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Your Survival Guide to Italian When in Italy

Maybe you’re planning a trip to Italy or you’ve met an attractive Italian-speaking someone and you want to sweep them off their feet. Perhaps you have an amazing restaurant in Little Italy you want to visit or your Nona is visiting from the old country and you can’t speak a word to her. Regardless of why you’re learning Italian, you’ll want to try to learn and memorize some key Italian phrases to help you with your goal and we’re here to help! Here’s our list of helpful words and phrases to get you started.

First up, what do you need to know when meeting someone?

Ciao! (‘Chow’) – Hello & Good-bye

Ciao a tutti! or Ciao ragazzi! – Hello everyone! or Hey guys!

Come ti chiami? (‘Komeh te kyami’) – What’s your name?

Mi chiamo ___ (Me kyamo __) – My name’s ________.

Piacere! (Pee-ah-cheray) – Pleased to meet you!

Buongiorno (bon-journo) – Good morning! (You can say this up until the early afternoon.)

Buonasera (bonah sarah) – Good evening!

Buonanotte (bonah nohtay) – Good night/sweet dreams!

Come sta? (Comah stah) – How are you?

Sto bene! (Stoh benay) – I’m well

Non c’è male. (Non chey malay) – Not bad.

Di dove sei? (Dee dovay say)- Where are you from?

Photo via Flickr

Now for all that eating you’re going to do:

Un tavolo per tre, per cortesia. (Un tAvolo por tray, per kortayZIA) – A table for three, please. If you need to, you can replace tre with uno, due or quattro.

Scusi, ci può portare il menù? (Skoozi, chee poh potARAY il menoo) Excuse me, can we have the menu? When pronouncing this, you’re kind of swallowing the ‘n’ in menu.

Per me… – I’ll have… Here you’ll need to fill in whatever it is that you want to order.

E da bere?(Ee da bear-eh?) – And what would you like to drink?

Un bicchiere di vino rosso.(Un beekaray dee veeno rosso) – A glass of red wine. Or if you’re me, you’ll be going for the vino bianco.

Ci può portare il conto per favore? (Chee poh potARAY il conto por faVORAY)- Can we have the bill please? Now, if you’re lucky you might hear Offro io (Offro eeoh), meaning “It’s on me!”

Photo via Flickr

Now, presumably, you’ll want to know where things are and how to get to them, so here are some key directional phrases for you!

Scusi, mi sa dire dove _____? (Skuzi, me sa deeray dovay _____?) – Excuse me, can you tell me where _____ is? Naturally, you’ll need to fill this blank in with the name of a key piazza or meeting point.

Now you’ll want to know the standard directions.

Sinistra (Sineestra) – Left.

Destra (Destra) – Right.

For turning, you’ll hear ‘a’ – so A sinistra, to the left.

Dritto (dreeto) – Straight.

Alla fine di… (A-la finna dee) – At the end of…

Prenda/Prendi – Take (the first left, etc).

Scusi, che autobus devo prendere per andare alla _____? (Skuzi, ka autoboos dayvo prenderay por andahray ahla ____) – Excuse me, what bus should I take to get to _____?

Quanto tempo ci vuole a piedi? (Kwantoh tempo chee vowahlay a peeahdee) – How long does it take walking? TRUST NO ANSWER. Always add a minimum of 15 minutes to whatever answer you’re given to this question. It will almost always be underestimated. Be kind to those feet.


Here’s hoping that this starter’s list has given you everything you might need to get your feet wet and start practicing Italian. Remember the biggest thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to speak in another language is to stay confident and utilize as much body language as possible. In bocca al lupo or good luck!