Top 10 Italian Phrases for American Tourists
Traveling to a foreign country can be exciting and a little daunting, especially when it comes to communicating with the locals. When traveling to Italy, a few key Italian phrases can help you navigate your way through the country and make your trip more enjoyable.
Whether you're shopping, eating at a restaurant, or simply asking for directions, here are 10 Italian phrases that every American traveler should know before they visit Italy – and if you’re looking for more, hit Duolingo before you leave.
What are the top 10 Italian phrases you should know?
"Hello" or "Goodbye"
Ciao is the Italian version of “aloha” – a versatile word that can be used to greet someone when you meet them and also when you leave. It’s a simple and effective way to show respect and make a good first impression.
"Hello" or "Good morning"
Buongiorno is the most common Italian greeting and is appropriate any time of day. It’s a great way to start a conversation and is a more polite way than ciao to greet someone when you first meet them.
"How are you?"
Once you move on from hello, it’s time to ask someone how they are. Come stai is a great way to show interest and start a conversation.
"Per favore" (pehr fah-voh-reh) - "Please"
"Grazie" (grah-tsee-eh) - "Thank you"
You have to know how to say please and thank you – right? As a tourist in Italy, it’s especially important to be polite and show respect. Speaking the native language is an important first step; using these phrases is the next big step forward.
This phrase is used to get someone's attention, to apologize for interrupting, to ask for assistance, or to excuse yourself when you need to pass by someone. Again, politeness matters, and this is one of the most important of all the polite phrases.
"Dov'è il bagno?"
"Where is the bathroom?"
(doh-veh eel ban-yo)
It doesn’t get more important than needing to use the bathroom. This is how you ask for one without using gestures. No one wants gestures in this situation.
"Dov'è si trova?"
"Where is it located?"
(doh-veh see troh-va)
If you need to get a little more general than the location of the nearest bathroom, this is what you say. Of course, you might also need to specify what exactly you’re looking for, which gets trickier, but that’s where the gestures come in.
"How much does it cost?”"
Haggling is not as big a deal in Italy as it is elsewhere, but in certain settings you need to be prepared to talk dollars and cents – or Euros and cents, as the case may be.
"Do you speak English?"
When your limited Italian is getting you nowhere and both of you know it, this is your bailout phrase – or the phrase you lead with, depending on your experiences with the other phrases.
Also read: Tips for Safe Driving on Vacation in Europe
Especially for those traveling by themselves, it’s good not only to memorize some phrases in the local language designed to help them through some potentially ticklish situations – like a taxi driver going too fast or someone speaking Italian faster than you can comprehend.
Beyond that, we recommend having Google Translate on hand. Once we had to resort to dictionaries and phrasebooks to come up with the right thing to say in a different language. Now we just whip out our phone, fire up Google Translate, and get the translation and pronunciation of whatever we want to say.
Google Translate is especially powerful in its native ecosystem on the latest Pixel phones, but no matter your platform it’s a lifesaver when traveling in Italy or anywhere else around the world.
You know what else can be a lifesaver? Travel insurance and assistance services. When heading across the pond to Italy, or anywhere else international or domestic, travel insurance from Generali can help protect your travel investment if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip, or if you get sick or injured while traveling. And, if you’re in a pinch, all of our plans include a 24/7 Travel Assistance phone line that can help with interpretation in all major languages or referral to a translation service for written documents.
Get a quote today.