Uppercase or lowercase in Italian?

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It can happen to everyone, from time to time, to have doubts about the use of small and capital letters when writing.

For this reason, I wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions, hoping that this little guide could be useful to my foreign students.

Titles of works

First of all, remember that, according to the style guides, the titles of original works must be written in italics.

In Italian, the capital letter is used only for the first letter of the title and for any proper names it contains. Example: La vita è bella, I dolori del giovane Werther, Viaggio in Italia...

Abbreviations and acronyms

The abbreviations and acronyms of institutions or institutions should generally be written in all capital letters, without separation points (FIAT, BNL, USA, UN …).

They keep the capital letters in the initials of all the words that compose them even when they are written in full:
Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, United States of America, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite (in cases like these, only the preposition goes in lower case).

Seas, mountains, rivers, lakes

The common name will be in lower case and the proper name in capital letters: mar Mediterraneo, lago Trasimeno, monti Nebrodi, fiume Adige, etc.
A particular case of this rule is the names formed by a generic noun and an adjective that makes the compound a proper name. Example: Monte Bianco, Monte Rosa, Lago di Garda …

Streets, buildings, theaters, public places

Here too, as a general rule, the common name goes in lowercase, and the proper name is capitalized. So: liceo Garibaldi, Teatro Libero, via Roma, piazza Garibaldi … unless the common name is an integral part of the proper name. It is the case, for example, of Palazzo Madama, Teatro alla Scala, etc.

Names of events of great importance, centuries, historical periods and literary, artistic or philosophical movements

In this case, we must be cautious because they are considered as proper names and therefore must be written with the initial capitalized.
Example: Prima Guerra Mondiale, Novecento, Medioevo, Cubismo …

Names of peoples and adjectives of nationality

If we refer to ancient populations, then the name will be capitalized (example: “i Vichinghi”).

If we refer to modern peoples or adjectives of nationality, then the name will be in lower case (example: “gli svedesi”).

The use of upper and lower case letters also serves to distinguish ancient populations from the populations of the same name that continue to exist even in the modern age (for example: “Romani”, written in capital letters, refers to the ancient people, while “romani“, in lower case, to today’s inhabitants of Rome).

Months, decades and centuries

The months must always be written in lower case, as well as the decades (for example “anni sessanta“) and the centuries, if accompanied by a Roman numeral (example “XXI secolo“).


The names of public or religious holidays are capitalized, even if they are compound names: Natale, Capodanno, Primo Maggio, etc.


The names of the zodiac signs are in uppercase: Gemelli, Pesci, etc.


The names of the languages ​​are written in small letters: francese, inglese, tedesco, italiano, svedese etc.


Currency names should be written in lower case: euro, dollaro, sterlina, corona etc.

Sources: Accademia della Crusca, Corriere.it, Treccani