wrong way to do this?) and end up either kissing the persons lips (embarrassing) or I awkwardly try to hug them at the same time.

Oh well, at least I try. I’m going shopping in Milano this weekend and I am excited! I want to get myself a sweater from the shop “Baci & Abbracci”. It means “Kisses & Hugs”…so at least I got 50% of it right. Just like my Italian lessons, I’ll keep working on the “Kissing” part : )

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About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
This entry was posted in Italian Culture, travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Kiss, Kiss, Bacio, Bacio

  1. Elisa says:

    I must confess the first thing I thought reading this post was ‘Oh my god, am I guilty of this slobbery kiss crime as well? I hope I didn’t make a fool of myself yesterday’. 😀

    If you think the Italian ‘kiss as a greeting’ habit is complicated, try living in France for a while. The French take their kissing a lot more serious than us. The number of kisses varies from region to region, so you’re much more likely to ‘get your kissing wrong’ depending on where you are and who you are kissing.

    But anyway, back to Italy – a handshake is perfectly fine in a business situation or in any other rather formal context, in my experience.

    I also reckon Italian men don’t do the kissing thing quite as much as women, so they usually do that awkward ‘pat on the shoulder with quick squeeze and/or half-hug’ greeting.

    • Haha, not at all, I truly thought it was very sweet of you to greet me with a kiss : ) In some ways it shows me a bit about your personality. Your emails are very nice and warm hearted and your greeting yesterday confirmed that you are like this in reality too! I find that most often it is the men that shake my hand for fear of “offending” me. Usually when this happens I go along with it, but if it is a distant cousin, then I jump right in and kiss. I don’t want family members to feel uncomfortable around me just because I am not Italian.

      I really enjoyed meeting you! I’m sorry I dashed off so quickly to catch the #17. I hope we can meet up again in the near future. I absolutely love your British accent!

  2. eloradaphne says:

    gimme a huuuuuuggggg!

  3. Pingback: top 10 blog posts this week from italy | 17 jan 2010 | italytutto - the blog about the blogs in Italy

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