With its beautiful architecture, rich history, and delicious food, Italy is a popular destination for vacationers. Whether you’re traveling to Italy for business or leisure, learning a few basic Italian phrases will make your trip go much more smoothly. Here are some essentials for anyone who plans to spend time in an Italian-speaking country.
Before reviewing the items on this list, it’s a good idea to brush up on your pronunciation of Italian. The bad news is that this involves the notoriously tricky rolled R. The good news is that, unlike English, Italian is a phonetic language: all Italian words are pronounced exactly as they’re spelled.
Just like other Romance language, Italian has two forms of “you” — an informal one, and a polite one. For the sake of this list, we’ll use the polite forms, as doing so minimizes the risk of offending anyone.
Hello/Goodbye – Ciao
Thank you – Grazie
You’re welcome – Prego
Please – Per favore
Excuse me – Mi scusi
I’m sorry – Mi dispiace
What’s your name? – Come si chiama?
I don’t speak Italian – Non parlo italiano.
Do you speak English? – Parla inglese?
Speak slowly, please. – Parli piano, per favore.
Please repeat that. – Ripeta, per favore.
Where’s the bathroom? – Dov’è la toilette?
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At the restaurant
If you’re in Italy, you’d better take advantage of their famously tasty cuisine. Here are some useful words and phrases that you’ll use at a restaurant.
Restaurant – il ristorante
Food – il cibo
Wine – il vino
Table – il tavolo
Menu – il menù
Plate – il piatto
Knife – il coltello
Fork – la forchetta
Spoon – il cucchiaio
Napkin – il tovagliolo
Breakfast – la colazione
Lunch – il pranzo
Dinner – la cena
Dessert – i dolci
A table for two, please. – Un tavolo per due, per favore.
Can I see the menu? – C’è un menù per bambini?
What do you recommend? – Cosa ci consiglia?
Navigating public transit
Finding your way around an unfamiliar public transportation system isn’t easy. Here are some useful words related to transportation and directions.
Car – l’automobile
Bus – l’autobus
Train – il treno
Subway/Metro – la metropolitana
Street – la strada/la via
Right (direction) – destra
Left (direction) – sinistra
Ahead – dritto
Close to – vicino a
I’m lost. – Mi sono perso if the speaker is male; Mi sono persa if the speaker is female
How do I get to . . . – Come si arriva a . . . ?
Where’s the subway? – Dov’è la metropolitana?
When it comes to learning the basics of a new language, a little goes a long way. Even if your accent isn’t quite perfect, these phrases will help you communicate more readily with Italians, and can save you from some embarrassing situations.
Of course, there’s no better way to prepare for your travels to Italy than to take personalized courses from a native Italian speaker, whether you’re looking for quick survival classes or more in-depth study. Send us a quick inquiry to find out how we can best help you learn Italian.