When I want to say "take care" to somebody either orally or at the end of a letter what is the right expression? Can I use in gamba or stammi bene? Do they mean the same thing?
Is "in gamba" used mainly in southern Italy, as I've noticed that some people from the north find it strange when I use it?– VicOct 22, 2014 at 6:56
1That would be a question by itself ;-) But I think it would be hard to assess the geographic distribution of this expression. I live in Rome, and my impression is that the usage of "in gamba" has been declining in the last decades, and that it was infrequent already decades ago. By far not as frequent as "take care" in the US. Since nobody mentioned it, I'll add that in many cases "take care" can simply be translated as "ciao", or, colloquially, as "ciao ciao"– Walter TrossOct 22, 2014 at 16:50
In gamba or stammi bene are the correct informal ways to say 'take care'.
Personally, when I want to wish 'take care' in Italian to somebody formally or in a less friendly way, I would say:
prenditi cura di te - si prenda cura di lei (courtesy form)
abbi cura di te - abbia cura di lei (courtesy form)
riguardati - si riguardi (courtesy form)
Hope this helps.
1I would say "riguardati" only to someone who should be careful in order not to worsen their health, while "take care" can be said to someone who is perfectly healthy. Oct 22, 2014 at 6:35
1In the south I have often heard "Mi raccomando", referring to some specific (known) events that might happen in the event of 'taking care'. For example, when the person that has to 'take care' has currently a fever, you would tell them to take care with 'Mi raccomando'. Jan 16, 2015 at 10:24
In the north and center, we say "mi raccomando" even to people who are otherwise perfectly fine, but almost always in a confidential/informal setting. e.g. it would be inappropriate to say "mi raccomando" to a superior. Apr 11, 2015 at 10:08
By pure chance yesterday I stumbled upon this instance which I think is a pretty good example: rai.tv/dl/RaiTV/programmi/media/… At circa 30 minutes, Rocca says, in a humorous tone, "mi raccomando" to his friend and subordinate Cacciapuoti. This makes sense because they're close, but also because Rocca has a higher military grade. The opposite would probably be at the very least out of character. Apr 12, 2015 at 10:36
You should say 'abbi cura di te' (abbia cura di lei) or 'riguardati' (si riguardi); 'in gamba' and 'stammi bene', even if not completely wrong, seem excessively friendly, anyway.
2Although I suspect in real life nobody says "abbi cura di te" except in 19th century novels. "In gamba" and "stammi bene" are very friendly and informal but they are pretty common. Apr 11, 2015 at 10:07