You do not have to speak Italian to enjoy your trip to Italy. However, knowing common Italian phrases will help enrich your travels in different ways. For one, it will improve your vocabulary and help you interact easily with locals. On top of that, you will confidently ask for directions or restaurant recommendations and avoid tourist traps!
Italian language is beautiful, and its native speakers take so much pride in their language and culture. For this reason, making an effort to speak Italian will make a great first impression on the locals and show your respect for the language. In turn, you could make a few friends and improve your overall experience.
Where do you start when you want to learn Italian for travel? You could try to memorize a book of phrases (not recommended) or take an online Italian lesson (highly recommended). No matter your chosen method, you’ll want to focus on practical phrases that you can use to navigate and interact during your visit.
These common Italian phrases will cover the basics of the Italian language and typical situations you will find yourself in during your travel.
Cominciamo! (Let’s get started!)
Essential Italian Phrases for Travel
Starting us off are basic Italian phrases you will encounter early on when learning Italian. These are:
Si – Yes
No – No
Per favore – Please
Grazie – Thank you
Grazie mille – Thank you very much
Prego – Welcome
Molto bene – Very well
Va bene – Okay
Scusa – Excuse me (informal)
Mi scusi – Excuse me (formal)
Forse – Maybe
Non lo so – I don’t know
Penso di no – I don’t think so
Ma certo! – Of course!
Mi dispiace – I’m sorry
Non capisco – I don’t understand
Parli inglese? – Do you speak English? (informal)
Parla inglese? – Do you speak English? (formal)
Non parlo Italiano – I don’t speak Italian
Ripeta, per fervore – Please repeat
Tranquillo – Don’t worry
Aspetta – Wait
How to Greet People and Introduce Yourself in Italian
Even if you are a complete beginner at speaking Italian, it’s important that you know how to greet Italians and introduce yourself. A simple hello to anyone you interact with will go a long way.
The rule of thumb is to use formal greetings on people you do not know (and older people) and informal greetings on friends.
Buongiorno – Good morning
Buonasera – Good evening
Buonanotte – Good night (said when going to bed)
Ciao – Hello, Bye (informal)
Arrivederci – Goodbye
Note: Although Buongiorno and Buonasera translate to good morning and good evening, these greetings are generally used in situations where English speakers would say Hello.
Mi chiamo – My name is …
Come ti chiami? – What is your name?
Come sta? – How are you? (formal)
Come stai? – How are you? (informal)
Come va? – How’s it going?
Piacere de conoscerti – Nice to meet you
How to Ask for Directions
Chances are you may need help locating a shop or restaurant on your trip to Italy, so it is essential to know how to ask and understand directions in Italian. The key phrases you need to know when asking for directions are:
Mi sono perso/persa – I am lost
Dov’e’? – Where is?
Dove sono – Where am I?
These questions are then followed by common Italian nouns like;
il museo – the museum
il bagno – the bathroom
il parco – the park
la stazione – the station
Other basic Italian words to help you understand directions:
Destra – Right
Sinistra – Left
Dritto – Straight
Entrata – Entrance
Uscita – Exit
Avanti – Forward
How to Ask for Restaurant Recommendations
Italy is the land of good food and great wine. But how do you ask for restaurant recommendations from locals, understand the menu, order your meal and ask for the bill?
Here are some food-related Italian words you need to master before visiting Italy.
Allergia – Allergy
Glutine – Gluten
Lattecini – Dairy
Il menu – the menu
Vino della casa – House wine
Antipasto – Appetizer
Primo – First course
Secondo – Second course
Dolci – Dessert
Il conto – The check(bill)
Mancia – tip
How to Ask for Help in Emergencies
You’ll need to know basic Italian words for travel emergencies, just in case. The common phrases you’ll need to master include:
Aiuto! – Help!
Sto male – I am sick
Scusi, dov’è una farmacia? – Sorry, where’s a pharmacy
Ho bisogno di medicine – I need medicines
Dov’è la stazione di polizia – Where is the police station?
Bonus: Italian Vocabulary for Shopping
A trip to Italy is incomplete without collecting a few souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones. Master these words to engage in basic conversations when shopping.
Quanto costa – How much is this?
Prezzo – Price
Carta di credito – Credit card
Tips to Help You Learn Italian for Travel
Practicing Italian will help improve your grammar and vocabulary. In turn, you will be more confident to start conversations with other Italian speakers.
Play out different travel scenarios
Learning Italian phrases for travel involves thinking of situations you may encounter and how both sides of the conversation would go. This will help you master Italian language and remember key phrases.
Contact Lingua Lunga!
I’m Alice, founder of Lingua Lunga Italian. This company started in 2022 after years of me teaching students like you Italian. I’ve had the opportunity to teach people to appreciate and learn this language in over 15 different countries.
Whether you are planning a trip to Italy next month or next year, I can help guide and prepare you to learn the Italian language through one-on-one virtual sessions.
Book a Free Call with me today to begin!