The Italian language is very versatile and lively. But how to say hello in Italian? What are the different different Italian greetings? How do you actually greet each other people properly in Italian? We will explain which physical and verbal greetings and farewell rituals are common in Italy.
You can read all about “Good day”, “Good morning” or “Good night” in Italian in the following article.
Buon giorno – This greeting serves as a general greeting in Italian. It means “good day.” There is no direct equivalent for good morning. So even in the morning you start using buon giorno. For the rest of the day the correct greeting depends on the time and the occasion.
How to say Hello in Italian – Formal Greetings
Between people who are not very familiar, a handshake with the right hand is the usual way of greeting (obviously not during the corona pandemic). Depending on the time of day, the greeting formula varies:
Before lunch, that is, until about 5 pm, a friendly buon giorno is appropriate.
In the afternoon, from about 5 pm, the greeting is buona sera.
Buona notte is used as a farewell before going to bed, in both formal and informal situations.
And arrivederci corresponds to the English goodbye and can be used as a farewell at any time of day.
Buon giorno can also be written as one word: buongiorno.
The same is true for buonasera and buonanotte.
How to say Hello in Italian – Informal Greetings
In informal situations, the word ciao, which can serve as both a greeting and a farewell at any time, is the most common.
Between friends and acquaintances, two cheek kisses are the most popular Italian greeting and farewell. First you kiss once on the right cheek, then once on the left cheek.
But be careful! As a rule, the mouth and cheek do not touch! Most of the time, therefore, it is only a so-called “air kiss”: the cheeks touch slightly or not at all and the smack is given – with or without noise – into the air.
Cheek kisses are especially common between women and between a man and a woman. In some regions of Italy, especially in the south, you can observe them less frequently between men as well.
So, before you go out of your way to kiss the person you meet, think about the relationship you have with the person you are about to kiss!
The English greeting “hello” is called salve in Italian, but it has to be used somewhat parsimoniously, carefully and cautiously in Italian. When you meet someone for the first time, it is better to say buon giorno or buona sera. Only when you feel that your contact is not too formal and conscious of tradition, you can switch to salve.
Ways to say Hello in Italian
In a nutshell:
buon giorno (“good day”, more formal)
ciao (“hello”, informal)
Looking for greetings in other languages as well? Why not hop over to our article How to say Hello in German?