Are you ready to say “I love you” in Italian to your other half while having a candlelit dinner in one of Italy’s many romantic destinations?
There’s Verona, the scene of the love story between Romeo and Juliet, and Venice with its canals and gondolas. There’s Florence with its artistic gems, and Rome with its Colosseum. Italy has also been the setting of many romantic comedies: we all remember Audrey Hepburn riding a Vespa in Roman Holiday and Diane Lane surrounded by the Tuscan hills in Under the Tuscan Sun.
The Italian language fully reflects this sense of romance, with numerous phrases to express love and romantic feelings. In particular, many revolve around two main concepts: “Amare,” the feeling we have towards a person with whom we are in love, and “Volere bene,” which indicates loving and caring for a person.
Let’s find out how to say “I love you” In Italian, as well as other romantic phrases and terms of endearments you can use with your loved one.
Expressions to say “I love you” in Italian
“I love you” in Italian – Ti voglio bene / Ti amo
Ti voglio bene could be literally translated as “I wish you well,” but it means “I love you” in Italian. It emphasizes the tender and affectionate feelings you have for a person, without any sexual or romantic undertones. It’s used with friends and family members.
On the other hand, Ti amo implies a powerful feeling and is used for someone with whom you have a romantic relationship. It’s a bit like the English “I’m in love with you.” You’re supposed to use it with someone you’ve been intimate with for a while, rather than someone you’ve been dating for just a few weeks. Saying Ti amo marks a significant stage in your relationship.
“I love you too” in Italian – Ti voglio bene anche io / Ti amo anche io
As we have two different expressions to say “I love you” in Italian, we also have two different phrases to say “I love you too.”
Ti voglio bene anche io is what you reply to Ti voglio bene. It’s like you’re saying, “I care about you too.” You can tell this to a friend, your family, or simply to a person towards whom you have tender feelings.
On the other hand, Ti amo anche io is what you say to the person you’re dating after they tell you “I love you”.
“I love you a lot” in Italian – Ti amo tanto / Ti voglio un mondo di bene
Here, the distinction between Ti amo and Ti voglio bene plays a part again.
If you want to profess your deep love to your significant other, you’ll say Ti amo tanto. If you want to tell a good friend you really care about them, you’ll say Ti voglio tanto bene or Ti voglio un mondo di bene.
“I love you more” in Italian – Io di più
Suppose your girlfriend or boyfriend tells you Ti amo and you want to reply “I love you more” in Italian. How do you say it?
It’s easy, and you don’t have to repeat the verb love; you simply say Io di più, which can be literally translated as “I more.” It may sound funny, but that’s exactly how native speakers express themselves.
The same phrase can be used to reply to Ti voglio bene.
“We love you” in Italian – Ti amiamo / Ti vogliamo bene
“We love you” in Italian can be translated either as Ti amiamo or Ti vogliamo bene.
In this case, however, there’s no distinction of whether you are in a romantic relationship or not. Both Ti amiamo and Ti vogliamo bene mean “we care about you.” The only difference is that the former is more intimate and you expect it from your immediate family, your parents especially. On the other hand, ti vogliamo bene is for every other situation.
“I love you, my love” in Italian – Ti amo amore / Ti amo amore mio
“I love you, my love” can be translated to either Ti amo amore or Ti amo amore mio.
The term “my love” in Italian is literally Amore mio. You can also say Amore, which means “love,” and is another term of endearment in Italy.
How to say “I love you” to family members
“I love you Mom” in Italian – Ti voglio bene mamma
You’re never too old to show some love to your mom, at least not in Italy. Everybody knows that we are a little bit mammoni (mama’s boys). We even have an expression La mamma è sempre la mamma, which means “Your mother always remains your mother.”
If you want to say “I love you mom” in Italian, then the expression you should use is ti voglio bene mamma.
“I love you Dad” in Italian – Ti voglio bene papà
Dad in Italian is papà. However, in some parts of central Italy like Tuscany, Romagna, Umbria, Marche, Sardinia, and northern Lazio, it becomes babbo. That’s an interesting thing to note because it reflects how the language changes according to the part of Italy you’re living in. While babbo means “Dad” where I live in Tuscany, in the Milan area it’s an offense and means “stupid.”
