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Do you know your DAD from your DOP? The most common Italian acronyms explained

Italians are huge fans of acronyms, making reading Italian news or partaking in discussions that extra bit tricky. To help you navigate the alphabet soup, here are the top Italian acronyms you need to know.

Do you know your DAD from your DOP? The most common Italian acronyms explained
What's that stand for? Italians love using acronyms, which can be confusing if you're unaccustomed to the language and culture. Photo: Sammy Williams/Unsplash

From understanding tax to knowing which roads to avoid if you don’t want a fine, Italy uses acronyms in all aspects of life.

It’s an added layer of language learning, with a smidge of cultural knowledge thrown in for extra confusion. Some terms, of course, are not directly translatable into your native tongue, nor do they necessarily exist at all in your home country.

So here’s a handy guide to help you make sense of those little letters that can mean a whole lot.

ABIAssociazione Bancaria Italiana – Association of Italian Banks.

ACIAutomobile Club d’Italia – the Italian Automobile Club, somewhere you’ll need to go if you need to get your driving licence.

AIRE – Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all’Estero – Register of Italian Residents Abroad. Italians who move abroad for longer than 12 months have to register with AIRE.

AMAeronautica Militare – Italian Air Force.

ANSA – Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata – Associated Press National Agency.

ARPA – Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione Ambientale – Regional Environmental Protection Agency.

ASLAzienda Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Authority.

Everyone living in Italy will become familiar with this one. Each area, which can be a town, province or group of cities has an ASL and it’s where you go to for medical services.

You’ll need to go to an ASL office to get a tessera sanitaria (Italian health card) to access them, which can be obtained by registering with the SSN (see the bottom of the page for that acronym).


AVVAvvocato – Lawyer.

BCCBanche di Credito Cooperativo – Cooperative Credit Banks. These are local, cooperative and mutual banks, which promote local social and economic growth.

BCEBanca Centrale Europea – European Central Bank.

CAAFCentro Autorizzato di Assistenza Fiscale – Authorised Tax Assistance Centre. These centres help workers and pensioners resolve financial queries, such as filling in an annual tax return. It can often be mixed up with the CAF, below.

CAFCentro di Assistenza Fiscale – Tax Assistance Centre. This is similar to CAAF, but it’s more corporate and made up of qualified lawyers, labour consultants, chartered accountants and business experts.

READ ALSO: Beat the queues: 19 bits of Italian bureaucracy you can do online

CAIClub Alpino Italiano – Italian Alpine Club.

CAPCodice di Avviamento Postale – Post/Zip code.

CCIAA Camera di Commercio Industria, Agricoltura e Artigianato – Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Artisanship.

CdAConsiglio di Amministrazione – Board of Directors.

The world of Italian bureaucracy is littered with acronyms. Photo: Scott Graham/Unsplash

CDP Cassa Depositi e Prestiti – Deposits and Loans Fund. This is an institution controlled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance that promotes the country’s growth and manages postal savings.

CEComunità Europea – European Community.

CEE – Comunità Economica Europea – European Economic Community.

CEIConferenza Episcopale Italiana – Italian Episcopal Conference. The official assembly of bishops in Italy and has the power to set criteria for the Mass.

CERNComitato Europeo di Ricerche Nucleari – European Organization for Nuclear Research.

CFCodice Fiscale or Fiscal Code. Thi is a personal identification number similar to a Social Security number in the US or National Insurance number in the UK.

READ ALSO: 16 of the most essential articles you’ll need when moving to Italy

CNELConsiglio Nazionale dell’Economia e del Lavoro – National Council for Economics and Labour.

CONADConsorzio Nazionale Dettaglianti – Retailers’ National Consortium. You’ll see this brand with the yellow flower ubiquitously in Italy, as it operates one of the largest supermarket chains in the country.

CNRConsiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – The National Research Council.

CRI Croce Rossa Italiana – Italian Red Cross.

CTSComitato Tecnico Scientifico – Technical Scientific Committee.

This is a body you’ll have heard a lot about during the Covid-19 crisis, as it was set up to advise the government on matters relating to the health emergency. The Committee is made up of experts and representatives of state bodies.

DAD – Didattica a Distanza – Distance Learning.

