Italian Language/use of "signore"

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Question
Dear Maria,

I have another question about the use of Italian in the novel that I am reading – “The House in Amalfi”.

My question is about the use of the word “signore” in this novel.  

The author often has the characters in this book use the title “signore” when they are addressing waiters.  For example (on page 97), the main character “Lamour goes to a caffè and states “Buena sera, signore” to the proprietor.

I had thought that, in Italy, “signore” was a title of respect used, for example, by a waiter when talking to a customer  - not by the customer talking to the waiter.  

I, myself, will often say “sir” when talking to almost anyone – waiter, cashier, store owner, etc. when the context seems appropriate to do so.  

Can you please tell me if this also happens in Italy.  Is it appropriate for me to use “signore” when addressing waiters, store owners, etc?  I just want to be as correct as possible when using your beautiful language.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

When in the novel “The House in Amalfi” by Elizabeth Adler  the main character Lamour goes to a "caffè" and states “Buona sera, signore” to the proprietor, this is absolutely correct, since we use “signore” as a title of respect when we are  talking to almost anyone – waiter, cashier, store owner, etc., just like in English you use “sir” when the context seems appropriate to do so.  

Therefore it is correct for you  to use “signore” when addressing waiters, store owners, etc., as this use belongs to good manners.
  
All the best,

Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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