Therefore, to say “I love you, Dad” in Italian, it’s either Ti voglio bene papà or Ti voglio bene babbo. If you’re unsure of which one you should use, go for the first one, and everybody in Italy will understand.
“I love you baby” in italian – Ti voglio bene bambino mio
Here is where it gets complicated.
If you want to show love to a child, especially your own child, the expression “I love you baby” in Italian can be translated to Ti voglio bene bambino mio. It literally means “I love you, my baby.”
Now, if “baby” is intended as a pet name for your significant other, then the Italian phrase you need to say is Ti amo, followed by the term of endearment you want to use. We’ll see a series of Italian endearments later in the article.
How to say “I like you” in Italian
“I like you” in Italian – Mi piaci
Mi piaci is “I like you” in Italian. It’s something you’d say to the person you like romantically and want to start dating.
In English, the phrase “I like you” is not only used in a romantic setting: you can say it to a person you admire or to someone you just want to be friendly with. In Italian, however, it usually has a sentimental connotation.
If you want to let someone know you appreciate what they do, you can say Mi piace come scrivi (I like how you write) or Mi piace come lavori (I like how you work). But be careful that if you just say Mi piaci, you’re telling someone you like them more than a friend.
“I like you a lot” in Italian – Mi piaci tanto
I like you a lot can be translated as Mi piaci tanto. It’s something you’d say to the boy or girl you’ve been dating to tell them you’re really interested in them.
Other romantic Italian phrases
“I adore you” in Italian – Ti adoro
Ti adoro (I adore you) doesn’t actually have a romantic connotation. You can use it for friends and family, and also with the person you love.
It’s not uncommon to say it to a friend who has done something important for you. To thank them in Italian, you’ll say Grazie, ti adoro!. Adoro can also be used for objects. Suppose someone gives you something you really like as a present, you can thank them by saying:
- Grazie, lo adoro! – Thanks, I love it!
- Grazie mille, lo adoro! – Thank you very much, I love it!
As you’ve noticed, while the English language uses the verb “love” in this situation, Italian use the verb “adore.” We wouldn’t say Lo amo referring to a present. Amare and Voler bene are only for persons.
“You mean a lot to me” in Italian – Significhi molto per me
If you want to tell someone they mean a lot to you, the right expression in Italian is Significhi molto per me. It can be said either to a friend you particularly care about or to your significant other.
Let’s see a couple of examples in Italian:
- Significhi molto per me, sei il mio migliore amico – You mean a lot to me, you’re my best friend (male)
- Significhi molto per me, sei la mia migliore amica – You mean a lot to me, you’re my best friend (female)
- Ti amo, significhi molto per me – I love you, you mean a lot to me. (This one has a romantic connotation)
- Ti amo, significhi tutto per me – I love you, you mean everything to me.
“I want you” in Italian – Ti voglio / Ti desidero
Now let’s be more passionate and see how to say “I want you” in Italian.
If you say something like Ti voglio (I want you) or Ti desidero (I desire you) in Italian, you should keep in mind that it has a sexual connotation.
On the other hand, if you tell someone Voglio te, which is another way to say “I want you” in Italian, it has a completely different meaning. Here the stress is on “you”: I want you, I don’t care about the others; it’s you the person I want.
“I’m crazy about you” in Italian – Sono pazzo di te
If you want to tell your significant other that you are head over heels, you can say sono pazzo di te if you’re a boy or sono pazza di te if you’re a girl.
Remember that adjectives in Italian are conjugated as the nouns: masculine usually end with -o (plural, -i), feminine with -a (plural -e).
“I’ve fallen in love with you” in Italian – Mi sono innamorato di te
If you want to literally say “I’ve fallen in love with you” in Italian, the right expression is mi sono innamorato/a di te. Actually, here’s a popular song in Italy by Luigi Tengo, which is about falling in love. The title is precisely Mi sono innamorato di te.
