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Ciao a tutti,

Yesterday when I was leaving from my classmate I told him:

"Ci vediamo dopo"

and he answered me by saying:

"Ci vediamo. Bella!" (He meant that of my Italian by saying this I believe)

And after I paused and said "Ciao" as a normal way of saying goodbye. But he said you should have said "Bella lì".

I couldn't ask him at that moment what he meant by saying this phrase and searched for it but couldn't find anything. Is there any specific meaning of it?

Thanks.

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"Bella", "Bella lì" and "Bella zio" express approval and appreciation for a person, a situation, an idea or a plan. They are diffused, with some variations, in different regions (e.g., "Bella zi"/"Bella zio" exist around both Rome and Milan).

There are some differences between the three expressions. "Bella zio" put more focus on the person saying/doing something and can be used as a greeting. "Bella" and "Bella lì" are more related to an idea or a plan. I would say that "Bella lì" puts more stress on the fact that the idea/plan is definitive, recognizing that all the people involved agree on that, while "Bella" is more of a personal appreciation.

You could have therefore answered "Bella lì", to stress that the plan ("Ci vediamo") was definitive and both you and your friend agreed on that. On the other hand, "bella lì" is not the only possible response to "Bella". In that situation you could have said millions of things (just "Bella", but also "Perfetto! Ciao", "Ok! Ciao"). Just "Ciao" would be fine too, but in that situation, one could have expected another word to confirm that you recognize that you agreed on a plan.

I am pretty sure that these expressions are used in this way around Milan. In different parts of Italy there might be some differences.

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I am Italian and, in this context,

"Ci vediamo. Bella!" (He meant that of my Italian by saying this I believe)

...Bella is not used with the meaning of beautiful but is somewhat alike to "Roger and out". With the same meaning, in Florence you will hear said Buona (actually pronounced bona, or exaggerated in bonaaaa). It's a very familiar form of arrivederci (see you) or ciao.

Not answering is acceptable, at least in Florence, but if anything you just reply with the same: Bella! (or bona!).

Bella lì is usually employed with the same meaning of "Good take!" in the film industry; it means that some idea, concept, or procedure is being approved. I usually employ it to stop someone from further working on something that (in my opinion) is now more than good enough. I could translate it with good, that's cool, perfect! or as I said, good take.

It is also used as a greeting, where it is synonymous with *Bella zì". You could then welcome someone by saying "Bella zì, come butta?" (Nice to see you, how's it hanging?). It is an extremely familiar and informal way of addressing someone, only ever used between friends.

I would most definitely not expect Bella lì in answer to Bella.

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I bet you're in Rome or around. Or, your friend must be from there.

Bella is used in the jargon of the capital as a very informal greeting, so interpret it as a ciao.

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  • 2
    this only partially answers the question, since, according to what Mertcan said, "bella lì" was expected in reply. I'm from Rome, aged 54, and I'm almost as confused as Mertcan... – Walter Tross Mar 19 '16 at 16:22
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    Maybe it was a "bella zì". – martina Mar 19 '16 at 16:22
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    Where I'm from (and in my youth... time goes fast) it was an expression used as "satisfaction/appreciation", what in English you would intend as "cool"/"sweet"/"nice"/"way to go" or, in some specific cases "Duuude" but Im old(-ish) and not "hip" ;) and these things have the habit to switch meaning and use overtime – Erik vanDoren Mar 19 '16 at 16:36

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