I love Italy. I think that’s pretty obvious to anyone who follows me. From the ancient streets of Pompeii to the tourist-filled ones of Rome, there isn’t a place in this country I wouldn’t happily explore. Along the way, I might have picked up an Italian word or two that I’m going to share with you now. Knowing a bit of the language can sometimes turn a good trip into an amazing one!
So let’s start with the easy stuff.
Salve or Ciao — hello/hi and also goodbye!
Buongiorno — hello/good morning
Buon pomeriggio — good afternoon (though you’re more likely to hear buongiorno!)
Buona sera — good evening
Buona notte — goodnight
Arrivederci — goodbye (a little more formal)
Come sta — how are you, to be answered hopefully with bene (fine), molto bene (very well), or così così (so so); don’t forget the grazie at the end!
You probably already knew a lot of those, right?
Per favore or piacere — please
Grazie — thank you
Molte grazie — many thanks
Grazie mille — thanks a lot
Prego — you’re welcome, after you, by all means etc.
Mi dispiace — I’m sorry
Mi scusi — excuse me
Permesso — excuse me when you need to get by someone
Forse — maybe
Non lo so — I’m not sure
Penso di no — I don’t think so
Ma certo — of course
Generally speaking, whenever you ask for anything add a per favore at the end just like you would do in English. It’s always good to be polite!
General useful stuff
Sì — yes
No — no
Dove — where, so if you say dov’è il… and point at an image of something on your phone, hopefully you’ll get some easy directions!
Sinistra — left
Destra — right
Si gira — turn
Si va diritto — go straight ahead
Vicino — near
Lontano — far; maybe far enough to need a taxi!
Aiutami — help me
A couple of words and phrases I learned early on was for when I was shopping. Questo means ‘this one’ — useful when pointing at something you don’t yet know the name of in Italian. Quanto, or quanto costa means how much, and be prepared to follow up the answer you get with a è troppo caro (it’s too expensive). To ask for a discount it’s mi fa uno sconto, and when you’ve happily haggled then you can say lo compro (I’ll take it). Obviously, this isn’t the kind of thing you do in a supermarket, but in a market or boutique store you can probably try your luck!
I would also suggest something like a language app such as www.babbel.com, a free resource such as www.theitalianexperiment.com or lessons from a company like www.languagetrainers.co.uk. You could even use https://translate.google.com just to get a few more basics for things like food and drink, just so you can look at a menu and know what you’re ordering — which you might do starting with a posso ordinaire…?
You don’t need to learn every single word of Italian to enjoy your trip, but a few basics here and there will definitely make a difference. You’ll get a great reaction even if you try to say the simplest of words!