How to Talk Cool in Italian Like a Cool Cat
How cool is that car!
My parents are cool with that.
Is everything cool here?
She’s so cool.
Cool it, bro!
Depending on its use, the word cool can mean awesome, fine, okay, cold, chill or fashionable.
Context is key.
The same is true for cool in Italian. While there’s no direct translation for the multi-purpose word, cool, Italian boasts an array of cool words to describe the trendy, fashionable, awesome, legendary and fantastic.
Some words are only used in specific regions of Italy.
Other words are more common within certain generations.
More mature individuals may want to avoid sounding like a 13-year-old circa 1980s skateboarder proclaiming, “that’s radical, dude.”
Alternately, a 20-year-old would likely refrain from calling a cool car, “the cat’s meow.”
Language is personal, and to develop your own cool style in Italian, you’ll first need to understand what cool even means in Italy.
Cool Culture in Italy
Cool means different things to different people across Italy. As with many countries across the globe, youth and popular culture define what’s considered cool in Italy. Social media, blogs and celebrity news sites set the tone for cool culture in Italy.
Milano is the country’s fashion epicenter, and the most popular Italian bloggers, including Chiara Ferragni, Veronica Ferraro and Mariano di Vaio make Milano their home. Most young people across Italy adore the cool fashion sense of this new, vibrant generation of Italian bloggers.
More mature Italians often revere the classic style of 1950s Dolce Vita era icons, including Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. In this case, the refined style of Via Borgognona in Rome is the height of cool in Italy.
Italian regions also wear cool differently. The southern region of Italy tends to be flashier than the north. Southern Italians often prefer ruffles, glitter, sparkles and bling. Northern Italians are more understated and monochromatic.
Cool and the words used to express it, change from north to south.
The south of Italy, for example, is famous for its cool rappers, including Liberato and Clementino.
Florence reveres the cool style of Miuccia Prada and the late Salvatore Ferragamo.
Monza, just north of Milano, is home to the famous Formula One racetrack, which many global fans deem the ultimate cool.
Keep in mind that while American popular culture dominates international trends, Italy has an entire ecosystem of native musicians, artists and Instafamous celebrities.
Read the arts and culture sections of notable Italian newspapers to learn more and keep up with what’s cool in Italy.
But first, let’s learn how to talk cool in Italian!
How to Talk Cool in Italian Like a Cool Cat
Before you venture off into these cool words, make sure your Italian pronunciation is on point.
1. Fico — Cool
The closest approximate translation for the word cool in Italian is fico. In the south, it’s pronounced figo.
It can be used an adjective, as in:
Che ragazzo fico! (What a cool guy!)
Che fica quella macchina! (That car is cool!)
When used as an adjective, the noun and adjective must agree in gender and quantity.
It’s important to note that fica/figa is a vulgar slang word for a woman’s intimate parts. If you use the word with no context—as in che fica!—it may offend.
You can also use fico as a noun to describe a really cool person.
Il tuo amico è un gran fico. (Your friend is a cool dude!)
If you use the term this way, it’s definitely viewed as a form of flirtation. Proceed with caution.
Using it as a feminine noun—as in è una figa! (she’s hot!)—is offensive and, therefore, best to avoid in Italy.
To add emphasis, use the superlative form in Italian.
Che film fighissimo! (What a cool movie!)
Era una macchina fichissima! (It was the coolest car!)
Note that, mostly, young people use the word fico/figo. If you want to sound like someone in their twenties or younger, use fico to express cool in Italian. If you prefer a more mature effect, use one of the adjectives below, including splendido and fantastico.
2. Figata — The Bomb
Figata is slang. Used mostly by young people, a figata is something really, really cool.
Che figata quella festa ieri! (That party last night was the bomb!)
Questa macchina è una figata! (This car is the bomb!)
Other versions of figata to describe people include fighetto (hottie) and figaccione (hunk).
Quel fighetto è tuo amico? (Is that hottie your friend?)
Questo figaccione è troppo bello! (This hunk is too beautiful!)
3. Massimo — The Ultimate/The Best
Massimo literally means maximum in Italian. When used to describe certain features, it can mean cool or the best.
Tu sei il massimo! (You’re the best!)
Quel film ieri era il massimo! (That movie yesterday was the ultimate!)
Mia madre è il massimo! (My mom is the ultimate!)
4. Bello — Beautiful
Bello, meaning beautiful, is a ubiquitous form of praise in all regions of Italy. When in doubt, use bello to describe a cool person, place or thing. As with all adjectives, bello must agree with the noun it describes.
Che bella cosa! (What a beautiful thing!)
Il surfista era bellissimo! (The surfer was beautiful!)
5. Mito/Mitico — Epic/Legendary/Mystical
To really heap on the praise, call someone mitico. It means mythical and roughly translates to mean legendary in English.
You can use it as an adjective, as in:
Lo spettacolo è stato mitico! (The concert was epic!)
La macchina da corsa è mitica! (The race car is legendary!)
Or, you can use the noun form, mito, as in:
Quella donna è così bella; è un mito. (That woman is so beautiful; she’s a legend.)
Ma come sei bravo! Sei un mito! (How great you are! You’re a legend!)
6. Eccezionale — Exceptional
Eccezionale is a more mature way to call something cool in Italian. You can use it the same way you’d use complimentary adjectives, including bello.
La nostra cena è stata eccezionale. (Our dinner was exceptional.)
Quegli insegnanti sono eccezionali. (Those teachers are exceptional.)
7. Straordinario — Extraordinary
For variation, you can use straordinario in place of eccezionale.
Il mio ragazzo è straordinario. Mi ha comprato un pony! (My boyfriend is extraordinary! He bought me a pony!)
Adoro i miei genitori. Sono straordinari! (I love my parents. They’re extraordinary!)
8. Fantastico — Fantastic
Fantastico, meaning fantastic, is similar to straordinario. An adjective reserved for great praise, fantatisco describes cool things without sounding juvenile.
Mertens, il calciatore, è fantastico. (The soccer player, Mertens, is fantastic.)
Guidare una Ferrari è stata la cosa più fantastica della mia vita. (Driving a Ferrari was the most fantastic thing in my life!)
9. Forte — Strong
Forte means strong, and in certain contexts can be a form of great praise.
Bradley Cooper è stato fantastico nel film. È forte! (Bradley Cooper was fantastic in the film. He’s strong!)
Mia madre ha preparato cinque torte oggi. È fortissima! (My mother made five cakes today. She’s strong!)
10. Grande — Big
After a major feat or performance, you might call someone grande (big) or even grandissimo (super big).
Quello sprint è stato fantastico. Usain Bolt è grande! (That sprint was fantastic. Usain Bolt is big!)
I Lakers sono grandissimi quest’anno. (The Lakers are super big this year.)
11. Splendido — Splendid
Splendid can be used in the same way as fantastico or straordinario.
La performance di Timothée Chalamet è stata splendida. (Timothée Chalamet’s performance was splendid.)
Quanto è stato splendido quel pranzo! (How splendid was that lunch!)
12. Friscone — Cool Guy/Don Juan
Friscone is a Neapolitan word for a really cool guy with a slick sense of fashion. It’s generally not used to refer to women. It can also be used sarcastically.
Con questo nuovo look sei proprio un friscone! (With this new look, you’re a real Don Juan!)
Quel friscone non ha nemmeno una macchina. (That cool guy doesn’t even have a car.)
13. Bellillo — Big Guy
Bellillo is also a southern Italian term for a guy who often owns cool things.
Hai comprato una nuova macchina? Vuoi fare ‘o bellillo? (You bought a new car? Are you trying to play the big guy?)
Ciccio è un vero bellillo. Ha tre ragazze e una Ducati. (Frankie is a really big guy. He has three girlfriends and a Ducati.)
14. Ganzo — Cool
Ganzo means cool in the Tuscan dialect. Initially, it meant lover—as in Maria ha il ganzo (Maria has a lover), or Francesco ha la ganza (Francesco has a lover). Over time, it came to also mean that someone or something was very cool. Certain generations in rural parts of Tuscany still use the word.
È molto ganza questa macchina! (This car is very cool!)
È molto ganzo questo questo cellulare! (This cell phone is very cool!)
Con la barba sei un vero ganzo! (With the beard, you’re a real cool guy!)
