Living “la dolce vita”: meaning and translation

What does “la dolce vita” mean? This expression derives from a worldwide famous Italian movie, and many people associate it with a vague idea of a picturesque life in Italy. They’re not completely wrong, but only a few know why. If you’ve taken one of our courses, you already know that la dolce vita” is Italian for “the sweet life. But what does that mean? How is it like to live a sweet life? Today you’re going to find out.
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Origins and meaning of “la dolce vita”

“La dolce vita” was originally a movie by Federico Fellini and Ennio Flaiano.

The movie starred Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg as journalist Marcello and actress Sylvia and depicted life in Rome during the ’50s through 14 different episodes.

By that time, Rome had recovered from WWII and the middle classes were benefitting from Italy’s economic boom.

The lives of the aristocracy and the new bourgeoise were characterized by luxury and mundane events, which took place in Rome’s most iconic places.


The constant pursuit of pleasure and happiness had its dark sides, dramas, decadence… but also beauty and poetry, and Fellini immortalized that in what is now one of the greatest movies in history.

Life in Rome looked so picturesque and pleasant. So, now la dolce vita is an expression used to describe a life full of beauty, pleasures, and mundane events. It means a life of music, love, good music and food…

… in short, the things you’d expect to have on a Saturday night near the Fontana di Trevi.

La Dolce Vita

What’s your idea of a sweet life?

“La dolce vita” shaped the idea that many people had of Italy. It also influenced many aspects of both the Italian and American cultures.

la dolce vita movie

For instance, did you know that this movie is where the word paparazzi originates from?

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Finally, this masterpiece inspired many other directors, like Quentin Tarantino and Sofia Coppola.

However, if you go to Rome today, you’ll find out that it’s quite different from the one described by Fellini.

The city has changed, and if you go there looking to live the dolce vita, you’ll find just mere hints of it, echoing in restaurant names and postcards.

Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

Rome is fascinating, and if you go there (possibly knowing some Italian :)) you’ll find that you can still live your own sweet life. What will it be like?

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

FAQs on Living “la dolce vita”: meaning and translation

What does la dolce vita mean?

La dolce vita is an expression used to describe a life full of mundane events, beauty, and pleasures. It originates from Federico Fellini's famous movie, "La dolce vita".

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