italian phrases for travellers

200+ Useful Italian phrases for travellers

As one of the most popular destinations, Italy is a dream vacation for many. Imagine yourself eating copious amounts of gelato and pizza or roaming the picturesque streets of Rome or Florence. What would make that experience even better? Being able to know some basic Italian phrases. 

While English is spoken by many in large cities, it’s not at common in smaller towns and the countryside. Don’t let that discourage you from ditching the large tourist spots and explore Italy off the beaten path. Most Italians appreciate you trying to speak their language which can come in very handy.

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Before getting into Italian phrases, let’s look at the language itself. The Italian alphabet consists of 21 letters and uses Roman characters. Unlike English, the letters j, k, w, x and y do not exist in Italian. You might see them used in some words, which means they were borrowed from other languages. You’re likely to see chilo as opposed to “kg” for kilograms when shopping for produce. These days, Italians frequently use some English words, like Facebook and okay in their vocabulary. 

In addition to the 65 million native speakers in Italy, Italian is one of the official languages spoken in Switzerland. San Marino and Vatican City also use Italian. It is also the second most spoken language in Argentina. Italian is also the second language of many immigrants all over the world including the US, Canada and Australia. 

Italian pronunciation is simple once you know what sounds go with specific letters. The vowels are common in Italian and sound very melodic.  “A” sounds like a in cat whereas the “E” and “O” pronunciation varies between open or closed depending on the word. “I” sounds more like ee in meet and “U” sounds like u in rule.

200+ Useful Italian phrases for travellers 2

The consonants have combinations that change with placement. “C” before “E” or “I” is pronounced tch like chin. However, “CH” is pronounced like “K” as in kit. “G” before “E” or “I” sounds more like “J” as in jet, while “GH” is pronounced like “G” in get. “GL” before “E” or “I” sounds like lli as in million. To add to the mix, “GN” is pronounced like ny in canyon whereas “SC” before “E” or “I” sounds more like sh.  “Z” is pronounced ds at the beginning of a sentence or ts in all other cases. 

Basic Italian phrases

Let’s start with some basic Italian phrases, including greetings and pleasantries.  

BuongiornoGood Day/Morning
Buona seraGood Evening
Buona notteGood Night 
Arrivederci Goodbye
Ciao Hello/Bye (informal) 
SalveHello/Bye (formal) 
Mi dispiaceI’m sorry 
Per favore Please
GrazieThank you
PregoYou’re welcome
Si Yes 
NoNo 
Come stai?How are you? (formal)
Come va?How are you? (informal)
Molto bene, grazieVery well, thank you
Come ti chiami?What’s your name?
Mi chiamo…My name is…
Piacere Nice to meet you

Useful Italian phrases

Here are some useful Italian phrases that will help you communicate with the locals. 

Parla Inglese?Do you speak English?
Non capisco I don’t understand 
 Lentamente, per favoreSlower please
Non lo soI don’t know
Mi scusiExcuse me (to get attention)
PermessoExcuse me (to get by in a crowd)
Dove?/Dov’è?Where/Where is…
Mi sono persoI am lost
Il bagnoBathroom
Quando?When?
Che ora è?What time is it?

Italian phrases – numbers

When it comes to usefulness, nothing beats numbers. Here is what you need to know.

Uno 1
Due 2
Tre3
Quattro 4
Cinque 5
Sei6
Sette7
Otto8
Nove 9
Dieci10
Undici 11
Dodici12
Tredici13
Quattordici14
Quindici15
Sedici16
Diciassette17
Diciotto18
Diciannove19
Venti20
Ventiuno21
Ventidue22
Trenta 30
Trentauno31
Trentadue32
Quaranta40
Cinquanta50
Sessanta60
Settanta70
Ottanta80
Novanta90
Cento100
Centouno101
Centodieci110
Duecento200
Cinquecento500
Mille1000
Cinquemila5000
Diecimila10,000

Italian phrases – days and months

Knowing days of the week and months will come in handy, especially if you want to find out when places are open or closed. 

IeriYesterday
OggiToday
Domani Tomorrow 
Dopo domani Day after tomorrow 
LunediMonday 
MartediTuesday
MercolediWednesday
GiovediThursday
VenerdiFriday
SabatoSaturday
DomenicaSunday 
GennaioJanuary 
FebbraioFebruary 
MarzoMarch
Aprile April 
Maggio May
Giugno June
Luglio July 
Agosto August
SettembreSeptember 
OttobreOctober 
NovembreNovember
DicembreDecember

Italian phrases for getting around & directions

Useful phrases for getting around Italy.

