Welcome to Italian 101! We’ve all been there..that annoying, lost in translation moment where we’ve somehow ended up playing a lengthy game of charades with a local. While hand gestures are considered a major source of communication in Italy, a few phrases can really help you on your way to exploring il Bel Paese! English is widely spoken in Italy (especially in touristic areas), but having a few phrases up your sleeve can always be useful! Besides, Italian is such a beautiful language! Andiamo!
Italians love a good chat, so here are some useful daily essential phrases for meeting, greeting and being polite.
1. Hi/Bye – Ciao (Just make it clear whether you’re coming or going!)
2. Good day/Good morning – Buongiorno
3. Good evening – Buonasera
4. What’s your name? My name is… Come ti chiami? Mi chiamo…
5. Thank you – Grazie
6. Excuse me – Scusi
And just in case you have no idea what’s going on…
7. Do you speak English? – Parli inglese?
8. Sorry I don’t understand. I don’t speak Italian – Mi dispiace, non capisco. Non parlo italiano
From pizza to gelato to hundreds of different types of pasta and sauces, food plays a huge and important role in Italian culture. If you want to wet your whistle before delving into dinner, aperitivo is a popular choice amongst young and old Italians alike. From around 6 to 9pm Italian streets are bustling with locals and tourists enjoying a pre-dinner drink accompanied by complimentary snacks. Why not pull up a seat at a local restaurant and use these useful phrases to enjoy Italy’s culinary delights?
9. I would like – Vorrei
10. I would like a glass of – Vorrei un bicchiere di
11. I would like to reserve a table for two people this evening – Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per due persone per stasera
12. The bill, please – Il conto, per favore
13. Where’s the loo? – Dov’è il bagno?
Let’s stay safe though, guys!
14. I’m allergic to – Sono allergico (m) /a (f)
nuts alle noci
dairy products ai latticini
gluten al glutine
seafood ai frutti di mare
Italy’s major and smaller cities are well connected by train networks around the country which includes both regional and fast trains. More remote areas of Italy, however, may only be reachable by car or local bus services. Here are some phrases to get you moving!
15. I would like a return ticket to….. – Vorrei un biglietto andata e ritorno per…..
16. Excuse me, is this the train to Venice? – Mi scusi, questo è il treno per Venezia?
17. I would like to hire a car – Vorrei noleggiare una macchina
18. Where is St Mark’s Square on this map? – Dov’è Piazza San Marco su questa mappa?
Please note that before travelling on trains in Italy, tickets must be validated to avoid a fine!
Whether it be a fridge magnet of the pope or a miniature Leaning Tower of Pisa, everybody loves a souvenir. Italy has a good shopping scene, especially shoe and boutique shops. Here are some phrases to get you filling up your suitcases! Travel light, folks!
19. How much is it? – Quanto costa?
20. Can I pay by card? – Posso pagare con la carta di credito?
21. Can I have a bag? – Posso avere una borsa?
22. Can I try this on? – Posso provare questo?
Healthcare is accessible to European citizens with a valid EHIC card. If you need to visit a pharmacy, note that many are closed for a few hours for lunch. However, each area is required to supply the public with a pharmacy open in those hours on a rotational basis (this also applies overnight), called a farmacia di turno. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use these phrases, but here they are just in case!
23. I need to speak to a doctor that speaks English – Devo parlare con un dottore che parla Inglese
24. Where’s the nearest pharmacy? – Dov’è la farmacia più vicina?
25. Help! I need an ambulance! – Aiuto! Mi serve un’ambulanza!