As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
Was there an Italian custom that on Palm Sunday you would present a palm to your Grandfather then bend and kiss his hand?? A cousin just wrote to me and said that is what they would do to each palm Sunday.
In many towns in Calabria, where I was born, at Palm Sunday kids would get their palm as a traditional gift made by a grown up. Also some kids would get an olive branch adorned with goodies like candy, chocolates, etc. Then the kids would go to church and the priest would bless the palms and the olive branches. These traditions are disappearing and it's a shame because the adorned olive branch tradition dates back to the ancient greek colonies in southern Italy.
This must also be a Catholic tradition. I remember getting the palm branches, when we went to church on Palm Sunday & all the children would go up to the priest to have them blessed. I use to braid them and then hang it around my crucifix.
Researching in San Vitaliano, Napoli, Italy & Armento, Potenza, Italy.