Italians are famously great appreciators of beauty in any form. So it will come as no surprise to hear that today's phrase is used a lot in Italy.
Che bello literally translates as “how beautiful”. But the thing that may be surprising is just how often this exclamation is deployed.
Forget about a simple “that's nice” or “he's cute”. Instead, Italians will exclaim passionately about whatever has caught their eye. (At least there's no danger of accidentally sounding sarcastic.)
And it could be used for almost anything.
After all, bello, or bella, can also be used to mean “good-looking”, “hot”, “nice”, “pretty”, or even simply “good”, depending on the situation.
– Che bella la torta!
– What a beautiful cake!
– Ammazza, che bello ragazzo!
– Wow, what a hot guy!
– Che belli questi fiori!
– These flowers are so pretty!
A similar phrase is che carina, meaning how cute, lovely, or sweet. This one's obviously used more for puppies and babies – but I've also heard it used to describe a sofa, so who knows.
And there are lots of other common Italian exclamations made using che + adjective, such as:
– Che buono!
– How good/tasty! (used mainly to describe food)
– Che peccato!
– What a shame!
– Che schifo!
— How disgusting!
– Che barba!
– What a drag!
But che bello is still my all-time favourite – and it's the one you'll probably hear used most frequently in Italy.
Many Italians seem to use this phrase daily (or hourly) to enthuse over everything from dinners and parties to people and buildings, and, of course, landscapes, art, wine, and all the other things that make this country so beautiful.
– Che bel posto!
– What a beautiful place!
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