99 Useful Italian Words and Phrases
Now that you’ve bought the planet ticket and booked your dream villa, it’s time to start thinking about learning the language. English is not widely spoken throughout Italy; although you’ll find that those who work in the tourism industry (shops, restaurants, museums) generally speak and understand it well. Also, you could probably get away with speaking English to young Italians. However, knowing a bit of Italian can make a good impression and even polite phrases like “good morning”, “thank you” and “excuse me” will go a long way.
Study these 99 useful Italian words and phrases and you’ll have everything you need for your that Italian trip of a lifetime!
Greetings and Courtesies
Learning greetings and courtesies is considered to be polite tourist behavior no matter what country you’re in. These are probably the most important phrases you could learn.
Salve! (sal-vay) – Hello (any time of day)
Buongiorno (bon-jour-no) – Good morning
Buon pomeriggio (bon po-mer-eej-jio) – Good afternoon
Buonasera (bon-a-se-ra) – Good evening
Buonanotte (bona-no-tay) – Good night
Grazie (gra-tsee-a) – Thank you
Mi chiamo… (mee kee-amo) – My name is…
Sono americano / canadese / inglese (so-no am-er-ee-kah-no / kan-a-day-say / een-glay-say) – I’m American / Canadian / English
Lei, di dov’è? (lay dee do-vay?) – Where are you from?
Piacere (pee-a-cheray) – Nice to meet you
Come va? (ko-me vaa) – How are you?
Arrivederci! (ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee) – Goodbye! (Formal)
Ciao! (chow) – Hello! and Good-bye! (Informal)
Per favore (pehr fah-voh-reh) – Please
Prego. (pray-go) – You’re welcome
Niente – (nee en te) – It’s nothing (similar to your welcome, but less formal)
Permesso? (pehr-mehs-soh) – Excuse me (this is the common expression when trying to get by, for example, through a crowded train)
When you first meet a native speaker, you might want to establish early on that you are not fluent in their language. This way, they are understanding of you from the beginning.
Non parlo italiano. (nohn pahr-lo ee-ta-lee-a-no) – I don’t speak Italian.
Parla inglese? (pahr-la een-glay-say) – Do you speak English?
Non capisco. (nohn ka-pees-ko) – I don’t understand.
Non lo so (nohn lo so) – I don’t know
No matter how much you prepare for your excursions, at some point during your trip you’re going to get lost. So you’ll need to know how to ask for directions.
Si gira a destra (see jee-raa a deh-strah) – Turn right
Si gira a sinistra (see jee-raa a see-nee-strah) – Turn left
Si va diritto (see vah – dee-ree-toh) – Go straight ahead
Vicino (vee-chee-noh) – Near
Lontano (lohn-tah-no) – Far
Dov’è…? (do-vay…?) – Where is…?
At some point during your trip, you might need to find directions to these places:
Il museo (eel moo-say-oh)
Il supermercato (eel su-pehr-mehr-ka-toh) – Supermarket
La stazione (la stah-tsyoh-nay) – Train station
L’ospedale (lohs-pay-dah-lay) – Hospital
La stazione di polizia (la stah-tsyoh-nay dee poh-lee-tzee-ah) – Police station
Il ristorante (eel ree-stoh-rahn-tay) – Restaurant
Il Bagno (eel bah-yno)- Bathroom
And, if you do find yourself in a cab, tell the driver to pull over with this line:
Fermi qui, per favore. (fehr-mee qwee, pehr fah-voh-reh) – Please stop here.
Getting around on local transportation won’t be difficult with these handy phrases!
Andiamo (ahn-dee-ah-mo) – Let’s go
Biglietto (bil-yetti) – Ticket
Dov’è la stazione? (doh-veh lah stah-tsyoh-neh) – Where is the station?
Vorrei andare a…. (vo-ray an-da-ray a _) – I want to go to….
A che ora parte il prossimo treno/autobus per ___? What time is the next train/bus to _ ?
(a kay oh-ra par-tay eel pros-see-mo tray-no / auw-to-boos per _?)
Quanto costa? (kwan-to kos-ta?) – How much is it?
