The Italian language is universally acknowledged as la lingua dell’amore. The magic mix of intonation, round vowels, and musicality makes it ideal to utter love words. If ti amo (I love you) is too obvious for you (remember that Italians only use it with people they are romantically involved with; use ti voglio bene with everyone else), here are some Italian expressions that could come handy in when talking about/dealing with love:
- amore – Love, one of the most used words in Italian, whose etymology is somehow mysterious. Although many believe that the term comes from a-mors, a Greek-Latin combination meaning “without death,” most linguists reject this account. It seems that amore derives, instead, from amór-em, coming, in turn, from the verb camàre (then amàre) which contains the Sanskrit root ka (to desire). In Latin, and now in Italian, amore denotes instinct and passion.
- prendere una cotta, perdere la testa, innamorarsi – To have a crush on someone (where cotta comes from the verb cuocere,to cook), to fall in love, head over heels in love, respectively—and in most cases in chronological order of occurrence.
- colpo di fulmine – Literally, a bolt of lightning; the expression is used to indicate love at first sight. Its link to a physical event—and what a physical event!—makes it clear that the consequences are unavoidable.
- struggimento – This very dramatic word suggests an urgent and consuming grief, yet something that deserves to be fully experienced. It is therefore ideal to talk about one’s romantic agonies!
- amore (2) and tesoro – the most common ways to address your beloved one. There are infinite variations—amoruccio, amo’, tesorino, tesoruccio—and most of them can be easily used with friends and family too. Nuances can be hard to grasp, so make sure to use them appropriately!
- Come ti vidi mi innamorai. E tu sorridi perché lo sai. This simple, yet straight-to-the-point sentence is from Arrigo Boito, a poet, novelist, and librettist mostly known for authoring the libretti for Otello and Falstaff, two widely celebrated operas from Giuseppe Verdi. In other words, someone who clearly knew how to discuss love.
- Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona, / Mi prese del costui piacer sì forte, / Che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona. No love talk is complete without quoting Dante and these legendary verses from the Divina Commedia about the love story between Paolo and Francesca, one of the most powerful and tragic ones in Italian literature. The first line of this terzina, in particular, has been quoted countless times, like in the Serenata Rap from Jovanotti, an evergreen favorite among pop love songs.
By Claudia Quesito
Also read: 7 Beautiful Italian Words