Before your trip to Italy it is a good idea to learn some key phrases in Italian to help you get by on your travels.
Language is a big part of Italian culture and being able to converse with people you meet in their native language will help you fully immerse yourself in the Italian experience.
Making the effort to learn some basic phrases is a courteous thing to do before visiting another country and is a respectful practice to get in the habit of doing.
Also, talking to people in their own language will allow you to connect with them on a level you wouldn’t be able to with a language barrier in the way. This will open up new experiences that would not be possible if you simply stuck to English.
In this guide we will break down the most useful phrases, important words and simple sentences to learn in Italian so you can communicate effectively while on your Italian adventures.
Basic Italian Phrases
First things first, let’s start with the absolute basic words and phrases that will be useful in many different situations when you are in Italy.
Learning these simple phrases will indicate that you have at least made some effort to learn Italian and that you recognise and respect the county you are in.
Note – the phonetic pronunciations of each of the words are provided after the Italian translations throughout the entirety of this guide so you can learn to speak like a local.
- Yes – Si – See
- No – No – Noh
- Please – Per favore – Pehr fah-voh-reh
- Thank you – Grazie – Grah-tsee-eh
- You’re welcome – Prego – Preh-goh
- Cheers! (To your health) – Salute! – Sah-loo-tay
- Excuse me (for attention) – Scusi – Skooh–zee
- Excuse me (to pass by) – Permesso – Pehr-mehs-soh
- Do you speak English? – Parla Inglese? – Parh-la een-glay-zeh
- I don’t understand – Non capisco – Non kah-pee-skoh
- I’m sorry – Mi dispiace – Mee dees-pyah-cheh
Common Greetings in Italian
Another easy way to immerse yourself in Italian culture and show some courtesy to the people you meet is learning some basic Italian greetings.
Greetings are often the first thing you say to people when you enter a conversation or when in a new situation and greeting someone in Italian is the best way to make a good first impression.
Regardless of whether you are fluent in Italian or not, simply saying a friendly greeting as you enter a shop or restaurant will go a long way to bridging a language barrier.
Of course, there are different levels of greetings depending on the situation you are in. You would use formal greetings with people you do not know, especially if they are older and informal ones with your friends.
- Good morning (formal) – Buon giorno – Bwohn-johr-noh
- Good afternoon (formal) – Buona sera – Bwoh-nah-seh-rah
- Good night (formal) – Buona notte – Bwoh–nah–noh–teh
- Hi / Bye (informal) – Ciao! – Chow
- Good bye (formal) – Arrivederci – Ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee
- My name is … – Mi chiamo – Mee kyah-moh
- What is your name? – Come si chiama? – Koh-meh see kyah-mah?
- Pleased to meet you – Piacere – Pyah-cheh-reh
- How are you? (formal) – Come sta? – Koh-meh stah?
- Good thank you – Bene grazie – Beh-neh grah-tsee-eh
How to Say Numbers in Italian
While you may not need to know all your Italian numbers for simply holidaying in Italy or traveling through the country, a good grasp of the basics will get you far.
Luckily Italian numbers are not too difficult to learn, especially if you studied a bit of French or Spanish at school.
Knowing your Italian numbers up to twelve will enable you to say all the hours of the day and help you get by in restaurants when ordering one, two, three or more pizzas!
- One – Uno – Oo-noh
- Two – Due – Doo-eh
- Three – Tre – Treh
- Four – Quattro – Kwah-troh
- Five – Cinque – Cheen-kweh
- Six – Sei – Say
- Seven – Sette – Seht-tey
- Eight – Otto – Oh-toh
- Nine – Nove – Noh-veh
- Ten – Dieci – Dee-EH-chee
- Eleven – Undici – Oon–dee-chee
- Twelve – Dodici – Doh-dee-chee
Telling the Time and Days of the Week
If you have studied the Italian numbers above and now know your hours of the day, learning other time-related phrases will level up your Italian even more.
Specifying morning, afternoon or evening when talking about the time will enable you to stick with the 12-hour clock and not have to learn numbers up to 24.
Once you have learnt these phrases you will be able to make plans for different days with friends, book a dinner reservation and tell others what you have been up to through the week.
- In the morning – Di Mattina – Dee mah-teen-ah
- In the afternoon – Di pomeriggio – Dee poh-meh-reed-joh
- In the evening – Di Sera – Dee seh–rah
- Noon – Mezzogiorno – Mehd-dzoh-johr-noh
- At what time? – A che ora? – Ah kay oar-ah?
- Nine o’clock in the morning – Le nove – Le noh-vay
- Eight o’clock in the evening – Le otto di sera / – Le ot-to dee seh-rah
- Monday – Lunedì – Loo-neh-dee
- Tuesday – Martedì – Mahr-teh-dee
- Wednesday – Mercoledì – Mehr-koh-leh-dee
- Thursday – Giovedì – Joh-veh-dee
- Friday – Venerdì – Veh-nehr-dee
- Saturday – Sabato – Sah-bah-toh
- Sunday – Domenica – Doh-meh-nee-kah
- Today – Oggi – Ohd-jee
- Yesterday – Ieri – Yeh-ree
- Tomorrow – Domani – Doh-mah-nee
Useful Phrases at Restaurants
It would be ridiculous to visit Italy and not go out to enjoy the world-famous cuisine.
In fact, whether you are picking a pizza at a pizzeria, choosing a coffee at a caffetteria or getting an ice cream at a gelateria, situations around food are likely to be the times that you interact with Italians the most.
