One of the most asked questions I get from travelers and clients en route to Italy is whether they’ll be able to get by if they don’t speak Italian? The short answer to this is yes, so don’t let your lack of knowledge of the Italian language stop you from exploring all that Italy has to offer. Also, now that we live in an era of Google Translate, there is really no excuse for allowing anxieties of not speaking a foreign language inhibit your travel dreams.

In more popular cities, like Rome, Venice, and Florence, getting by on English alone is doable, but not recommended. Like most non-English speaking countries that you visit, making an effort to speak the language is greatly appreciated. Travel should be a culturally immersive experience, and language plays a major role in this. If you’re planning on visiting less popular towns and regions in Italy like Puglia, Calabria, or other countryside escapes, packing an English-Italian dictionary or downloading an app is not necessarily a bad idea.

The key is to not stress too much over it. Have fun with speaking and learning Italian as a part of the cultural experience. Italians are more than warm and welcoming and will be nothing but appreciative of your efforts to immerse and engage. In return, I can guarantee that utilizing even a few of these Italian words and phrases will result in a much more immersive and local Italian travel experience.

Italian Words to Know

  1. Ciao – Hello/Goodbye
  2. Salve – Hello (formal)
  3. Sì – Yes
  4. No – No
  5. Grazie – Thank you
  6. Per favore – Please
  7. Grazie mille – Thank you so much
  8. Prego – You’re welcome
  9. Buongiorno – Good day/morning
  10. Buonasera – Good evening
  11. Buonanotte – Goodnight (used when you’re actually going to bed)
  12. Salute!/ Cin cin! – Cheers!
  13. Bello (masculine); Bella (feminine) – Beautiful
  14. Buono (masculine); Buona (feminine) – Good
  15. Bene – Well
  16. Amico (masculine); Amica (feminine) – Friend
  17. Il conto – The check/bill
  18. Via/Strada – Street
  19. Vino – Wine
  20. Birra – Beer
  21. Aperitivo – Pre-dinner drinks & snacks (Italian version of happy hour)
  22. Stazione – Train station
  23. Treno – Train
  24. Binario – Train platform
  25. Autobus – Bus
  26. Fermata – Stop (bus/train)
  27. Bagagli – Luggage
  28. Biglietto – Ticket
  29. Spiaggia/Lido – Beach
  30. Ristorante – Restaurant
  31. Bagno – Bathroom
  32. Albergo – Hotel

Positano, Italy

Italian Phrases to Know

  1. Come ti chiami? – What’s your name?
  2. Mi chiamo… – My name is …
  3. Va bene – OK
  4. Permesso – Excuse me (when passing through a crowd or on transportation)
  5. Scusa – Excuse me
  6. Mi dispiace – I’m sorry
  7. Come stai? – How are you?
  8. Come va? – How’s it going?
  9. Tutto bene – All is well
  10. Non lo so – I don’t know
  11. Dov’è il bagno? – Where is the bathroom?
  12. Parli Inglese? – Do you speak English?
  13. Non parlo Italiano – I don’t speak Italian
  14. Quanto costa? – How much does it cost?
  15. Sono di … – I am from …
  16. Mi piace … – I like …
  17. Non mi piace … – I don’t like …
  18. Andiamo – Let’s go

BONUS: Dolce di far niente – The sweet art of doing nothing

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