How to Say Goodbye in Italian: 10 Phrases for a Graceful Exit
If you have ever been to an Italian gathering, you know that saying goodbye is no small feat.
Kisses, back pats, cheek squeezes and a tumble of earnest evocations may pour forth:
“A presto!” (See you soon!)
“Ci vediamo presto!” (We will see each other soon!)
“Fai il bravo!” (Be good!)
“Vai piano!” (Go slowly!)
All of this simply to extricate oneself from an event, anything from a Sunday family luncheon to an elaborate wedding.
When all is said and done, it can take over 30 minutes to individually say goodbye to an intimate group of 10 people.
Italian is a language of social codes. Considering your audience is key when deciding how to moderate your speech, and saying goodbye in Italian is particularly dependent on your audience.
To help you crack the social code, we will teach you the most common ways to say goodbye in Italian, as well as how to practice these important phrases!
Resources for Practicing How to Say Goodbye in Italian
Direct translations rarely get us very far when learning a new language and inhabiting a new culture. To say goodbye correctly and appropriately in Italian, it is best to observe native speakers in authentic contexts and then later mimic them in similar social situations.
It can be tempting to try to memorize all of these phrases, and there is no harm in trying. But again, the best way to learn and use these goodbye phrases correctly is to observe and imitate Italians in a myriad of situations.
The good news is that there are a lot of web-based resources available to prepare you for your next trip to Italy.
Listen to Podcasts
You do not need to speak fluent Italian to use podcasts as a learning tool. Just listening to how the host interacts with guests and listeners will provide insight into common Italian goodbye words.
The Coffee Break Italian podcast is a good place for beginners to start. It is an Italian language and culture podcast that offers lessons and dialogues. Episode one covers how to say hello and goodbye in Italian. And, all of the episodes can be useful when practicing salutations. Listen to and mimic the host as he greets and bids farewell to listeners.
For more advanced learners, Podcast Italiano (Italian Podcast) provides fully immersive Italian episodes. The podcast is still geared toward learners, so while it is entirely in Italian, the cadence of the dialogue is slower. The hosts cover the latest news in Italian. Pay special attention to how they say goodbye at the conclusion of each short podcast. Make lists of expressions for goodbye that you hear.
For the fluent or nearly-fluent Italian speaker, Italiano Automatico Podcast (Automatic Italian Podcast) is an interview-style podcast that covers culture and grammar. The hosts provide learning and pronunciation tips in this advanced-level podcast that even native speakers can learn from. Write down the phrases you hear as the hosts bid guests and listeners goodbye.
How to Say Goodbye in Italian: 10 Phrases for a Graceful Exit
1) Ciao (Bye)
Ciao means “hello” and “goodbye” in Italian. It is an informal word and really should not be used with strangers. You can say ciao to your friends when you leave them at a bar or to your colleagues after a long day at work.
When leaving a group of friends or family members, you can also say “Ciao a tutti” (“Bye, everyone”).
It is up to you whether you wish to bid everyone goodbye individually with a cheek kiss. If you want to kiss, remember this: left cheek first, then right cheek and finally “ciao!” If you mess up the order, you will probably end up accidentally kissing someone on the mouth.
You can also use ciao to conclude phone conversations with friends and family. For example, if you are finally ending a long phone call with your mother, you can say, “Ciao mamma!” (“Bye, mom!”). You may also say, “Un bacio” (“A kiss”), as you are unable to offer a real kiss over the phone.
2) Arrivederci (Goodbye)
For the native English speaker, arrivederci, along with ciao, is probably among the most widely-known ways to say goodbye in Italian.
Arrivederci literally means “until we see each other again.” It can sound slightly over-dramatic in casual or familial situations. However, you can use it in formal or commercial settings.
For example, after finishing your espresso while standing up at an Italian bar, you can say (to nobody in particular), “Grazie, arrivederci!” (“Thank you, goodbye!”). It is most acceptable to say this at the bar where you take your daily espresso, as it correctly means you will see the bar staff again.
You can also say arrivederci on business calls. If you have a conference call with colleagues across the globe, you can say, “Grazie a tutti, arrivederci” (“Thank you everyone, goodbye”). This is polite, formal language.
