The prejudice: we see them as excitable, volatile and flamboyant; they see us as reserved, serious and reliable.
Best foot forward: to create a good impression, be confident, outgoing and full of goodwill. Be genuinely pleased to meet your Italian colleagues and to be in Italy. Try out a few words in Italian. Old-fashioned good manners will go down very well. Be flexible and untroubled if the arrangements seem a little haphazard.
Dress code: wear a formal suit for meetings, but with a dash of colour/style. Be well-groomed and fashionable.
The main event: take care to be punctual. Meetings are for expressing your ideas and for persuasion: gently seek agreement rather than coldly stating your requirements.
Table manners: dinner at a restaurant is the opportunity for your Italian colleagues to see if they like and trust you. Initial talk about business will not last long, as this is mainly a social occasion. Relax and enjoy the food and the company. Be delighted to see children in a smart restaurant. Be courteous and amiable at all times.
Do say: how much you like Italy - the beautiful countryside, architecture, culture and the food and wine.
Do not say: politics and religion are best avoided, and, in the South of the country, don't mention the M ...
Signs of success: if the Italians seem warm and friendly towards you after considering your business proposals and dining out, this is a good sign. They will normally be quite clear about acceptance or rejection of your ideas.