Group of people at a table outdoors in Italy raising their glasses to toast at the center of the table.
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How To Toast in Italian – 5 Ways To Toast In Italian, When To Use Them + Formal Etiquette

Last updated on March 25th, 2024

You have probably heard salute as people raise their glasses, whether you have been to Italy or not. But what about all the others like cin cin and viva? Do Italians actually use those to toast?

It’s been 10+ years of drinking in Italy for me now and I have heard it all. Although there are really only five main ways to toast in Italy, there are plenty of rules to go along with them. 

Italians are superstitious so it’s no wonder it’s more complicated than just learning simply the toast. One wrong step and you can bestow bad luck on a whole crowd for years. 

In this article I will teach you how to avoid that with:

  • 5 ways to say cheers in Italian + pronunciations & audio
  • Regional differences to listen for
  • When to cheers in Italian
  • How to toast at holidays in Italian
  • Rules and etiquette for toasting in Italian
  • Helpful vocabulary for toasting

How To Say Cheers in Italian

side view of two hands holding small tumbler glasses with a red cocktail toasting with the woods in the background outdoors

To make a toast in Italian, you say fare un brindisi or brindare, literally meaning to cheers or to toast to something. Here are five ways that Italians say cheers:

Salute

Pronounced sah-loo-tay in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of salute:

Salute means “health” and is the equivalent to “raising a glass to good health” in Italian. This is the most formal way of toasting. You will also hear this in other languages such as in French (santé), Spanish (salud) and Portuguese (saúde), to name a few. 

Fun Fact: Salute is also said when someone sneezes in Italian for “bless you!”

Cin Cin

Pronounced cheen-cheen in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of cin cin:

Cin Cin is certainly the most common and colloquial way of cheersing in Italy. Whether you are at a dinner party with old friends, having cocktails in the square with family or just having a glass of wine at home, this is what most Italians use to raise a glass. They will then gently clink their glasses together or raise their glass to the center of the table.

Fact: Cin Cin comes from the Chinese phrase ch’ing ch’ing, meaning “be my guest” or “welcome”. It was used by the Chinese sailors who would welcome their sea friends and later brought back by European sailors to their home port cities. 

Alla Nostra

Pronounced ahl-lah noh-strah in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of alla nostra:

Alla nostra is a short way of saying alla nostra salute or “to our good health”. It’s simply just a variant of salute. It can also imply other things such as to our hard work, accomplishments, or simply just to us.

Alla Tua/Vostra

Pronounced ahl-lah tooah/voh-strah in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of alla tua and alla vostra:

“Here’s to you (your health, your success, your accomplishments”. Use tua for one person and vostra for many people or “you guys”.

Viva

Pronounced vee-vah in Italian

Listen to the pronunciation of viva:

Literally meaning “hurray” or “long live” (stemming from the verb vivere or to live) this is another phrase that Italians say when they raise their glass, although less commonly used. You will also hear it used repeatedly: viva, viva!

Bonus: Alla faccia di chi ci vuole male

Listen to the pronunciation of alla caccia di chi ci vuole male:

Literally meaning “in the face of those who wish us ill”.

I honestly have never heard this but my husband says some people do say it even though it’s not very polite (and thus used as a joke among friends). 

Regional Differences When Toasting in Italy

view of a man and woman sitting outdoors toasting to the left and under a pergola there are another group of people holding wine glasses and talking on grass

Many of the differences you will hear are in regions where the dialect is still very much part of the local culture and/or boarding other countries where you can see the direct foreign influence. 

In Naples, they have a short chant in the local dialect: Aiz aiz, acal acal acal, accost accost, a salute nostra!, meaning ‘glasses up, glasses down, glasses together and here’s to our health!’

In Sicily, you might hear saluti instead of salute.

In South Tyrol (close to the Austrian border), you’ll hear vives!

In Sardegna, chent’annos e prusu is used among locals, meaning ‘100 years and more, always in good health!’

When Do Italians Say Cheers

top view of aperitivo with two cocktails, a small bowl of olives and carrot sticks on a marble board

Because drinking and eating is such a central part of Italian culture, you will really hear the Italian equivalent of cheers at any occasion, whether it be dinner or a formal party including:

  • Cene – Dinners
  • Aperitivi – Aperitifs
  • Matrimoni – Weddings
  • Compleanni – Birthdays
  • Lauree – Graduations
  • Engagements
  • Office/Work parties

Toasting During Holidays in Italy

During special events, holidays and birthdays, Italians use specific toasts for each celebration that don’t usually include the five previously mentioned phrases. 

They may use the common salute in combination with the holiday-specific term of celebration. 

Holiday/CelebrationItalian ToastEnglish Translation
ChristmasBuon NataleHappy/Merry Christmas
New Year’s EveBuon Anno/AuguriHappy New Year/Best wishes!
WeddingsViva gli sposi!/Congratulazioni!Long live the newly weds!/Congratulations! 
BirthdaysAuguri/Buon Compleanno!Happy Birthday!
CarnevaleAuguriBest wishes
International Women’s Day (Festa della Donna)AuguriBest wishes

Christmas

For Natale, Italians have a specific toast they will make: Buon Natale meaning Merry Christmas, often followed by salute in a proper toast in which the host will get up from his or her seat to address the guests.

