How to Introduce Yourself in Italian and Make a Great First Impression

Foreigners in Italy are often pulled into conversations, invited to parties and in many cases, they’re made to feel like family.

Relationships are important to Italians and introducing yourself in Italian may involve more than just a handshake and smile.

Meetings are valued, newcomers are heartily welcomed and first impressions mean a lot.

Let’s learn how to make friends in Italy!


Some Cultural Notes About Introducing Yourself in Italian

Italians are very friendly! Their greetings and interactions are often more tactile than you might be used to in other cultures.

For instance, some men kiss when saying hello or goodbye, although whether they do this depends on their relationship and how close they are (father and son, brothers or friends).

In cities as well as smaller towns, it’s not uncommon to see women (and sometimes, even men) walking arm in arm.

It’s also customary to show respect for the elderly by standing up when one enters the room.

But if you’re put off by all that closeness, relax: Typically, when meeting someone for the first time, a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact will do. The tone of a first meeting is friendly yet respectful, in a way that’ll be familiar to many cultures.

Showing the proper respect is incredibly important with first meetings, so use formal language you until you develop a closer relationship. 

Eventually, you may start greeting each other with air kisses (though you should wait until the other person instigates this). But first, you’ll need to nail that first impression!

How to Introduce Yourself in Italian Like a Local

Watching Italians interact is an excellent way to see how strangers, friends and family act around each other. In a culture that places such emphasis on body language, seeing these natural interactions can help guide you to making a good first impression with your introduction.

One of the ways you can do this without actually visiting an Italian-speaking place can be through movies or other online resources. For instance, you can watch Italian YouTubers to see how native speakers interact with each other while introducing themselves.

You can also use an immersion language program. FluentU, for example, immerses learners in the Italian language through authentic Italian videos with interactive captions. Search for any introduction word to see how it’s used in context in these videos.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of introductions in Italian.

There are a few things that bring people together, regardless of what language they’re speaking. We’ll cover those, first!

Saying Hello: Italian Greetings

Ciao (Hello / Goodbye)

A smile and ciao is enough to get the ball rolling when you first encounter someone.

Ciao is one of those flexible greetings that can mean both hello and goodbye—so you can use it at the start or end of a conversation

After you’ve gotten to know someone a bit, they might greet or leave you with a ciao-ciao. It’s a less formal version of the standard ciao, kind of like the American “bye-bye.” When you feel comfortable with someone, use this friendly version and you might get a smile in return!

Salve (Hello)

If you’re meeting someone in a formal setting, salve is a great choice for saying hello. It’s a bit more formal than ciao.

Not sure which version of “hello” to use? Remember that you really can’t go wrong with salve. If it’s a bit reserved, that’s fine. Better to be cautious than appear disrespectful!

Buongiorno (Good day)

Italians are wonderfully welcoming! They not only say hello, but wish people a good day, as well! It’s acceptable to opt for this greeting instead of saying ciao or salve.

You may hear buongiorno at any time of the day, but be aware that you may also hear buon pomeriggio (good afternoon) or buonasera (good evening), depending on the speaker’s preference and the time of day.

A Bit About Yourself: Italian Self-introduction Phrases

Mi chiamo… (My name is…)

When you meet a person for the first time, the most important thing to share first is your name. Introduce your name with this simple phrase.

Sono di… (I’m from…)

Letting someone know you’re a visitor or that you relocated from somewhere else is a good ice-breaker.

There’s no need to get fancy with this; just insert where you’re from in English to get the conversation moving. For example, “Sono di California” (“I’m from California”) works just fine!

Sono… (I am…)

“I am” opens a lot of conversational doors. It’s one of those amazing little phrases that reveals a lot with a minimum of effort.

Try some of these to show what you’re doing in Italy:

Sono in vacanza. (I am on vacation.)

Sono qui per la cultura. (I am here for the culture.)

Sono in Italia per studiare. (I am in Italy to study.)

Sono qui per studiare l’italiano. (I am here to study Italian.)

Sono qui per lavorare. (I’m here to work.)

Sono qui per un mese. (I am here for a month.)


Sto visitando. (I am visiting.)

You’ll notice that the last example uses sto instead of sono. The reason for this is a bit too complicated to cover in this post, but you can find more information on ItalianPod101.

Sono un… (I’m a…)

Sharing what you do for a living is a super way to form a connection with a stranger. Maybe you have professional interests in common!

Some common professions are listed below, with their “male / female” forms:

Dottore / Dottoressa (Doctor)

Parrucchiere / Parrucchiera (Barber, Hairstylist)

Professore / Professoressa (Professor)

Cameriere / Cameriera (Waiter/Waitress)

Giardiniere / Giardiniera (Gardener)

Alunno (Student)

Don’t forget to choose the form of the word appropriate to your gender!

Piacere di conoscerti! (Nice to meet you!)

If this feels a bit too formal, it’s perfectly acceptable to say Piacere! (Pleasure!)

And if that shortened version feels at all awkward, don’t fret. Remember: Customs surrounding greetings and introductions vary across the globe. In Italy, it’s commonplace to hear the abbreviated Piacere!

Sto restando… (I am staying…)

If you’re just visiting, you can tell your companion where you currently reside. Here are some options for completing this phrase:

A Roma (In Rome)

A Napoli (In Naples)

A Firenze (In Florence)

In un albergo (in a hotel)

Con un amico (with a friend)

Let’s Talk About You: Italian Introduction Enders

Bring your self-introduction to a close by turning the conversation over to your companion. Here are two excellent ways to do that:

Come stai? (How are you?)

You can make some polite inquiries about your new friend’s health and well-being. This is generally not meant literally, and you should be prepared to get this question asked right back at you.

You can respond with a couple of easy phrases:

Sto bene. (I’m fine.)

Non molto bene. (Not very well.)

Come va? (How’s it going?)

This is more informal but the response is an easy one!

Bene, grazie. (Well, thanks.)

Beyond the Fundamental Greetings: Basic Italian Small Talk

After the initial pleasantries are out of the way you might need a few extra introductory small-talk tidbits. After all, making friends requires a little getting-to-know-you chatter, doesn’t it?

We’ve got you covered with that, too.

There are a couple of standard first-meeting phrases which are sure to move conversation forward, wherever you are in the world. And since Italy is such a friendly place to be, your effort to get past the immediate introductions is sure to be appreciated!

These are a few fail-proof phrases to round out your introductory experience. Let’s check them out!

Bel tempo! (Nice weather!)

Chatting about the weather is a super-effective method to cozy up to someone. It’s easy to learn the common expressions and the extra effort can keep a conversation going beyond the introductions.

Sembra che pioverà. (It looks like it is going to rain.)

Il sole è fantastico! (The sunshine feels great!)

Oggi è ventoso. (It is windy today.)

Dov’è il più vicino… (Where is the closest…)

You might have introduced yourself to a stranger because you need to ask for directions. Or you might just want to get some recommendations!

Taking the conversation in this direction gives the person you’re asking the opportunity to point out places that they personally feel a connection with. Who knows? It may even get you a friendly dinner date!

Some places to inquire about are:

Albergo (Hotel)

Buon ristorante (Good restaurant)

Cinema (Movie theater)

Arrivederci (Goodbye)

And when you’ve reached the end of your first conversation with your hopefully new friend or business associate, don’t forget to bid them farewell.

Arrivederci! and a quick handshake or small wave will leave a great first impression!


A good attitude and a friendly smile can take you far in making new friends. But it takes more than that to effectively introduce yourself. Knowing what to say is essential.

Use some—or all!—of these indispensable terms to introduce yourself and become a part of the Italian social scene!

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