i love you in italian

“I Love You” in Italian: 33 Phrases for Your Special Little Meatball

Like in most languages, “I love you” is one of the most beautiful phrases in Italian.

You often hear it said between two people who are romantically interested in each other. However, you can also say it to a family member, friend or someone with whom you have a positive relationship that can’t be easily summed up in words.

There might only be two main ways to say “I love you” in Italian, but there are lots of other ways to express love to everyone you know without saying it outright.

Let’s take a look at the options.


The 2 Main Ways to Say “I Love You” in Italian

Back in the day, the two main ways to say “I love you” in Italian weren’t interchangeable. That is, you couldn’t just choose one and use it any time you want to express feeling love for a person. The familiarity, affection and status of a relationship mattered.

But now, the line between the two ways to say “I love you” in Italian is a bit blurred, as you’ll see below.

Ti amo.

Ti amo is the Italian superstar of love expressions. It’s often used to express that blissful, romantic love we all hope to experience.

Although spouses and engaged couples are the ones most likely to use this phrase, you can also hear parents say this to their children. Even siblings and close friends can say ti amo to each other without batting an eyelash!

Ti voglio bene.

As I mentioned earlier, the modern usage of ti amo extends beyond romantic love. However, if you want to express your affection to someone you have platonic feelings for and want to leave no room for interpretation regarding what you mean, you can say ti voglio bene instead.

It translates to “I love you,” but its literal meaning is “I want you well.” This is the phrase often used to show love to family members, friends or other uncommitted relationships.

Your aunt gets this one.

Your best friend does, too.

And the person you’re dating casually but who may be on the way to becoming a serious partner? He or she should hear ti voglio bene—at least until you move forward in your relationship.

How to Say “I Love You Very Much”

Italy is well known for its warmth. The climate, food, drinks, landscape and sights attest to that.

Angel hair pasta can have some heat when it’s made Italian-style. Hot chocolate gets a kick in The Boot. And the landscape literally steams in Italy. Think about Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius or the miles of sun-kissed beaches.

In Italy, love can also be heated up. In fact, with one tiny word, it can be spiced up nicely!

To add depth to ti amo or ti voglio bene, tack on  molto (very) to either phrase. This small word brings each declaration up a notch.

Just remember how Italian sentences are structured and add molto after the verb:

Ti amo Ti amo molto
(I love you → I love you very much)

Ti voglio bene Ti voglio molto bene
(I love you → I love you very much)

31 More Expressions Used to Declare Love

Italian culture is super romantic but with only two expressions that say “I love you,” is it possible to go beyond this basic declaration? Absolutely!

A quick disclaimer: Use discretion when saying these romantic expressions. They aren’t casual, so don’t toss them around like confetti at everyone around you.

Instead, add a couple to your sweet murmurings and make your partner sizzle.

Ti amo più oggi di ieri ma meno di domani.

Meaning: I love you more today than yesterday but less than tomorrow.

This is what romantic dreams are made of, isn’t it? I don’t know about you but I’d melt if someone said this to me!

Ti amo, amore mio.

Meaning: I love you, my darling.

Adding a term of endearment always takes a sentiment up a notch.

Ti adoro.

Meaning: I adore you.

 Who doesn’t want to be adored? So sweet!

Ho bisogno di te.

Meaning: I need you.

Needing is different from simply wanting. When someone says they need you, it’s almost as if your presence is essential to their well-being.

Very romantic, no?

Popular Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti shows how spicy this declaration can be with his song “Ho bisogno di te.”

Sei la mia anima gemella.

Meaning: You’re my soul mate.

The phrase  anima gemella (soul mate) elevates romance to the heavens, doesn’t it?

Tu mi completi.

Meaning: You complete me.

A declaration that turns two into one.  Così romantica! (So romantic!)

Senza di te, la vita non ha significato.

Meaning: Without you, life has no meaning.

An undying declaration of love like the kind you’d hear in an incredibly emotional movie scene!

Il mio cuore è tuo.

Meaning: My heart is yours.

This is another way to admit that your heart belongs to another.

Da quando ti conosco la mia vita è un paradiso.

Meaning: Since I met you my life is a paradise.

Remember the Italian proverb about how it’s not good to solo in paradise? This expression shows that with the right person, life itself is paradise!

Sei la mia polpetta.

Meaning: You’re my meatball.

Consider the Italian meal of pasta with meatballs. Many would say that without the meatballs, the pasta or meal isn’t worth eating. They’d assert that it’s incomplete on its own.

This expression is one that my elderly aunt and uncle pass between them as often as they hand the grated cheese across the table. It’s old-fashioned and loving and for those two, it’s a testament to decades of married life.

Veramente romantico! (Truly romantic!)

Ti amo più di quanto Botticelli amasse la sua Venere.

Meaning: I love you more than Botticelli loved his Venus.

I heard this in a small restaurant in Rome on a warm summer night. No, I wasn’t on the receiving end of this incredible declaration but it made such a profound impression that I’ve never forgotten it.

I’ve seen the Botticelli exhibit so I understood how much love had gone into the masterpiece. I can’t look at it anymore without being pulled back into that moment in that restaurant.

I hope you hear a similar wonderful declaration of love, and may it be directed at you!

Italians sure do know how to speak of love. It’s such a wonderfully vivid, beautifully romantic language. And there are so many ways to show affection for loved ones that it’s easy to immerse yourself in the romance.

Sono innamorato (pazzo) di te.