15. Togo — Cool
Togo is an old Italian word to describe something very elegant, chic and even super cool.
Lei sa surfare? Che ragazza toga! (She can surf? What a cool girl!)
Mi piace molto quella borsa Chanel. È molto toga. (I really like that Chanel purse. It’s very cool.)
Guarda quella Ferrari! Che toga! (Look at that Ferrari! How cool!)
16. Andare Di Moda — To Be Trendy
To express that something is in vogue or trendy, you say it’s di moda, using the verb andare (to go). Note that the subject and verb must agree when you use the phrase andare di moda.
When the trendy thing you’re describing is singular, you say:
Nel 2020 va di moda il rossetto rosso. (In 2020, red lipstick is trendy.)
Va molto di moda portare uno zaino adesso. (It’s very trendy to wear a backpack now.)
When the trendy things are plural, you say:
Vanno di moda le unghie lunghe. (Long nails are trendy.)
Le minigonne andavano di moda negli anni ’60. (Mini-skirts were trendy in the 1960s.)
17. Del Momento — Of the Moment
To further reiterate that something or someone is the “it” obsession of the moment, you can add this phrase. You’ll often find it used in magazine or newspaper lists that describe the best products of the moment.
Billie Eilish è la cantante più interessante del momento. (Billie Eilish is the most interesting singers of the moment.)
I capelli verdi sono la moda del momento. (Green hair is of the trend of the moment.)
18. Tutto a Posto? — Is Everything Cool/Good/Okay?
Tutto a posto is a fairly informal way of asking someone if everything is cool in Italian.
La tua faccia è rossa. Tutto a posto? (Your face is red. Is everything cool?)
Maria ti ha sentito urlare. Tutto a posto? (Maria heard you yell. Is everything good?)
19. Fresco — Cool/Cold/Fresh
Don’t forget! Cool also refers to temperature. In Italian, the adjective for cool as in temperature is fresco. It can describe weather, food or even people.
Fa fresco. (It’s cool out.)
Posso avere un’acqua fresca? (Can I have a cold water?)
Mi sono svegliato fresco e pronto! (I woke up fresh and ready!)
20. Cool — Cool
Lastly, cool is now cool even in Italian. The word cool is so well-known all over the world that most young Italians just use the adjective in English. The word cool doesn’t change gender or quantity as an adjective in Italian. It remains cool no matter what it describes.
La tua nuova gonna è davvero cool! (Your new skirt is really cool!)
Ma guarda questo zaino! Che cool! (Look at this backpack! How cool!)
Multi-media Resources for Practicing Cool in Italian
To identify your own cool style and preferred word use in Italian, immerse yourself in Italian popular culture. Listen to Italian music while consulting printed lyrics. Read Italian fashion blogs and newspapers.
Listen to Italian Music
If you’re a beginner to intermediate Italian learner, it’s important that you actively listen to music.
Try printing out lyrics from the Italianissima lyrics archives. Read Italian music publications including Rockol, Allmusicitalia and Billboard Italia.
Find Italian artists that play similar music styles to what you enjoy in your native language. Try identifying at least five artists you think are cool and write a music review for each in Italian, using at least 10 of the cool words from above.
Every year, Italy hosts a popular competition at the Sanremo Music Festival. Artists from all over the country compete for best song of the year. Many of the most famous Italian recording artists including Laura Pausini, Al Bano & Romina and Rocco Hunt have launched their careers here.
Follow the festival on Instagram and create a Spotify list of your favorite Italian songs. The more you listen, the more you’ll learn what’s cool for you in Italian.
Read Fashion Blogs in Italian
A new generation of extremely popular Italian fashion bloggers now dominates Italian youth culture today. For many young people across Italy, these blogs are the very definition of cool. The most popular by far is Chiara Ferragni and her blog The Blonde Salad. Her blog is now available in multiple languages.
Try reading in Italian and identify your favorite fashion trends. Alternately, you can also read the Italian versions of popular international magazines including, Vogue Italia and Vanity Fair.
There’s no single definition for what defines cool in Italian just as there’s no single word for cool.
As you cultivate your personal style and tastes in Italian, you can decide what’s cool for you!