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40 basic Italian phrases you need to learn before your next trip to Italy

Recently updated on March 15th, 2024 at 12:33 pm

Embark on your next Italian adventure with confidence! Learning a few basic Italian words and phrases is easier than you think, and it goes a long way in enriching your experience while on Italy tours

Whether you’re navigating bustling cities, charming piazzas, or hidden trattorias, knowing a handful of common Italian phrases will not only help you get by, but also unlock a deeper connection with the culture and its friendly people. Don’t worry, you don’t need to become a master linguist – even a few basic Italian words can go a long way. 

Go beyond si (yes) and non (no), ditch the phrasebook, and memorize these 40 handy Italian phrases. Who knows, you might even impress the locals!

Essential Phrases in Italian

woman travelling in Italy book 2024 travel in January

Greetings and Farewells in Italian

If you want to greet people correctly throughout the day in Italy, there are a handful of basic Italian phrases to learn. Some of these basic Italian words are more casual, others are more formal. 

If you’re wondering how to say hello in Italian, there are multiple options. When in doubt, listen to what the locals use to greet you and repeat what they’ve said. 

1. Hello/Goodbye – Ciao

Ciao is a casual greeting that can be used at any time of day. To be more formal with strangers, use the Italian phrases below instead

2. Good morning. – Buongiorno  

How to say good morning in Italian? Say Buongiorno in the morning and until lunch. 

3. Good afternoon – Buona sera

This Italian phrase is used in the afternoon, after lunch and before dinner.

4. Boa noite – Buona notte

From 6pm onwards, use this one. You can also use it as a generic way of saying goodbye. 

5. Goodbye – Arrivederci 

Arrivederci is the formal way of saying goodbye in Italian. You can also say ciao.

Being polite

Now that you have Italian greetings down pat, try these common Italian phrases that are respectful and polite. Whenever you travel to a new country, it’s polite to learn how to say hello, thank you, and excuse me in the local language. If you’re visiting Italy soon it’s essential to memorize these Italian words for your trip. 

6. Thank you – Grazie

7. Please – Per favore

8. You’re welcome – Prego 

9. Excuse me –  Mi scusi

10. I’m sorry – Mi dispiace

GO TO ITALY: Best of Italy

Travel Director in Italy

Getting Around in Italian

Lost in the maze of charming streets? Don’t fret! A polite “Mi scusi, come arrivo a…?” (Excuse me, how do I get to…?) can point you in the right direction. 

If you choose to travel with Trafalgar, you’ll have an Italian-speaking Travel Director on hand to navigate the language. And yes, it’s still important to learn some basic Italian words so if you’re at a restaurant alone or visiting a city in Italy without the group you can find your way around.

11. Excuse me, how do I get to…? – Scusi, come arrivo a…? 

If you get lost, ask a shopkeeper for directions. Follow their hands!

12. Where is the bathroom? –  Dov’è il bagno?

This is one of those common phrases that you should learn in any language! At least memorize the word “bagno”. 

13. How much does it cost? – Quanto costa?

This Italian phrase is useful while shopping, visiting flea markets, or asking about specials at a restaurant.

14. One ticket, please – Un biglietto, per favore

15. I understand –  Capisco 

Or “non capisco” if you don’t understand.

A group of male and female diners sitting around a table sharing food, wine and conversation. View of distant hills in background

Eating out 

In Italy, dining out is an experience – not just a meal. It’s not something you want to rush through as you linger over rich antipasti, savor fresh pasta, and sip local wine – ideally on an ancient piazza or overlooking the vineyards of Tuscany. 

Italy embodies the Italian phrase “dolce far niente” – the sweetness of doing nothing – where you embrace long, laughter-filled conversations, and don’t rush off once the meal is done. That can be a tricky adjustment for foreigners visiting Italy. 

16. The bill, please – Mi dia il conto, per favore

We’re used to fast service and getting the bill the moment we clear the plate. If you’re in a hurry, memorize this Italian phrase so you can hail your waiter and get the bill.

17. I would like… – Vorrei…

18. Can I have…? – Posso avere…? 

19. Can I reserve a table? – Posso prenotare un tavolo? 

20. Do you accept credit cards? – Accetta carte di credito?

Often in Europe, it’s helpful to carry some cash, especially if you plan to visit small mom-and-pop trattorias or shop at market stalls. 

