When you start doing business in Italy, you realize that a lot of your activities will at some point start converging towards Veneto – the region whose capital is Venice.
Before commerce, Venice as we know it didn’t exist. It was just a bunch of
barely inhabited muddy islands. Business trips were the Venetians’ gamble – firstly closer ones, then the longest travels ever, to the unknown Asia. When you have the monopoly on rare Asian products that the whole Europe wants, you can pretty much set the prices as you wish and become filthy rich. And build an empire.
Without going much into historic details, that’s the primordial nature of Venetians and all the people from Veneto, really.
The city and the people
Transportation in the whole region is pretty much ok. Not in Venice, Venice is hell if you are not a tourist, or a rich business person. My recommendation is that you get an accommodation close to your work destination, so you don’t have to travel much every day. If you stay around the Rialto bridge, you will be in the heart of the city, and that’s the strategic position I prefer. Public transport is packed with tourists with cameras, I don’t recommend that. You might find yourself stuck in “people traffic jams” as well!
The business side
As I said, Veneto has a strong commercial tradition. This means that you are allowed to have just a few minutes of chitchat before diving into business. If you are not used to the “Mediterranean” style of negotiation, what comes next might sound a bit complicated for you. There are two things you need to deal with: negotiation straightforwardness AND linguistic arabesque.
People from Veneto know what they want to hear, so don’t bullshit. State your conditions and make them clear to your counterpart. You’ll work on those together. At the same time, you don’t want to give too much at the beginning and might want to leave yourself some space for further discussion.
When speaking, I have found out over time that complete, unfiltered directness may be appreciated, but is not understood. Just like red, rich Venetians ‘700 century clothes, your words must be velvety and stylish. Don’t give yourself away too much, always hide part of yourself behind a mask… Don’t see it as a fraud, it’s a game!
Napoli & Venice
The way you should choose and weight your words is similar everywhere in Italy, so I don’t see much difference in expression. The real difference is in culture. Neapolitans have it good from nature, so we take things veeeery slowly (including business). Venetians sit on an insecure hill of mud, so they need to work their ass off to survive. These reasons are part of the past and in today’s world we don’t see the origins of our behaviors anymore, but they clearly still influence us.