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Presso Answers the Question Dove (Where)?

If you hang out in Italy for even just a visit, you are likely to see the word presso written somewhere, and you may or may not hear it. It's not all that easy to figure out, so let's take a look.


These days most folks use email to communicate, rather than mailing letters. This avoids, in many cases, needing to write your address anywhere, except possibly on an immigration form at the airport. But if you do have to write down where you are staying, for example, then you might need presso. One of its very basic meanings is "at" or "in." But that isn't very helpful since we use these prepositions in so many ways.


If, for instance, I am staying at the Hotel Verdi, in Pisa, then I might use presso. It's not my house, but that's where I am temporarily lodged. One dictionary gives this definition for presso:

indica un indirizzo preciso ma non specificato

(it indicates a precise, but not specified address).



Presso is a preposition, and we can use it to mean in casa di (at the home of), the equivalent of: "in care of," or "c/o," as you would write when addressing an envelope. Maybe you are writing to an exchange student friend staying at the home of a family in Tuscany.

Signorina Giovanna Bossi

     presso la famiglia Bianchi

via Verdi, 4

56036 Forcoli PI


Biancaneve vive presso i sette nani nel bosco.

Snow White lives with the seven dwarfs in the wood.

Caption 11, Ti racconto una fiaba - Biancaneve

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We immediately visualize that Snow White is staying with the dwarfs, or that she is staying at the home of the dwarfs.


1) Your friend is in the hospital and someone asks you where, for example: (dov'è ricoverato Giacomo?): How could you answer?


We can use it to mean "in a place," for example, where you work.


Ciao ragazzi, sono Adriano, un ragazzo italiano di ventisette anni

Hi guys! I'm Adriano, an Italian guy of twenty-seven

e lavoro presso un agenzia di programmatori informatici.

and I work at a computer programing agency.

Captions 1-2, Adriano - Giornata

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Adriano is implying that he also works for this agency. He could have said:

Ciao ragazzi, sono Adriano, un ragazzo italiano di ventisette anni e lavoro in un agenzia di programmatori informatici.


Presso is a bit more formal, a bit more refined.


2) Tu dove lavori/studi (where do you work/go to school)?


Arianna and Erica both used presso when talking about where they went to school.


Mi sono laureata presso l'Università di Perugia

I got my degree at the University of Perugia

in Lingue Straniere per la comunicazione internazionale.

in foreign languages for international communications.

Captions 5-6, Arianna spiega - vivere all'estero

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Quindi mi sono iscritta a, all'indirizzo archeologico

So I enrolled in, in the Archeology course of study

presso l'Università di Pisa.

at the University of Pisa.

Captions 10-11, Professioni e mestieri - Erica - archeologa

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Martina is talking about what she would like to do when she finishes her university studies.


Quando finirò i miei studi, vorrei diventare

When I finish my studies, I would like to become

o perito minorile o giudice onorario presso il tribunale per i minori.

either an evaluator of minors, or lay judge at juvenile court.

Captions 28-29, Serena - presenta Martina

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Daniela teaches some video lessons about writing letters, both formal and informal. She describes a letter applying for a job.


Per esempio io, io, Daniela Rossi,

For example, I, I, Daniela Rossi,

sto cercando un lavoro presso la casa editrice Feltrinelli

am looking for a job at the Feltrinelli Publishing House,

e scrivo al dottor Luca Monti, responsabile del personale,

and I am writing to Doctor Luca Monti, Personnel Manager,

per mandare la mia candidatura

to send in my application

e vedere se c'è una possibilità di lavoro per me.

and to see if there is a possibility of a job for me.

Captions 43-47, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Lettera formale

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We can also use it to mean "among," "in," "for," or "with": 

Presso gli Etruschi, l'aldilà era molto importante.

For the Etruscans, the afterlife was very important.


Lui è partito con... diciamo, all'interno del... di questa,

He set off... let's say, at the center of the... of this,

di questo movimento che

of this, of this movement that

fu chiamato la Nouvelle Cuisine,

was called la Nouvelle cuisine,

ma poi, dopo aver fatto, per esempio, esperienze molto intense

but then, after having had, for example, very intensive experiences

presso le cucine orientali e in particolare la... la cucina giapponese,

with Asian cooking, and in particular... Japanese cooking,

la sua attenzione è stata subito attratta da una delle più grandi cucine...

his attention was immediately drawn to one of the greatest cuisines...

Captions 40-45, L'arte della cucina - L'Epoca delle Piccole Rivoluzioni

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Translating presso isn't always easy, but the important thing is to grasp the idea of what it means. 


3) What if I wanted to say that in Italian, we often leave out the personal pronoun?


Presso as "near," "close by," "by"

Another meaning of presso is "near," "by," "close by."


Il sole splende in Val Rendena

The sun shines in the Rendena Valley

illuminando il fianco destro della chiesa di San Vigilio,

illuminating the right side of the church of San Vigilio

presso il cimitero di Pinzolo.

by Pinzolo's cemetery.

Captions 1-3, Itinerari Della Bellezza - Trentino Alto Adige

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4) Dove ci incontriamo Where shall we meet? You can answer by suggesting the bar near the train station, even if you don't know the name of it.


To conclude:

You can get away without using the preposition presso,  but isn't it nice to able to understand it if someone else uses it? And if you do use it, people will be impressed!



Possible solutions:

1) È ricoverato presso l'ospedale XXX.

2a) Lavoro presso una scuola di lingue.

2b) Studio presso l'Università di Firenze.

3) Presso la lingua italiana, si può spesso omettere il pronome personale.

I could also say:

Nella lingua italiana, si può spesso omettere il pronome personale.

4) Ci vediamo nel bar presso la stazione.

Ci vediamo al bar vicino alla stazione.

Ci vediamo al bar all'interno della stazione.

Or in Tuscan Italian:

Ci si vede nel bar...


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