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If you’re planning on visiting Italy then it’s a good idea to learn some key words and sentences. In this guide to basic Italian phrases for travel, we step you through the most useful ways to communicate on your trip to Italy. After all, language is a big part of Italian culture and you want to experience it all, am I right?
Making an effort to understand and speak Italian on your trip is not simply a matter of respect – although we think this is very important too. When you talk to people in their language they appreciate it and experiences open up to you that would not have been possible if you had been speaking English.
So let’s get started with the common Italian phrases and words that will be most useful to you on your travels.
Basic Italian phrases
When you visit Italy, these are the most common words and phrases that will demonstrate you have made some effort to speak the local language. Learning these useful Italian words will help you talk to all manner of people during your trip.
Note – We’ve provided a phonetic pronunciation guide after the Italian translation for each word. If you really want to get the accent right a little extra study is recommended. We’ve provided some useful resources at the end of this article.
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
One thing we really love about visiting Italy is the cultural differences and norms. In Italy, saying “good morning” is not simply a throwaway line. You should always greet people wherever you go – when entering a shop or restaurant, to hotel staff, on the bus or at a cultural sight. It’s the expected thing to do.
A friendly “buon giorno!” with a smile will go a long way. So here are the most common greetings and their context so you get it right! Generally you use the formal with people you don’t know, especially older people. The informal is used between 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(Video) Top 10 Italian Phrases for Travel you NEED to know 🇮🇹[Italian for Beginners]
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-nehgrah-tsee-eh
Learn to speak the Italian you need for your trip in 2 weeks with the super quick method created by our friends at the Intrepid Guide > click here for details
How to say NUMBERS IN ITALIAN
While you don’t need to be able to count to 100, a good grasp of numbers up to 12 at least (for the hours of the day) will stand you in good stead. After all, you need numbers when you’re at a restaurant – una pizza per favore! (a pizza please!); at a museum –
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
To learn more about counting in Italian click here
Telling the time and days of the week
Here are the basics of telling time in Italian plus days of the week and other useful sentences for making reservations and plans. Italians generally use a 24 hour clock but also understand the 12 hour clock if you specify morning and afternoon.
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
Want to speak more Italian?
Check out our review of Rocket Italian, one of the best online courses for learning Italian.
Useful phrases at restaurants
No your Italy trip includes a plan to enjoy a few meals at restaurants. And we’re sure ordering a gelato or two is also high on your list. Let’s get you ready with these essential Italian phrases you need for ordering food or at restaurants. These may be the times that you interact with Italians the most so practise your greetings too!
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(Video) Most Important Phrases to Study before you travel to Italy
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
Visiting museums and attractions is a big part of many Italian itineraries. In this section we’ve given you some useful phrases in Italian to help you buy tickets and ask common questions.
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– Oonbeel-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 get lost or need help with directions, these helpful words in Italian will come in handy.
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
Right – Uno studente – Ooh-noh stoo-den-teh
Straight ahead – Dritto – Dree-toh
Forward – Avanti– Ah-vahn-tee
Back – Dietro – Dee-et-roh
Useful words for transport and getting around
Most visitors to Italy will need to take a train or bus, or ride in a taxi. These phrases will be useful in these situations when it is likely you may need to ask for help to reach the right platform or bus stop.
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– Oonbeel-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?
Newstand (for bus tickets) – Tabacchi– Tah-back-kee
Shopping words in Italian
Time to go shopping! Make sure you’re ready with these key ph
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…? – Quanto costa questo?–Kwahn-toh kohs-tah kwehs-toh??
What to say if you need help in Italian
We hope you never need to use these phrases but it’s a good idea to know them “just in case”.
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!
Want to get beyond basic Italian phrases for travel?
These days there are a wealth of resources to help you learn Italian. You can use handy apps, books and podcasts to get started and we outlined some of the best of these in this article.
But, if you want to construct your own sentences and perfect your accent, a systematic approach with a proven method will help you make progress quickly. After much trial and error, we enjoy using Rocket Italian. This online course combines verbal cultural situation lessons with grammar and vocabulary to get you speaking Italian quickly. My accent also. improved significantly thanks to the voice recognition tasks.
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14 Italian words you are getting WRONG! [Italian Pronunciation]
Here are some basic phrases and courtesies to help you get by in Italy: Greetings. Know how to say "buongiorno" (bwohn-JOR-noh) for "good morning" or "good day"; "buonasera" (BWOH-nah-SAY-ra) for "good evening"; and "arrivederci" (ah-ree-vay-DEHR-chee) for goodbye (obligatory when you leave a shop or restaurant).
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Learning those 1000 words would give you a huge head start in becoming fluent in Italian. Statistically speaking, having these 1000 words in your Italian vocabulary, would mean you would know close to 9 out of 10 words in every Italian conversation. Understanding most Italian conversations would be a breeze.
Hello, my love!
"what do you want?"), alternatively described as ma che vuoi?, ma che dici?/ma che stai dicendo? ("what are you talking about?"), or simply che? ("what?"), is one of the best known hand gestures of Italy. In English, it is sometimes referred to as "pinched fingers" or "finger purse" (Italian: mano a borsa).
- Buongiorno Signore = Good morning sir.
- Buongiorno Signora = Good morning madam.
- Buongiorno Signorina = Good morning miss.
- Buongiorno a tutti = Good morning everyone.
- Buongiorno a te / a voi = Good morning to you / to you all.
The common verbal greeting is “Ciao” (Hello). This is quite casual. People may also say “Buongiorno” (Good day) or “Buonasera” (Good evening) to be more formal. Address a person by their title and last name, and continue to do so until invited to move to a first-name basis.
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Hello in Italian – formal
A more formal way to say hello in Italian and the Italian word for hello you will use the most on your travels is 'buongiorno'.