There is Always Time for Greetings

Fast-paced is an adjective that doesn’t fit the Southern Italian way of life. We have many engagements everyday but, time management is a bit different from the rest of Europe and even from Northern Italy. How? A slow life is a cliché for many reasons, but first of all, no matter if you are in a hurry, you have to say Hallo!

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Italian people always greet each other: both strangers that friends. In the first case, you can simply say "Buongiorno" or "Buonasera", make a smile or a gesture. And Italians, you know, teach the world how to talk with hands. In the second case, it's getting a bit more complicated depending on where happened the encounter: if you meet someone in a public place or during a walk, it is expected shaking hands or kissing cheeks. Typically, this is a wonderful occasion for having a little chat. If you are in a cafè, probably you will have a cup of coffee offered but there are also bad habits due to the importance of greetings. In Southern Italy, you can see people, completely heedless of the traffic, stop their car to say Hallo. The reason is that greetings aren’t only formality but they are an easy way to establish and reinforce social relationships. They show other people that you are truly interested in how their life is going and that you want to share your time and your life. In Southern Italy nobody is an island. Greetings don’t waste your time but do it better.


You can choose from a variety of Italian greetings.The most famous is Ciao. Nowadays this word is friendly and informal but its origins are quite different: it descends from the venetian word “schiao” that means “slave”. It was a formal greeting with the meaning of “at your disposal”, “I’m your slave”. Today this word means something less ceremonious. Usually we say “ciao” to relatives and friends both when we arrive and when we leave.

Salve, buongiorno e buonasera are more formal. We only use them with strangers or acquaintances to start a conversation. You can also hear people say buongiorno to friends and relatives especially in the early morning: in this case it means "A good awakening" or "Have a good day" and loses its formal characteristic.To say goodbye, we use arrivederci.

Without formal or informal connotations is buonanotte. People say it before going to sleep. Another way to say goodnight is sogni d’oro, that means "Have sweet dreams".

Do you know what are the most common Italian greetings? Click here if you want to learn or repeat them.