From Here to Sunday: A Complete Guide to the Italian Days of the Week
Yup, today is that day.
We’re going to make this day count.
Today, you’ll learn about the days of the week in Italian!
Well, for so many reasons!
So you can schedule coffee dates with native speakers.
So you can know when your Italian friends are coming over (and clean up!).
So you can avoid going to the museum on the one day of the week it’s actually closed.
In short, so you can enjoy your Italian language journey. You have no idea how adding seven words to your vocabulary will enrich your grasp of the language.
In this post, we’ll look into each day of the week and briefly learn a bit of trivia or gain insight into the Italian culture. This means we’re really hitting two birds with one stone.
So, let’s begin learning about la settimana (the week)!
Learn the Italian Days of the Week and Seize the Day!
La Settimana: The Italian Week
lunedì (loo-ne-DEE) — Monday
Lunedì is the beginning of the workweek. And, while Americans celebrate their Fridays and have their TGIF’s, Italians may greet you with a “Buon lunedì” (“Happy Monday!”)—I know, right?!
That’s not to say that Italians aren’t hard at work. They actually work long hours, like from 8-1 p.m., before taking their extended lunch. This is called the riposo, which can last from 2-4 hours and which easily blows the minds of Western workers who are used to having lunches without ever leaving their desks.
Italians don’t wait for the weekend to get into that work-life balance. Even if it’s lunedì, extended lunches are used to make home-cooked meals for family and friends, catch up on political gossip, read the paper, run errands or just get in a power nap. Think of the workday as divided into two stretches, with the riposo as the break in between.
The big, tourist-flocked cities may have forgone the tradition a long time ago, but in smaller towns and districts, your local butcher, bakery, post office and even museums are closed during the hottest hours of the day in order to get in some nice relaxation.
So, if you find yourself standing in front of closed doors during the riposo, don’t fight it! You’re on vacation, so get in some relaxation of your own.
martedì (mar-te-DEE) — Tuesday
We go now to the second day of the workweek (and to more riposo)—martedì.
By the way, you can look up at the night sky for a cheat sheet—the names of Italian days are related to the names of the planets (well, except for domenica, which is named for the day of the Lord).
So, lunedì comes from the day of the lunar moon, martedì from Mars, mercoledì from Mercury, giovedì from Jupiter, venerdì from Venus and sabato from Saturn. Isn’t that nice! English, on the other hand, has some days named after Norse gods—like Thursday, which is named after Thor (a Marvel deity with gorgeous flocks of hair and an Australian accent).
Speaking of English, you’ll notice that the English days of the week end in -day, as in “Wednesday” or “Friday.” Italian, for its part, has five of the days ending in -dì. This is because -dì is a derivative of the Latin word for day, from which we get phrases like per diem (per day).
And, as a final comparison to the days in English, in case you haven’t noticed, the Italian days (and months) are not capitalized. Because they are just too cool to care!
mercoledì (MER-ko-le-DEE) — Wednesday
It’s Wednesday, the third day of the workweek, and for the beautiful city of Siena, mercoledì is market day.
From early morning until early afternoon, you can feast on the freshest and most vibrant produce the Tuscany region has to offer: black cabbage, chestnuts, cherries, truffles, wines, cheeses and cured meats.
Try the pecorino cheeses and Chianti wines, which are known the world over. Of course, it’s not just food these vendors bring. You also have an assortment of household items, kitchen utensils and anything you might need on a Wednesday.
The mercoledì market day wasn’t originally a tourist attraction but a local event, a chance for the people of Siena to get their few days’ worth of shopping in. But travelers from around the world, wanting an authentic taste of the sights and sounds of Italy, have since flocked to La Lizza to take part in this Wednesday ritual.
If you get your shopping done early, reward yourself with a well-deserved gelato, and, to burn it off, perhaps you can climb the 400 steps of the Torre del Mangia.
giovedì (jo-ve-DEE) — Thursday
We’ve come to the middle of the week—giovedì.
