Italian Word of the Day: Viavai (comings and goings)

Viavai (masculine, plural: viavai) is the word Italians use to talk about the busy movement of many people or things, especially in and out of a place. In English, possible translations include coming(s) and going(s), bustle and to and fro.


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Viavai is made up of two words: via (the word for road or street) and vai (the second person singular of the verb andareto go‘).

Nella piazza c’era un gran viavai di persone.

In the square there was a great coming and going of people.

C’era un gran viavai all’aeroporto la settimana scorsa.There was a great coming and going at the airport last week.

Important: Viavai should always be written as one word, never as two separate words (via vai).

In mechanical terms, viavai denotes the reciprocating (up and down or back and forth) motion found in a wide range of mechanisms, including pistons and spools.

A less common synonym for viavai is andirivieni which is composed of the two verbs andare (to go) and venire (to come). Some other synonyms include:

  • traffico = traffic, bustle, congestion
  • passaggio = passage
  • movimento = movement, bustle, activity

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