How To Say HELLO In Italian – Common Greetings And How To Use Them

How do you say hello in Italian?

In Italy the answer depends on:

  • who it is
  • whether you have a formal or informal relationship
  • the context
  • the time of day

Showing respect and good manners (buone maniere) are important to Italians.

Below is an easy breakdown on saying hello in Italian so you’ll know:

  • what to say
  • how to say it
  • the right body language

When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to listen and observe. When it comes to saying hello, you can often take the other person’s lead, whether it’s with someone you know, or you’re being introduced to someone new.

Read on to learn more about Italian greetings you may recognize, like ciao, buongiorno, and buonasera, as well as other Italian words you might not know, like salve. Find out how to say hello when you answer the phone, and learn about kisses and body language when greeting someone in Italy. Discover some informal and formal phrases to use when saying hello, like come stai? and che piacere rivederla. Last but not least, learn words and phrases for saying goodbye, like arrivederci and a presto!

CIAO: Hi, Hello (informal)

Man driving Vespa with woman on back with her arms open wide.  They are both smiling.  They are driving in a piazza in Italy.  You can see two two-story orange brick buildings in the background.

This is a very handy casual greeting, and versatile as well, because it means hi as well as bye. Just be careful to use it with people you know, like your mom or dad, friends and close acquaintances. For someone you’ve just met, and formal relationships (like teachers, and people older than you) see below for a more formal greeting.

The pronunciation of Ciao is: ch-OW

Listen to how to pronounce Ciao here: 

To say hello to a group of people, you can say Ciao a tutti, which means, Hello everyone.

Know that: You may be tempted to use the famous phrase Ciao bella! which means Hi beautiful (to a girl or woman). Sorry, but just like in English, this is sleazy if you’re talking to someone you don’t know well or harassing a woman on the street.

On the other hand, Ciao bello, or Hi handsome (to a man) and Ciao bella, or Hi beautiful (to a woman), is appropriate if you are greeting someone you know well, who understands that you are using it affectionately and respectfully. 

Another way to greet someone affectionately is Ciao caro (to a man) or Ciao cara (to a woman), which mean Hi dear.

SALVE: Hello (formal and informal)

Woman and children walking on a trail away from the camera in the mountains in Italy.  There are mountains in the background.  The grass on both sides of the trail is green and there are low-lying shrubs just ahead of them.  You can see a few people hiking on the trail ahead of them.  A digital speech bubble coming from the woman's mouth says 'salve!'

Salve is a polite way to say hello and can be used in most settings and with anyone. This basic Italian greeting can also be used at any time of day. It’s just a bit stiff to use with your closest friends and family.

Fun Fact: Salve comes from the Latin verb salvere, to be well. The word was used by Romans as a greeting – “Be in good health!” and is still used by Italians today.

Italian Culture Fact: Salve is the most commonly used greeting on hiking trails or when crossing paths with others while jogging, cycling, etc.

The pronunciation of Salve is: SAHL-vay

Listen to how to pronounce Salve here: 

BUONGIORNO: Good Day, Good Morning (formal and informal)

Close up of Italian cappuccino from above.  Buongiorno is digitally written in the froth along with a graphic of a sun.

The direct translation of buongiorno is good day, and it is used very frequently. It’s a versatile greeting because it is polite to use with anyone and everyone to say hello!

This is a great way to greet someone during the first half of the day, until after lunchtime. After about 2 or 3 pm, Italians do not use this greeting (though usage can vary depending on the area of Italy). For this reason, buongiorno is often translated to mean good morning.

When you enter a shop in Italy, it is polite to greet the shopkeeper and any other customers. The shopkeeper will greet you as well. In the morning, buongiorno is perfect in this situation!

If you are writing a letter or email in the morning, Buongiorno is also a good way to start it. For example: Buongiorno colleghi or Good morning colleagues . . . 

The pronunciation of Buongiorno is: boo-OHN jee-OHR-noh

Listen to how to pronounce Buongiorno here: 

BUONDÌ: Good Day (formal and informal)

The direct translation of Buondì is good day, and is a good alternative to buongiorno though it is much less common. It can be used in the morning to greet people formally and informally upon seeing them. Buondì has an old-fashioned ring to it.

The pronunciation of Buondì is: boo-ohn-DEE

Listen to how to pronounce Buondì here: 

BUONASERA: Good Evening, Good Afternoon (formal and informal)

Two boys enter a Borsalino hat shop in Florence, Italy.  The smallest boy says 'buonasera' with a graphic speech bubble.  There are hats in the window displays on both sides of the entrance.

The direct translation of the Italian word Buonasera is good evening, but you can use this greeting to say hello anytime after lunch. It may seem strange to tell someone good evening at 4 pm, but in Italy it is appropriate, even in the afternoon when it’s still light out.

You can use this greeting after lunchtime to say hello in formal settings, but it’s also fine to use buonasera in casual situations as well. It’s useful when you enter a shop, and to start a letter or email.

The pronunciation of Buonasera is: boo-OHN-ah SAY-rah

Listen to how to pronounce Buonasera here: 

Know that: You may also hear Italians use Buonanotte, which means “good night.” This is never used as a greeting, only as a goodbye when you are heading to bed or heading home to go to bed.

BUON POMERIGGIO: Good Afternoon (formal and informal)

Buon pomeriggio is used much less often to say hello in the afternoon than buonasera, even though the direct translation of buon pomeriggio is in fact good afternoon. Buon pomeriggio is rarely used in everyday conversations, though you may come across it in movies. 

Because buon pomeriggio is a more specific greeting, there is a smaller window when you can use it: after lunch up until about 4 pm. It is appropriate to use with everyone.

