Fashion and the Arts –
Essential Italian Vocabulary

When talking about artistic life and experiences in Italy, one can refer to Renaissance artists, literature, opera, and even modern fashion.

All the players of these trades are considered artists in their own right, and their names are well-known in Italy and abroad: Dante, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Puccini, Verdi, Armani, Gucci, Botticelli, Boccaccio, and Versace, among many others.

Here are some terms you will come across when dealing with Italian art forms, both modern and historical.

Coffee Vocab List
  Phrase in Italian Phrase in English Pronunciation
La moda Fashion Lah moh-dah
Sfilata di moda Fashion show Sfee-lah-tah dee moh-dah
Via MonteNapoleone Famous fashion street in Milan Vee-ah mohn-teh-nah-poh-leh-oh-neh
Abito Suit Ah-bee-toh
Vestito Dress Vehs-tee-toh
Occhiali da sole Sunglasses Oh-kee-ah-lee dah soh-leh
Alta moda High fashion Ahl-tah moh-dah
La passerella The catwalk Lah pahd-she-rehl-lah
Sfilare la passerella. To walk on the catwalk. Sfee-lah-reh een pahd-she-rehl-lah.
Rinascimento Renaissance Ree-nah-shee-mehn-toh
Artista Artist Ahr-tees-tah
La Gioconda The Mona Lisa Lah joh-kon-dah
La Cappella Sistina The Sistine Chapel Lah cahp-pehl-lah sees-tee-nah
La Madonna/La Vergine Maria The Virgin Mary Lah Mah-dohn-nah/Lah Vehr-gee-neh Mah-ree-ah
Affresco Fresco Ahf-frehs-koh
Ritratto Portrait Ree-traht-toh
Cattedrale Cathedral Kaht-the-drah-leh
Letteratura Literature Leht-teh-rah-too-rah
Medioevo Middle ages Meh-dee-oh-eh-voh
La Divina Commedia The Divine Comedy Lah dee-vee-nah koh-meh-dee-ah
Machiavellismo Political cunning Mah-kee-ah-vehl-lees-moh
Opera Opera Oh-peh-rah
Teatro Theater Teh-ah-troh
Soprano Soprano Soh-prah-noh
Tenore Tenor The-noh-reh
Canzone Song Cahn-zoh-neh
Aria Solo song Ah-ree-ah
Intermezzo Interlude Een-tehr-mehz-zoh
Libretto Booklet Lee-breht-toh
Ritornello Refrain Ree-tohr-nehl-loh

Slang/Commonly Used Expressions:

  Expression in Italian Expression in English Pronunciation
Sciacquare i panni in Arno. To purify (standardize) the language. Sha-quah-reh ee pahn-nee een Ahr-noh.
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. The opening of the Divine Comedy. Nehl mehz-zoh dehl cahm-meen dee nohs-trah vee-tah.
Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona. A love so strong no loved one cannot love back. (From Dante) Ah-mohr kah nool-loh ah-mah-toh ah-mahr pehr-doh-nah.

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