In Italian, the word bacio means “kiss.” This is a very common word that is used in many different contexts – all the way from platonic to romantic.
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Italian is known as one of the most romantic languages in the world, so it should come as no surprise that some of the first words people wish to learn are often linked to romance. As I study more Italian, I’m in love with the beauty of the language. The softness and romantic sound I hear when people are talking.
The Word Itself… Bacio
You probably already know the Italian word, amore which means love. When it’s time for a kiss, the word is bacio – or plural: baci. The word for a big kiss in Italian is bacione whereas a small, little kiss is a bacino.
When two people are in love, they often exchange kisses as a sign of affection. A kiss can also be a way of saying hello, goodbye, and even thank you. In some cases, a kiss can also be a way of expressing sympathy.
When Sending an Email or Text
A common way of signing off an informal email or text message in Italian is to put un bacio (a kiss) or baci (kisses) at the end when closing. It can be used between friends and family and also might be added to un abbraccio (a hug) or abbracci (hugs).
Baci e abbracci: Hugs and Kisses
It’s always important to be respectful of individuals and their wishes when it comes to greetings with hugging and kissing – even in Italy. Land of expression and emotions.
Most friends in about the same age group will commonly share il bacio when they first meet and leave one another. It would entail a very light, or “air kiss” on each cheek, usually starting on the left side. Among good friends, baci is usually followed by abbracci (hugs.) You would not use this greeting used with new acquaintances, work colleagues, and someone much older than you.
If you’re unclear about what to do and how to react to someone – pay attention and take your cue from the person you’re greeting. This is very important if you’re a man greeting a woman. Believe it or not, it is the woman who sets the tone for her personal space.
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Other Words of Endearment
The Word “Ti amo”
“You would use the word, ti amo for romantic love such as a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. To express love for a family member or close friend, use the term, ti voglio bene. In English, it means “I want good things for you.” To take it one step further, ti voglio molto bene means “you care very deeply.”
The Word “Cara”
An endearing adjective like caro – meaning “dear” will change to match the gender in the Italian language. I remember when we first arrived in Lucca, I heard this term and I had no idea what it meant. I arrived home and immediately looked it up. I wasn’t sure if someone was being nice… or not so nice to me. Cara is feminine – again meaning “dear or darling” and Caro would be masculine.