The pronunciation of Buon pomeriggio is: boo-OHN poh-may-REE-joh

Listen to how to pronounce Buon pomeriggio here: 

EHILÀ, UEILÀ, and EHI: Hey There (very informal)

These are three very casual ways to say hello: use ehilà, ueilà and ehi only with close friends and family. They mean hey there, and also convey a bit of a pleasant surprise at seeing the person. Often these greetings are also followed by ciao. For example: Ehi, ciao!

The pronunciation of ehilà, ueilà and ehi is:  ay-ee-LAH, way-ee-lLAH and AY-ee

Listen to how to pronounce ehilà, ueilà and ehi here:

AÒ: Hey (very informal)

Two young adults are smiling and having a conversation in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.  The Colosseum is lit up and it looks like early evening.  There are clouds in the blue sky.

Are you in Rome to see some close friends? Then try ! This is a very casual way in Roman dialect to call out and get someone’s attention, like hey, and should only be used with friends you know well. As they say, when in Rome . . . 

The pronunciation of is: ah-OH

Listen to how to pronounce here:

PRONTO: Hello In Italian When Answering The Phone (universal)

Young woman in an office answers the phone with 'pronto' in a cartoon speech bubble.  She is writing on a notepad and her black laptop is open in front of her.  There are shelves and office equipment around her.

Pronto means ready, and it is how Italians answer the phone. As strange as it may feel, when you answer the phone, say pronto. Then once the phone conversation has started, you may use other greetings such as ciao, buongiorno, buonasera, etc. 

For example, here’s a possible phone conversation:

A: ProntoA: Hello
B: Buonasera, sono Marta.B: Good evening, this is Marta.
A: Ciao Marta! Come stai?A: Hi Marta! How are you?

The pronunciation of Pronto is: PROHN-toh

Listen to how to pronounce Pronto here: 


Man and woman kiss cheeks as a greeting in village of Alberobello, Italy.  They are on a small street and you can see a white building with red flowers on its walls and the region's characteristic trulli buildings in the background.

Italians are physically expressive and it extends to when they greet people. For people who like ample personal space, this can sometimes feel a bit awkward. To figure out the polite thing to do, here are some guidelines:

  • How well do you know the person you’re greeting?
  • If you are saying hello to someone you know well, it is normal to give them an air kiss on both cheeks (you don’t need to make contact with your lips, usually you just touch cheeks). Start with their left cheek, then the right. That means head to your right first!
  • Italians don’t often do full frontal body hugs. Instead two cheek kisses, or a brief friendly hug are more common with friends and family.
  • Since the Covid pandemic, however, this custom has changed. Instead of getting too close, people often blow air kisses from a distance, or ironically rub elbows. Before the pandemic many people gave a pat on the back or the arm as a greeting, and this has continued.
  • If you are meeting someone for the first time, you can shake hands. Kisses are not appropriate until you know someone better. When in doubt, follow the other person’s lead!


Ok, you’ve figured out how to say hello. Now what? Here are some words and phrases to use:


Come stai?How are you? (informal singular)
Come sta?How are you? (formal singular)
Come state?How are you? (plural)
Come va?How is it going? (informal)
Tutto bene?Everything going well? (informal)
Che piacere vedertiWhat a pleasure to see you (informal singular)
Che piacere vederlaWhat a pleasure to see you (formal singular)
Che piacere vederviWhat a pleasure to see you (plural)
Che piacere rivedertiWhat a pleasure to see you again (informal singular)
Che piacere rivederlaWhat a pleasure to see you again (formal singular)
Che piacere rivederviWhat a pleasure to see you again (plural)

You can add one or more of these phrases after your initial hello greeting. For example:

Ciao amore mio! Come stai, tutto bene? Hello my love! How are you, everything ok?

Buonasera Dottoressa Rossi. Che piacere rivederla. Good evening Dr. Rossi. What a pleasure to see you again.


PiacereIt’s a pleasure (informal and formal)
Piacere di conoscertiIt’s a pleasure to meet you (informal singular)
Piacere di conoscerlaIt’s a pleasure to meet you (formal singular)
Piacere di conoscerviIt’s a pleasure to meet you (plural)

You can add one of these phrases after you say hello and meet. For example, here is an informal dialogue of two people meeting for the first time: 

A: Buongiorno. A: Good morning.
B: Buongiorno, mi chiamo Beppe. Sono un amico di Pietro.B: Good morning, my name is Beppe. I’m a friend of Pietro’s.
A: Piacere di conoscerti Beppe. Sono Sara.A: It’s a pleasure to meet you Beppe. I’m Sara.

Now you know how to say hello in Italian – let’s take a look at how to say goodbye in Italian:


Many of the ways to say goodbye in Italian are the same, or similar, to ways to say hello. Here are the main ways Italians say goodbye:

ArrivederciGoodbyeinformal and formal
Ti saluto, La saluto, and Vi salutoGoodbyeinformal and formal
Buona GiornataHave a good dayinformal and formal
Buon PomeriggioHave a good afternooninformal and formal
Buona SerataHave a good eveninginformal and formal
BuonanotteGood nightinformal and formal
AddioFarewellinformal and formal

For more details on these ways to say goodbye and more, check out our article on How To Say Goodbye In Italian!

You may also enjoy our related articles on Tanti Auguri and Buon Compleanno.

Arrivederci and buona giornata! (Goodbye and have a good day!)

Is learning Italian on your bucket list? Try my individual online lessons tailored to your level and goals, whether you’re just starting out or need to brush up your Italian. I have 15 years of teaching experience with students on two continents. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation and here to read more about GTKI.