Therefore, before you visit Italy it is a good idea to practice some restaurant and food-related vocabulary so you can order with ease when out and about.
- Can I see the menu please? – Il menu, per favore – Eel men-oo, pehr fah-voh-reh
- What do you recommend? – Che cosa ci consiglia? – Kay koh-za chee kon-seel-ya?
- I’m allergic to… – Sono allergica/o a… – Son-oh ah-ler-gee-koh / kah ah
- Gluten / Dairy / Fish – Glutine / Lattecini / Pesce – Gloo-teen-ay / Lah-tay-cheen-ee / Pesh-ay
- House wine – Vino della casa – Vee-noh del-lah car-sah
- Red / white wine – Vino rosso / bianco – Vee–noh ross-oh / bee-ahn-koh
- A glass / bottle – Una bicchiere / una bottiglia – OO-nah beek-kyeh-reh / boht-tee-lyah
- Appetizer – Antipasto – Ahn-tee-pah-stoh
- First course – Primo – Pree-moh
- Second course – Secondo – Sek-kon-doh
- Dessert – Dolci – Doll-chee
- Two flavors please – Due gusti, per favore – Doo-eh goo-stee, pehr fah-voh-reh
- Where’s the bathroom? – Dov’è il bagno? – Doh-veh eel bahn-yoh?
- The check (bill) please – Il conto, per favore – Eel kon-toh, pehr fah-voh-reh
- Can I pay by card? – Posso pagare con la carta? – Pohs-soh pah-gah-reh kon la cahr-tah?
Words to Know When You Are Visiting Museums
From the Romans to the renaissance, it is hard to escape Italy’s rich history and its outstanding contribution to art.
Chances are then that you will be visiting a fair few museums and galleries during your trip.
Therefore, it will certainly be useful to learn some phrases related to ticket types, opening times as well as common questions you may need to ask.
- When does it open / close? – Quando si apri / chiude? – Kwahn-doh see ah-pree / chee-oo-deh?
- Two adults / one child – Due adulti / un bambino – Doo-eh ah-dool-tee / oon bahm-bee-noh
- One / two ticket/s – Un / due biglietto/i – Oon beel-yet-toh / tee
- One senior – Un pensionato – Oon pen-seyoh-nah-toh
- One student – Uno studente – Ooh-noh stoo-den-teh
- Where is the bag store / cloak room? – Dov’è la guardaroba? – Doh-veh lah gard-ah-robe-ah?
Asking for Directions in Italian
If you are on an Italian road trip, are interrailing through the country or even just trying to find the nearest bar it is always useful to know phrases relating to directions.
Learning these phrases will enable you to easily get back on track when you have lost your way by simply asking a local passerby.
- Where is… ? – Dov’è…? – Doh-veh … ?
- Entrance – Entrata – En-trah-tah
- Exit – Uscita – Ooh-shee-tah
- Left – Sinistra – See–nee-stra
- Right – Destra – Deh-stra
- Straight ahead – Dritto – Dree-toh
- Forward – Avanti – Ah-vahn-tee
- Back – Dietro – Dee-et-roh
Useful Words for Transport and Getting Around
The majority of visitors to Italy will have to take a train, bus or taxi to get around at some point during their trip.
Learning the following basic phrases will come in handy when you need to ask for help to get to the correct platform or bus stand.
- Where is the train station? – Dov’è la stazione? – Doh-veh lah stah-tzee-oh-neh?
- Where is the bus stop? – Dov’è la fermata – Doh-veh lah fur-mah-tah?
- One / two ticket/s – Un / due biglietto/i – Oon beel-yet-toh / tee
- One way – Andata – Ahn–dah-tah
- Return – Ritorno – Ree-torn-oh
- What platform for Rome? – Da quale binario per Roma? – Dah kwah-lay bin-ah-rio pehr Roh-mah?
- Newsstand (for bus tickets) – Tabacchi – Tah-back-kee
Shopping Words in Italian
Since you might not want to eat out all the time during your stay in Italy, it is always good to know basic questions and phrases to use when doing some shopping.
- I would like… – Vorrei… – Vor-ray…
- How much is this? – Quanto costa questo? – Kwahn-toh kohs-tah kwehs-toh??
- OK I’ll take it – Va bene, lo prendo – Vah beh-neh, loh prehn-doh
- I don’t want it – Non lo voglio – Nohn loh voh-lyoh
- Can you ship to…? – Puoi spedire a? – Pwoy sped-ear-eh ah?
What to Say if You Need Help in Italian
Hopefully you won’t have to, but in worst-case scenarios you may need to call for help when a serious situation has occurred.
In these rare situations, time is of the essence and so you will want to be able to communicate clearly in Italian to get the message across to other people.
Learn these phrases just in case, if you do end up using them they could save a life!
- Help! – Aiuto! – Ay-oo-toh!
- I need a doctor – Ho bisogno di un dottore – Ho biz-ohn-nyo dee oon dot-tor-reh
- Call the police – Chiami la polizia – Kee-ya-mee la po-lee-zee-ah
- Look out! – Attento! – At–ten-toh
- Go away! – Vai via! – Vy vee-ah!
After studying and practicing the above phrases you will be more than prepared to enjoy your time in Italy.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, the above phrases are sure to come in handy during your travels to Italy.
From meeting new people to ordering food, or even asking for directions, having a couple of key phrases committed to memory will unlock new experiences and open you up to the wonderful people and culture that Italy has to offer.
So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets and get practicing with Italian people in Italy. You’ll soon be fluent in no time!