Another acronym you’ll often see in the news and hear on the street due to the pandemic. As schools moved their learning online, DAD (pronounced “dad”, not D-A-D) took over and allowed teachers and students to continue teaching and learning digitally.

A student learning through ‘DAD’. Photo: Compare Fibre/Unsplash

DASPO Divieto di Accedere alle manifestazioni SPOrtive – Ban on Access to Sporting Events.

A DASPO is a ban on accessing sporting events to prevent violence. This is often used at football stadiums to stop aggravation from the most severe of football fans, the so-called ‘ultras’.

DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata – Controlled Designation of Origin.

The first of our food and drink-related acronyms that signify quality and authenticity of a product. But between DOC, DOP, DOCG and IGT, it can get pretty baffling trying to understand what differentiates them.

READ ALSO: Ask an expert: ‘What’s the difference between Italy’s Parmigiano Reggiano and parmesan cheese?’

DOC was established in the 1960s and has historically been used as a mark of quality wines produced in small or medium-sized geographical areas, with characteristics linked to the grape variety, environment and production methods. It’s not actually been in use since 2010 and DOP has taken over. But you’ll still see it around, as it’s permitted to use the acronym as a nod to tradition.

DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin.

This acronym is attributed to wines already recognised as DOC and considered of particular value for at least ten years. Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino count among such wines to be bestowed with DOCG status.

DOP – Denominazione di Origine Protetta – Protected Designation of Origin.

Arguably the most widely used acronym, DOP is officially recognised at a European level. It has more than 400 wines and 160 registered Italian products, including specialities such as traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena or the cheese, Puzzone di Moena. It recognises food and wine from certain areas, so it’s only ever assigned to precise areas according to set criteria.

DOC, DOCG or IGT? Photo: Gabriella Clare Marino/Unsplash

DPCMDecreto del presidente del consiglio, or Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers, commonly called the Prime Minister’s decree or emergency decree.

An acronym that’s become common parlance for everyone in Italy during the pandemic. Each DPCM has determined the coronavirus restrictions and the measures that have impacted everyday life.

ENACEnte Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile – Civil Aviation National Authority.

ENELEnte Nazionale per l’Energia Elettrica – Electrical Energy National Authority. You may pay for your electricity and gas to this Italian manufacturer and distributor.

ENPAEnte Nazionale per la Protezione Animali – Animal Protection National Authority.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy with pets? Here’s what you need to know

EVOExtra Vergine di Oliva – Extra Virgin Olive (oil).

FIAT – Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino – Italian Automobiles Factory Turin. Did you know that the Italian car brand is actually an acronym?

FIGC – Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio – Italian Football Federation.

FMI – Fondo Monetario Internazionale – International Monetary Fund.

FS – Ferrovie dello Stato – Italian State Railways. It’s one of the largest industrial companies in Italy and so this acronym is one you’ll likely come across – especially if you travel through Italy by train. 

Fiat: An acronym we already knew. Photo: Julien Chatelain/Unsplash

GdFGuardia di Finanza – Finance Police. There are various branches of police in Italy. This one comes under the authority of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, rather than the Ministry of Defence.

GPLGas Propano Liquido – Liquid Petroleum Gas.

GUGazzetta Ufficiale – Official Gazette. This is an official record of the Italian government, documenting acts of parliament and decrees. Every time there has been a decree change, the GU publishes the legislation coming into force.

READ ALSO: Not just teaching: The jobs you can do in Italy without speaking Italian

IGP Indicazione Geografica Protetta – Protected Geographical Indication. 

This is the second most common acronym at European level after DOP. It applies to food and wine that are typical of a certain geographical area and have been produced or processed there. It means that products with the IGP seal may come from a different region or even from abroad.

IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica – Typical Geographical Indication.

This has now been assumed by the IGP label and was used until 2010. Wines had to be produced with at least 85% of grapes from the indicated geographical area to be recognised as IGT.

IMUImposta Municipale Unica – Unique Municipal Tax. This is the tax introduced by the Monti government in the ‘2011 Save Italy’ measure and is paid on owned property.

INGIngegnere – Engineer.

Calculate your ISEE and your IRPEF to find out how much money you take home. Photo: Scott Graham/ Unsplash

INPSIstituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale – National Institute for Social Security.

