Italian Word of the Day: Volare (to fly)

The verb for to fly in Italian is volare, which derives from the Latin verb of the same spelling.

/voˈla.re/

Below is how you would conjugate volare in the present tense:

Io volo
(I fly)

Tu voli
(You fly – informal)

Lui vola
(He flies)

Lei vola
(She flies)

Lei vola
(You fly – formal)

Noi voliamo
(We fly)

Voi volate
(You fly – plural)

Loro volano
(They fly)

Like its equivalent English verb, volare has numerous literal and figurative meanings.

1. To move through the air (animal, aircraft)

Volare can refer to how a bird, bat or insect moves through the air using its wings, or an aircraft and its occupants travelling through the air.

L’uccello sta volando.

The bird is flying.


Ho volato da Torino a Londra.

I flew from Turin to London.


Flying honeybee collecting pollen at cherry blossoms.
L’ape sta volando vicino al fiore. = The bee is flying close to the flower.

2. To flutter / to blow

You can use the verb for things that flutter in the wind such as hair, flags or leaves.

Le foglie volavano per la strada.

The leaves were blowing along the road.


3. To move fast / to rush

It can be used to talk about an object hurtling rapidly through the air such as a ball or across the ground like a car. It can also signify to rush when a person is in a hurry.

L’auto volava sull’autostrada.

The car flew along the highway.


Marco è volato in ufficio.

Marco rushed into the office.


Businessman running late for a meeting
Devo volare in ufficio! = I have to rush to the office!

4. To drop / to throw / to fall

Volare can be a figurative way of saying that an object falls from a height, or a person falls off something.

Ha preso il mio telefono e l’ha fatto volare fuori dalla finestra.

He took my phone and threw it out the window.


Stava cercando di riparare l’antenna quando è volato giù dal tetto.

He was trying to fix the antenna when he fell off the roof.


5. Intangible things

Figuratively it can denote abstract things that travel quickly such as insults, rumours or time, and distant movements in time or space using one’s imagination.

Il tempo vola.

Time flies.


Volavano insulti e minacce.

Insults and threats were flying (back and forth).


Ho volato con la memoria nel passato.

My mind wandered to the past.


Curiously it can take either avere (to have) or essere (to be) as its auxiliary verb. However essere tends to be used when the meaning is figurative or when it is accompanied by the prepositions da (from) or verso (toward). For example:

  • La farfalla ha volato. = The butterfly flew. (Avere – Literal use of volare)
  • Questa giornata è volata! = This day flew by! (Essere – Figurative use of volare)
  • La ragazza è volata dalla bicicletta. = The girl flew off the bike. (Essere – Used with preposition da)
Drone flying in the air above water
Il drone ha volato sulla spiaggia. = The drone flew above the beach.

Idioms with verb “volare”

There are a few idioms and expressions with the verb volare.

Non sentire volare una mosca

  • literal: to not hear a fly fly
  • meaning: to not hear a pin drop

Volare basso

  • literal: to fly low
  • meaning: to fly low (to be discreet or sneaky)

Volare con le proprie ali

  • literal: to fly with your own wings
  • meaning: to spread your wings (to use your own abilities)

The Words to ‘Volare’ in Italian and English (Nel Blu Dipinti di Blu)

If you feel as if you’ve already seen this word somewhere even if you haven’t been learning Italian for very long, that’s probably because it’s often mistaken as the title of the extremely famous song Nel blu dipinto di blu by Domenico Modugno.

Released as a single in 1958, it spent five non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, has been recorded in multiple languages by a wide range of performers, and won the Grammy for Record and Song of the Year.

Penso che un sogno così non ritorni mai più
Mi dipingevo le mani e la faccia di blu
Poi d’improvviso venivo dal vento rapito
E incominciavo a volare nel cielo infinito

Volare, oh, oh
Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh
Nel blu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassù

E volavo volavo felice più in alto del sole ed ancora più su
Mentre il mondo pian piano spariva lontano laggiù
Una musica dolce suonava soltanto per me

Volare, oh, oh
Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh
Nel blu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassù

Ma tutti i sogni nell’alba svaniscon perché
Quando tramonta, la luna li porta con sé
Ma io continuo a sognare negli occhi tuoi belli
Che sono blu come un cielo trapunto di stelle

Volare, oh, oh
Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh
Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu
Felice di stare quaggiù

E continuo a volare felice più in alto del sole ed ancora più su
Mentre il mondo pian piano scompare negli occhi tuoi blu
La tua voce è una musica dolce che suona per me

Volare, oh, oh
Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh
Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu
Felice di stare quaggiù
Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu
Felice di stare quaggiù
Con te!

I think a dream like this never returns
I painted my hands and face blue
Then, suddenly, I was kidnapped by the wind
And I began to fly in the infinite sky

Fly, oh, oh
Sing, oh, oh, oh, oh
In the blue sky, painted blue
Happy to be up there

And I flew happily flying higher than the sun and even higher
While the world slowly disappeared far down there
Sweet music played just for me

Fly, oh, oh
Sing, oh, oh, oh, oh
In the blue sky, painted blue
Happy to be up there

But all dreams in the dawn vanish because
When it sets, the moon takes them with it
But I keep dreaming in your beautiful eyes
Which are blue like a star-studded sky

Fly, oh, oh
Sing, oh, oh, oh, oh
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be down here

And I continue to fly happily
higher than the sun and higher still
While the world slowly disappears in your blue eyes
Your voice is sweet music that plays for me

Fly, oh, oh
Sing, oh, oh, oh, oh
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be down here
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be down here
With you!

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