Cheek Kissing 101

A guide to greeting, continental-style

Two fashionably dressed Italian women wave to each other and scream, “Ciao!” Quickly, they approach one another, dive in for a hug, and kiss on both cheeks.

Walking around Urbino, you’ll see this scene repeated everywhere, a simple hello gesture between family and friends. Although the double cheek-kiss is more popular among the young natives of Urbino, it is also done by the elderly. “It is an act of affection and shows the beauty of being together,” says a faculty member of the University of Urbino.

So when an Italian friend leans in for a kiss, don’t assume she’s trying to make a move on you. Here’s how to reciprocate: Move toward your right and gently press your left cheek against the other person’s left cheek, then switch sides and do the same with the right cheek. Follow this rule, and you’ll never go wrong greeting an Italian.

This article is from Urbino Now magazine’s Go Native section, a collection of tips and info to help you feel like a local. Please view more magazine articles or order a complete printed copy of Urbino Now.