Get ready for this one, you’ll get to know it really well. It’s the social security and welfare institute and covers work-related payments such as sickness, maternity leave and unemployment benefits.

Employees pay into INPS directly from their wage, with a contribution from the employer, and the self-employed register to pay it entirely themselves.

READ ALSO: Freelance or employee: Which is the best way to work in Italy?

IRAPImposta Regionale sulle Attività Produttive – Regional Tax for Productive Activities.

Most of this tax paid by companies and organisations goes to the region to finance the health sector.

IRPEFImposta sul Reddito delle Persone Fisiche – Income Tax for Individuals.

You’d likely prefer not to know this one, but it’s unavoidable. IRPEF is a progressive personal income tax, meaning how much you pay depends on your earnings. It starts at 23 percent for an income of up to €15,000 per year and goes up to 43 percent for those earning more than €75,000 per year.

ISEEIndicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente – Indicator of the Equivalent Economic Situation.

Often complex to calculate, this number indicates how well off your household is, taking into account income, assets, debts, and other factors. You may need to know your ISEE if you want to apply for certain government bonuses like the Baby Bonus and the First Home Bonus.

ISTATIstituto nazionale di Statistica – National Institute of Statistics.

MIURMinistero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca – Ministry of Education, University and Research.

OMSOrganizzazione Mondiale della Sanità – World Health Organization

ONGOrganizzazione Non Governativa – Non-Governmental Organization.

ONUOrganizzazione delle Nazioni Unite – United Nations.

PCIPartito Comunista Italiano – Italian Communist Party.

PDPartito Democratico – Democratic Party.


PECPosta Elettronica Certificata – Certified Email. You may use this one when sending official documents. It’s the legal equivalent of registered mail and, by paying a fee for the service, you can legally prove that an email has been sent and received.

Brits living in Italy hoping to get their biometric ID card may need this service when applying at their local Questura (police headquarters).

PILProdotto Interno Lordo – Gross Domestic Product.

PMIPiccole e Medie Imprese – Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

PNRRPiano nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza – National Recovery and Resilience Plan. A measure designed to boost Italy’s economy following the coronavirus crisis, often called the ‘Recovery Plan‘ in English by Italians.

PRAPubblico Registro Automobilistico – Public Vehicle Registry. This one’s useful to know if you buy a used car or need to replace number plates.

PTPoste e Telegrafi – Posts and Telegraphs. You’ll see these two letters on a yellow background at post offices up and down the country.

RAIRadio Audizione Italiana – Italian Broadcasting Radio.

RALRetribuzione Annuale Lorda – Gross Annual Earnings.

Want to dance at your wedding? There’s a tax on that. Photo by Foto Pettine on Unsplash

SIAE Società Italiana Autori ed Editori – Italian Society of Authors and Publishers.

Not to be overlooked, this one will crop up if you’re planning a party or wedding and hire a band or play music. You have to pay tax for music paid in public venues.

SPASocietà Per Azioni – Joint-Stock Company.

SPIDSistema Pubblico di Identità Digitale – Public Digital Identity System. This is Italy’s e-ID system that allows you to access government services online.

READ MORE: Italian bureaucracy: What is a SPID and how do you get one?

SRLSocietà a Responsabilità Limitata – Limited Liability Company.

SSNServizio Sanitario Nazionale – National Health Service.

You receive your personal tessera sanitaria when you register with the Italian National Health Service – something everyone resident in the country should do. 

TAEGTasso Annuo Effettivo Globale – Total Annual Actual Rate.

A good one to know if you’re hoping to get a mortgage in Italy. TAEG corresponds to APR (annual percentage rate) and is the interest rate for a whole year, rather than just a monthly sum. This can also apply to loans and credit cards, for example.

TAVTreno ad Alta Velocità – High Speed Train.

TFRTrattamento di Fine Rapporto – End of Employment Deal. A parting gift for employees who leave a place of work. At the end of your contract, you get a lump sum known as TFR.

UEUnione Europea – European Union.

VVF Vigili del Fuoco – Firefighters.

ZTLZona a Traffico Limitato – Restricted Traffic Area.

Watch out for these three letters while you’re driving around Italy’s labyrinthine streets. You’ll get a fine if you go down a road with a sign showing a red circle and ZTL written underneath – unless you’ve got a residence permit for that particular street.

