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I've been told that "Ciao!" comes from Venice and, back in the 16th Century, it was not yet used ubiquitously on the Peninsula.

Some sources suggest that "Salve!" could have been used. No doubt it was. But that's not the point.

What would be a common informal greeting, along the lines of "How you doin'?" or "How's all?" or just "Hi there!" in Rome in those days?

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    Interesting question! I have a 2-volume collection of Commedie del Cinquecento. When I've time, I intend to browse them, hoping that some Roman (or at least well south of Veneto) author is represented there. Just a doubt: what do you mean by saying “that's not the point” about the eventuality that such a greeting might have been “Salve”?
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 12:28
  • @DaG: To the best of my knowledge, "Salve!" comes from Latin: Emperor Aurelian would use it to greet Tacitus. It's ancient and therefore outdated. You don't greet folks today by saying, "Greetings, o ye good people!"
    – Ricky
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 18:09
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    I wasn't meaning the Latin word. “Salve” is an Italian word, not outdated at all, and still very much in use nowadays.
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 21:04
  • @DaG: Interesting. A word that has survived intact and continues to be in frequent use after 2,500 years, wow.
    – Ricky
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 21:44
  • Yes, it's not uncommon for Italian words to be identical or very similar to the corresponding Latin ones. (Am I a horrible person if I remark that Tacitus had been dead for almost a century when Aurelian was born? I know it was just a random example involving two famous ancient Romans!)
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 22:08

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