A guide to useful phrases in Italy

Italian is a beautiful language and relatively easy to learn. Don’t be worried if you’re staying in a rural region and don’t really understand what the locals are saying amongst themselves – they’re probably talking in a regional dialect.

All Italians speak standard Italian and are likely to respond enthusiastically if you try a few phrases out when speaking to them. The language is musical and you’ll make yourself more easily understood if you try to pronounce every syllable very clearly – as the Italians do.

Common Italian phrases

Hello/Goodbye – Ciao! (Chow!)
Goodbye – Arrivederci (Aree-ved-erchee)
Good morning – Buon Giorno (Bwon jaw-no )
Good evening – Buona Sera (Bwona say-ra)
Good Night – Buona notte (Bwona notay)
How are you? – Come sta? (singular) (Comay sty?)
Do you speak English? – Parla Inglese? (Parla Inglese)
I’m English – Sono Inglese (So-know een-glay-say)
I don’t understand – Non capisco (Non ka-peesk-koh)
Thank You – Grazie (Graz-ee-ay)
Please – Prego (Pray-go)
If you please – Per favore (Pair fav-aw-ray)
Excuse – Mi scusi / Scusi (Me Scoo-see)
Today – Oggi (Ohj-jee)
How much does it cost? – Quanto costa? (Cwanta costa?)
Where is …? – Dov’è ….? (Do-vey)
Lavatory/Toilet – Gabinetto/Bagno (Gab-in-ettoh)
Where is the …? – Dove si trova…? (Do-vey see trova)
Restaurant – Ristorante (Ri-stor-antey)
My name is – Mi chiamo (Mee key-amo)


One – Uno (Oonoh)
Two – Due (Du-eh)
Three – Tre (Tray)
Four – Quattro (Kwat-roh)
Five – Cinque (Chin-kwey)
Six – Sei (Say)
Seven – Sette (Seh-teh)
Eight – Otto (Oh-toe)
Nine – Nove (Noh-veh)
Ten – Dieci (Dee-eh-chi)

Out and about

Stamp – Francobollo (Francoh-bollo)
Postcard – Cartolina (Cartoh-lina)
Where is the station? – Dov’è la stazione? (Doh-veh lah stah-tsyoh-neh?)
How far is..? – Quanto dista? (Kwahn-toh dees-tah….?)
How do you get to…? – Come si arriva in….? (Koh-meh see ahr-ree-va….?)
The museum – Il museo (Eel moo-ZAY-yo)
…the church – La chiesa (Lah key-YAY-zah
…the cathedral – Il duomo [or] La cattedrale (Eel duo-mo [or] Lah cah-the-drahle)
When is it open? – Quando é aperto? (Kwan-doh ay ah-Pair-toh)
When does it close? – Quando si chiude? (Kwan-doh see key-YOU-day)
Ticket – Biglietto (Beel-YET-toh)
Two adults – Due adulti (Doo-way ah-Dool-tee)
One child – Un bambino (Oon bahm-bee-no)
One student – Uno studente (Oo-noh stu-dent-ay)

Eating out

A cappuccino, please – Un cappuccino, per favore (Oohn kahp-pooh-chee-noh pehr fah-voh-reh)
A glass of …… – Un bicchiere di ….. (Oohn bee-kyeh-reh dee…)
A glass of water, please – Un bicchiere di acqua minerale per favore (Oohn bee-kyeh-reh dee ahk-wah meen-eh-rah-leh perh fah-voh-reh)
What flavours? – Quali gusti? (Kwah-lee goohs-tee?)
I would like – Vorrei… (Voar-ray)
…Some (of) – Un pó (di) (Oon po (dee))
I would like to reserve… – Vorrei prenotare… (Voar-ray -pray-note-are-eh
A table for two – Una tavola per due (Oo-nah tah-voal-lah pair doo-way)
I am vegetarian – Sono vegetariano (So-no veg-eh-tair-ee-yah-no)
Have a good meal – Bon appetito (Bwan apeteetoh)
How much does it cost? – Quanto viene? (Kwahn-toh vyeh-neh)
The bill – Il conto (Eel contoh)
Is service included? – É incluso il servizio? (Ay een-clou-so eel sair-veet-zee-yo)

Food and Drink terms

Meals often start with a mixture of salads, cold hams and cheeses, followed by pasta dishes. The main course is usually meat or fish with a side dish of vegetables.

Mixed starters – Antipasti (Ahn-tee-pahst-ee)
Ham – Prosciutto (Pro-shoot-toh)
Seafood – Fruiti di mare (Fruity-dee-mar-eh)
Pudding/sweet – Dolci (Dolchee)
Soup – Zuppa (Zoopah)
Pasta Bolognese – Spaghetti Bolognese (Pahstah Boh-loh-nyeh-zeh)
Pasta and beans – Pasta e fagioli (Pasta eh fah-JOH-lee)
Ice cream – Un gelato (Oohn geh-lah-toh)
Steak – Bistecca (Beestayka)
Fish – Pesce (Pesheh)
Wine – Vino (Veeno)