There are numerous moments during the course of the year that call for a toast (un brindisi). You can raise your glass during a New Year‘s celebration, a birthday, a new birth, a wedding, and many other different occasions. And it goes without saying that each country has its own typical way of toasting.
In English, the most frequently used term is Cheers!, whereas in Italy it is Cin cin! or Salute! But the deeper you dig, the wider the range of phrases you will discover. Here is a list of uniquely Italian drinking phrases you can use when toasting.
The most common Italian drinking phrases
Drinking in company to celebrate an event is one of the oldest ways to share and remember something accomplished or experienced together. In Italy, you can use some simple expressions when toasting.
Cin cin is the most popular, sometimes said with just one Cin. It means Cheers, and is used to raise a simple toast. This term is interchangeable with other words such Salute and the less common Prosit.
Both Prosit and Salute indicate that one is drinking to the health of the people present. In fact, salute is the word for health itself in Italian. For Italians, health is among the most important things in life, along with family of course, and for this reason, it is often the subject of toasts and well-wishing.
Here are some common variations on Salute! when used as a drinking exclamation:
- Alla salute – literally: To health
- Alla salute nostra – literally: To our health
- Alla vostra/nostra (salute) – literally: To your/our (“health” here is omitted but implied)
If you are preparing to make a toast and you’d like to let everyone present know, you can use any of the expressions below. All three make use of the word brindisi, which means toast.
- Vorrei fare un brindisi! = I’d like to make a toast!
- Facciamo un brindisi! = Let’s make a toast!
- Propongo un brindisi! = I propose a toast!
Every region and local community has different dialectal forms. Further down, we’ll take a look at some of them. In some cases, you’ll see that they can be quite extravagant!
Italian drinking phrases to celebrate friendship, family and life
Now that we’ve discovered the most common expressions to make a toast in Italy, it’s time for us to delve deeper. Short speeches are welcomed by Italians and they are used especially in heartfelt events.
For one hundred years.
This lovely, albeit rather formal phrase is used to raise a toast to the bride and groom at their wedding.
Su i bicchieri e giù i pensieri.
Raise the glasses and down with the thoughts.
As a side-effect of alcohol, there’s a momentary period of time when our minds drift away from the pressures of every life. This saying was born from this very idea. It is a fun way to say “let’s forget our thoughts for now and focus on celebrating the moment”.
At certain times, mainly during important events, people use a phrase that celebrates the life of all present:
Un brindisi alla vita!
A toast to life!
But you can raise a toast to family, happiness, joy, and friendship too. Here are some other Italian toasting expressions used to celebrate.
Alla salute della famiglia, che ci dà le radici e le ali!
To the health of the family, that gives us roots and wings!
This is a toast that emphasises the family’s health. It celebrates the family as a source of support and inspiration.
Che l’allegria non ci abbandoni mai, che il sorriso non ci lasci mai!
May joy never abandon us, may our smiles never leave us.
This toast exalts joy and happiness, and is a call to never lose one’s optimism. The following phrase is used to express the same meaning as well:
Che questo bicchiere sia come la vita, pieno di gioia e sorrisi!
May this glass be like life, full of joy and smiles.
For friendship, there’s a great expression that states:
Che la nostra amicizia sia come il vino, migliore con il passare degli anni!
May our friendship be like wine, it gets better with age!
This kind of saying focuses on the bond amongst friends, something that, with mutual respect, can be built and cultivated to become stronger.
Regional Italian drinking phrases
Now it’s time to explore the dialectal forms used to toast around Italy, and the more authentic and local ways to celebrate drinking.
First of all, there’s a funny phrase in Naples that emphasises health, and it goes like this:
Aiza aiza aiza, Acala acala acala, Accosta accosta accosta, A’ salute nosta.
Raise raise raise, Lower lower lower, Closer closer closer, To our health.
It’s a noisy toast that people say with a loud tone of voice. First, they raise their glasses, then lower them, then finally clink all the glasses together and drink. It celebrates the health of all the people present, and comes in a great number of variations.
Chi non batte non sbatte, chi non gira non ghe tira!
He who does not knock, doesn’t make love, he who does not turn, can’t use it.
This is an Italian drinking phrase typical of Veneto in Northern Italy. It encourages you to raise your glass and clink it with those of the other people present, but before drinking, always remember to bang it on the table and turn it. Otherwise, you might be in for some misfortune!
Evviva la salute, u cori e u sangui!
Long live health, heart and blood.
This is a Sicilian dialect phrase that exalts the health of people.
Aiut, aiut, aiut, a la vita!
Up, up, up, to life.
This phrase, which celebrates life, is used in Piedmont in north-western Italy.
Chin chin, e sa campana sona!
Cheers cheers, and the bell rings.
This is the Milanese dialect way to toast with friends, especially when having fun.
Saude e s’annos a campai!
Health and years to live.
To conclude, let’s move to Sardinia, where the inhabitants tend to toast with this phrase when they wish for better health and a long life.
As we’ve seen, there is a wide variety of Italian drinking phrases, but what you will usually hear when celebrating with Italians are the most common ones. It is also true that in Italy people love to improvise, and sometimes, you may hear something unknown, but in most cases, toasting is a pretty straightforward business.
To conclude, here is a quote from Carlo Goldoni on toasts. To elevate the importance of cheering, he says: “May we laugh and drink, but this toast is mine, nobody takes it from me.”
Che si rida, e che si beva, questo brindisi è mio, nessun me lo leva.
– Carlo Goldoni