How do you say home in Italian? And what is a house called in Italy? Is there a difference between the two?
Family and roots are very important for the Italian culture, and home is something that is at the heart of both.
As a result, there are many words to describe it. Some of them are very poetic, others are used for documents and formal contexts (you know bureaucracy in Italy…).
Here you’ll find the most common ways of saying home in Italian and some examples to learn how to use all of them.
The Italian word for home
The Italian standard word for home is casa [IPA: /’ka.sa/]. It’s a feminine noun, and its plural form is case. If your house is small and cozy, you can call it casetta. And if you turn it into caseggiato, it becomes a housing unit.
All these meanings and nuances spread from just 3 letters!
The word casa hasn’t changed for more than 2000 years. It already meant “home” during the Roman Age.
Its stem “cas-“ probably derives from the Sanskrit “ska”, which indicates the act of covering something. And what covers you better than a roof on your head?
You can find the same stem in words like “castle”, or the Latin terms “castrum” (“encampment”) and “cassis” (“helmet” – another very important type of cover). It’s fascinating, isn’t it?
Is there a difference between a house and a home in Italian?
There’s no difference between “house” and “home” in Italian: casa covers both of them. In English, we tend to use “home” to mean the place we live in and “house” for the physical building. In Italy, people don’t make that distinction.
This leads us to another question: if you have to translate a sentence from Italian to English, what would be the right word for casa?
When casa is used on its own without possessive adjectives or further clarifications, the right translation is always “home” rather than “house”.
“Dove vai?” (“Where are you going?”)
“Vado a casa” (“I’m going home”)
“Mangi con noi stasera?” (“Are you having dinner with us tonight?”)
“Sì, fammi solo passare a casa per prendere il portafogli” (“Yeah, just let me pop home to grab my wallet”
On the contrary, when the owner of the place is specified, it’s usually better to translate casa with “house”.
“Quali sono i tuoi piani per stasera?” (“What are your plans for tonight?”)
“Vado a casa del mio ragazzo” (“I’m going to my boyfriend’s house”)
- abitazione or residenza, which can both be translated into “dwelling” or “residence”. These two words are the right choice for formal situations or bureaucratic documents;
- dimora, another formal synonym of casa which can also be used to sound more poetic;
- nido. This word literally means “nest”, and you can use it when you want to be more intimate or poetic. (e.g.: “Me ne torno al mio nido” – “I’m going back to my nest”);
- tetto. This word means “roof” and can be used to refer to the whole building (e.g.: “Non sotto il mio tetto!” – “Not under my roof!”)
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!