Since visiting Italy, people often ask me questions about how to make the most of their next trip.A question I frequently get is "Do I need to speak Italian to visit Italy?".
You don't need to speak Italian to visit Italy. Most Italians who work in tourist destinations such as hotels, restaurants, airports, and train stations speak English. They are used to interacting with Americans visiting Italy and can easily switch from Italian to English.
However, if you want to get the most out of your trip to Italy, I recommend learning a few key words and phrases. Italians are usually extremely kind and appreciative when we try to speak their language.
Even if it is a simple "Thank you" or "Hello".
But why stop there?
Learning a little Italian can help you enjoy Italy
If you really want to feel connected and take your Italian experience to the next level, spend some time before your trip to learn some Italian.
You won't master the language in a few months, as some "experts" claim, but you'll be amazed at how much you can learn with a little time and effort.
How impressed will your fellow travelers be when you order your food in Italian?
Lost in a small town and can't find someone who speaks English?
Knowing a few driving questions and phrases can save lives.
How to learn a little Italian for traveling
There are numerous online Italian language resources that can be accessed from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
Do you commute to work?
If so, why not spend that time listening to aItalian podcast for beginners.
Are you currently watching a full season of Stranger Things on Netflix?
Why not replace an episode with aYouTube video in Italian?
While you don't need to be fluent in Italian to enjoy your Italian vacation, knowing some of the following key words and simple Italian phrases will help you adjust during your trip to Italy.
Simple Italian phrases for traveling
Being able to greet and introduce yourself in Italian is easier than you might think as a beginner. Try these simple greeting phrases for Italians and you'll be on your way to making new friends.
- hello (informal) – hello
- Hello (formal) – Save
- Goodbye (informal) – Ciao
- Goodbye (formal) – Arriverderci
- good morning Good Morning
- good night Good Night
- Good night Good Night
- My name is - My name is
- What is your (informal) name? – Do you come chiami?
- What is your (formal) name? - Come if chiama?
Courtesy Phrases in Italian for Travelers
Being polite is always good no matter what language you are using. These phrases will help you maintain good manners during your visit to Italy:
- And and
- Thank you - Grazie
- Welcome – Prego
- Please please
- I don't speak Italian - I don't speak Italian
- excuse me - excuse me
- Speak English? - Speak English?
- How are you? – Is this coming?
- As you say? - Come if chiama?
Interrogative words in Italian for travelers
Whether you're in Rome looking for gelato or Milan asking for directions, being able to ask questions in Italian can come in handy.
Here are some keywords for questions that will help you.
- What? - What what? / What?
- Where? - Pigeon?
- Who? – Chi?
- Where? - Pigeon?
- What? - To come?
- Because? - Because?
Ordering two espressos for you and your partner in Florence? Looking for a table for four in Naples? Knowing your Italian numbers can be useful in many situations.
- 1 one
- 2 - due
- 3 three
- 4 (four
- 5 – cinco
- 6 – Being
- 7 – Define
- 8 – Otto
- 9 - Nuevo
- 10 – December
Italian phrases to use in restaurants and bars
If you have never been to Italy before, you are in for a surprise. Italian food is one of the best in the world.
A few things to keep in mind about eating and drinking in Italy:
- Dinner: Italians eat late. Usually most restaurants don't open until 7 p.m. m. and most Italians don't eat dinner until 9 p.m. m. and they stay in the restaurant much longer than Americans.
- Bars – When you see a bar sign in Italy, know that they are not like bars here in the United States. In Italy, bars are places not only to have a drink, but also to have a coffee, have breakfast or a quick bite to eat. They are informal places for both locals and tourists.
- Coffee: When ordering an espresso, just say "un caffe". Italians don't ask with the word espresso. Speaking of coffee, if you want to mix with the locals, don't order a cappuccino after breakfast. Italians never drink cappuccino after a meal and may give you strange looks if you order one in the afternoon.
- Tipping – Unlike in the US, tipping is not as common in Italy. Do not feel obligated to do this unless you feel you have received exemplary service.
Reading a menu and ordering in Italian can be challenging, but here are some words and phrases to help you out in restaurants, bars, and cafes in Italy:
- I would like to - Vorrei
- A glass of - A glass of
- A bottle of - A bottle of
- A cup of - A cup of
- Cerveza – Beer
- Vino tinto – Red wine
- Vino blanco – White wine
- A coffee – A coffee
- Stagnant water – Natural water
- sparkling water - sparkling water
- The menu, please
- What do you recommend? : What do you suggest?
- Check please - Invoice please
Italians are serious about their fashion style, which is why they are some of the most stylish people in the world.
So a trip to Italy without trying out some of their latest styles would be a mistake.
These phrases will help you in Italian clothing stores:
- You've got…? - Bird…?
- How much is this? - How much is it?
- I need - My serve
- Shirt - Shirt
- Zapatos – Escarpment
- Pants – Pants
- dress – dress
- too tight - too tight
- Too loose - too loose
- I like I like
- I don't like - I don't like
Request information while traveling in Italy
Italy can be a confusing place to navigate at times.
Are you going to Venice? In that case, you will get lost several times during your visit.
Don't worry. Venice is a small island, so you can always find your way back to your hotel or next destination.
But wouldn't it be easier if you could ask for directions in Italian?
Knowing these keywords and phrases will help.
- Where is? - Where
- Left – Sinister
- Sure sure
- In front of – Davanti
- Beside - Accanto
- close close
- Very far
- Street street
- Church – Church
- Square - Square
- park - park
- Museum – Museum
- train station – station
- airport - airport
How to ask for help in Italy
We hope your trip to Italy is accident free and you never have to call for help or find yourself in an emergency situation.
However, if you do, knowing these words and phrases can be the most helpful of all.
- Aid! - Aid!
- doctor - doctor
- ambulance - ambulance
- Call the police - Call the police
- I feel bad - Mi sento male
- Call an ambulance - Call an ambulance
- Pharmacy – Pharmacy
Is it difficult to communicate in Italy?
Communication in Italy for English speakers is generally not difficult. Many Italians speak some English, but even if they don't, you should be able to navigate these situations. If you are in this case, use hand gestures and speak in short sentences. This will work more often than you think.
Is it expensive to visit Italy?
Visiting Italy can be affordable if you plan it well. The most important thing to know is that if you're traveling in the off-season (November through March), you'll typically see huge savings on travel and hotel prices. For example, I saw that the same hotel room cost $85 in January and $300 in June.
By: Frank De Pino
Frank DePino is one of the co-founders of LearnItalianGo. He frequently travels to Italy and has been studying Italian for years.