21. I am allergic to… – Sono allergico a… / Sono allergica a…

If you have allergies, it’s important to learn how to express that in Italian. While you might think Italy – the land of pizza and pasta – is a nightmare destination for gluten-free folk, it’s actually incredibly understanding and easy to find gluten-free meals, pasta and more.

22. Enjoy your meal! – Buon appetite!

Two mature male-female couples laughing and enjoying tasting samples from an Italian deli counter

You might also like: The 12 things you need to master to travel like a local in Italy

Shopping in Italian

Italy is famous for its fashion, so if you plan to shop for clothing or souvenirs while visiting here are some common Italian expressions and phrases to help.

23. I would like to try this on – Vorrei provare questo

24. Can you offer a better discount? – Potete offrire uno sconto migliore?

25. Can I see this in size…? – Posso vedere la taglia…?

26. It’s too expensive –  È troppo caro

27. I’ll take it –  Lo prendo

TOUR ITALY: Italy Bellissimo

Looking down a canal on Burano Island near Venice at dawn, lined with boats and colorful buildings

Asking for help in Italian

Feeling lost in translation? Don’t worry, these five handy Italian phrases will equip you to navigate any situation. Whether you need assistance, clarification, or simply want to ask directions, these tools will help you bridge the language gap and ensure a smooth and successful journey.

Plus, Italians are known for their warmth, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

28. Do you speak English? – Parli inglese?

29. Can you help me, please? – Mi aiuti, per favore?

30. I don’t understand – Non capisco 

31. Can you speak slower, please? –  Può parlare più lentamente, per favore?

32. Where is…? – Dov’è…?

One of the waterfront 'cinque terra' villages, houses climbing a lush green hillside overlooking turquoise sea, seen from sea level

You might also like: Gorgeous Italian cities to inspire your next winter break

Useful Italian Phrases

Striking up conversations and navigating daily life is a breeze with these essential Italian phrases. Introduce yourself with “Mi chiamo…” (My name is…), and inquire about someone’s origins with “Di dove sei?” (Where do you come from?). 

33. Where do you come from? – Di dove sei?

34. My name is…. – Mi Chiamo… 

35. No problem – Non c’è problema

36. Is it open? – È aperto?

37. See you soon! – A presto!

38. It’s hot/cold – Fa caldo/freddo

View of a beach with turquoise water, buildings in the middle distance and hills in the far distance

Funny Italian Expressions

Here’s a couple of funny Italian phrases to impress yoru Italian Travel Director. These two are untranslateable idioms, where teh literal meaning makes no sense to an English speaker. Usually someone is quite advanced at the language to be able to pull one of these Italian phrases out!

39. “Break a leg!”/Good luck! –  In bocca al lupo 

This literally means “into the mouth of the wolf” in Italian, but it means “break a leg” or good luck. It’s super common among native Italian speakers. Instead of saying the standard buona fortuna (good luck), you’ll more likely hear “in bocca al lupo”.

For even more advanced Italian, you could reply “crepi il lupo” (“the wolf cracks”), which is to say the wolf dies. You can also just say grazie (thank you).

40. Solve a tricky situation – Salvare capra e cavoli

“To save goat and cabbages” is an Italian phrase that means finding a solution to a tricky situation without compromising any positive outcome. It’s a good one to learn and pull out if your Travel Director faces any challenging circumstances and is able to navigate and solve the situation with ease. It’s sure to make them laugh! 

TOUR ITALY: Italian Holiday

Bonus: Basic Numbers in Italian

Now we couldn’t finish this without teaching you basic numbers in Italian. One of the first hurdles of Italian communication is learning the numbers 1 to 5 – uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque.

These will prove invaluable for everyday interactions. From ordering a “caffè doppio” (double espresso) to bargaining at a market, these basic numbers will open doors to smoother navigation and Italian cultural immersion.

We’ve shared 40 Italian words and phrases to use next time you’re visiting Italy. From how to say good morning in Italian, to funny Italian phrases, which ones will you learn for your Italian trip? Leave us a comment below…

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