50+ Useful Italian Phrases for Your Travels

UPDATED:

Kate + Vin

Italian Travel Phrases Guide
tyrolean alps icon

Everyone visiting Italy should have a basic understanding of the Italian language. Whether you are holidaying in South Tyrol or some other gorgeous corner of the country, below you’ll find a detailed overview of useful Italian phrases for travelers like yourself.

Part of the beauty of South Tyrol is its delicious blend of Austrian and Italian cultural influences. While the majority of locals speak German as their first language, most South Tyroleans are bilingual. This is immediately evident as you encounter signs in German and Italian upon entering the region. 

You certainly do not need to know either language to visit South Tyrol; however, your trip will be more rewarding by becoming a little familiar with either one. If you are tying in your South Tyrol trip with a visit to other hot spots in Italy such as the Renaissance city of Florence or the rolling countryside of Tuscany, this article is for you. We cover the basics, as well as give you useful Italian travel phrases. 

If you are only visiting South Tyrol and you are not sure whether to learn German or Italian, here’s a quick word test using a traditional South Tyrolean delight — Fresh goat cheese in bacon crust. Do your best to speak each of the following:

  • Ziegenfrischkäse im Speckmantel
  • Caprino in crosta di Speck

Which one rolled off the tongue easier? If it was the first, you might prefer bratwurst over pizza and may want to head over to our helpful German phrases article before reading further.

Babbel Logo

By the way, if you are interested in learning Italian (or practically any language for that matter), we highly recommend Babbel. We purchased lifetime access at 50% Off and love learning with it. The app is both fun and addicting!

Time-Saving Tip 🡆 Download our Travel Guide to obtain a printable PDF of Useful Italian Phrases & Words. It’s a great resource to access quickly as a printout or on your phone while traveling in Italy.

Don’t Be Brad Pitt – The Basics of Italian Pronunciation

Before diving into basic Italian phrases it’s helpful to have a grasp on proper pronunciation. This will come in handy when running into specialties listed on a menu or when meeting someone, for example. After all, you don’t want to come off like Brad Pitt when saying goodbye to your new Italian friends.

Here are some basic Italian pronunciation guidelines:

  • “A” is pronounced like the a in water
  • “I” like the “ee” in feet
  • “U” like the “oo” in boot
  • “C” before “i” or “e” is pronounced like a “ch”
  • “G” before an “i” or “e” like the “g” in “giraffe”
  • “H” is silent
  • “R” is almost always rolled…and almost always fun to say!
  • “Z” like the “ds” in “ads” at the beginning of the sentence, and like the “ts” in tents everywhere else
  • “Gli” sounds like the “lli” in billion, which sounds like “yee”

In general, the emphasis is on the second-to-last syllable (i.e. “Arrivederci” is “ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee”). This stress helps give the Italian language its poetic cadence. If the last letter of the word has an accent symbol, the emphasis is likely on the last syllable (i.e. perché is pear-kEH)

Saying Hello & Goodbye in Italian

Italian Phrases for Travelers
When visiting places such as Seceda, it is common courtesy to greet other hikers.

Now that you know basic Italian pronunciation, here are a handful of greetings you may hear or can use when interacting with the locals or travelers from Italy:

  • Benvenuto (Ben ven uto) – Welcome
  • Buongiorno (Bwohn journo) – Good morning or good day. Typically used until late afternoon
  • Buona sera (Bwohn ah say rah) – Good evening. 
  • Buona notte (Bwohn ah nau-tay) – Good night. Use when saying goodbye at night
  • Ciao (chow) – A common way to informally say hello or goodbye at any time of day
  • Salve (sahl vey) – The polite, formal way to say hello. Can be used any time of day 
  • Arrivederci (ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee) – The formal way to say goodbye

Basic Italian Travel Phrases for Conversations

After starting a dialogue, you may want to inform the person that you speak a little Italian.

  • I understand a little Italian: “Io capisco un po l’Italiano” (EE-oh kah-PEES-koh oon poh lee-TAH-lyah-noh)

If you do not want to attempt any conversation in Italian, let the person know you do not speak any Italian.

  • I don’t speak Italian: “Non parlo Italiano” (non PAR-lo Italiano)

Then, you would want to follow this by asking them if they speak English.

