Voglio vedere il suo vero volto.

English Translation

I want to see your real face.

Apparently, we have faccia, viso and volto in Italian for face. But in the mornings you wash only your “faccia”! Scoperta della giornata!

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This seems rather inappropriate. I always understood “volto” to be highly elevated and literary - like “countenance.” Faccia is the typical term that would be used in reality (mi lavo la faccia).


But maybe it’s a poetic ode…


In your article I found “scoprire il vero volto di qualcuno”- to discover the true nature of someone. So, I see the “voglio vedere il suo vero volto” in line with what your article says. Right?


This is where I seem to recall having seen it used most, often as vero volto.

So in a headline something like “La cina mostra il suo vero volto in Hong Kong” or similar statements along the lines of “Il governo rivela il suo vero volto …”.

As @Dcarl1 suggests, it normally appears to be something more figurative.

Anyway, it’s morning here in Australia, so I must go wash my volto faccia.


So, if say I wanted to see someone’s face without the makeup I would say : “voglio vedere la sua vera faccia” and in this makeup removal scenario “volto” is inappropriate. Corretto?

Well, I’ve had a read of the synonyms as described on some dictionary extracts at this site -
Faccia: dizionario, significato e curiosità (dizy.com)
You’ll need to look down the page, but searching for the phrase “faccia, viso, volto” will bring up one such extract (the dictionaries it references are from 1860 and 1884, so let’s hope that the usage hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years :slightly_smiling_face:).

It has a nice description, and I’ll try to paraphrase, but it seems to say something like -

  • faccia - this is the simple physical face
  • volto - this is the face in the sense of expressions and features
  • viso - this is used to denote a happy contented face

Here’s a partial quote from the original -

Per bene esprimere le differenze che stanno tra Faccia , Volto e Viso , dirò così: che faccia è parola di senso semplice e materiale; volto , parola di senso nobile; viso , parola di senso gentile.
La faccia è il campo; il volto è l’insieme dei lineamenti e la loro espressione abituale; il viso , quell’ espessione del volto, che è mutabile e varia secondo le diverse affezioni che ci vanno agitando.

There are some more examples in the descriptions that go into their differences further.

On the other hand, as a language learner I don’t think that we’ll go to far wrong if we stick with faccia for all of these (unless you think the perfect usage might impress an examiner when trying to reach C2 level on the CEFR scale).


I’ll also add, that given the descriptions of the differences between volto and faccia in particular, I can see why volto would be appropriate in this sense (for example if someone were wearing a mask, or - to look at a more modern setting - using an avatar in a virtual world [like the lawyer in the US with the Zoom kitten filter who told the judge “I’m not a cat!”]).


Yes, I see. I guess then it could be a metaphorical usage. True!

I think also “viso” is used for paintings with portraits.