The many ways to say “hello” and “good bye” in Italian

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel

For our first few weeks on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been talking about the many different ways to say “hello” and “good bye” in Italian, and in which situation to use which greeting. Read below and give it a try!

Here is a summary, adapted from our pocket book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases © 2014 of the many ways to say “hello” and “good bye” in Italian, which was shared with our Facebook group.


Meeting and Greeting in Italian

As in English, in Italian there are many ways to greet people, and different expressions will be used depending on the situation and how well the individuals know one another. Italian society has become overall less formal. Many easygoing, familiar, and slang expressions are now commonly used, not only between friends and family, but even between acquaintances, although polite forms of address are still important to know.

Listed below are some of the most common ways to say, “hello.” “Buon giorno can be used to mean “Good morning, when greeting family members at home and shop owners at the piazza; this phrase can also be used in more formal situations as its literal translation: “Good day.It is a phrase used so often that in fact, one often hears the reply shortened to simply “Giorno.  There are at least as many ways to say “good bye” as there are to say “hello,” as noted below.

Notice that the word ciao is unique because it can be used as an informal “hi” and a quick way to say “good bye.” Ciao is used frequently throughout Italy today, but only with family and friends.  So, don’t get stuck on the word ciao  – use your more formal greetings for those Italians you may meet the first time during your travels in Italy.

The word salve is also interesting.  It also means “hello.” It’s originals date back many centuries.  Today, it is thought to be a bit formal and yet… still a bit informal.  In short, it is a good choice for both formal and informal situations.  Or, even when one is not sure just how “formal” the situation should be!

Use the phrases below as a guide when you are visiting in Italy.   Take a walk (like the Italians love to do) and practice all of these greetings with the new people you meet at the shops, restaurants, and in the piazza!

Buon giorno.* Good morning. (lit. Good day.)
used all day into the evening
Buona sera.* Good evening.
early nighttime greeting
Buona notte.* Good night.
used when leaving/bedtime
Buona giornata. (Have a) good day.
wish someone a nice (entire) day
Ciao. Hi./Bye.
informal greeting for family/friends
Ci vediamo! (Until) we see each other (again)!
for family or for a friend you hope to see again soon
Arrivederci. Good bye. (familiar polite)
Arrivederla. Good bye. (polite, with respect)
ArrivederLa. Good bye. (formal written form)
Salve. Hello. (old greeting/formal and informal)
Come va? How (is it) go(ing)? (a slang greeting used often)
Ciao bella!

Ciao bello!

Hey, beautiful girl!

Hey, handsome!

for someone you know (well)
A dopo! (See you) later! (good bye between friends)
A più tardi! (See you) later! (good bye between friends)
A presto! (See you) soon!
(good bye between friends)

*Can be written as one word, as in buongiorno, buonasera, or buonanotte.

Use these phrases to agree with what someone is saying:

Si. Yes.
Certo.  Of course.
D’accordo. (I) agree.
Penso di si. (I) think so.


Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.


Available on and www.Learn Travel





5 thoughts on “The many ways to say “hello” and “good bye” in Italian

  1. Interesting blog. Just today I was mentioning to hubby how I want to go back and learn Italian. I do speak but I need some boost in grammar. This is a good start. I will definitely follow. x

    Liked by 1 person

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