Italian expression of the day: ‘Ci sentiamo’

Make this your new Italian sign-off.

Italian expression of the day: 'Ci sentiamo'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

How do you end your conversations in Italian? Do you go for a simple ciao (or two, or eight: have you ever heard how long it takes Italians to wrap up a phone call?), or do you prefer the formality of arrivederci

Those are both fine ways to say goodbye, but what if you want to say it’s only bye for now? There’s a presto (‘see you soon’), a dopo or a più tardi (both ‘see you later’), or a cheery ci vediamo (literally ‘we’ll be seeing each other’ or ‘see you’).

All of those imply that you’ll soon be meeting again. But you might simply plan to call or write. That’s where ci sentiamo comes in.

It works in the same way as ci vediamo – taking the ‘we’ form of the verb to show reciprocity – but with the verb sentire, ‘to hear’ or ‘to feel’. 

Sentire is shorthand for ‘to hear from’ or ‘to be in touch with’. 

Ci sentiamo spesso.
We’re often in touch.

So when you sign off with “Ci sentiamo!“, you’re telling the other person: ‘Speak soon!’ ‘Let’s be in touch!’

Grazie Mamma, ci sentiamo.
Thanks Mum, speak soon.

Ora non posso parlare, ci sentiamo dopo.
I can’t talk right now, let’s speak later.

Ci sentiamo domani! Non vedo l’ora
Talk to you tomorrow! Can’t wait!

And when your plans aren’t entirely clear, ci sentiamo is also a handily vague way to end a conversation: sure, we’ll talk, we just haven’t decided how or when.

Do you have a favourite Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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Italian expression of the day: ‘Farla franca’

You won't get away with neglecting to learn this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Farla franca'

If you like Italian detective or murder mystery novels, sooner or later you’re bound to encounter the phrase farla franca: to get away with something.

Con Poirot alle calcagna, l’assassino non riuscirà mai a farla franca.
With Poirot on the scent, the killer will never get away with it.

Pensavi davvero di potermi derubare e farla franca?
You really thought you could steal from me and get away with it?

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According to the Treccani dictionary, the expression comes from the bureaucratic use of the adjective franco to mean ‘free’, describing either people that are exempt from carrying out their duties (like off-duty naval officers) or goods that are exempt from tariffs and duties.

One of the first recorded uses of farla franca as a phrase comes from the early 14th century.

The Florentine historian Giovanni Villani wrote that in June 1322, the city of Florence celebrated the Feast of San Giovanni with a big fair, ‘la quale feciono franca‘ for non-citizens – in other words, foreign merchants who came didn’t have to pay the usual taxes.

By the mid-1800s, the expression to mean escaping from some illicit act or risky endeavour without having to pay a penalty. In English (if you were being old-fashioned) you might talk in the same way about someone ‘getting off scot free’.

The la in farla franca is the part of the phrase that stands in for the ‘it’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to fare but can go somewhere else, as long as it’s there.

Non possiamo permettere che la faccia franca.
We can’t let him get away with this.

Pensa di poterla fare franca.
She thinks she can get away with it.

With this phrase now in your repertoire, there’s no telling what you’ll get away with.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.