New Year’s Eve

Capo d’anno or the New Year is celebrated with Buon Anno and will be paired with alla nostra to wish everyone another good year of health ahead of them.

Weddings

At matrimoni or weddings, you will hear guests toast by saying viva gli sposi to mean “long live the newly weds!”. You can also say congratulations, congratulazioni!

Birthdays

Birthday celebrations or compleanni are always celebrated with buon compleanno or auguri. You might even hear auguroni (big birthday wishes) but it’s not very elegant to use.

Other Holidays

Other holidays such as carnivale, International Women’s Day, Valentines Day, etc. are most commonly celebrated with auguri or buona festa di… (for example, buona festa delle donne, “Happy International Women’s Day).

Clinking Glasses When Toasting In Italian

This is by far the most argued etiquette rule when it comes to making a toast in general (Italy or not). Many maintain that it’s rude. Others say it’s the most colloquial way to celebrate something and connect with the people with whom you are raising a glass. 

Technically, it’s not the correct way to toast even though it’s extremely common. The official etiquette for toasting is to simply raise your glass to the center of the table (or wherever you are) as you make your remarks. 

This being said, many Italians, especially in informal events, will clink their glasses. Take a look around the next time you are at a bar at cocktail hour in Italy. EVERYONE is doing it so don’t feel like you cannot because “the book” says not to.

Rules for Toasting in Italian

The Most Important Rule For Toasting in Italian

Whatever you have heard about making a toast in Italy, there is really only one rule you should adhere to and that is making eye contact when you either raise your glass to someone or clink your glasses together. 

Italians are superstitious and they believe that not looking someone in the eye will bring bad luck for seven years!

Don’t Toast With Water

Again, bad luck! Don’t do it!

So what do Italians toast with? Typically with wine at dinner but also with cocktails.

Fact: For small children, adults will sometimes add a drop of red wine to the child’s glass to make acqua sporca or dirty water, with which the child can partake without bistowing bad luck!

Let The Host Toast First

It’s customary for the host to make the first toast at a dinner or party. After that, it’s a free-for-all.

Be Sure Your Glass Isn’t Empty

Never toast with an empty glass, even if it’s only a drop of wine because this also is believed to bring bad luck!

Don’t Drink Alcohol? Toast with an Italian Mocktail!

Don’t Clink Your Glass With Silverware

Generally speaking, no matter where you are, this is considered rude (although lots of people do it!). It’s better just to stand and once one person notices, the rest of the table will quiet down as well.

Always Take A Sip After Toasting

Don’t just put your glass down after raising it. You must always take a sip before putting it back down.

Don’t Cross Your Arms

Whether you are actually making the toast or partaking in, you should never cross your arms when toasting. 

Wine Tasting In Italy: If you would like to go wine tasting in Italy and practice your toasting, consider my recommendations:
Montepulciano Wineries
Montalcino Wineries – My Top 5 Montalcino Wine Tours
Ravazzi Cantina – My family’s Favorite San Casciano Dei Bagni Winery
Avignonesi Winery – My Experience
Valdipiatta Winery
Siro Pacenti Winery (Montalcino)
Conti Costanti Winery in Montalcino – My Experience Touring and Tasting Wines

Vocabulary For Saying Cheers in Italian

Italian VocabularyEnglish Translation
La saluteHealth
Salute!Cheers!
Cin cinCheers!
Alla nostra/tua/vostra!Here’s to us/you/you (plural)!
Brindare/fare un brindisiTo make a toast
Facciamo un brindisi!Let’s toast!
BereTo drink
FestaParty
FesteggiamentiCelebrations
CompleannoBirthday
Auguri!Best wishes!
Congratulazioni!Congratulations!
Buon Anno!Happy New Year!
Buon NataleMerry Christmas!
Il bicchiereGlass
L’aperitivoAperitif
La cenaDinner
Il vino (rosso/bianco)(Red/white) wine
Il proseccoSparkling wine
La birrabeer

Heading to Florence? Be sure to toast at one of Florence’s best rooftop bars, at one of my top picks for budget aperitivo in Florence, or at one of Florence’s coolest bars for aperitivo or after dinner drinks or best spots for apericena.
Heading to Venice? Try one of my top spots for aperitivo in Venice.

How To Toast in Italian FAQ

What does the Italian word ‘chin’ mean?

Chin isn’t a word in Italian but it’s actually cin or cin cin, meaning “cheers” when someone raises a glass to make a toast in Italian. 

Do Italians say Salud?

No, Italians say salute, meaning health, which is the same as salud in Spanish. 

How do Italians salute?

Italians toast using the words salute for formal settings or cin cin for informal settings. Fare un brindisi means to make a toast in Italian. 

What is the Italian toast cin cin?

Cin cin is the informal way of making a toast in Italian, stemming from the Chinese phrase ch’ing ch’ing, meaning “be my guest” or “welcome”. It was used by the Chinese sailors who would welcome their sea friends and later brought back by European sailors to their home port cities. 

Is it rude to clink your glass?

Technically yes, in formal settings. In everyday settings, many Italians do this without thinking twice when they make a toast with friends and family. 

Do kids toast in Italy?

Kids often toast with a glass of juice or water. If you’ve got teens with you, read about the Drinking Age in Italy.