10 Essential Italian Travel Phrases You’ll Need to Know

I wrote this blogpost shortly after landing back in the US after my mom and I’s spontaneous trip to Italy this past September. Although we can’t currently travel to this beautiful country, it is a perfect time to slowly learn these 10 Essential Italian Travel Phrases You’ll Need to Know on your next trip!

After traveling through Italy several times in just the past few years, I’ve learned a lot from experience of what to say and what not to say. Often times, it can be scary traveling in a country that doesn’t speak your language – but let me tell you, Italians are some of the nicest individuals I’ve met!

~ Fun fact: I’ve been slowly self-teaching myself the beautiful Italian language. It’s actually funny though because I toke Spanish classes all through middle school and high school, even took a course my freshmen year in college! However, I could never grasp the Spanish language. Honestly, I probably remember only 1-2 sentences. lol However, it’s the complete opposite with the Italian language (yet they are so similar!) I adore speaking Italian. ~

#1 Ciao!

This is a common, informal greeting in Italy. It can be used for both “hi” and “goodbye.” Simple enough!

Similarly …

“good morning” is Buon Giorno (commonly used until past lunchtime)

“good evening” is Buona Sera (less commonly used)

“good night” is Buona Notte

#2 Lei parla inglese?

If you only know a few words in Italian, then stash this go-to phrase in your back pocket. It translates to “Do you speak English?”

Similarly …

“I don’t speak Italian” is Non parlo Italiano

#3 Come va?

This is an informal way to say, “How are you?”

My first two times traveling to Italy, I would walk into a store or market and begin with “Ciao, come va?” (…always be polite, just like you would in America.) After their response, I would follow up with “Lei para inglese?” The majority of times, Italians can recognize Americans and begin speaking English; however, this is a polite and respectful way to show that you are trying.

Common responses may be:

“Very well, thank you” is Molto bene, grazie

“I’m not well” is Non sto bene (or) Sto male

“And you?” is é tu?

#4 Dov’è …

It translates to “Where is …”

This phrase is helpful when navigating your way through the city. However, if you don’t understand their directions, then politely ask “lei para inglese?” If you’re in a major city, then you will often find Italians that speak phenomenal English.

Similarly…

“Turn right” is Gira a destra

“Turn left” is Gira a sinistra

#5 Vorrei …

It translate to “May I have …”

This is perfect when ordering food or asking for a scrumptious pastry at the market.

#6 Grazie

This simply translate to “thank you.” (Pronounced gra-zee)

Similarly …

“You’re welcome” is Prego

“I’m sorry” is Mi dispiace

“Ok” is Va bene

#7 Mi Scusi

If you’re traveling through crowded streets or need to grab the attention of your waiter, pop out this “Excuse me” phrase!

#8 Parli lentamente, per favore.

It translates to “Please speak slowly.”

This phrase is very helpful when you are in a rural, countryside town where few locals speak English. Often times, it may even just be broken English. But no fear! Use your gut instincts to figure out what they are saying by asking them to speak slower.

Similarly …

“Please repeat” is Ripeta, per favore

#9 Fermi qui, per favore.

Translates to “Please stop here.” This is a key phrase if you plan on taking taxis or Ubers in the cities.

#10 Quanto costa?

Translates to “How much?” If you are at a local market (majority of cities hold a flea/farmers market every Saturday during warmer months, this phrase can come in handy.

Maybe carry along a little notecard with the Italian numbers translated…

(1) uno, (2) due, (3) tre, (4) quattro, (5) cinque, (6) sei, (7) sette, (8) otto, (9) nove, (10) dieci, (11) undici, (12) dodici, (13) tredici, (14) quattordici, (15) quindici, (16) sedici, (17) diciassette, (18) diciotto, (19) diciannove, (20) venti, (21) ventiuno, (30) trenta, (40) quaranta, (50) cinquanta, (60) sessanta, (70) settanta, (80) ottanta, (90) novanta, (100) cento

That’s it! You’re on your way to learning the beautiful Italian language! ’till next time! xxL

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