Italian Vocabulary

We are preparing to make the move from Europe back to the United States after living in Italy for just over two years. Contrary to what I envisioned before we came here, I didn't learn much Italian during our time. However, some words and phrases will just stick with us (I think) because they are now just part of our everyday lexicon.

1. Andiamo. Let's go! Used a lot when traveling with the Agents and they start to walk at snail pace because they must investigate every. little. thing.

2. Basta. This means "enough" although depending on tone it can imply "yes, I've had enough to eat, thank you" or "alright, enough already, knock it off." I'll let you ponder how you think it might be used around here.

Senior Agents in Pisa (April 2011)
3. Bella/Bello. Beautiful, but also a standard greeting for babies and small children. Think "hey, sweetheart" or "hi there, sweetie."

4. Ciao/Ciao. Hello/goodbye. All the Italian lessons I read/completed always emphasized how casual this is, and that you should use the more formal salve/arrivederci with people you don't know, but that ended up being a bunch of hooey. Everyone uses ciao with everyone else.

5. Grazie/Prego. Thank you/you're welcome. It's just kind of automatic now. Prego is a form of the verb "to pray" and it is also used to allow someone to go ahead of you in line or otherwise yield to someone else.

6. Numeri/Colori. We all know how to count. Even Julia knows some numbers in Italian, although she often gets confused and switches over to Spanish. (Thanks, Dora.) We also tend to refer to colors in Italian all the time now. They're easy and one of the first things we learned and taught the Agents.

7. Parti del Corpo. Parts of the body. Agent A is at the age that we're doing a lot of "where's your nose? where are your fingers? where are your feet?" kinds of games. He's learning both the English and Italian words. Grandpap (my dad) will have lots of fun with this when we visit this summer. (My dad's father was born in Italy, outside of Florence, and both of my grandparents knew Italian. My grandmother spoke to my dad in Italian when he was small, but stopped after he started school. He still remembers some, though, and has lots of fun hearing the Agents say what few Italian words they know.)

Momma and the Agents in Venice (August 2011)
(Note: Same matching outfits as the above photo)
8. Permesso. What you would say to someone if you were trying to get through (e.g., behind them on a crowded sidewalk) and you were being gracious. (There are other words for when you really need to get their attention and being polite is not a consideration, but this is a nice blog so we won't go there.)

9. Topolino. In most parts of the world, Mickey Mouse is just Mickey Mouse. In Arabic and French, he's Mickey. In Polish and Turkish, he's Miki. Germans and Russians both refer to him as Mikki Maus. Yet, in Italy he is Topolino, which literally means "little mouse." No doubt, La Casa di Topolino (book and TV version) will continue to be a favorite at our home. (And at least one Senior Agent is bound to say, "Ciao, Topolino!" when we pose for photos on our trip to Disney this summer.)

10. Va bene. The Italian "it's all good!" Used in place of it's fine, that works, no problem, whatever.


  1. This was so fun to read! I just love new cultural lessons.

    The Mickey Mouse part cracked me up.

    1. Thanks. I love that you host this each week. These list posts are so much fun!

  2. What a fun list! I'm just all excited about knowing Mickey's Italian name.

  3. Very cool!! I assumed Mickey was Mickey everywhere.