Language|Travel tips

Travel Italian: Useful phrases

Rick and I have been studying Italian for the past year or so in preparation of our Italian getaway this summer and it’s been a fun challenge. While I’m sure many Italians will just answer us in English, I’m hoping we can at least have one or two full conversations with our camerieri (waiters) or guida locale (tour guide) in Italian only.

Harry Potter in ItalianWhy, yes, I did buy all eight Harry Potter books in Italian to help me learn by reading. Some funny differences in how they got translated include, Dumbledore is Professor Silente, Severus Snape is Professor Piton, the Hogwarts Houses are not Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin but Griffondoro, Tassofrasso, Corvonero, and Serpeverde. Oh, and our personal favorite, poor Nearly Headless Nick is Nick-Quasi-Senza-Testa (Nick Almost Without Head).

If you’re off to explore Italy soon, here are some useful Italian phrases (and their pronunciation) for travelers that’ll at least get you started with some basics.

Italian phrases for travelers

Italian greetings

English                                  Italian (pronunciation)

Hello                                       Ciao/Salve (chou/sahl-veh)
Good morning                      Buon giorno (bwohn-johr-no)
Good afternoon                    Buon pomeriggio (bwohn-poh-mehr-ee-joh)
Good evening                       Buona sera (bwoh-nah-seh-rah)
Good night                            Buona notte (bwoh-nah-noht-teh)
Goodbye                                Arrivederci (ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee)
How are you?                       Come sta? (koh-meh stah) – Come stai is the informal version or come va?
Fine, thanks                         Bene, grazie (beh-neh grah-tsee-eh)
Pleased to meet you           Piacere (pyah-cheh-reh)

Polite phrases and expressions in Italian

Yes                                         Sì (see)
No                                          No (noh)
Please                                    Per favore (pehr fah-voh-reh)
Thank you                            Grazie (grah-tsee-eh)
You’re welcome                  Prego (preh-goh)
I like…                                  Mi piace…  (mee pee-yatch-eh – literally it pleases me)
I’m sorry                              Mi dispiace (mee dees-pyah-cheh)
Excuse me                           Mi scusi (mee skooh-zee)
Padon me                            Permesso (pehr-mehs-soh)
I don’t understand             Non capisco (nohn cah-pis-co)
I don’t speak Italian          Non parlo italiano (nohn pahr-lo eeh-tahl-eeh-ah-noh)
Do you speak English?     Parla inglese? (pahr-lah een-gleh-zeh)

Questions and directions in Italian

Who?                                   Chi? (kee)
What?                                 Cosa (koh-sah)
When?                                Quando? (kwahn-doh)
Why?                                  Perché? (pehr-keh)
Where is…?                       Dove…? (doh-veh)
The bathroom                   Il bagno (eel bahn-yoh)
The train station              La stazione di treno (la stah-tsyoh-neh dee treh-noh)
The restaurant                  Il ristorante (eel ree-stohr-ahn-tee)
Airport                               Aeroporto (air-oh-port-oh)
Hotel                                  Albergo (ahl-behr-goh)
Left                                     Sinistra (sin-ee-strah)
Right                                  Destra (deh-strah)
Straight                             Dritto (dree-toh)

Spaghetti and sauce

Dining and shopping

I would like…                  Vorrei… (vohr-ay)
I want…                           Voglio… (vohl-yo)
How much?                    Quanto? (kwahn-toh)
A ticket                           Un biglietto  (oohn beel-yeh-toh)
A table for two              Un tavolo per due, per favore  (oohn tah-vah-lo pehr doo-eh)
Outside                          A fuori (ah fwoh-ri)
Breakfast                       Colazione (cohl-aht-zee-ohn-eh)
Lunch                            Pranzo  (prahn-zoh)
Dinner                           Cena  (cheh-nah)
A glass of…                   Un bicchiere di… (ooh bee-kyeh-reh dee)
Water                            Acqua (ahk-wah)
Wine                              Vino (vee-noh)
Beer                               Birra (beeh-rah)
An ice cream                Un gelato (oohn geh-lah-toh)
The bill, please            Il conto, per favore  (eel cohn-toh pehr fah-voh-reh)
Cash                              Contanti  (cohn-tahn-tee)
Credit card                  Carta di credito (car-ta dee cred-ee-toe)

Days, time, and numbers in Italian

Today                            Oggi (ohj-jee)
Yesterday                     Ieri (yeh-ree)
Tomorrow                    Domani (doh-mah-nee)
What time is it?          Che ore sono? (keh ohr-eh soh-noh)
One                               Uno (ooh-noh)
Two                              Due (due-eh)
Three                           Tre (treh)
Four                             Quattro (kwah-troh)
Five                              Cinque (cheen-kway)
Six                                Sei (say)
Seven                           Sette (set-teh)
Eight                           Otto (oht-toh)
Nine                            Nove (noh-veh)
Ten                              Dieci (dee-eh-chee)

If you really want to get the low down on Italian, I recommend this gigantic six-in-one Italian for Dummies! I got it to supplement my Rosetta Stone and Duolingo learning and it’s been a fantastic resource for furthering my Italian language skills. But seriously, it’s a big book – not something you can just toss in your suitcase for the weekend!

Another lighter option is the Italian phrase book by the fantastic Rick Steves. This, you can easily take on your Italian adventures.

I hope these Italian travel phrases come in handy as you roam about Rome or another beautiful Italian city! A presto!

Venice with text overlay

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Hey, I'm Stephanie! I'm a copywriter living in beautiful Denver with my husband Rick, and our dog Rocco. I love traveling, writing, reading, and being outside as much as possible - unless I'm on the couch binge watching Stranger Things with a glass of wine! Thanks for reading and being a part of the adventure with Back to the Passport! ❤️

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