1 biglietto / 2 biglietti per…. (oon bil-yeto / doo-ah bil-yetti per…) – 1 ticket / 2 tickets for…
Quanto dura il viaggio? (kwan-to doo-ra eel vi-ahj-o) – How long does it take?
Food / Drink
No journey to Italy is complete until you’ve tried some local cuisine. Whether you’re ordering another bottle of wine in a lavish restaurant or a cone of gelato from a local shop, these phrases will be useful.
Potrei avere il menu, per favore? (pot-ray a-vay-ray eel me-noo, per fa-vo-ray?) – Can I have the menu, please?
Cosa mi consiglia? (ko-sa mee kon-sihl-ya?) – What do you recommend?
Quanto viene? (kwahn-toh vyeh-neh) – How much does it come to?
Ci fa il conto, per favore?/Ci porta il conto? (chee fah eel kohn-toh pehr fah-voh-reh/chee pohr-tah eel kohn-toh) – Will you bring us the bill please?
Un tavolo per uno / due, per favore (oon ta-vo-lo per oo-no / doo-ay, per fa-vo-ray?) – A table for one / two please
Cos’è questo? (ko-say kwes-to?) – What’s this?
Il conto, per favore (il kon-to, per fa-vor-ay) – The check, please
Mi scusi! (mee skoo-see) – Excuse me! (Calling a waiter)
Colazione (Ko-la-tsyoh-nay) – Breakfast
Pranzo (prahn-tsyoh) – Lunch
Cena (chay-nah) – Dinner
Vino (vee-noh) – Wine
Birra (beer-rrah) – Beer
Cono (koh-noh) – Cone
Coppa (kohp-pah) – Cup
Con panna (con pahn-nah) – With whipped cream
Gusto (goo-stoh) – Flavor
Whenever you pay for anything, you’re going to need to get familiar with numbers. Here are the first 20.
uno (oo-no) – one
due (doo-way) – two
tre (tray) – three
quattro (kwa-tro) – four
cinque (cheen-kway) – five
sei (say)– six
sette (set-tay) – seven
otto (ot-to) – eight
nove (no-vay) – nine
dieci (dee-ay-chee) – ten
undici (oon-dee-chee) – eleven
dodici (do-dee-chee) – twelve
tredici (tray-dee-chee) – thirteen
quattordici (kwa-tor-dee-chee) – fourteen
quindici (kween-dee-chee) – fifteen
sedici (say-dee-chee) – sixteen
diciassette (dee-ch-a-set-tay) – seventeen
diciotto (dee-ch-ot-to) – eighteen
diciannove (dee-cha-no-vay) – nineteen
venti (ven-tee) – twenty
Never miss a tour or an event, when you learn the days of the week and the times of the day. A fun fact is that the days of the week are never capitalized in Italian.
Oggi (ohj-jee) – today
Domani (doh-mah-nee) – tomorrow
Dopodomani (doh-poh-doh-mah-nee) – day after tomorrow
Ieri (yeh-ree) – yesterday
domenica (doh-meh-nee-kah) – Sunday
lunedì (looh-neh-dee) – Monday
martedì (mahr-teh-dee) – Tuesday
mercoledì (mehr-koh-leh-dee) – Wednesday
giovedì (joh-veh-dee) – Thursday
venerdì (veh-nehr-dee) – Friday
sabato (sah-bah-toh) – Saturday
While we hope nothing happens to you while on vacation, not everything is within our control. Be prepared with these useful Italian phrases.
Aiuto! (ah-yooh-toh) – Help!
Emergenza! (eh-mehr-jehn-tsah) – Emergency!
Chiamate la polizia! (chee-ah-mah-teh lah poh-lee-tsee-ah) – Call the police!
Chiamate un’ambulanza! (kee-ah-mah-teh ooh-nahm-booh-lahn-tsah) – Call an ambulance!
Ho bisogno di un medico. (oh bee-zoh-nyoh dee oohn meh-dee-koh) – I need a doctor.
Dov’è l’ospedale? (doh-veh lohs-peh-dah-leh) – Where is the hospital?
Mi sento molto male. (mee sehn-toh mohl-toh mah-leh) – I feel very sick.