As so many acronyms are commonly used in Italian, this list is far from comprehensive. Please comment below to let us know which other acronyms you’ve found useful.

Member comments

  1. You should add CGIL, Confederazione generale italiana del lavoro, a national trade union association. CGILhas offices in almost every city and it is the best place, far and away, to have your permesso di soggiorno application or renewal application filled out for €20.

  2. A great post. This is so useful and I have kept a copy for my immediate reference. Thank you very much.

    1. We’re really glad to hear you found it useful! Thanks for reading The Local.

      Best wishes,
      – Clare

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For members


The Italian vocabulary you’ll need to follow the elections

Italian political goings-on are famously unpredictable, but they don't have to be impossible to understand. Here's a guide to the words and phrases you need to know ahead of Italy's crucial elections this Sunday.

The Italian vocabulary you'll need to follow the elections

Italian politics is hard enough to follow even for those with a lifetime’s experience of the political system and fluency in the language. For foreigners trying to follow events, it can be extremely confusing.

But once you’re armed with a bit of background knowledge and some specifically Italian political language, Italian politics does get easier to understand (at least, most of the time).

READ ALSO: Your ultimate guide to Italy’s crucial elections on Sunday

With Italy preparing for crucial general elections on Sunday, September 25th, it’s especially important to be able to at least get the gist of what’s going on.

From vocabulary basics to the peculiarities of Italian ‘politichese’, here’s The Local’s guide to the language you’ll need when following the election and political news in the coming weeks.

The basics

You may already have a good grasp of some basic political vocabulary, such as partiti politici (political parties) and i sondaggi (opinion polls).

L’elezione is ‘the election’, but Italians use the plural form (le elezioni) for general elections since voters will be choosing representatives in both the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The names for the two parts of parliament are la Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies – the Lower House) and il Senato della Repubblica (the Senate of the Republic – the Upper House).

READ ALSO: An introductory guide to the Italian political system

Italians vote on September 25th in elections expected to bring easy an victory for far-right and right-wing populist parties. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

The system is anything but simple: it’s a mixed voting system with some seats allocated via proportional representation (‘un sistema proporzionale‘) and others by first-past-the-post (uninominale secco).

Don’t be alarmed if, on election day (il giorno di voto), you hear people talking about urns, or urne. Like its English equivalent, an ‘urna‘ is a kind of vase or container, but in Italian it’s used to refer to the ballot box, rather than anything to do with funerals. In Italian, andare alle urne means to ‘go to the polls’, or to cast your vote.

You do this using a scheda elettorale, or ballot paper – in fact, voters get two ballot papers – one for each house of parliament – at the polling booth (cabina elettorale). Or you might not: abstaining from voting (astensionismo) is increasingly common in Italy. 

As soon as voting ends, we’ll get an exit poll (this one’s easy – ‘gli exit poll’) and by the early hours of the morning, we should have the early results (risultati preliminari)

The parties – and campaign slogans

Italy has a large number of political parties and an ever-shifting political landscape, meaning some of the bigger names in this election may already be familiar while others were previously unknown.

Here’s a quick rundown of the main parties in the mix this time, their names in both Italian and English, and the slogans they’re using:

Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, or FdI).

Slogan: ‘Pronti’ – The hard-right party expected to take the largest share of the vote has the single word slogan pronti, meaning ‘are you ready?’

READ ALSO: Political cheat sheet: Understanding the Brothers of Italy

Is Italy ready for election season, and a new government? – A campaign poster shows hard-right Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni, who is likely to become the next prime minister. Photo: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

The League (Lega)

Slogan: ‘Credo’ – meaning ‘I believe’. Matteo Salvini’s right-wing populist party was told off by Catholic bishops for using a slogan with religious themes in attempt to appeal to the country’s conservative, religious voters. Posters have since featured various longer slogans, including ‘credo negli italiani‘ (I believe in the Italians).

Five Star Movement (Movimento Cinque Stelle, M5S)

Slogan: ‘Dalla parte giusta’ – The populist party now headed by former PM Giuseppe Conte has chosen a simple slogan meaning ‘on the right side’.

Democratic Party (Partito democratico, PD)

Slogan: ‘Scegli’ – another one-word campaign slogan, this one means ‘choose’. Political analysts say it’s being used by Italy’s second-biggest party as a way to highlight its opposition to Brothers of Italy.

Italian Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta is asking voters to ‘choose’ his party over the ruight-wing coalition. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Azione + Italia Viva (Action and Italy Alive)

Slogan: ‘Italia, sul serio’ – These two small centrist parties are running together for election, presenting themselves as the sensible, moderate choice with the campaign slogan ‘Italy, seriously’. 

Forza Italia (Variously translated as ‘Go Italy’ or ‘Forward Italy’)

Slogan: none. Silvio Berlusconi’s party has chosen not to use one particular slogan this time, though some campaign posters feature the words ‘oggi più che mai‘, meaning ‘now more than ever’.

Find our complete guide to who’s who in the Italian elections here.

Italian ‘politichese’

Political-speak (or ‘politichese’) can be as dense and impenetrable in Italian as in any other language. 

But it can also be illuminating to learn a few of the words and phrases used in political discussions (and by journalists in particular) to describe the peculiarities of the Italian system.

Here are a few examples:


The prefix toto- is used in Italian news reports wherever speculation abounds: it comes from the football pools or totalizzatore calcistico (‘Football totalizer’, or football sweepstake), known as Totocalcio for short.

Totonomi then translates as something like ‘name sweepstake’. It’s an adaptation of toto-nomine (‘nomination sweep’) – which at election time is used for speculation about the most widely-tipped candidates for various offices.

You’ll also see toto- in totopoltrone (‘parliamentary seat sweep’), or totoministri (‘minister sweep’, referring to who will make the cabinet in a newly elected government).

A variation on this is fantapolitica, which similarly comes from fantacalcio, or Italian fantasy football. This word is used to talk about hypothetical election results, government coalitions, and future cabinet members, whether these are realistic or improbable: fantasy politics, if you will.

Former Prime Minister Matteo in parliament. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP


An ipotesi is, as you might guess, a hypothesis or theory. When used in newspaper headlines, it fulfils a similar role to toto~, allowing journalists to speculate as to what may have happened or be about to happen.

In the context of election news, you’ll usually see ipotesi followed by the last name of a potential nominee, e.g. ‘l’ipotesi Melonii‘ or ‘l’ipotesi Conte‘, along with discussion of the likely success of that person’s policy or candidacy.


A time-honoured Italian tradition, this is the act of switching your political allegiance depending on how the wind blows.


Un gattopardo is a leopard, so what is ‘gattopardismo‘? Not too distant from trasformismo, it’s a word used to describe the act of adapting your attitudes to the changing political climate in order to maintain a position of power and influence – something political figures in Italy are regularly accused of doing.

The concept was described in the book Il gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the most frequently-quoted line of which is: “Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi” (If we want everything to remain as it is, everything must change).


Why would a power-hungry politician be keen to deny that he is “hunting for armchairs”? In this case, such a statement has nothing to do with furniture shopping. Una poltrona does of course mean “armchair” or “seat” and it can be used to talk about a job or position within a company, or in this case, a government. 

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered on how Italy’s elections work

In a political context, a politician on the hunt for poltrone is attempting to gain important ‘seats’ or positions for his party members within the government. Expect to see this word in news reports following the election.

Political nicknames

Some politicians and political parties in Italy have well-known nicknames.

For example, the League is sometimes referred to as ‘Il Carroccio’, the name for a medieval ox-drawn altar used for pre-battle church services. This was used as a symbol by the party back when it was called the Northern League.

And League leader Matteo Salvini is often referred to by his supporters as ‘Il Capitano’, or ‘The Captain’, which seems to be a reference to his preferred policy of leaving migrant rescue ships stranded at sea.

Meanwhile, Italia Viva leader and former PM Matteo Renzi is known as “il rottomatore” (“the scrapper”, or “the wrecker”) due to his unpopular habit of destabilising coalition governments.

Silvio Berlusconi meanwhile is often referred to in media reports as “l’immortale” (the immortal) because of his long political career, which continues today despite numerous sex scandals, a tax fraud conviction, regular health scares, and his advancing age.

There are of course plenty of other, more insulting nicknames used in Italian politics, which we won’t list here.

Is there another word or phrase you think we should add to the list? Please get in touch by email and let us know.