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What does ‘passeggiata’ mean? The truth about passeggiata in Italy

The real meaning of the Italian word ‘passeggiata’, sample uses + what you need to know about ‘passeggiata’ in Italy.

The word passeggiata (pronounced: pass- eh-dj-ah-ta, with long ‘As’ like in ‘apple’) is a very common in Italian.

You may hear it in sentences like:

  • Fare una passeggiata
  • Una passeggiata in montagna
  • Una bella passeggiata

And in many others and it always has the same meaning.

The Italian word passeggiata in English means ‘a walk’ or ‘stroll’ and it is used exactly like you would use it in the English language so the sentences above translate as:

  • Fare una passeggiata – to go for a walk
  • Una passeggiata in montagna – a mountain walk
  • Una bella passeggiata – a beautiful walk

You can of course add more to these sentences and say:

Sono andato a fare una passeggiata col cane – I went for a walk with my dog

E’ una bella passeggiata con bellissime viste – it’s a beautiful walk with stunning views

Si puo’ fare la passeggiata con le restrizioni in corso? Is a walk allowed during current restrictions?

Exactly like in English, the work evokes walking that has a leisurely element to it, so you if just want to say you will go somewhere on foot you woudn’t use the word passeggiata but would use the direct translation of ‘on foot’ which is ‘a piedi’

Vado al lavoro a piedi means I walk to work

Da casa al lavoro e’ una bella passeggiata means From home to my office is a nice walk (meaning it is rather long but pleasurable)

What passeggiata does not mean

Despite this direct correlation between the Italian use of passeggiata and the term walk/ stroll, often you find ‘passeggiata‘ described as something else.

A random search on the web brought up for me explanations such as:

Passeggiata is an important Italian tradition (sorry, what?)

Passeggiata happens between 5 and 8pm (whaat??)

Passeggiata was born for women to find a husband (whaaat???)

Reading this as an Italian has me as baffled as when I read that you cannot drink cappuccino after 11 (spoiler: that’s pure nonsense) and prompted me to write this post.

I wanted you to know what passeggiata actually means (I can promise you: when I go for a passeggiata, I am not going out looking for a husband!) but I also wanted to look at why these concepts came to be and what truth is at their base.

Before we go into more details. you may want to pin this post for future reference. If so, you can use this image!

Blackboard with 'meaning of passeggiata in Italian written in chalk' with camomile flowers beside

What ‘passeggiata’ can mean

Italian villages and towns, especially smaller ones, tend to develop around a central area which is pedestrian friendly and often even car free.

This area can be a shopping street with cafes and restaurants (often called ‘corso‘) and in seaside city often follows the coastline, in which case is often called ‘passeggiata‘ (like promenade, the French term for the same thing).

This layout means that when people go for a walk often go to these areas, that become gathering spots and places to see and to be seen.

This is particularly true at lunchtime, in the evening at at the weekend, since this is when people are off work and have time for a stroll.

So yes, while ‘una passeggiata’ may turn into the opportunity to dress up, meet a potential partner, friends, show the world how well you are doing sporting col bags and coiffed hair, this is a rather specific use of the word and it is not even the same in the whole of italy.

In many places, this use is not called passeggiata but struscio (pron. stroo-shoh) , a term that has a strong connotation as a leisurely walk in the town center with the specific aim to see and to be seen.

So if someone asks you to go for a passeggiata, don’t read too much into it: chances are they just want to go for a walk with you!

More examples how to use passeggiata in Italian and special uses

E’ buona a abitudine fare una passeggiata dopo i pasti – Going for a stroll after lunch is a good habit

Le Dolomiti hanno bellissime passeggiate per tutti i gusti – the Dolomites have many walks (=trails, paths) for all tastes

Abbiamo fatto una bellissima passeggiata a cavallo: we went on a lovely horseback ride

Durante il lockdown, serve l’autocertificazione anche per la passeggiata: during lockdown, you need a certificate to go out for a walk

Ho fatto una passeggiata di salute – I went for a health walk (= to go for a walk to get some movement in your day)

C’e’ un bar carino sulla passeggiata – there is a nice cafe on the promenade

I hope you enjoyed this overview of how to use the word passeggiata and helped clarify what passeggiata in Italy really means.

This is the second post of our ‘Italian word’ series: find the previous one abut the word beautiful in Italian here.

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Marta Correale is an Italian mama of two. Born and raised in Rome, Marta has a passion for travel and especially enjoys showing off Italy to her kids, who are growing up to love it as much as she does! A classics graduate, teacher of Italian as a second language and family travel blogger, Marta launched Mama Loves Italy as a way to inspire, support and help curious visitors to make the most of a trip to Italy and learn about Italian culture on the way.