Basic Italian Words & Phrases for Travelers
Knowing a few basic Italian words and phrases will make your trip to Italy even more enjoyable. Going to a country where your native language is not the primary language can be intimidating and a little bit scary.
Even the most experienced travelers can get a little panicky knowing they will not be hearing their language spoken for the next week or two. Not to worry, there are a number of easy things you can do to make sure you are understood in a foreign country, speaking louder is not one of them.
To get you started here are 10 basic Italian words and phrases:
Good Morning = Buongiorno = bwon jorno
Good Evening = Buonasera = bwona sayra
Do you speak English? = Parla inglese? = parla eengglaysay
I do not speak Italian = Non parlo italiano = non parlo eetaleeaano
Thank you = Grazie = grahtsyeh NOT grat-zee
Please = Per favore = pehr favoray
Please write it down = Lo scriva, per piacere = lo skreeva pehr peeachayray
Where is = Dov’è? = doveh (Dov’è la toeletta? Where is the bathroom?)
How much is that? = Quanto costa? = kwanto kosta
I’d like = Vorrei = vorrehee (used when ordering in a restaurant i.e. vorrei un caffè per favore, I would like a coffee please)
Want to learn more? Click here for our Italian medical emergency phrases that are helpful.
YouTube Video of Basic Italian Phrases:
I speak a little Italian and find Rick Steves Italian Phrase Book very helpful. Click here for pricing, a free preview and availability on Amazon.
I speak even less French and Spanish and find his phrase books for those languages even more useful when I visit those countries. In France and Spain I do a lot of pointing to words in my phrase book. Therefore, I know his books will come in handy if you are just getting started learning Italian.
Use Italian Written Words To Your Advantage
Keep in mind that it is easier to understand what people are saying when they write it down. This is especially true when you are asking for directions or need street names, but be reasonable, don’t expect someone to write out a full conversation.
I always keep an index card with important information: the name and address of my hotel and serious health conditions and allergies.
I happen to be allergic to penicillin, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. I would have no idea how to say that in a foreign language especially if I was about to go into anaphylactic shock.
If you are traveling with a child who is allergic to peanuts have a native speaker write that on two cards. You keep one card and keep the other card with your child, especially if they are very young. Show the card every time you order a meal so the restaurant can assure you that there are no peanuts in the food.
English is spoken in many places in Italy, but not everyone will speak English. It is rude to assume that someone speaks your language, so always ask. Remember you are a guest in their country. Important places like hospitals and hotels will have someone who speaks English and can help you out.
Be forewarned, Italians will often say they do not speak English very well and then proceed to speak beautifully. Knowing a few basic Italian words and phrases will make your trip more enjoyable.
Most importantly have fun with the language. Italians will appreciate whatever effort you put forth in trying to speak their language. You don’t need to speak in full sentences; a word here and there will generally get you what you need.