They say that home is where the heart is, and this couldn’t be truer in Italy where family always comes first.
There is one word in Italian that covers both the words “home” and “house” and that is casa (feminine, plural: case).
When used on its own with the following verbs, the translation is always “home” rather than “house”.
- andare a casa = to go home
- venire a casa = to come home
- tornare a casa = to go back home
- restare / rimanere / stare a casa = to stay home
- passare da casa = to pop home (for a short duration)
- mangiare a casa = to eat at home
Although not necessary, you can add possessive adjectives such as mia (“my”) or tua (“your”) after casa for emphasis or clarification.
Vado a casa mia.
I’m going home / to my house.
Passo da casa tua domani.
I’m going to pop by your house tomorrow.
If you want to refer to somebody else’s house, you must add di [name of person] after the word casa.
Vado a casa di mia sorella.
I’m going to my sister’s house.
Mangio a casa di Lucia stasera.
I’m eating at Lucia’s house tonight.
The only exception is possessive adjectives which, as we already saw above, don’t require the preposition di.
Vado a casa sua.
I’m going to his/her house.
Torno a casa tua.
I’m going back to your house.
One thing learners of Italian may find confusing at the beginning is that it isn’t obligatory to use the word casa when talking about another person’s house. All you have to do is insert the preposition da after the verb and it is assumed you are talking about another person’s place of residence.
Vado da mia sorella.
I’m going to my sister’s (house).
Mangio da Lucia stasera.
I’m eating at Lucia’s (house) tonight.
An extremely useful expression in Italian is sotto casa which literally translates as “under house” but in context, refers to people or things that are located a stone’s throw from where you live. This could be a friend who is waiting outside, your closest pizzeria, or a local shop where you know the owners by name. In English, the expression usually translates as nearby or out front.
Ti aspetto sotto casa!
I’ll wait for you out front!
Vuoi andare al ristorante sotto casa?
Do you want to go to the nearby restaurant?
Conosci una buona pizzeria? – Sì, ce n’è una sotto casa!
Do you know a good pizzeria? – Yes, there’s one nearby!
By adding the ending -etta to casa, you end up with the diminutive form casetta which can mean little house, cottage or a stall at a market depending on the context.
Che bella casetta che hai!
What a nice cottage / little house you have!
Ci sono tante casette al Mercatino di Natale.
There are lots of stalls at the Christmas Market.
As in English, casa can also be combined with other nouns to refer to specific kinds of homes.
- casa di cura = nursing home
- casa di riposo = retirement home
- casa famiglia = foster home
It can also mean company or firm if you tack on an adjective such as in the following examples:
- casa discografica = record company
- casa produttrice = production house
- casa costruttrice = manufacturer
- casa automobilistica = car company
- casa editrice = publishing house
Other words based on casa include:
- casolare = farmhouse
- casale = farmhouse, but it also means small rural village
- caseggiato = apartment block
- caserma = barracks, or large building in colloquial Italian, it also means military base
- casalinga = housewife
Casa is a simple word for a simple concept, yet as we’ve seen, there is quite a lot to say about how its usage differs from the English equivalents! How about you – what kind of casa do you live in? 🙂
Non vedo l’ora di tornare a casa.
I can’t wait to go home.
I miei genitori hanno una bella casa.
My parents have a nice house.
Casa Savoia è una tra le più antiche e importanti dinastie d’Europa.
The House of Savoy is one of the oldest and most important dynasties in Europe.
Casa dolce casa!
Home sweet home!
One of the most famous dialogues from Federico Fellini’s masterpiece La Dolce Vita takes place during a dancing scene where Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) gives a flattering monologue to Sylvia (Anita Ekberg):
Tu sei tutto, Sylvia! Ma lo sai che sei tutto, eh? You are everything… everything! Tu sei la prima donna del primo giorno della Creazione. Sei la madre, la sorella, l’amante, l’amica, l’angelo, il diavolo, la terra, la casa… Ah, ecco cosa sei: la casa!
You are everything, Sylvia! Do you know that you are everything, eh? You are everything, everything! You are the first woman of the first day of creation. You are the mother, the sister, the lover, the friend, the angel, the devil, the earth, the home… Ah, that’s what you are: home.