Thursday. Sometimes you just don’t know how to feel about it. On the one hand, you’re kind of glad that it’s almost Friday, but then you’ve been toiling for four days and you’re almost burnt out.
The Italians have an expression: “Sei come il giovedì” (You’re like Thursday).
Just as giovedì is in the middle of the week, the expression is used to refer to someone who’s always in the middle of some dramatic situation. Whether it’s something about his job, his family or his love life, there’s always something going on.
The expression can also be used for somebody who’s always cropping up where he’s not welcome, like interrupting conversations or derailing projects. It’s not a good thing to be compared to Thursday in Italy!
venerdì (ve-ner-DEE) — Friday
Thank God it’s Friday! Unless it’s venerdì… the 17th.
In other countries, peoples’ hearts skip a beat when it’s Friday the 13th. In fact, there’s a whole horror movie franchise based on the date. In Italy, however, it’s not the 13th that’s sending chills down peoples’ spines. Thirteen is lucky!
In Italy, it’s Friday the 17th that’s literally making people close their shops or skip work. The number 17, when written in Roman numerals, is XVII.
Now, that doesn’t mean anything to most people. But, for Italians, it’s an anagram for “VIXI.” Again, “VIXI” doesn’t mean anything sinister to others, but for Italians, it means “I have lived,” which means… you’re currently dead.
The superstition is so widely observed that you might find it difficult to get onto the 17th floor of an Italian hotel or find a seat on the 17th row in the theater.
sabato (SA-ba-to) — Saturday
It was on a sabato… in March. The year was 1475, and the Renaissance was just around the corner when one of the greatest artists ever to walk among mankind was born.
His name was a mouthful: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. That’s why we just call him Michelangelo (“Mike” if the Americans had their way).
He was a gifted sculptor, painter, architect and poet and produced some of the most influential works of art—the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam, the Madonna of Bruges, just to name a few.
He was born on a sabato.
domenica (do-ME–nee-ka) — Sunday
Italians love easy Sundays. After all, it’s the weekend, or fine settimana.
Especially in smaller cities and towns across the country, domenica can easily be spent lazying around. People wake up late, staying in bed until brunch. The more religious people, and there are fewer of them each year, attend mass.
Domenica is also the day of the week dedicated to friends and family. As you know, family is big for Italians. You don’t need to watch “The Godfather” to know that!
Lunches are extended affairs, lasting until late in the afternoon. The food, wine and conversation flow as relatives are pitted against each other in lovely, intergenerational banter.
If there’s time, an evening stroll (known as a passeggiata) might be had through the town’s main thoroughfares—looking through shops and meeting acquaintances along the way.
This prepares the hardworking Italians for the busy week ahead.
The Italian Days of the Week in Action
You’ve just learned about “i giorni della settimana” (the days of the week). How might you use them in conversation?
Let’s find out.
Che giorno è oggi? (What day is it today?)
Oggi è ______. (Today is ______.)
For example, if it’s a Tuesday, then say, “Oggi è martedì” (Today is Tuesday).
Keep in mind that definite articles like “la,” “il” and “lo” are usually not used before days of the week.
So, you just say:
Ci vediamo lunedì. (See you on Monday.)
Devo essere a Roma venerdì. (I have to be in Rome on Friday.)
A short way of saying “See you on ______” is by putting an “a” before the day:
a lunedì (See you on Monday.)
a martedì (See you on Tuesday.)
a mercoledì (See you on Wednesday.)
However, definite articles are used when you mean that something happens “every time.”
For example, if you don’t work on Saturdays, you can say:
Non lavoro il sabato. (I don’t work on Saturdays.)
Another way to convey this is by adding ogni (every) before the day, as in:
Viene qui ogni sabato. (He comes here every Saturday.)
Of course, you don’t need to specify the days all the time. You can use ieri (yesterday), oggi (today) and domani (tomorrow).
L’ho vista ieri. (I saw her yesterday.)
Comincia oggi l’addestramento. (Training starts today.)
Venga domani. (Come tomorrow.)
So, now you know the days of the Italian week.
Make the days count, and use them often to continually study this beautiful language.