If you’ve been to Italy, you’re no doubt already acquainted with the simultaneously charming and confusing fact that greetings in Italy vary so widely by time of day and relationship that you might find yourself hearing over a dozen variations in one day!

Italians do not expect foreigners to have these down perfectly, of course, but they will be highly impressed if you get them spot on. It’s a great way to start a relationship, whether with your tour guide, a shop keeper, or hotel concierge, even if the conversation continues in English.

Formality First: Formal Italian Greetings


Italian has an entirely separate pronoun for the second person (you) when you want to be formal (Lei) than when you want to be casual (tu). So it makes sense that one of the biggest dividing lines between Italian greetings is the level of formality.

When you are meeting for the first time, the person is in a position of authority, or it is a one-off conversation like you may have trying to buy a train ticket, you should always stick a formal greeting.

The easiest formal greeting, which you can use at any time of day or in any situation is “salve,” which translates roughly as something akin to “salutations,” even though that is very old-fashioned and out of use in English today.

“Salve” can be a tad to formal for many situations, so the best thing to do is learn the different “good day”-style greetings for each time of day:

  • “buongiorno” can be used from morning until after lunch

  • “buona sera,” which literally means “good evening,” can be used all afternoon and evening, though in some areas, it is more correct to say “buon pomeriggio” (literally good afternoon) until dinner time


”How’s it going?” And Other Casual Greetings


The ubiquitous “ciao,” which has now extended past Italian boarders not only to occasional appearances in the U.S., but also a common role in German, Spanish, and other European conversations, is best reserved for friends and closer aquaintances.

Even in those cases, however, it’s usually followed with some variety of how are you:

  • “come sta?” (formal)

  • “come stai?” (informal)

  • “come va?” (very informal)

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Next year, from May 1st  to October 31st, the World’s Fair is coming to Milan!

Milan last hosted nearly 110 years ago, and will be putting on quite the spectacle in recognition of receiving the honor of hosting next year’s event. Colloquially known as world’s fairs, past universal expositions have left the world with such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and Chicago’s world-renowned Field Museum.



Next year’s Expo will cover a total area of nearly 11 million square feet, in the form of an island surrounded by a canal, offering visitors a chance to experience waterside cafes and passeggiatas (strolls) so central to Italian life.

Expanding on the idea of the Mediterranean diet and the fact that people in Italy’s island region of Sardinia are among the longest-lived in the world, the Expo will focus on spreading good eating habits and sustainable development practices.

Taking “feeding the planet, energy for life” as its theme, the Expo will manifest this concept through five interesting areas: food for the body (edibles), food for the eyes (architecture), food for the soul (addressing global food issues), food for the mind (education), and food for the heart (entertainment).



Like past world’s fairs, the event will feature pavilions from over the world, and as of last month, nearly 150 countries had signed up to participate. Award-winning design team Herzog & de Meuron have created a city-like grid for the pavilions, which will function like row houses in a residential city neighborhood, each rising—in many cases with “living” walls—over the expo grounds and often featuring roof decks, as will be the case with the U.S. pavilion, focusing on American food production, with a special section devoted to food trucks.
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On Italy tours, trains are one of the best ways to see the country. You can enjoy the landscape in comfortable surrounds, be transported directly from city center to city center, and not have to work about GPS or parking laws.

When you go to book Italian trains, whether online via Trenitalia or at one of the kiosks in Italian train stations (we’ll be covering how exactly to get your tickets that in our newsletter this month, sign up here), it’s easily to be either confused or overwhelmed.

Italy has so many different types of trains, and often all of them travel the same route. Let’s break it down.

The National Train System


The Italian national rail runs almost all local and regional trains. A few regions have their own systems that are also open to the public, but most trains you’ll end up taking go the Trenitalia, the national system.

Local trains make lots of stops, only have second-class seats, and connect cities that are close by within the same region, like Florence and Siena in Tuscany or Venice and Verona in the Veneto.

There are several levels of trains that go faster than local trains but slower than high speed. And every few years it seems like something new pops up!

Regional trains can also connect you to cities in the same region, but they make fewer stops than local trains and move faster. You can also take regional trains or fast regional trains to move from one region to another where the high-speed trains don’t run or when you don’t want to pay the extra expense of those trains.

Intercity trains were, once upon a time, the fast option, but now they are more or less phased out. You’ll still see them as a slower option on some long distance routes. Likewise, Eurostar was the high-speed option ten years ago, but now they offer another way (at twice the time and often also twice the price) to get between distant cities when the high-speed trains are full.

High-speed Trains: Italo vs. Freccia




For high-speed service, which is what you need to go between major cities such as Milan and Rome or Florence and Venice, you now have two options, thanks to the relative newcomer Italo.

A private company with its own lounges and—in some cases like Rome where it leaves from a secondary station—its own stations, Italo offers a luxury product. Freccia (Italian for arrow) trains from Trenitalia have several levels of premium cabins that offer similar service, but the basic product is quite functional, if not a little cramped, and can be found for great prices if you book in advance.

The Freccia trains cut the time it takes to get around Italy in half, getting you around faster than driving, and even flying in most cases.

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