How to Say UP & DOWN in Italian

When I took first semester Italian at the university, I couldn’t believe my eyes when none other than my  freshman high school science teacher was standing in front of the white board. What?!

It turns out her mother is from Italy and she grew up bilingual. I never would have guessed!

Now that she wasn’t trying to force me to measure things using the metric system, I actually enjoyed her class.

She taught us fun facts, like the meaning of tiramisù (I can’t remember much from college, but I’ll never forget a dessert!).  Most Americans are familiar with Tiramisù, those delicious espresso soaked lady fingers between creamy layers. Tiramisù literally means “pick me up” in Italian. My teacher said that little children will actually say “tiramisù” when they want to be picked up by their parents. Tiramisù is figuratively a pick-me-up too, giving a sugary espresso dose of energy.


Today I decided to listen to some Italian music so that I could sing along while cooking dinner. One of my favorites is Volare, and I noticed that one of the lines says:

 E volavo, volavo felice

(I flew, I flew)

più in alto del sole ed

(higher than the sun and)

ancora più su

(still more up) [literal translation]

Immediately I though of tiramisù!

Whenever I learn new vocabulary, I like to learn pairs of opposites together, so I started wondering, if su is up, what is down?

Up = Su

Down = Giù

Now listen to Volare (this is the original version that has lyrics written in Italian & English (literally translated) and try to find the variations of su and giù:

  • laggiù = down there
  • quaggiù = down here
  • lassù = up there



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Ciao, I'm Kelly!

Welcome to my adventures in learning Italian, often while cooking authentic Italian recipes and wine tasting! I love discovering the traditional regional cuisine of Italy and trying to recreate those dishes when I'm back home in the US. I'm also on my way to becoming an Italian citizen through jure sanguinis (by ancestry).

WSET Level 2 Certified Wine Blogger


Join me for a virtual "aperitivo chat" to get exclusive updates on my Italian progress, dual citizenship journey, plus food & wine adventures in the Bel Paese and beyond!

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