So you’re planning a trip to Italy, but you don’t know even the most basic Italian words and phrases? This could be a problem.
Learning a language can be overwhelming. The good news is you don’t need to speak fluent Italian.
At the very least you really need to learn the very basics, they can go a long way. Things like greetings, how to ask for directions and how to order food & drink.
At the time of writing this we are actually house sitting in Rome! Before coming here we did not know any Italian, and to be honest we struggled. We have made a big effort to learn Italian and have found Rome much, much more enjoyable!
Bear in mind, if you’re travelling to touristy areas, it is highly likely people will speak English.
However, this is not always the case, and Italians appreciate it very much if you simply try to speak their language (even if you are terrible). They are very friendly and willing to help you, even if they don’t understand you.
The below Italian words and phrases, paired with smiles and gestures, are sure to benefit you during your stay in Italy!
Essential Italian Words and Phrases
Hello/Goodbye – Ciao (Chow)
Good day (appropriate any time before 5 PM) – Buongiorno (Bwahn jore-noh)
Good evening (use after 5 PM) – Buonasera (Bwahn-uh-Sarah)
Thank you – Grazie (Grat-see-eh)
You’re welcome/go ahead – Prego (just how it sounds)
*Can I have ….? – Posso avere…? (Posso uh-vare-eh)
*Questo – This (Kwes-toe)
How much (in reference to cost)? – Quanto costa? (kwan-toe cose-tuh)
**One coffee, please. – Un caffe, per favore. (Oon kaff-eh, pea- fuh-vore-eh)
Where is the bathroom? – Dov’è il bagno? (Dove-eh eel banyo?)
Simple Day to Day Conversation:
What is your name? – Come ti chiami? (comb-eh tee kee-ahm-ee?)
My name is _____. – Il mio nome è _______. (Eel mee-oh nome-eh eh ______)
Nice to meet you – Piacere (pee-uh-chair-eh)
Excuse me (formal) – Scusi (Skoo-zee)
I’m sorry – Mi dispiace (Mee dee-spee-ach-eh)
Have a good day! – Buona giornata! (Bwahn-uh jore-not-uh)
Have a good evening! – Buona Serata! (Bwahn-uh sare-awe-tuh)
I don’t understand – Non capisco (Non kuh-pee-skoh)
I don’t speak Italian – Non parlo Italiano (Just like it sounds)
Do you speak English? – Parla Inglese? (Parla Een-gleh-zay?)
*Pair these two phrases together to make a full sentence: Can I have this? I typically use this phrase to order food at a restaurant if I can’t pronounce the name of the dish. “Posso avere questo?” paired with pointing can get you many things!
**Remember, a “caffe” in Italy refers to a shot of espresso. If you want a long coffee, asked for “un caffe Americano”. If you want a cappuccino, asked for “un cappuccino”. If you want an espresso with some milk, as for “un caffe macchiato”.
Well, there you have it! These 20 phrases will have you sounding like an Italian in no time. Remember, Italians are very friendly and they appreciate the simple gesture of attempting to speak Italian.