Just like saying hello, also learning how to say goodbye in Italian is important and can get you out of awkward situations. Even though there are several words we use to part ways, it’s OK if you want to memorize just a few, the essential ones that will get you by in most scenarios.
I have written a simple guide to the best and easy ways to say goodbye in Italy, mentioning what’s better to use in formal gatherings or informal get-togethers. At the end of the post, you will find a list of all the terms we suggested and their pronounciation.
Reasons and occasions you should know how to say goodbye in Italian
To know when to say what
We have several ways and words to say goodbye in Italian and it would sound really awkward if you said the wrong word in the wrong situation. We have words for formal occasions, informal but with people you don’t really know much, between friends, and with total strangers.
To blend with locals
I don’t think this is limited to Italy. Whenever I traveled abroad, in fact, I noticed that locals appreciated very much when I made the effort to speak their language, even if that was only for the greetings.
No one expects you to speak academic Italian, but I think knowing some of the most common terms opens up some nice opportunities to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
To communicate in non-touristy places
While in Rome’s Centro Storico, downtown Florence, or around any major attraction it’s easy to find English-speaking people. In non-touristy towns, however, this might not be the case, and showing a bit of knowledge of the Italian language will definitely make you look better and friendlier.
Of course, knowing how to say goodbye is not as essential as other words such as foods and drinks, or the days of the week in Italian. But especially if you are planning to see again the people you are parting ways with, being able to tell them a simple goodbye in Italian sounds nice.
Informal goodbye in Italian
The basic, most informal, and most common goodbye you can use in Italian when you are parting ways with friends and family is a simple “Ciao”. That’s right, we use ciao both when we are arriving and when we are leaving.
Other expressions you can use in Italian to say goodbye to your friends can include wishes such as “buona giornata” (have a nice day) if you are in the morning or “buona serata” (have a nice evening) if you are in the afternoon or evening.
In Italy, we say also something similar to “see you later”, with the difference that we mean it, we are actually giving a sort of appointment.
I remember, when I lived in Dublin, that many of my colleagues would say goodbye to each other after work by saying “see you later” without having any intention to meet up. When I asked why they would do such a thing, they told me that it was just a way to say goodbye but it didn’t really mean they were arranging a date.
Well, in Italy, when we say “ci vediamo dopo“, we imply that we have already an agreement that we are going to meet later.
Another informal expression you will hear in Italy to part ways is “stammi bene“, something like “I wish you well”. I never use it because I don’t particularly like it. It’s very popular but to me, it sounds blunt and somehow impolite.
Formal goodbye in Italian
What is a proper Italian goodbye when you are on formal occasions and among people you don’t really know?
If you find yourself at formal parties where you talk to everyone but without knowing anyone very well, or at a restaurant, a bar, or a museum, it’s OK to say “arrivederci” when you leave. For something more formal, like an official event, wishing “buona serata” is more appropriate than arrivederci.
Another Italian phrase to say goodbye and keep some sort of formality is to wish for a good continuation of afternoon, evening, or whatever they are doing. In this case, you will say “buon proseguimento“.
How do Italians wave goodbye?
Since we like hand gestures so much, we don’t just say but we also wave goodbye, just as we often wave hello. This can happen if we have already parted ways and we remember that we need to say something else. We turn and when we leave, we can wave our hand if we are familiar with the person or simply raise our hand if we want to keep it more formal.
In formal situations, however, we don’t really wave goodbye but we simply shake hands when we are leaving and saying goodbye or wishing a nice rest of the day.
Words to say goodbye in Italian (+ Audio)
Below are some of the most common expressions we use to say goodbye in Italian and their pronunciation.
A presto (See you soon)
A domani (See you tomorrow)
A dopo (See you later)
A tra poco (See you soon)
Buona giornata (Have a nice day)
Buona serata (Have a nice evening)
Buonanotte (Good night)
La saluto (I greet you)
Si riguardi/Stia bene (Be well)
Alla prossima (Until next time)
Buon proseguimento (Good continuation)
Stammi bene (Be well)