Ciao Bella!

Piazza Del Popolo

Most of us know about the Italian greeting “ciao”. But where did this common greeting originate?

According to Roberto, the greeting began centuries ago as “Schiavo Vostro”, which translates as “I am your slave”. It was not meant in the literal sense, but as a high sign of respect for the person being addressed, as in “Schiavo vostro Signor Mazzantini”.

According to and a site called The Smiling Eggplant, the phrase is from the Venetian dialect (sciao vostro). “Schiavo” was the word used for “slave” and refers to the slavic people who were slaves in Venezia after being conquered by the Venetians.

As Roberto related to me, this was eventually shortened to “Ciao Vostro” and has now become simply the informal greeting “Ciao”, with the original meaning lost to most people.

So, now that I know what this popular greeting actually means I will use it with a little more discretion than before.


Padova Market


About Dana

I wear several hats: writer, photographer, teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, traveler. Mostly I am a student of life, a work in progress, constantly moving towards a life full of meaning, joy and compassion. Join me on this journey and we will learn together.
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1 Response to Ciao Bella!

  1. julespaige says:

    Like many words in the American English language, meanings are lost and origins forgotten. I have heard staunch Christians use Yiddish words without knowing or understanding their true meaning. And in if they only knew …they would blush. We often use many Greek and Latin words that we believe to be American English. Even comparing British and American English one should be quite careful. 🙂
    Delightful post – Thank you.

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