On the contrary, if you want to tell your S.O. that you’re in love with him or her, you can say sono innamorato/a di te.
While ti amo (or “I love you”) is also said to a person you’re in love with, sono innamorato di te is the expression that literally means “I’m in love with you.”
“Without you my life has no meaning” – Senza di te la mia vita non ha senso
This phrase is a little dramatic, but lovely and romantic nonetheless.
“I will always love you” in Italian – Ti amerò per sempre
And I will always love you ...
Remember this famous line sung by Whitney Houston? If you’re wondering how you can say it in Italian, here’s the answer: ti amerò per sempre.
Italian terms of endearment
Now that you’ve learned several expressions to express your love to your dearest friends, your family, or your significant other, it’s time to see a couple of Italian terms of endearment and pet names for your partner.
Amore and amore mio are common Italian endearments. They mean “love” and “my love” respectively and are usually used as pet names between partners. The only instance when they’re not used in a romantic setting is between a mother and her child. A mother can tell her baby Ti voglio bene amore mio, which means “I love you, my little baby.”
Tesoro means “treasure” and is another Italian term of endearment. It’s not only destined for a romantic relationship. Tesoro can be used towards anyone with whom you are close, like a dear friend. It’s even used between parents and their children.
Tesoro mio is another way to say “my love” in Italian.
Piccolo or Piccola is the Italian pet name that corresponds to the English “baby.” They’re used between long-time partners, especially in the case of young couples. It can also be added to pick-up lines. For example. a guy can grab someone’s attention by saying, “Hey, piccola” (“Hey, baby.”)
Since piccolo/a means “little” in Italian, it can also be used for children. If you meet a child you don’t know, you can greet them in Italian by saying, “Hey piccolo!“.
The phrase “pet name” cannot be more fitting for the next Italian endearment we’re going to learn together. I’m talking about cucciolo/a, which literally means “puppy.” It’s a very cheesy name you can use with your partner or a sweet one for your child.
Caro or Cara is the quintessential term of endearment in Italian. It means “dear” and is used in several different contexts. It can be a pet name for your partner, a sweet name for a friend, and also the beginning of a letter. We also say Mia cara, which means “my dear” or “my darling” in Italian.
Beware of the difference between mia cara/mio caro and cara mia/caro mio. While the former is an Italian endearment, the latter is ironic and used to make someone understand that a certain situation is not as easy as they might think. For example, you can say: “Eh caro mio e che ti aspettavi?,” which means “Eh dear, and what were you expecting?.”
Italian love quotes and sayings
Now, since love is in the air and this article is full of romanticism, I’d like to leave you with some Italian love quotes and sayings by famous Italian poets or writers. You’ll find the English translation below the Italian quote.
Amore mio ho sognato di te come si sogna della rosa e del ventoAlda Merini
My love I dreamed of you as one dreams of the rose and the wind.
Il vero amore è come una finestra illuminata in una notte buia. Il vero amore è una quiete accesaGiuseppe Ungaretti
True love is like a lighted window on a dark night. True love is a lighted stillness.
Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdonaDante Alighieri
mi prese del costui piacer sì forte
che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona
Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving,
Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly,
That, as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me.
Gli amori che sembrano assurdi certe volte sono i miglioriMargaret Mazzantini
The loves that seem absurd are sometimes the best ones.
Come ti vidi mi innamorai. E tu sorridi perché lo saiArrigo Boito
When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.
Saremo felici o saremo tristi, che importa? Saremo l’uno accanto all’altra. E questo deve essere, questo è l’essenzialeGabriele D’Annunzio
We’ll be happy or we’ll be sad, who cares? We will be next to each other. And this must be, this is the essential.
Quel che l’huom vede Amor gli fa invisibileLudovico Ariosto
E l’invisibil fa vedere Amore. – Ludovico Ariosto
What a man sees, Love can make invisible
and what is invisible, that can Love make him see.
Now you know how to surprise (and impress) your partner with your knowledge of the Italian language’s most romantic expressions! Now, go back to the basics and learn how to say hello, how are you, and thank you in Italian!