Italians are warm and friendly people who like to express their affection and often use terms of endearment when talking to their family and friends and to children; often, they will use affectionate nicknames, like caro/a or bello/a, even with someone they don’t know well.
Here are some of the most common:
Caro/cara - dear
Tesoro – darling (translates literally to ‘treasure’)
Amore – love
Stella/stellina – literally, ‘star’
Gioia – literally, ‘joy’
Angelo – angel, to express gratitude, i.e. grazie per l’aiuto, sei un angelo – thanks for your help, you’re an angel.
Note that most of the following are especially used with children and between boyfriend and girlfriend:
Piccolo/a - Piccolino/a – little one
Tato/a – no meaning
Cucciolo/a – literally, ‘puppy’
Passerotto/a – literally, 'sparrow chick', used especially with and to refer to children, i.e. come stanno i passerotti? How are the kids?
Patatino/a – little potato
Topolino/a - little mouse