If and when you find yourself in a situation where you might want to make someone swoon using your Italian language skills, you should know you’re already at a bit of an advantage. You probably can’t mess up that badly when you’re speaking a language that’s pretty much made for flirtation, and even the cheesiest Italian pick-up lines somehow roll off the tongue.
Of course, there are still plenty of opportunities to fall on your face or make someone cringe. Even if you’re not particularly worried about embarrassing yourself, scoring a number isn’t a skill you’ll necessarily learn in school, so it helps to know how to even go about it first.
If you want to know how to charm an Italian, you’ll have to have the language for it, but you’ll also want to walk into it with a basic understanding of the cultural norms around dating and flirtation (also known colloquially as flirtare). Fortunately, this guide has you covered on both fronts. So go get ’em.
The Ins And Outs Of Asking Someone Out In Italian
One thing you should understand about Italians is that though they enjoy flirting and may be quite open about their intentions (or open to your intentions), Italian dating culture is still, as a whole, fairly traditional. Of course, that probably also depends a lot on the age group, which part of Italy you’re in, and whether you’re straight or not. In a heterosexual dynamic, it’s usually the norm for men to make the first move on women and pay for the first date, and women will typically play a little hard to get, if only to let them enjoy the thrill of the chase. Additionally, it’s a big deal to eventually meet and be accepted by your partner’s family, but that’s a few steps removed from what we’re talking about here.
First, you need to get your foot in the door. One of the best ways to do this is to start with your body language. Maintaining eye contact with someone is a good way to signal interest, as well as being an attentive listener once you do eventually break the ice.
If you’re a straight woman, you probably won’t have to worry about approaching your love interest — he’ll come to you. Conversely, if you’re a straight man, it’s generally expected that you make the first move, invite her out and foot the bill. If you’re gay or lesbian, gender roles are less important than your ability to express genuine interest in your date, and there may not always be as much explicit flirtation between women. Italians like to talk about themselves, so don’t immediately assume they’re being rude if they take the stage at first — it’s a cultural thing. This part will likely be the case no matter your orientation.
The importance of dressing well probably shouldn’t be understated, both on the date itself and in any situation where you think you might have to put your best foot forward. Italians care a lot about style, and they’ll notice the extra thought and effort you put in to your look.
Assuming you’re looking fly and feeling snappy, you’ll probably want to at least know how to say hello in Italian, even if you’re not the one who’s going to be doing the approaching. If you are, it never hurts to open with a compliment. Here are a few that will help you signal your intentions with grace and charm.
- Mi piaci. — I like you.
- Hai degli occhi molto belli. — You have beautiful eyes.
- Mi piace il tuo sorriso, è così affascinante. — I love your smile, it’s so charming.
- Balli bene! — You dance well!
- Sei molto bello/a! — You look fantastic!
- Sei bellissimo/a. — You are so handsome/beautiful.
- Sono molto attratto/a da te. — I’m very attracted to you.
- Sei molto carino/a. — You’re so cute.
Breaking the ice isn’t enough to seal the deal though — you should probably establish whether the person is available next, just to make sure you’re not barking up the wrong tree.
- Sei single? — Are you single?
- Stai frequentando qualcuno? — Are you seeing someone?
- Stai con qualcuno? — Are you with someone?
Assuming they’re available and they seem open to it, you should come prepared with an idea of what you’d like to do on a first date, or at least know how to ask if you can buy them a drink. If you’re in a position to woo an Italian, it’s better to put in a little extra effort to impress your date than risk appearing too casual or disinterested. However, asking someone out for aperitivos is a good way to keep things low-pressure. Aperitivos implies that you’ll be hanging out around 6 or 7 p.m., and you can plan something else for the evening in case the date goes really bad and you need an exit strategy.
- Sei libero/a stasera o domani? — Are you free this evening or tomorrow?
- Sei libero/a questo fine settimana? — Are you free this weekend?
- Posso avere il tuo numero di telefono? — Can I have your number?
- Vuoi qualcosa da bere? — Would you like something to drink?
- Che vuoi bere? Offro io. — What would you like to drink? I’ll pay.
- Vorresti venire a cena con me? — Would you like to have dinner with me?
- Ti andrebbe di venire con me ad una festa? — Would you like to go to a party with me?
- Ho vinto due biglietti per concerto. Vorresti andare con me? — I won two tickets to a concert. Would you like to go with me?
Cheesy Italian Pick-Up Lines That Just Might Work
Truthfully, you don’t need to know any Italian pick-up lines to shoot your shot at someone. But if you feel like being silly or expressing the fact that your natural sense of humor is kind of corny to begin with, you might just charm someone with one of these, or at least elicit an amused eye roll. For the record: everyone knows what you’re really implying when you ask someone to come check out your “butterfly collection.”
- Ciao bello/a! — Hello, handsome/beautiful!
- Vuoi salire a vedere la mia collezione di farfalle? — Do you want to come up and see my butterfly collection?
- Dove sei stato/a tutta la mia vita? — Where have you been all my life?
- Posso offrirti un caffè per sciogliere il ghiaccio? — Can I offer you a coffee to melt the ice?
- Credi nell’amore a prima vista o devo ripassare più tardi? — Do you believe in love at first sight, or do I have to come back later?
- Commettiamo il crimine perfetto: ti ruberò il cuore, tu ruberai il mio. — Let’s commit the perfect crime: I’ll steal your heart, and you’ll steal mine.
- Fa caldo qui, o sei tu? — Is it hot in here or is it you?
- Complimenti alla mamma, sei fantastico/a! — Congratulations to your mom, you’re fantastic!
- Posso chiedere le indicazioni per il tuo cuore? — May I ask for directions to your heart?