Whilst it is not necessary for you to know any Italian before you travel to Italy (you will find that English is spoken widely in the major cities), you may have difficulty finding English speakers in the smaller towns and villages that are rarely frequented by tourists. Therefore, it may make you feel more comfortable if you are familiar with some of the basics. This also will have the added benefit of making you feel like you’re more submerged in the Italian culture…even if it’s only a few words to the waiter…you will feel proud of that caffe macchiato you ordered and it will taste all the better!
Here are some of the most important words and phrases that will definitely come in handy…..you’ll thank us later!!!
Ciao – you will hear this a lot. Informal ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. You may even find
that you’re so used to saying by the end of your trip that when you get home you
will be greeting everyone with a ‘Ciao!!!’
Buongiorno – Good Morning. This is used until around 4pm.
Buonasera – Good Evening. Used after 4pm
Buonanotte – Good Night. This is usually used when going to bed or when
leaving someone after 9 or 10pm
Salve – Hello. More formal than Ciao, less formal than Buongiorno.
Arrivederci – Formal/polite Goodbye. Use this when you leave a shop or
Come stai? – How are you?
Sto bene, grazie – I’m good, thank you
Please, thank you and you’re welcome, are the most important phrases to have to
hand in any language. Even if that’s all you know, it will go a long way.
Per favore – Please
Grazie – Thank you.
Grazie Mille – Literally this translates as ‘a thousand thanks’ and is used
like ‘thanks a million’ in English.
Prego – You’re welcome. This is one of those words that has a few different
meanings and you will probably hear it quite a lot. You may hear it in a
restaurant or bar where the host will say ‘prego’ in this sense meaning ‘go
ahead…have a seat, a shop owner may say it in the sense of ‘welcome….come on
in…’, if someone opens a door for you they may say it in the sense of ‘after you’.
Mi scusi/ Mi scusa (formal) – Excuse me
Other useful phrases
Non parlo italiano – I don’t speak Italian
Parla inglese? – Do you (formal) speak English? This is a good follow up
question to non parlo italiano.
Parli inglese? – Do you (informal) speak English?
Si – Yes
No – No
Mi chiamo…. – My name is…..
Dove? – Where?
Dov’e…..? – Where is……. Use this when asking directions to a certain street or
Va bene? – You may hear people ask you this, meaning ‘how is it going…is it
going well….?’ To which you can reply ‘si…bene grazie’.
Mi piace – I like…
Non mi piace – I don’t like…
Vorrei – I would like…
Posso avere – Can I have…
Quanto costa? – How much does it cost?
Il conto per favore – The bill please
Bagno – Bathroom
Accettate carte di credito? – Do you accept credit cards?
To help you on your travels
Stazione – Train Station
Aeroporto – Airport
Fermata dell’autobus – Bus Stop
Albergo – Hotel
Ospedale – Hospital
Pronto Soccorso – Emergency Room
Farmacia – Pharmacy
Museo – Museum
Biglietteria – Ticket Office
Abbiamo una prenotazione – We have a booking
Aria condizionata – Air conditioning
Passaporto – passport
Biglietto – ticket
Prenotare – reservation
Valigia – suitcase
Zaino – backpack
Borsa – bag
Per favore, tre biglietti per Roma – Three tickets to Rome please
Andata e ritorno – Round-trip
Solo andata – One way
Quanto e il biglietto? – How much is the ticket?
Avete sconti per gli student? – Do you have a discount for students?
A che ora parte? – At what time does it leave?
Quale binario? – What track?
When travelling by train in Italy you must remember to validate your ticket
before boarding the train. Failure to do so may result in a fine.