Probably one of the very first and easiest things you can learn when you travel to a foreign country is to greet. If you are wondering how to say hello in Italian, this guide of mine will make things easy for you even if it’s your first time trying to learn the language.
There is not really a single straight answer to what is hello in Italian because we say it in a few different ways. So while the words are not difficult to learn, pronounce, and remember, to make a good impression, you should learn which hi in Italian fits to the different situations.
Adding to that, even though goodbye in Italian is a different word, there are some shared expressions that we use both when we arrive and when we part ways.
Whether you are traveling to northern regions like Trentino-Alto Adige, southern Italy, or islands like Sardinia, hello in Italian is always the same and even the residents proud of their local language will answer you.
While the need to say hello in Italian is not as crucial as knowing the Italian words for foods and drinks when you are ordering your meal at the restaurant, it’s still something easy to know that will show your friends your goodwill and positive attitude.
Reasons and occasions you should know how to say hello in Italian
Whether it’s formal or informal, there are some situations where knowing how to say hi in Italian will make a good impression on your hosts.
When visiting non-touristy places
Locals usually appreciate and enjoy it when someone makes an effort to speak Italian. No one will expect you to speak perfect Italian, but they will still feel more encouraged to talk to you adding great value to your Italian experience.
To strike up a conversation
For sure, in Italy, you will find it easier to start chatting to anyone if your sentence begins with ciao or buongiorno, rather than hello or good morning!
To know when to use different greetings
If you are entering the post office or a bank, you will obviously greet the cashier or the other customers in a different manner than if you were going to the birthday party of a friend.
At the same time, you are going to learn how to say hi in Italian over the phone and how to say it when you meet someone you know but you are not friends with.
To avoid awkward situations
You will hear “ciao bella” quite often in Italy, especially in Rome. Well, don’t use it. It’s OK to use it with very close friends, you will even hear it between women. If you don’t really know the person well, however, it might sound rude and over-confident.
Hello in Italian informal
The easiest Italian word for hello when you are on an informal occasion, with a group of friends, or in general with people you already know quite well is the famous, world-known, evergreen “ciao”. And if you are somehow afar, you can also wave it because you know it, Italians are fond of hand gestures!
This can be followed by a simple “come stai?” (how are you?). Although in Italian, we don’t really use “come stai” as often as “how are you” is used in English. We ask how you are if we haven’t met for a while, not if we have met a couple of hours earlier on the same day.
Formal hello in Italian
How do you say hello in Italian in a more formal way? If it’s just a brief greeting, you can say “salve“, while if you are entering an office, a shop, a restaurant, a classroom, or anywhere where you have a more formal attitude, you can greet with a simple “buongiorno“, good morning.
How to say hi in Italian over the phone
When your phone rings and you want to answer in Italian, you will say “pronto?” On the other hand, if you are calling someone, when they answer, you can either say or skip pronto and carry on with ciao if you are talking to a friend, salve if it’s someone you don’t know very well, or even buongiorno/buonasera if you are still maintaining a certain formality.
Words to say hi in Italian (+ Audio)
Buongiorno (Good morning)
Buonasera (Good evening)
Italian phrases to greet (+ Audio)
Ciao, come stai? (Hello, how are you?)
Ciao, piacere di conoscerti (Hi, nice to meet you)
Ciao, da quanto (tempo)! (Hi, long time no see!)
Or more formal by using the courtesy form:
Salve, piacere di conoscerla (Hello, nice to meet you)
Buongiorno, si accomodi (Good morning, make yourself comfortable)
Ready to learn more Italian? Check out our other guides: