As a traveler with Italian roots, I’m admittedly a little biased — but there is something special about the Italian language. Whether it’s a casual conversation, a heated argument, or an artfully composed aria, everything just sounds better in Italian.
That being said, it can be daunting to blurt out a butchered Italian phrase when the locals around you are stringing gorgeous words together as effortlessly as a pastaio folds up perfect tortellini or a gondoliere glides through a Venice canal.
But if you’re traveling to Italy, you really should try to learn a few common Italian phrases and words before you go. While you’ll find plenty of English speakers in any of Italy’s major cities, most Italians will appreciate you trying their language; you may even be surprised how many new friends it makes you as you mingle at aperitivo or linger in a bustling piazza.
OK, pronto? Ready? Here are a few basic Italian words and phrases to get you started. (All phrases are formal unless noted.)
Basic Italian Words
Hello: Ciao (informal); Salve (formal)
Goodbye: Ciao (informal); Arrivederci (formal)
Good morning: Buongiorno
Good evening: Buonasera
Goodnight: Buonanotte (use this when you’re going to bed)
Please: Per favore; per piacere
Thank you: Grazie
Thanks so much: Grazie mille
You’re welcome: Prego; Di niente
Beautiful: Bello (masculine); Bella (feminine)
Good: Buono (masculine); Buona (feminine)
Friend: Amico (masculine); Amica (feminine)
What?: Che?; Cosa?
How much?: Quanto?
Common Italian Phrases
I love you: Ti amo (romantic); Ti voglio bene (family, friends)
How are you?: Come sta?
How’s it going?: Come va?
I miss you: Mi manchi
I don’t know: Non lo so
All’s well: Tutto bene
I’m sorry: Mi dispiace
What is your name?: Come si chiama?
My name is…: Mi chiamo…
OK: Va bene
Excuse me: Mi scusi
Excuse me (passing through a crowd): Permesso
Basic Italian Travel Words and Phrases
I would like… (ordering food or buying a ticket): Vorrei…
Check, please: Il conto, per favore
Where is…?: Dov'è…?
Rental car: Auto a noleggio
Italian Slang Words
Dope!: Che figata!
Of course!: Avoglia!
A lot: Un botto
See you later: Ci becchiamo dopo
What the heck: Che cavolo
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