Since I’ve moved here I have noticed that quite often I am greeted by strangers with “Salve”. I found out that this was just another way of saying Ciao or hello but I often wondered what the subtle differences were. After all I have never seen this greeting in any of my language books and I was curious if it was the equivalent of “how’s it going” in English.
I would often reply with a “Buon giorno” only because “Salve” was still a mystery word to me until yesterday when one of my student’s brought it up. She just turned 40 and made a comment about how now people use “Salve” with her and that it upset her. I thought why? Is Salve insulting? Then she said that “Ciao” is used for the young or familiar and “Buon giorno” is used for the elderly and formal. “Salve” is used when the person cannot figure out if you are young or old!
Oh, now I get it! I guess she is upset because she has graduated from “Ciao” to the ambiguous “Salve”. But for me I was thinking hey, I would rather hear “Salve” than “Buon giorno” and if a stranger says “Ciao” I would be over the moon : )
This chick may be 45 but if I am still in the “Salve” category I think I’m doing okay.