9 modern (but not too much) bon ton rules valid for the whole family

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Source: Ipa

We all think we know good manners, but often we don't. Now, for those wishing to get more detailed information on the basic rules of bon ton, there is a classic guide revisited in a "modern key" (but not too much): it is the text written by Silvia Columbano, that is, Etiquette & Bon ton modern but not too much. Good manners yesterday and today (Franco Cesati Editore, 16 euros).



The bon ton explained by Silvia Columbano takes up literature and, in particular, Giovanni Della Casa's Etiquette, the first treatise on good manners written by the Tuscan monsignor between 1551 and 1555, whose "ideal" reader was: disposes to live not for solitude or hermitages, but in cities and among men "; therefore not princes, but common people. We interviewed Silvia Columbano, asking her to tell us what are the main themes of her book which takes up a text from 400 years ago and to provide some etiquette tips that are still valid for today's families.



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Silvia Columbano states that "Our children look at us as superheroes and superheroines to imitate: we try to live up to their expectations and practice good manners first… Which are all rules of respect, of the opinions, of the spaces, of the sensibilities of others ".

The writer stresses that a good opportunity to test our "level" of bon ton is undoubtedly the holiday, during which we can teach the little ones that the rules we want to be respected at home also apply outside the home. For example in the hotel, where:

1) we leave the room as tidy as possible;

2) we keep a low tone of voice in the corridors and nothing runs;

3) we avoid the assault on the breakfast buffet;

4) always greet the hotel staff and address everyone with education and kindness (always keep the four revolutionary words in mind!);

5) we respect meal times and, once we leave the hotel, the environment: whether it is sea, mountain or urban, it doesn't matter.

Instead, by plane and train:

6) we moderate the tone (of the voice and the telephone),

7) do not clutter up the "vital" space of others with newspapers, notebooks, games, markers, bags.

Finally, two red dot rules:

8) never take off your shoes;

9) never use empty seats to stretch your legs (and put our sneakers on them).

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Silvia explains that in the first lines of her treatise Giovanni Della Casa defines us as "social beings" and that today we have removed the "i" from this word (we have become "social") but the substance does not change: we are made to be with others , but we still have a lot to learn about "how".



"This is why I decided to start from the basics, from the Galateo, a great book of civil coexistence between people, to retrace the thirty chapters with more objectives: rediscover the evergreen rules of good manners, adapt and update those that are now outdated, add others that fall into modern everyday life, from the supermarket to public transport, to holidays, to work ", he says.

What is the most important rule of conduct of all?

Silvia does not hesitate and explains that it is undoubtedly kindness. «Kindness is like black: it looks good on everything (or rather on everyone!), On every occasion; plus it makes us empathetic, it makes people get close and peasants move away. I like to see it as a kind of "insecticide"! Let's not wait for a formal occasion to show it off - as is done with an elegant dress - but let's put it into practice in everyday life ».

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The fundamental rules - nowadays - of Bon Ton at the table

Life becomes more and more hectic, and even the way to set the table is simplified, especially with the arrival of summer. Silvia clarifies that "to make a good impression with our guests it is not necessary to bring out elegant porcelain sets and silver cutlery: a well-ironed and clean tablecloth (also white, with a coordinated or tone-on-tone napkin - and strictly on the left!) , a plate, two glasses (one for water, one for wine), the cutlery arranged in the right place (fork on the left, knife on the right) and it's done; an eye for colors (we don't mix too many shades, but in some cases even daring to be a good idea) ».

But, the author clarifies, apart from the mise en place, how we behave during a lunch or dinner is fundamental: the form must always go hand in hand with the substance. «So: we don't play with cutlery and glasses, we sit quietly, we pay more attention to the diners than to the food we have on our plates, only small bites, and the shoe between close friends and relatives, and strictly at home; beware of "slippery" topics. And, last thing: let's forget the smartphone at least for a couple of hours ».

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