If you translate literally non vedo l’ora (noh-n vai-doh l’oh-rah), it doesn’t make much sense. What could “not being able to see the time” possibly mean?
Well, we don’t use it with that meaning, really.
Non vedo l’ora is the Italian equivalent of the English “I can’t wait” and we use it with all forms of the verb vedere (to see): this means you have to conjugate it, remember that! So if I can’t wait to do something it’s “non vedo l’ora,” but if you can’t, it becomes “non vedi l’ora.” It is usually followed by di and the infinitive of the verb you want to use.
As an expression, it embodies excitement, happiness and eagerness and it is used very much in all registers, so feel free to whip it out with your Italian best friend or boss: it’s equally acceptable.
However, be aware it is an incredibly emphatic expression, so you may like to avoid it if said boss gives you a pile of work an hour before you’re supposed to leave the office on a Friday afternoon, or you may sound pretty sarcastic. Mind, we do use it that way, too: mia suocera sta da noi per una settimana: non vedo l’ora… (“my mother in law is staying for a week: I can’t wait…”). Well, of course, when you speak it’s all in the intonation, you know.
On a more pleasant — and hopefully, more useful — note, we love to use non vedo l’ora romantically: so, you non vedi l’ora to meet your date and to share the evening with them. You know, that sort of thing.
Ritorna in città domani! Non vedo l’ora di vederlo!
He’s back in town tomorrow. I can’t wait to see him!
Sono stanco morto. Non vedo l’ora di andare a dormire.
I’m wrecked. I can’t wait to go to bed.
Quando ero bambina, non vedevo l’ora di andare a casa dei nonni.
When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to visit my grandparents.