Evening is rolling in, the sun is setting, and you’re almost ready for bed. But wait! We need to explore more of Italy before we officially call it a night.
Italy is known for its fun and energetic evening atmosphere, and there’s truly something for everyone. Whether your plans include having an aperitivo (happy hour) before a late dinner, catching a theater show after dinner, or just exploring a new city after work, knowing different ways to say good evening and goodnight in Italian will help you make the most of the Italian nightlife. (And of course, it’s always a good idea to brush up on other greetings, like saying “hello” and “how are you” in Italian!)
This article will show you how to say good evening and goodnight in Italian, while also explaining some fun cultural components along the way. We’ll even talk about some cute ways to say goodnight, my love in Italian, too!
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How to say goodnight in Italian
Before you lay your head down on your pillow, get ready for an exciting night out in your favorite Italian city. Can you picture it? You’ve just finished a lovely aperitivo as the bells announce evening’s arrival. Your stomach is growling and it’s time to search for a trattoria.
Let’s go over some useful phrases that can be used in the evening and night times so that we can be ready for what we encounter on our post-aperitivo stroll.
First off, let’s look at the difference between sera (evening) and notte (night). When you walk into a restaurant in a busy piazza, you can greet the host with this classic, useful phrase: Buonasera! (Good evening!)
When you’re ready to leave the restaurant and stop for some gelato, you can say Buona serata! (Have a nice evening!) to the waiter as you walk outside.
While buonasera can be used for coming and going, buona serata is usually only used when you’re saying goodbye to someone in the evening.
When you’re ready to turn in for the evening and go to sleep, you would say Buonanotte!
There are technically two spellings to choose from for buonasera and buonanotte, but we’ll use the form without the gap in this article. Just keep in mind that buona sera and buona notte are optional spellings when using the phrases as greetings.
Check out the table below for a list of the most common evening greetings!
|Good night!||Buonanotte! / Buona notte!||bwon-a not-teh||bwonaˈnɔtte|
|Good evening.||Buonasera. / Buona sera.||bwon-a ser-ah||ˈbwɔna ˈsera|
|Have a good evening!||Buona serata!||bwon-a ser-ah-tah||ˈbwɔna seˈrata|
|Goodnight my friends.||Buonanotte, amici miei.||bwon-a not-teh ah-mee-chee me-yay||bwonaˈnɔtte | aˈmitʃi ˈmjɛi̯|
|Goodnight, guys!||Buonanotte, ragazzi!||bwon-a not-teh rah-gah-tzi||bwonaˈnɔtte | raˈɡattsi|
|Goodnight, Sir.||Buonanotte, Signore.||bwon-a not-teh sin-yor-eh||bwonaˈnɔtte | siɲˈɲore|
|Goodnight, Ma’am.||Buonanotte, Signora.||bwon-a not-teh sin-yor-ah||bwonaˈnɔtte | siɲˈɲora|
|Goodnight, everyone!||Buonanotte a tutti!||bwon-a not-teh ah two-tee||bwonaˈnɔtte a ˈttutti|
Romantic or flirty good night in Italian
If your evening involves a special date (or if you want to practice some of these phrases with your significant other), this table is perfect for you.
Most of these phrases can be considered to be quite passionate (hey, Italian isn’t called a “romance language” for nothing), but Sogni d’oro! (Sweet dreams!) can also be used with family members in addition to those you care about.
|Good night, my love.||Buonanotte, amore.||bwon-a not-teh, ah-more-eh||bwonaˈnɔtte | aˈmore|
|Good night, beautiful.||Buonanotte, bella!||bwon-a not-teh bell-ah||bwonaˈnɔtte | ˈbɛlla|
|Good night, handsome.||Buonanotte, bello!||bwon-a not-teh bell-oh||bwonaˈnɔtte | ˈbɛllo|
|Good night, sweetheart.||Buonanotte, tesoro/a.||bwon-a not-teh teh-sor-ro / teh-sor-rah||bwonaˈnɔtte | tezoro / tezora|
|Good night - sweet dreams!||Buonanotte - sogni d’oro!||bwon-a not-teh - son-yee do-ro||bwonaˈnɔtte | ˈsoɲɲi dˈɔro|
|I’ll be dreaming of you.||Sognerò di te.||son-ye-ro dee teh||soɲɲeˈrɔ ddi ˈte|
|Dream of me.||Sognami.||son-ya me||soɲɲami|
|Can I give you a goodnight kiss?||Posso darti il bacio della buonanotte?||poe-so dar-tee il bach-oh del-lah bwon-a not-teh||ˈpɔsso ˈdarti il batʃo ˈdella bwonaˈnɔtte|
|I can’t wait to wake up next to you.||Non vedo l’ora di svegliarmi accanto a te.||non veh-doe lora dee sveh-lee-ar-mee ah-kan-toh teh||ˈnon ˈvedo lˈora di zveʎˈʎarmi akˈkanto a ˈtte|
Other greetings for a good evening in Italian
Here are some other ways to say goodnight and sweet dreams! (And if you want more sweet Italian vocab, check out more beautiful Italian words here.)
If you want to tell someone to “Sleep well!”, the table below will show you two different options. Before you say Luci spente!, make sure to practice these helpful greetings for the evening.
|Sweet dreams.||Sogni d’oro!||son-yee doro||ˈsoɲɲi dˈɔro|
|Sleep well!||Dormi bene!||door-mee beh-neh||ˈdɔrmi ˈbɛne|
|Sleep well!||Fai una bella dormita!||fye oo-na bell-lah door-mee-tah||ˈfai̯ ˈuna ˈbɛlla dorˈmita|
|Have a good rest!||Riposati!||ree-poh-sah-tee||riˈpɔzati|
|Until tomorrow.||A domani!||ah doe-mah-nee||a ddoˈmani|
|Lights out!||Luci spente!||loo-chee spen-teh||ˈlutʃi ˈspɛnte|
|I’m going to bed.||Vado a letto.||vah-doe ah let-toe||ˈvado a ˈllɛtto|
Night-time phrases, idioms, and culture
There are quite a few common phrases and idioms about sleeping and saying goodnight. Plus, using these phrases with other Italian speakers is a great way to live out the culture as well!
Speaking of culture, here’s a fun fact about the phrase, Una notte bianca. Many cities and towns all over Italy celebrate a notte bianca at least once throughout the year. Although the exact festivities depend on the town, you can expect to see shops open later than usual and festivities occurring late into the night. This makes sense, since the meaning of una notte bianca is “a sleepless night”!
And if you’re wondering where the phrase, Buonanotte al secchio, comes from, there are a few interpretations you can keep in mind. Both theories have their roots in historic daily routines, and the meaning is similar to the English phrase, “End of story!” or “And that’s that!”.
The first interpretation refers to a water well. Imagine that it’s the mid-1500s in Umbria, and you’re pulling up a bucket of water from a well. As you’re pulling it up, the rope snaps, and your bucket falls down the well, never to be returned again. Well, buonanotte al secchio! Nothing more can be done!
The second interpretation is also pretty literal, as it refers to the antique bedpans used before houses had running water. Saying buonanotte al secchio could have referred to the act of emptying the bedpan outside of your window (hopefully when no one was walking around outside!) or hoping that you wouldn’t have to wake up and use it during the night.
In this table, you’ll find that Italian idioms and phrases involving sleep aren’t too different from the ones we use in English (like “sleep like a rock” and “a deep sleep”). Learning them can help boost your cultural connection to Italy while also practicing your Italian. Just remember that if your idiom of choice below contains the infinitive of a verb, you’ll need to conjugate it properly. (Ex: Ho dormito come un ghiro! / I slept like a rock!)
Check out our guide to Italian slang for more interesting informal phrases.
|Italian Phrase||Literal English Translation||Meaning in English||Pronunciation||IPA|
|Buonanotte al secchio||Goodnight to the bucket||…and that’s that! / end of story / nothing more can be done||bwon-a not-teh al sek-kyo||bwonaˈnɔtte al ˈsekkjo|
|Buonanotte ai suonatori||Goodnight to the musicians||…and that’s that! / end of story / nothing more can be done||bwon-a not-teh aye swon-ah-tor-ee||bwonaˈnɔtte ˈai̯ swonaˈtori|
|Una notte bianca / una notte in bianco||A white night||A sleepless night and/or a party or celebration that lasts all night long||oo-na not-teh byan-ka (een byan-ko)||ˈuna ˈnɔtte ˈbjanka | ˈuna ˈnɔtte im ˈbjanko|
|Andare a letto con le galline||Going to bed with the chickens||Going to bed very early||an-dar-eh ah let-toe con leh gall-ee-neh||anˈdare a ˈllɛtto ˈkon ˈle ɡalˈline|
|Non svegliare il cane che dorme||Don’t wake the sleeping dog||Let sleeping dogs lie||sveh-lee-ar-eh il ka-neh ke dor-meh||zveʎˈʎare il ˈkane ˈke ˈddɔrme|
|Dormire come un ghiro||To sleep like a mouse||To sleep like a rock / To have a deep sleep||dor-mee-reh coh-meh oon gee-ro||dorˈmire ˈkome un ˈɡiro|
|Avere il sonno profondo||To have a deep sleep||To have a deep sleep||ah-veh-reh il soh-no pro-fon-do||aˈvere il ˈsonno proˈfondo|
|Avere il sonno leggero||To have a light sleep||To have a light sleep||ah-veh-reh il soh-no leh-jer-roh||aˈvere il ˈsonno ledˈdʒɛro|
|Fare la nanna||To have a nap||To have a nap (only used for children)||fa-reh la na-na||ˈfare la ˈnanna|
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Buonanotte a tutti!
Our article (and our Italian day) has come to an end…but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning Italian! Once you wake up from your sonno profondo, you can brush up on ways to say good morning in Italian, as well as other important vocabulary in Italian.
If you’re inspired to learn Italian in record time, we’ve put together some science-based tips for you here.
See you next time!