  • Do you speak English?: “Parla Inglese?”(PAR-la ee-GLAY-zay)

If the person responds “No”, they do in fact mean “No”. “Yes” in Italian, on the other hand, is “Si” (see).

While in Italy you should know how to ask where something is located. Nothing is more important when nature calls and you are in the middle of a castle tour that is entirely in Italian. True story. Best told over vino (wine).

  • Where is?: “Dove’?” (doe VEH)
  • Where is the bathroom?: “Dove’ il bagno?” (doe VEH eel BHAN-yo).
    Note: If you’re in a panic situation and these words evade you, try yelling “Aiuto!” (I u-toh), which means “Help!”. Once help arrives, of course, the right thing to do is offer a “thank you”: “Grazie” (GRAT-zee-yay)
  • Where is a restaurant?”: “Dove’ un ristorante?”(doe VEH oon rees toh-RAHN-tay)
  • Where is the main train station?”: Dove’ la stazione centrale?” (doe VEH lah stah-zee-oh-neh sen-trah-lay)
  • Where is the cable car?: “Dove’ la funivia?” (doe VEH lah foo-nih-vee-a)

Time-Saving Tip 🡆 Download our Travel Guide to obtain a printable PDF of Useful Italian Phrases & Words. It’s a great resource to access quickly as a printout or on your phone while traveling in Italy.

Additional Useful Italian Travel Phrases

  • Quanto costa?: How much does it cost?
  • Quanto costa il biglietto: How much is the ticket?
  • Per favore: Please
  • Prego: You’re welcome
  • Mi chiamo…: My name is…
  • Come ti chiami: What is your name?
  • Chi: Who?
  • Quando: When?
  • Cosa: What?
  • Perché: Why?
  • Destra (right), sinistra (left), dritto (straight)
  • Vicino (close), lontano (far)

Useful Italian Words for Travel: Getting from Point A to Point B

Basic Italian Phrases for using modes of transportation such as cable cars, trains, etc.
Whether you are using a cable car to reach Alpe di Siusi or hopping on a train to Rome, your stress level will be much less by knowing a handful of common transportation phrases.

When you’re traveling around South Tyrol or if arriving in other cities like Bolzano (Bozen), Milan, Verona or Venice first, you’ll likely need to look for specific places or forms of transportation. Here are some of the most common Italian travel words you may need or encounter while on your adventure:

  • Arrivo: Arrival
  • Partenza: Departure
  • Programma: Schedule
  • Stazione ferroviari: Train station
  • Biglietto: Ticket
  • Treno: Train
  • Macchina: Car. Also known as auto
  • Noleggio auto: Car rental
  • Funivia: Cable car
  • Autobus: Bus
  • Aeroporto: Airport
  • Taxi: Taxi
  • Parcheggio: Parking
  • Cantina: Winery
  • Banca: Bank. Be sure to ask for a bancomat if you’re looking for an ATM
  • Mercato del contadino: Farmer’s market
  • Farmacia: Pharmacy
  • Ospedale: Hospital
  • Panetteria: Bakery
  • Polizia: Police
  • Museo: Museum
  • Castello: Castle
  • Chiesa: Church
  • Uffico del Turismo: Office of Tourism
  • Supermercato: Grocery
  • Piazza: Town Square

Hopefully, you’re able to avoid getting sick while traveling, but if not keep an eye out for signs indicating “Farmacia” and “Ospedale”. By the way, if you are renting a car while in Italy, see our post on driving in Italy It will help you enjoy a stress-free time on the road.

Telling Time in Italian

Knowing how to tell the time in Italy will really only be useful if you forget your watch or if your smartphone dies. In that case, this highly instructional video shows you how to accurately ascertain the time when roaming the Italian countryside.

  • Che ore sono?: “What time is it?”

Know Your Numbers in Italian

Once you’ve made your way to the supermercato, panetteria or cantina, knowing numbers in Italian helps understand prices, order quantities, etc.

  • uno (1)
  • due (2)
  • tre (3)
  • quattro (4)
  • cinque (5)
  • sei (6)
  • sette (7)
  • otto (8)
  • nove (9)
  • dieci (10)
  • undici (11)
  • dodici (12)
  • tredici (13)
  • quattordici (14)
  • quindici (15)
  • seidici (16)
  • diciassette (17)
  • diciotto (18)
  • diciannove (19)
  • venti (20)
  • venticinque (25)
  • cinquanta (50)
  • settanta cinque (75)
  • cento (100)

Ordering Food & Drink in Italian

Ordering Food in Italian
Ordering food in Italian is almost has fun as eating it.

