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Basic Italian Phrases for Travelers and Beginners 

 June 17, 2020

By  Jessica Maggi

Whether or not you are planning a trip to Italy in the future or simply looking to jumpstart your beginner-level Italian lessons, it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic Italian words and phrases. 

Here is your list of essential Italian phrases for beginners as well as for travellers. Ready? Let's start!

Basic Italian phrases 

BuongiornoGood morningThe greetings change depending on the time of the day. Buongiorno is generally used from 5:00 am to midday.
Buon pomeriggioGood afternoonBuon pomeriggio should be used from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, but many Italians skip it and just use buongiorno.
Buonasera Good eveningPronounced /bwoh-nah-seh-rah/, buonasera is generally used after 4:00 pm.
Buona notte Good nightSay buona notte (good night) right before you go to sleep.
Buona giornata! Have a nice day!When you are leaving somebody or saying goodbye on the phone, say buona giornata to wish them a nice day.
Buona serata! Have a nice evening!Similar to uona giornata, buona serata is to be used ideally after 4:00 pm to wish someone a nice evening.
Buon viaggio!Have a nice trip!
Ciao (informal)Hi, helloCiao is the equivalent of “hi” or “hello” in English, and can also be used to mean bye. Ciao is a very informal greeting, so use it with friends, people of your own age bracket, children or people you can be casual with.
Salve (neutral) Hi, helloPronounced /sal-veh/, salve is a relic from Latin. It is a neutral way to say “hello”, which can be used at any time of the day. Use it with strangers and people older than you.
Arrivederci GoodbyeArrivederci (arr-ee-va-der-chee) corresponds to “goodbye”, and should be used when you are leaving. It literally means “until we see each other again.”
A presto See you soonWhen talking to someone you think you will see again soon, it is a good idea to add “a presto” to your goodbye.
A dopo, a più tardi See you later
Ci vediamo See you
Alla prossima Till next time
Grazie Thank youDon’t be frugal with the use of grazie (thank you) in Italy. Grazie comes from grazia, meaning grace. It is one of the most commonly mispronounced words by non-Italians. Most visitors say /graht-see/. The correct pronunciation is actually /graht-see-eh/.
Grazie mille Thanks a lot, thanks a millionMille means “thousand” in English, so literally you are saying “a thousand thanks.” It corresponds to “thanks a million” and is pronounced /graht-see-eh meel-leh/.
Grazie comunque Thank you, anywayGrazie comunque is what you are expected to say when you ask something to someone and they can’t help you.
Prego ou’re welcomePrego corresponds to “you’re welcome”, “my pleasure” or “don’t mention it”, and is what you are expected to say after grazie.

Prego has quite a number of other uses. It also means: 

  • I beg your pardon?
  • How can I help you?
  • After you.
Di niente You’re welcome
Non c’è di che You’re welcome
Figurati! (informal) Not at all
Si figuri! (formal) Not at all
Ci mancherebbe! Of course!
Mi scusi (formal) Excuse meWhen approaching a native speaker to ask them something, smile and say mi scusi, which corresponds to “excuse me” in English.
Scusa (informal) Excuse me, I’m sorryScusa means both “excuse me” and “I’m sorry”. It is informal, so use it with friends, children and peers your age.
Mi dispiace I’m sorrySay mi dispiace (I’m sorry) when you need to apologize about something.
Yes
No No
No, grazie No, thanks
Va bene Alright, OK
Non importa Never mind
Non fa niente That’s alright
Forse Maybe
Può darsi Maybe
Non lo so / Non saprei I don’t know
Boh (informal) I don’t know, who knows
Lo so I know
Penso di noI don’t think so
Certo / Certamente Definitely, of course
Per favore PleaseThe simplest way to say “please” is per favore, pronounced /pehr fah-voh-reh/. It literally means “as a favor”.
Per piacere Please
Per cortesia Please
Salute! Bless you! / Cheers!When someone sneezes, say salute! (bless you!) to wish them good health. Say salute! (cheers!) when toasting before a meal.
Piacere di conoscerti (informal)Pleased to meet youSmile and say piacere di conoscerti (pleased to meet you) when you are introduced to someone you have never met before, and greet them with a firm handshake.
Piacere /
Piacere di conoscerla (formal)
Pleased to meet you
Come ti chiami? (informal) What’s your name?
Come si chiama? (formal) What’s your name?
Mi chiamo… My name is…
Come sta? (formal) How are you?
Come stai? (informal) How you doing?/How’s it going?
Sto bene, grazie I’m fine, thank you
Di dove sei? (informal) Where are you from?
Di dov’è? (formal) Where are you from?
Sono inglese/americano/
canadese/australiano
I’m English/American/
Canadian/Australian
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti/dall’Inghilterra/
dal Canada/dall’Australia
I am from the United States/
England/Canada/Australia
Abito a (+ name of the city) I live in...
Sono di (+ name of the city) I’m from…
Non capisco I don’t understand
Capisco I understand, I see
Non parlo bene italiano I don’t speak Italian very well
Parlo soltanto un po’ di italiano I only speak a little Italian
Parli inglese? (informal) Do you speak English?
Parla inglese? (formal) Do you speak English?
C’è qualcuno che parla inglese? Does anyone here speak English?
Potresti scrivermelo? (informal) Could you write it down for me, please?
Potrebbe scrivermelo? (formal) Could you write it down for me, please?
Puoi ripetere, per favore? (informal) Could you say that again, please? /
Could you repeat that, please?
Può ripetere, per favore? (formal) Could you say that again, please? /
Could you repeat that, please?
Puoi parlare più lentamente, per favore? (informal) Could you speak more slowly, please?
Può parlare più lentamente, per favore? (formal) Could you speak more slowly, please?
Cosa vuole dire? What does that mean?
Scusa, cos’hai detto? (informal)Excuse me, what did you say?
Scusi, cos’ha detto? (formal) Excuse me, what did you say?
Permesso? Pardon me / May I come in?When walking through a crowded place or a train compartment, smile and say permesso to pass through the crowd. Permesso can also mean “may I come in?”. Say it when crossing the threshold of someone’s house.
Quanto costa? How much does it cost?
Dov’è il bagno? / Dov’è la toilette? Where’s the bathroom?
Posso usare il bagno, per favore? Can I use the loo, please?
Che ore sono? What time is it?
Dai! Come on!
Allora… So…, well…Allora is, perhaps, one of the most popular Italian words. It is a great way to start a sentence or question, or transition between sentences.

Italian travel phrases

Useful Italian words for travelers

Albergo
Hotel
Agriturismo
Holiday farm
Camera, stanza
Room
Camera singola
Single room
Camera doppia
Double room
Accoglienza, reception
Front desk, reception
Passaporto
Passport
Treno
Train
Stazione, stazione ferroviaria
Train station
Autobus
Bus
Pullman
Coach, bus
Tram
Tram
Metropolitana
Subway
Fermata dell’autobus
Bus stop
Fermata del tram
Tram stop
Aereo
Airplane
Aeroporto
Airport
Stadio
Stadium, arena
Banca
Bank
Bancomat
ATM
Ufficio postale
Post office
Macchina, auto
Car
Taxi
Taxi, cab
Bagagli, valigie
Luggage
Biglietto
Ticket
Ospedale
Hospital
Pronto soccorso
ER
Stazione di polizia
Police station
Parco
Park
Centro storico
Town center
Spiaggia
Beach
Museo
Museum
Teatro
Theater
Supermercato
Supermarket
Ristorante
Restaurant
Trattoria
Trattoria, restaurant specializing in rustic home-cooked foods
Bar
café, coffee shop
Pub, locale
Bar, pub
Pasticceria
Bakery
Gelateria
Ice-cream parlor
Paninoteca
Sandwich shop
Enoteca
Wine bar
Discoteca
Discotheque, disco, club

Asking for directions in Italian

Sooner or later, you will find yourself asking for directions in Italy. Knowing some Italian goes a long way! Especially in smaller towns, people speak little or no English, so being able to get by in Italian makes a huge difference. 

Here are some phrases that could help you:

Scusi, un’informazione, per favoreExcuse me, I need some information, please
Sai dirmi dove si trova…? (informal) / Sa dirmi dove si trova…? (formal) Do you know where … is?
Mi scusi, per (la stazione)? Excuse me, could you tell me the way to (the station)?
Mi sono perso I’m lost
Come si arriva in/a …? How do I get to…?
Vorrei andare a … I’d like to go to…
Vorrei andare qui I’d like to go here (pointing to your destination on the map)
Dove si trova ? / Dov’è...? Where is…?
Quanto dista …? How far is…?
Potresti indicarmelo sulla cartina? (informal) / Potrebbe indicarmelo sulla cartina? (formal) Can you show me on the map, please?
È lontano?Is it far from here?

Here are some replies you might hear when asking for directions:

Gira/giri a destra Turn right
Gira/giri a sinistra Turn left
Vai/vada in quella direzione Go that way
Torna/torni indietro Go back
Prosegui/prosegua dritto Go straight on
Fai/faccia un’inversione di marcia Make a U-turn
È laggiù It’s over there
È davanti a… It’s in front of…
È di fianco a… It’s next to…
È all’angolo con… It’s at the corner of…

Transport in Italy

If you are planning a trip to sun-kissed Italy, you are probably going to need public transport or hire a car to get around. These phrases will help you:

A che ora parte il prossimo treno/autobus/tram per...? What time is the next train/bus/tram to…?
Quanto costa un biglietto per…? How much does a ticket to… cost?
Dove si fa il biglietto per il treno/per l’autobus/per il tram? Where do I get a ticket for the train/bus/tram?
Un biglietto/due biglietti per…, grazie 1 ticket/2 tickets to…, please
Quando parte? When does it leave?
Questo treno/autobus/tram ferma a...? Does this train/bus/tram stop in…?
Come mai il treno è in ritardo? Why is the train late?
Si può parcheggiare qui? Can I park here?
Sa dirmi dov’è il parchimetro? Do you know where the parking meter is?
Mi serve un taxi I need a taxi
Puoi/può chiamarmi un taxi per andare a…, per favore? Can you call me a cab to go to …, please?
Quanto costa la corsa? How much is the fare?

When you are on a tram, bus or train, and are not sure when to get off, ask:

Quante fermate ci sono prima di ...? How many stops before we arrive in …?
Mi scusi, è questa la fermata per…? Excuse me, is this the right stop for…?

Italian phrases for staying at a hotel or vacation apartment

Here is a list of Italian phrases that could be useful during your stay:

Ho prenotato una stanza … I have booked a … room
Dove viene servita la colazione? Where do you serve breakfast?
A che ora è la colazione? At what time is breakfast?
Fino a che ora si può fare colazione? At what time does breakfast end?
Qual è la password per il Wi-Fi? What is the Wifi password?
Posso avere altri asciugamani, per favore? Can I have some more towels, please?
Posso avere un’altra coperta, per favore? Can I have another blanket, please?
L’aria condizionata non funziona The air conditioning doesn’t work
Non c’è acqua calda There is no hot water
Ho perso la chiave della camera I lost my room key
C’è il servizio lavanderia? Is there laundry service?
A che ora è il check-out? At what time is check-out?
Avete un deposito bagagli? Do you have a left-luggage service?
Possiamo lasciare qui i bagagli fino alle ore…? Can we leave our bags here until…?

Dining out

Here is a list of phrases that could be useful when dining in a restaurant in Italy:

Avete un tavolo per due/quattro/sei persone? Do you have a table for two/four/six people?
C’è una specialità locale? Is there a specialty of the area?
Che cosa ci consiglia? What do you recommend?
Una bottiglia del vino rosso della casa, per favore A bottle of the house red wine please

If you are looking for white wine, replace rosso (red) with bianco (white). You can also order un litro (a liter), un mezzo litro (a half liter) or un bicchiere (a glass).

Sono vegetariano I’m a vegetarian

Use the phrase ending in -o if you are a male, and use the phrase ending in -a if you are a female.

Sono celiaco I have celiac disease

Same as above, change the ending to -a if you are a female.

Non posso mangiare cibi che contengono… I can’t eat dishes that contain…
Senza… , grazie Without…, please
Il conto, per favore The check, please / The bill, please
Posso avere il conto, per favore? Could I have the check, please?
Accettate carte di credito? Do you accept credit cards?

Ask “accettate carte di credito?” if you are not sure if the restaurant will take a credit card.

Posso pagare con la carta?Can I pay with a card?

So, are you ready for your big adventure in Italy? If there are any other useful expressions you would add to this list, write them down in the comments section!

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Jessica Maggi


Jessica is a native Italian speaker, a passionate linguist and a proud Grammar nerd. She has a lifelong passion for English and studied Linguistic and Cultural Mediation at the University of Milan. She currently works as a freelance translator and copywriter.

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