However, if you were to use arrivederci in a familial context, it would be akin to grandly saying “farewell” to your mother after stopping by her house to pick up some flour. Sure, it is grammatically correct, but it sounds strange in certain social situations.
3) A presto (See you soon)
Presto means “soon” or “early” in Italian. When you say “a presto,” it means “see you soon.” Italians take these salutations quite literally, so only use this phrase when you mean it.
For example, upon leaving work and saying goodbye to colleagues you will see again very soon, you could say, “A presto!”
4) A dopo (Later)
Dopo means “after” in Italian. When saying goodbye, “a dopo” means “later” as in “see you later.” Only use this phrase if you actually intend to see the person later. Otherwise, it will confuse your audience. For example, if you call a friend to confirm plans to meet later in the day, you can say “A dopo” to end your call.
5) A tra poco (In a bit)
A tra poco means “in a bit.” It can be used fairly interchangeably with a dopo. Perhaps you are on your cellphone, running late to an appointment with your friend. You can say, “Sono quasi là… a tra poco!” (“I am almost there… see you in a bit!”).
6) Ci vediamo (See you)
Ci vediamo comes from the reflexive verb vedersi (to see oneself). It means “we see each other.” You can combine it with the phrases above to say:
Ci vediamo presto (see you soon)
Ci vediamo dopo (see you later)
Ci vediamo tra poco (see you in a bit)
The meaning does not change by adding ci vediamo in front of it.
7) Alla prossima (Until next time)
This is a fairly casual way to conclude a conversation with someone you see regularly. If you have a standing weekly tennis match with a friend, you might say, “Alla prossima” after ending your game.
8) Fai il bravo (Be good)
Bravo in Italian means “good.” Fare il bravo is the verb phrase for “to be good.” Parents often like to tell their children (even adult children) “Fai il bravo!” (“Be good!”) in place of a formal goodbye.
It is important to remember your audience when using this phrase. The gender of the audience determines how to use bravo. If you are speaking to one man, you say il bravo. If you are speaking to one woman, you say la brava. If you are speaking to a mix-gendered group, you say fate i bravi, and if you are speaking to a group of women you say fate le brave.
There are also three forms of “you” in Italian. There is singular informal (tu), singular formal (lei) and plural (voi).
Fai il/la bravo/a (Be good! — If you are speaking to one person that is your friend or family member.)
Fate i/le bravi/e (Be good! — If you are speaking to more than one person.)
It would be very unusual to use this somewhat playful form of goodbye with a superior. It would be like telling your boss, “Behave yourself” as she leaves for lunch. Therefore, we very rarely use the formal you version below:
Faccia il/la bravo/a
9) Addio (Farewell)
Now, here is one dramatic word. Addio is for serious situations in which you will probably never see the person to whom you are speaking again. Similar to “farewell” in English, addio is a word that will make you sound like Scarlett O’Hara swanning around her antebellum mansion.
For example, if you are on a ship departing the port of Naples for the Americas, you may shout to your remaining family members, “Addio, addio!” You might even wave a handkerchief for an added flourish.
Just keep in mind that while adios (goodbye) is a common daily expression in Spanish, addio is for truly cinematic moments in Italian.
10. Buona giornata/Buona serata (Have a nice day/Have a nice evening)
Finally, the most common way to bid a formal goodbye in Italian is to simply say buona giornata (have a nice day) or buona serata (have a nice evening).
The time of day is important to consider when selecting which salutation to use. If it is before 2:00 p.m., you can say buona giornata. If it is after 2:00 p.m., you say buona serata.
This is used in place of or in addition to arrivederci. For example, if you have bought something from the local butcher, you may say upon exiting the store, “Grazie, buona giornata” (“Thank you, have a nice day”).
You may also use these phrases with your supervisor at work as she leaves for the evening, saying “Arrivederci, buona serata” (“Goodbye, have a good evening”).
Once you are thrust into a new social situation in Italy, the correct words for goodbye will come naturally, but practicing ahead of time always helps.
Just remember your audience and know that most goodbyes in Italy take forever!