When visiting Italian-speaking places like South Tyrol, the last thing you want to struggle with is ordering food and drink. An Italian adventure without being able to fully savor its culinary treasures is what nightmares are made of. Here are some drinks you may wish to order:

  • vino: wine
  • vino bianco: white wine
  • vino rosso: red wine
  • birra: beer
  • acqua: water
  • caffè: coffee
  • latte: milk

Here are some basic Italian phrases that will help you while dining in Italy:

  • [Un] vino bianco per favore: One white wine please
  • {Due] Hugo spruzzo per favore: Two Hugo Spritz please
  • [Tre] vini rossi per favore: Three red wines please

Note: Replace vini rossi with vino rosso for a single glass of red wine.

  • [Quattro] birra per favore: Four beers please

Note: Replace uno with una for a single glass of beer.

  • [Un] caffe con latte per favore: One coffee with milk please
  • Tavolo per [due] per favore: Table for two please
  • A che ora chiudete?: What time do you close?
  • A che ora apri?: What time do you open?
  • Hai un menu?: Do you have a menu?
  • Posso vedere la lista dei vini per favore?: Can I see the wine list please?
  • Quanto costa?: How much does it cost?
  • Quanto le devo?: How much do I owe?
  • Puoi scriverlo per favore?: Can you please write that down?
  • Posso avere il conto per favore?: Can I have the bill please?
  • Posso pagare in contanti?: May I pay with cash?
  • Posso pagare con la carta di credito?: May I pay with credit card?

South Tyrol is famous for its unique culinary culture. If you visiting the region take time to discover the must-try South Tyrol cuisine before your trip.

Knodel dish in Italy

Regardless of whether your journey takes you to South Tyrol or any other region in Italy, you’ll find that dining here offers a unique experience that’s likely different from what you’re accustomed to back home. To fully savor this culinary adventure, check out these helpful tips for eating in Italy. It’s a great companion to our list of useful Italian phrases.

One dish that’s likely on your must-try list is an authentic Italian pizza. For insights into what to expect when ordering this iconic dish, ITALY magazine provides an informative piece that’s worth a read.

Time-Saving Tip 🡆 Download our Travel Guide to obtain a printable PDF of Useful Italian Phrases & Words. It’s a great resource to access quickly as a printout or on your phone while traveling in Italy.

Additional Italian Language & Travel Tips

Coffee Break Italian Podcast: This podcast has free and members-only versions. While there are additional bonus materials available to members, the free podcast is exceptional. Out of the three resources we mention here, this is the most beneficial for travel in Italian-speaking regions. Another advantage to this podcast is that the hosts provide details on grammar and cultural nuggets, review past lessons and break down the language. If you do not have any Italian language experience, we recommend starting with episode 1.

Untold Italy: Untold Italy is our favorite podcast about visiting the country. Every episode is packed with practical advice and stories that inspire our wanderlust. Katy, the host, excels at providing travel insights and insider tips you cannot find elsewhere. She covers every gorgeous region from the Italian Alps to Sicily.

Make Sure to Keep Learning Italian Fun

We’ve learned that the most important part of learning a new language is not to judge yourself too harshly or to take yourself too seriously. Sure you may get frustrated, but just remind yourself that you’re on vacation after all.

You’re going to make mistakes and sound silly. Everyone does. Learning a new language is very challenging, so be patient with yourself. Keep in mind that most Italians are just as self-conscious and apologetic for their English as you are for your Italian.

Kate & Vin South Tyrol & Dolomites Travel Consultants

About KATE & vin

Kate and Vin are South Tyrol + Dolomites travel specialists and the founders of Throne & Vine. They're dedicated to helping travelers discover and visit the most beautiful region in the Italian Alps.

2 thoughts on “50+ Useful Italian Phrases for Your Travels”

  1. This is such a helpful guide for those heading to Italy. I’m so curious now about the Brad Pitt comment, did he totally mangle the Italian language at some point?

    • Hi Kavita – Glad you find this Italian language guide helpful! Mr. Pitt mangled Italian the second he opened his mouth! Too much Southern drawl!

Comments are closed.

Share this

You cannot copy content of this page