The Italian “Passeggiata”: What is it, Exactly? Real Meaning and Myths

Wondering what’s the meaning of the Italian “passeggiata“? Look no further. I am Italian and in this post, I will tell you all about this very popular habit of ours.

If you have hung out with Italians whether in Italy or not, chances are you have heard somebody say “Andiamo a fare una passeggiata“. It is a very common way of saying “Let’s go for a walk” in Italy but there’s more to it. And in this post, I will tell you all about it.

As you know, Italy is a country renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, delectable cuisine, and passionate people, offering a cultural experience like no other.

Among the many Italian traditions that have captured the world’s imagination, the “passeggiata” stands out as a charming and timeless ritual.

In this article, we will explore the true meaning of the Italian “passeggiata,” its different uses in phrases, debunk some common myths, and uncover special variations of this cherished tradition.

girl taking a stroll with a dog - italian passeggiata

What does ‘passeggiata’ mean in Italian?

The term “passeggiata” finds its roots in the Italian verb “passeggiare,” which means “to stroll” or “to walk.” At its core, a “passeggiata” is a leisurely stroll that you may want to take just for the sake of walking and it’s not defined by any specific purpose place or time of the day.

It can be a way to relax and unwind, or to spend time with people, to enjoy an area, or avoid spending time sitting in the couch in front of a phone or the TV. ,

As I was researching the internet for this article, I was surprised to read how many articles would consider the “Passeggiata” as related very specific context.

For example, one implies that a “passeggiata” is taken in the early evening, usually after dinner, but that’s not necessarily true. So I will debunk other similar myths in the next section of this post.

It is true though, that while the word itself may simply mean “take a walk,” or ” take a stroll” its significance goes far beyond the literal act of walking.

The “passeggiata” is deeply ingrained in Italian culture and has been for centuries. It’s a beloved tradition that can be found in cities, towns, and villages throughout Italy. Italians of all ages, from children to the elderly, participate in this ritual, making it a truly intergenerational experience.

In fact just like it was true for my grandmother, it is completely normal and up-to-date to call a friend and say “Andiamo a fare una passeggiata” (Let’s go for a walk!)

family having a stroll in the woods

Different uses of the word Passeggiata in Italian phrases

Although the phrase ” vado a fare una passeggiata” is the act of a stroll or a walk from one place to another, there is a huge difference in meaning if you say

“Vado a fare una passeggiata in centro” or “Vado a piedi in centro”. The first one means I will go for a stroll in the city center, the second one means I will go to the city center on foot (instead of by car) but you don’t necessarily go for a walk.

Some would argue that the term vado a fare una passeggiata, is the same as “vado a fare una “vasca” or uno “struscio”.

I completely disagree because fare una vasca,or struscio, specifically means that you are walking back and forth multiple times along the main street of a city, usually to go and see people and be seen.

“Fare una passeggiata” doesn’t necessarily have that specific purpose. It is a more generic concept that literally means only going for a walk. And that is anywhere, at any time of the day, and with any or no purpose at all.

young people walking in a city

Passeggiata and errands

Usually, a “passeggiata” is a way to go out and stretch your legs, admire the surroundings, or get distracted from a difficult task you are doing. Sometimes you need to go to get something from the store and you decide you go on foot instead of getting the car, just because you want to ” fare una passeggiata“.

Passeggiata and aperitivo

Among the things that you should know before coming to Italy is the tradition of Aperitivo, which is usually a drink with delicious “snacks” before dinner or lunch.

It is not uncommon that the evening stroll (passeggiata) is followed by a gathering with friends around an aperitivo.

Debunking some myths about the meaning of the Italian “Passeggiata”

As I mentioned before I believe there are several misconceptions about the Italian “passeggiata” that need debunking. Here are some of them, but, this is my personal opinion, as an Italian. If you disagree, please leave your comment below.

And also if you found some other odd myths about this expression. I am happy to discuss it further.

Myth 1: It’s solely a romantic activity.

}While the “passeggiata romantica” is undoubtedly a beautiful expression of love and connection, the “passeggiata” is not limited to couples. It’s a social activity where friends and families also participate, fostering a sense of community and togetherness.

elderly couple taking a stroll (fare una passeggiata)

Myth 2: It only happens in the evening

Although the evening “passeggiata” is the most well-known, Italians also enjoy daytime strolls, especially during weekends or anytime we can. These daytime walks may involve visiting markets, enjoying coffee at a local café, or simply go for a walk for no reason, which is actually the original meaning of it.

Myth 3: It’s exclusive to certain regions of Italy.

The “passeggiata” is a nationwide tradition in Italy and can be found in every region, from the bustling streets of Rome to the charming villages of Tuscany. Each place may add its unique flair to the experience, but the essence of the “passeggiata” remains the same.

Myth 4: It’s only for the young and fashionable

People of all ages and backgrounds participate in the “passeggiata.” It’s a cultural practice that transcends generations and social statuses. Everyone is welcome to join in the leisurely stroll and enjoy the company of their fellow walkers or just go alone.

Couple doing a passeggiata

Passeggiata in Italian: conclusion

In conclusion, the Italian “passeggiata” is just a simple stroll and this is why is so much part of our unique culture and embodies the Italian way of life. It’s a time to slow down, connect with loved ones, and appreciate the beauty of the surroundings. While the term “passeggiata” may be simple, its significance runs deep, reflecting the heart and soul of Italy. So, the next time you find yourself in Italy, don’t miss the opportunity to partake in this timeless tradition – take a “passeggiata” and experience Italy’s magic in every step.