Ti Voglio Bene

I have been meaning to start writing occasional posts that address the topic of Italian Life & Culture. This post is from the blog of Tim and Rachel Uthman. They are acquaintances from Multnomah who were missionaries to refugees in Rome with the organization International Teams. I encourage you to check out their website to learn more about their ministry.


This particular post is one I read over a year ago but have recently been mulling over. Here in the USA we use the word “love” to mean so many different things. I love homemade macaroni and cheese. I love coffee. I love my sweet niece. I love hiking and sunshine and visiting friends. Our vocabulary stems from our values as a culture, likewise it is also a reflection of the same. So what does it say about our culture that we have only one predominant way of expressing so many different actions, feelings, sentiments, relationships… How might things be different if like the Greeks, we had a variety of words to differentiate between types and degrees of love? Any thoughts?

View from the Fifth Floor

In language school I learned that many Italians would not say, “I love you” as in “Ti amo” outside of a romantic relationship.  Even between family members (parent to child or whatever) it is more common to use, “Ti voglio bene” which might be translated, “I want you well.”  It seemed really strange and kind of cold to me to avoid saying, “I love you” to your family members, but over time it’s grown on me a bit.

I want what’s best for you.  I’m seeking your good.  That’s truly what I mean when I say, “I love you” from the heart.  In fact, it has a more clear and decidedly others-focused, not self-seeking tone to it.

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