Right or left side?
We have all had that awkward first kiss when you were a youngster where you inevitably bumped noses while trying to give your sweetheart a first kiss.
Everyone knows that Italians greet by kissing on the cheek but you may not know there is etiquette related to this gesture. When we first moved here I had several instances where I was bumping noses and whole faces while trying to execute the proper cheek kiss but based on keen observation skills I have determined some full-proof rules.
First of all cheek kisses are not handed out like hand shakes, this is reserved for people who know each other. Generally okay between women as well as men and women but not as frequent between men. If you don’t know if you are in the proper situation for a cheek kiss let the Italian take the lead and follow.
First time encounters are not cheek kissing situations but generally a simple “Piacere, (and your name)” with a handshake.
To avoid the nose bump I have learned that the proper sequence of the cheek kiss is left cheeks first then the right cheek, this sequence has not failed me yet. Many times there is no actual touching of cheeks or even a kiss (or kiss sound) but a simple close placement of the face.
Sit back and watch some Italians in an airport or café sometime and learn how the locals do it.