Meaning: I’m (crazy) in love with you.

While ti amo is the most widely-used way to tell someone that you’re head-over-heels,  Sono innamorato di te (I’m in love with you) also has a wonderfully romantic ring to it.

Add  pazzo (crazy) to really show some emotion. (Remember to use the correct form of the adjectives  innamorato innamorata and  pazzo pazza to reflect your gender!)

Sei prezioso.

Meaning: You’re precious.

This sweet way to tell someone how much they mean to you is sure to melt hearts. (Make sure to reflect the other person’s gender when choosing the correct form of  prezioso / preziosa .)

Sei speciale.

Meaning: You’re special.

While this one isn’t strictly romantic, it’s still a wonderful way to let a friend, partner or other loved one know that you treasure the things that make them unique. Che cosa carina! (That’s so cute!)

Sei molto importante per me.

Meaning: You’re very important to me.

Beyond butterflies in your stomach and stars in your eyes, true love means appreciating and valuing all that the other person has to offer. Reminding your partner how much they matter is a great way to add some instant romance.

Mi rendi felice.

Meaning: You make me happy.

Such a simple but heartfelt way to bring a smile to your beloved’s face.  Che dolce! (How sweet!)

Mi fai stare bene.

Meaning: You make me feel good.

Mi fai stare bene is a little tricky to translate directly into English—word for word, it means “you make me stay well.” A better translation would be something like “You make me feel good” or even “You make everything feel right.”

And isn’t that what we’re all looking for in a romantic partner—someone who makes us feel good about life and about ourselves? 

Sei la mia gioia.

Meaning: You’re my joy.

It’s passionate, poetic and perfect for letting your partner know how much happiness they bring you. 

Sono fortunato ad averti incontrato.

Meaning: I’m lucky to have met you.

Sometimes the stars align to bring a truly special person into your life. Express your gratitude with this delightful declaration!

(Remember to choose the correct form of  fortunato / fortunata to reflect your own gender and incontrato / incontrata to reflect the other person’s gender.)

Sei la mia dolce metà.

Meaning: You’re my better half.

If you translate literally,  la mia dolce metà means “my sweet half.” This expression always makes me think of a Valentine’s Day candy heart, or perhaps a heart-shaped locket split into two halves—just as sweet as can be!

Sei l’amore della mia vita.

Meaning: You’re the love of my life.

This declaration is not one to throw around willy-nilly—but when said with sincerity, it’s one of the most romantic things you could possibly hear.

Mi fido ciecamente di te.

Meaning: I trust you completely.

Trust is at the core of any happy and healthy relationship. Say this to your sweetie to let them know that your faith in them is rock-solid.

Voglio starti sempre accanto.

Meaning: I want to be always by your side.

Staying by someone’s side through all of life’s ups and downs is a sign of true commitment.

Non so come farei senza di te.

Meaning: I don’t know what I’d do without you.

When you love somebody, they often become such a central part of your life that it’s hard to imagine how you’d go on without them.

In fact, the widely beloved Italian singer Mina, one of my personal favorites, expresses this feeling vividly in her song “E se domani (And if tomorrow).”

Mi illumini la vita.

Meaning: You light up my life.

A strong relationship can make your world seem even brighter than a sunny Italian day.

Riesci sempre a tirarmi su di morale.

Meaning: You always manage to cheer me up.

Love makes the good times better and the hard times easier. Use this one to thank your partner when they help you see a glimmer of light in a dark moment. 

Mi sento a casa quando sono con te.

Meaning: I feel at home when I’m with you.

Is there anything that represents true love more than feeling truly at home with another person?  Penso di no (I think not)!

Mi hai rubato il cuore.

Meaning: You’ve stolen my heart.

Love has a way of sneaking up on us unexpectedly and capturing our hearts. 

Ti amo ogni giorno di più.

Meaning: I love you more every day.

A beautiful way to describe how true love grows better with time, like a delicious Italian wine! 

Tu sei la cosa più bella che mi sia mai capitata.

Meaning: You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

In addition to being incredibly romantic, this lovely line offers you the chance to impress your partner with your knowledge of the  congiuntivo (subjunctive mood).  

Conosco un solo modo di misurare il tempo: con te o senza di te.

Meaning: I only know one way to measure time: with you or without you.

Don’t these breathtaking words just make you tear up a little? They certainly had that effect on me as I watched Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni’s speech at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

After receiving a lifetime achievement award, Benigni offered this gorgeous declaration of love to his wife Nicoletta Braschi, making me—and probably half of Italy—cry in the process.

Braschi has been Benigni’s co-star in many films, including the Oscar-winning La vita è bella (“Life is Beautiful”). In the film, which Benigni also directed, an Italian Jewish man strives to protect his family from the horrors of the Holocaust. Guido (Benigni’s character) pulls out all the stops to show his adoration for his wife Dora, played by Braschi. He refers to her as  principessa (princess) and even rides into a party on horseback to sweep her off her feet. From the silver screen to his poetic acceptance speech, Benigni truly has a special way of showing the passion and devotion of true love. 


To really make sparks fly between you and an Italian-speaking significant other, try bridging the language gap! The FluentU Italian program shows you authentic clips from Italian movies, songs and shows so you can learn romantic phrases and other common expressions as used by actual native speakers. Each clip includes interactive subtitles and transcripts:FluentU Italian Clip

Share the love—and remember, even in a paradise as gorgeous as Italy, it’s not good to be alone!

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