In most languages, there is no difference in how to express the feeling of love and that of friendship or affection.
In English, for example, we use the expression “I love you” as much if we turn to a friend of ours, our parents or our boyfriend.
In Spanish, they say, “te quiero“, in French “je t’aime” … but we must be cautious when translating this sentence into Italian.
In practice, what we need to do is try to “translate our feelings” and find the most appropriate Italian expression to express them. Then:
Ti amo, or ti voglio bene?
Each of the English, Spanish or French phrases we have seen, when translated into Italian, can take on two different meanings depending on the context and above all the recipient of our message.
In Italian, we usually use the expression “ti amo” to address our beloved, boyfriend, husband, lover. So to express an intense feeling, which implies the concept of “I feel love for you.”
“Ti amo” often has more physical and passionate implications, and therefore expresses a more passionate feeling.
Ti voglio bene
“Ti voglio bene” is more used with siblings, parents, and friends than with lovers. We use it to show our affection and love for a friend, a classmate, a grandfather, our dog … The young people continually send themselves messages on their mobile with TVB or write it in dedications on school diaries!
It is a feeling that we usually feel for many people and something that we say more quickly than a “Ti amo“, which instead implies a total involvement of soul and body.
However, “volere bene” is always a feeling of love, it means “I want your good,” “I want beautiful things to happen to you,” but it is a “lighter” love, less physical and more mental.
Understanding this difference for a foreigner is not always easy, and for us Italians, it is not easy to explain the difference.