SinistraLeft
DestraRight
Gira a sinistra/destraTurn left/right 
DietroBehind/back
AvantiForward
DrittoStraight ahead
Davanti Across from 
SottoUnder
PrimaBefore
DopoPast/after
Entrata Entrance
UscitaExit 
Il trenoTrain
La stazione ferroviariaTrain station
La fermata dell’autobus Bus stop 
L’ufficio postalePost office
Il mercatoMarket
La farmaciaPharmacy
L’aeroportoAirport
Il volo Flight 
Il biglietto Ticket
L’orarioTimetable
La partenza Departure
Il bagaglio Baggage
Car Rentals in Rome Italy
L’ufficio informazioni Information office
Quando arriva lì? When does it arrive there?
Mi serve un taxi I need a taxi
Quanto costa la corsa? How much is the fare?
Mi piacerebbe andare a… I would like to go to…
Quanto dura il viaggio? How long does it take to get there?
Quando si apre? When does it open?
Quando si chiude? When does it close?
Biglietto/i Ticket/s
Due adulti Two adults
Un bambino One child
Uno studente One student
Un pensionato One senior
Museo Museum

Italian phrases for shopping

What you need to know for shopping in Italy.

Posso aiutarLa? / Mi dica? Can I help you?
Cerca qualcosa? What would you like? 
Posso guardare? May I look? 
Quanto costa? How much is it?
È troppo caro!  That’s very expensive! 
Mi fa uno sconto? Can you give me a discount? 
Lo compro!  I’ll take it! 
Altro? Anything else?
Nient’altro, grazie. Nothing else, thank you. 
Accettate carte di credito? Do you take credit cards? 
A che ora apre/chiude?What time do you open/close?
QuestoThis one 
Quello That one 
La tagliaSize (clothes)
Il numero Size (shoes) 
Un supermercatoSupermarket
FarmaciaPharmacy
PasticceriaPastry/bake shop
TabacchiTobacconist also sells bus tickets

Eating out and ordering food

Because you’re in Italy for the food.

Avete un tavolo per…?Do you have a table for…?
Vorrei prenotare un tavoloI would like to reserve a table 
ColazioneBreakfast
PranzoLunch
CenaDinner
Il contoBill
Il menu a prezzo fissoFixed price menu
Piatto del giornoDish of the day
L’antipastoStarter
Il primoFirst course
Il secondoMain course
Il dolceDessert
La lista dei viniWine list
Il bicchiereGlass
La bottigliaBottle
Il coltelloKnife
La forchettaFork
Il cucchiaioSpoon
É la salsa piccante?Is the sauce spicy?
Sono allergico/a a …I’m allergic (male/female) to…
Sono vegetariano/a I’m vegetarian (male/female)
Il conto, per favore The bill, please
Che cosa ci consiglia? What do you recommend? (formal)
Vino rosso/biancoRed/white wine
Una bottiglia di vino della casa, per favore Bottle of house wine please
La Birra/ due birre, per favoreBeer/two beers please
Una bottiglia di acqua naturale A bottle of still water
Una bottiglia di acqua gassataA bottle of sparking water
AgnelloLamb
AglioGarlic
Al fornoBaked
Alla grigliaGrilled
La bisteccaSteak
Il burroButter
Il cafféCoffee
La carneMeat
Carne dimaialePork
La cipollaOnion
Il formaggioCheese
Il fritto mistoMixed fried seafood
La fruttaFruit
Frutti di mareSeafood
I funghiMushrooms
I gamberiPrawns
Il gelatoIce cream
L’insalataSalad
Il latteMilk
Il manzoBeef
L’olioOil
Il paneBread
Le patatePotatoes
Il pesce Fish
Il polloChicken
Il pomodoroTomato
Il prosciuttoHam
Il riso Rice
La salsicciaSausage
Il tèTea
L’uovoEgg
Lo zucchieroSugar
La zuppaSoup

Italian phrases for emergencies

What you need to know in case of an emergency.

Aiuto! Help!
Ferma!Stop!
Chiama un medicoCall a doctor
Ho bisogno di un dottore I need a doctor 
Chiama un’ ambulanzaCall an ambulance
Chiama la poliziaCall the police
Chiama i vigili del fuocoCall the fire department 
Sono stato assalito/aI’ve been mugged (male/female)
Ho perso il mio passaporto I lost my passport
C’è stato un incidente There’s been an accident
Dov’è l’ambasciata americana / britannica / australiana / canadese?Where is the American/ British/ Australian/ Canadian embassy?
Mi sento male I feel sick 
Fa male quiIt hurts here
Attento! Watch out!
Ladro!Thief
Vai via!Go away

Additional thoughts on Italian phrases

While it might seem very daunting, Italian is easy to navigate once you get a hang of the pronunciation. Like many other languages, Italian distinguishes between masculine and feminine with articles like “il” and “la.” Many of the adjectives also distinguish between the male and female subject with -o ending for male (americano) and -a ending for female subjects (americana).

Once you are in Italy, you’ll find that the words will slowly make sense, especially when you see them written down. This guide is meant to get you started with Italian phrases. You might even find that you want to learn even more. We encourage you to seek out courses and tutors to help you with that. After all, Italian is a beautiful language and knowing even the basics can transform your Italian adventure. 

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