Units of Measurement Posted by on Jan 22, 2021 in Culture, Italian Language

Oggi, una richiesta da un lettore! Grazie mille! Today, a request from a reader! Thanks a lot!

Le unità di misura in Italia – Units of measurement in Italy

Praticamente tutte le unità di misura sono differenti in Italia rispetto a quelle utilizzate negli Stati Uniti. Noi americani non ci siamo adeguati al sistema metrico decimale… e siamo insoliti proprio per questa ragione!

Virtually all units of measurement are different in Italy than those used in the United States. We Americans have not adapted to the Metric System… and we are unusual for that very reason! 

Vediamo la differenza… let’s see the difference:

Unità di misura di lunghezza e distanza – length and distance

USA Italia
1 pollice (inch) 2,5 centimetri (centimeters)
1 piede (foot) 0,30 metri (meters)
1 miglio (mile) 1,6 kilometri (kilometers)







The Metric System uses meters, centimeters, and kilometers, while the Imperial System (what we use here in the US) uses inches, feet, and miles.

1 kilometer = 1000 meters

1 meter = 100 centimeters

Unità di misura di capacità liquidi – volume

USA Italia
1 pinta (pint) 473,18 millilitri (milliliters)
1 quarto (quart) 0,95 litri (liters)
1 gallone (gallon) 3,79 litri (liters)

Liters and milliliters vs. pints, quarts, and gallons to discuss volume. Interestingly enough, in the US there are instances where we use the metric system to talk about volume – like when you buy a nice bottle of wine (750 ml) or a 2 liter bottle of soda (pop)!

1 liter = 1000 milliliters

Unità di misura di peso – weight

USA Italia
1 oncia (ounce) 28,35 grammi (grams)
1 libbra (pound)  0,45 chilogrammi (kilograms)

1000 grams is 1 kilogram, as opposed to having to memorize that there are 16 ounces in 1 pound. The simplicity of the Metric System vs. the complexity of the Imperial System is one reason for which many people sbeffeggiare (scoff) at having to memorize the units of measure in the United States.

You’ll also hear Italians use etti (hectograms). 10 etti = 1 chilo and 1 etto = 3 ounces. Vorrei due etti di prosciutto, per favore! I would like 2 hectograms (6 ounces) of prosciutto, please!

La temperatura – temperature

La temperatura in Italia è espressa con la scala Celsius. The temperature in Italy is expressed with the Celsius scale.

Some conversions for temperature:

  • 0 degrees Celsius is equal to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. (The freezing point)
  • 32 degrees Celsius is 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 24 degrees Celsius is 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 10 degrees Celsius is 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • To convert Celsius (c) to Fahrenheit, use the formula (c x 1.8) + 32

*Attenzione! Italians use la virgola (the comma) in numbers where the United States uses il punto (the period) and then Italians use il punto when Americans use la virgola. Example: 1.000,50

Che ne pensate? What do you think? Have you gotten confused in Italy before when confronting the Metric System? I know I have, even though it is a lot more simple than the Imperial System!

Keep learning Italian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement Associate for TL. Gaelophile. (Soon to be) Digital Nomad. Check out my personal blog, A Polyglot's Inkblot:


  1. Laurence Clark:

    It’s not true that Australians still sometimes use the imperial units, at least never on any labels or in fact anything that’s printed. You still occasionally hear older people talk about inches or feet, but thankfully even that’s dying out. I am 71, but I’m very pleased those ancient units are just a distant memory for us. I can still remember learning at school though that there are 5 1/2 yards in a rod, pole or perch, and 22 yards in a chain, so 4 rods in a chain. And 80 chains in a mile. What a nightmare!

  2. William C Auge:

    When I was in 8th grade our teacher told the class that the United States would be converting to the metric system and we would need to learn it. That was over 50 years ago. I use my kitchen scale which registers in both Imperial and Metric as an aide in learning the Metric System.

Leave a comment: