I don’t know about you, but an Italian getaway is a dream vacation if I have ever heard of one. Take a minute to just imagine yourself taking a trip around Rome, Italy alongside Audrey Hepburn or Gregory Peck, like in the movie Roman Holiday. Close your eyes and you can just taste the soft, smooth, and creamy consistency of the Italian gelato that you will be, so effortlessly, eating on the Spanish Steps in Rome. Make sure your skirt does not fly up, though – and hold onto your hat, because things can get windy sometimes. While you envisioning your dream vacation to this romantic and exciting city, we are going to take this opportunity to fill you in on some helpful and useful Italian words and phrases that you will need to know while navigating around the beautiful European country of Italy.
Simple Words and Nouns
Whenever you learn a new language, it is always important to learn some phrases first before you delve into sentences, questions, or ordering food (the best part!). Let’s take a look at some phrases that are going to prove helpful to you in the beginning. These are nice to know firsthand if you are alone, because you will be able to communicate simply, if anything.
Ragazzo: a boy
Ragazza: a girl
Bambino: male child
Bambina: female child
Figlio: male child
Figlia: female child
Here are some helpful tips when speaking the others in Italian.
- If you are talking about, or meeting someone in Italy, use the title that is most formal to address them. Italian people tend to be courteous and formal a majority of the time.
- Use “Lei” when addressing anyone with a title.
- Example: A man would be referred to as “Signore”. In English, this is the same as addressing someone as “Mr.” or “Sir”.
- Example: A married or elder woman would be referred to as “Signora” before her name. Similarly, a younger woman would be “Signorina”.
Going to a new country can be overwhelming, and the most important thing to do is to: be courteous! Remember, you are a foreigner on someone else’s land, and being respectful across any culture, even if you do not know the language well, is vital in creating good relationships. Overall, it is simply a common courteously to others, no matter where you are. Here are some phrases for good manners!
Grazie: Thank you
Molte grazie: Thank you very much
Per favore, per piacere, or per cortesia: please
Prego!: You’re welcome!
Si figuri!: It’s nothing
Mi scusi: Excuse me
Prego: by all means
Può ripetere, per cortesia?: Can you please repeat?
Once you have some common courtesy down, you are going to want to know how to be aware of some personal pronouns, which will really get into the meat of how you communicate and talk to people. In addition to referencing them correctly, you are going to want to address them properly. With most languages, pronouns can be complicated by gender, and formality depending on the culture. Here are some variations of Italian pronouns that we think will come in handy for you:
Tu: you (singular)
Lei: you (singular/formal)
Voi: you (plural/informal)
Loro: you (plural/formal)
Here are some things to keep in mind from where and with whom to use Italian pronouns:
- You will use the informal Tu (singular) and informal Voi (plural) with people you already know well, such as: friends, relatives, and younger people.
- You will use the formal Lei (singular) when you are communicating with people you do not know well, such as with people at: parties or gatherings, hotels, restaurants, work, or stores.
- You will also use the formal Lei (singular) with: professors and the elder generations.
- Keep in mind that the informal Voi is used more widely than the formal Loro (plural) when you are talking to or with a group of people.
Nouns (Things and Places)
When you are traveling, whether it is alone of in a group, you are obviously going to want to go places, and it is nearly impossible to go about doing so without being able to properly reference the common places or locations that you would like to go to. Even if you will not know how to correctly use it in a phrase, just mentioning the simple words will generally get people know what you are talking about. Here are some useful places and locations to be aware of when you go about traveling in Italy:
il consolato Americano: American consulate
il ristorante: Restaurant
in campagna: In the country
In città: in the city
In montagna: in the mountains
La casa: house
La polizia: police
La stazione dei treni: train station
Okay, this is where things are going to get fun. One of the many reasons that people love to travel is for the food, and the same goes with traveling to Italy. As a matter of fact, most times the food is what brings people to this gorgeous city! Here are some Italian food and drink phrases that you might not know! We are going to leave out pizza and pasta for the obvious reason that you probably already know it well.
Sale e Pepe: Salt and Pepper
Braciole: stuffed meat rolls
Calzone: pizza dough that is filled and baked or fried
Cannoli: filled pastry tubes
Dolci: sweets and pastries
Minestrone: thick mixed vegetable soup
Pancetta: salt-cured pork, un-smoked bacon
Prosciutto: salt-cured, air-dried pork
Taralli: round sweet or savory biscuits
Birra alla spina: Beer on tap
Calice di vino rosso: Glass of red wine
Acqua minerale naturale: Mineral Water
There you have it, a nice and handy list of Italian words and phrases to help you navigate yourself around the city. You definitely will not have an empty stomach to worry about!