Italian Words and Phrases for Your European Getaway!

italian words and phrasesI 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.

Sì: yes

No: no

Uomo: man

Donna: woman

Ragazzo: a boy

Ragazza:  a girl

Bambino: male child

Bambina: female child

Padre: father

Madre: mother

Figlio: male child

Figlia: female child

Fratello: brother

Sorella: sister

Marito: husband

Moglie: wife

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”.

Good Manners

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?

Pronouns

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:

Lo: I

Lui: he

Lei: she

Noi: we

Tu: you (singular)

Lei: you (singular/formal)

Voi: you (plural/informal)

Loro: you (plural/formal)

Loro: they

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:

Banca: Bank

Città: City

il consolato Americano: American consulate

il ristorante: Restaurant

in campagna: In the country

In città: in the city

In montagna: in the mountains

L’albergo: hotel

L’ospedale: hospital

La casa: house

La polizia: police

La stazione dei treni: train station

Metropolitan: subway

Museo: museum

Negozio: store

Paese: country

Spiaggia: beach

Stato: state

Ufficio: office

Yum Yums

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.

Prenotazione: Breakfast

Prazo: Lunch

Cena: Dinner

Pane: Bread

Sale e Pepe: Salt and Pepper

Formaggio: Cheese

Braciole: stuffed meat rolls

Calzone: pizza dough that is filled and baked or fried

Cannoli: filled pastry tubes

Dolci: sweets and pastries

Mortadella: Sausage

Minestrone: thick mixed vegetable soup

Pancetta: salt-cured pork, un-smoked bacon

Pollo: chicken

Polpette: meatballs

Prosciutto: salt-cured, air-dried pork

Taralli: round sweet or savory biscuits

Birra alla spina:  Beer on tap

Bevande:  Drinks

Calice di vino rosso: Glass of red wine

Acqua minerale naturale: Mineral Water

Bon voyage!

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!