24 Essential Italian Phrases Every Traveler Should Learn

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Heading out for a trip to Rome Rome but don’t speak a word of Italian?

No need to worry!

With this handy list of basic Italian phrases, you’ll be speaking like a local in no time.

Why Learn Italian

pretty street in rome

To wow the locals with your command of their beautiful language, of course!

When you are traveling to popular Italian cities like VeniceCinque Terre, and Milan, it is helpful to know some basic phrases and words to make communication easier and to show respect for the local culture.

It will also allow you to interact with locals and maybe even make new friends. 

Learning a new language is not only a useful skill, but it is also fun. In this article, we’ll cover 

  • The most basic Italian phrases for travel
  • A few facts about world language
  • Why travelers should learn basic words and phrases
  • Tips on how to learn a new language

The Best Books to Learn Italian

I started learning Italian because I wanted to travel more away from the beaten path of Italy and connect with locals.

Since then, I’ve used these books that have helped me on my journey. The lessons are easy and doable.

If you want to learn nouns, pronouns, conjugation, articles, adjectives, grammar, and increase your vocabulary, then grab these books to master the basics of Italian language skills.

Basic Italian Words and Phrases for Travelers

Italian is a beautiful Romance language that is spoken by around 60 million people primarily in Italy.

Some basic and commonly used Italian words and phrases are included below.

Want to learn Italian pronunciation and sounds for free? Listen online to learn the sounds and pronunciations!

italian words and phrases infographic

Why Learn a New Language

man on moped

Whether you need to order food, get directions, or make new friends, these essential expressions will allow you to navigate your trip to any country with confidence.

You can also use it for greeting people and introducing yourself.

You don’t need to be very fluent. English has become a essential language in tourism. Just pick up a few essential Italian words and sentences.

You’ll be surprised by how quickly these common words and phrases will roll off your tongue.

Explore Cultures

Language learning is an incredibly rewarding experience that enables you to communicate with people all over the world.

In addition to exploring new cultures, you can better understand another culture through its film, local Italian foods, and music.  

When you learn Italian phrases before traveling to Italy, it shows your enthusiasm for immersing yourself in the local culture and making genuine connections with the people you meet.

By taking the time to learn some basic Italian phrases, you’ll be able to navigate the country more easily and engage in light conversations.

Career Opportunities

Many Americans are learning another language, like Spanish, to boost their career prospects.

Learning another language also helps to increase student opportunities for studying abroad. So why not add some Italian phrases to your arsenal of communications.

Personal Growth

They also help build your confidence and improve your memory. Learning a new language allows you to not only understand but also empathize with others.

The better you understand someone, the more you can put yourself in their shoes.  

World Language Facts

  • There are 7,102 known languages in the world.
  • 23 languages are the mother (native) tongue of 4.1 billion people.
  • English is the most popular language learned around the world and is spoken in 110 countries.
  • There are more native Mandarin Chinese speakers than native English speakers.
  • English is the most common language used on the internet (60.4% of top 10 million websites), but only 16.2% of the world population speak the language.

Source: Visual Capitalist

Tips on How to Learn a New Language

My journey of learning Italian started two years ago. After weighing a few learning options, trying a few apps, and speaking with polyglots, these are some of the best tips shared with me by seasoned language learners.

Focus on the Sounds

When possible, find a language partner who is a native Italian to help you with pronunciation. The language is highly phonic, and every letter must be pronounced. 

Think of it this way. In English, the words ‘who’, ‘how’, and ‘hoe’ have a different emphasis on the letter O.

You wouldn’t what to say, “Hoe are you?” when you mean “How are you?”, that would be awkward.

It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint

Learning a new language takes time. There will be high and low periods of learning, but don’t give up.

Italian is not a hard language to learn, but it is very phonetic. Focus on learning the basics and set a goal to speak at least 10 sentences before you pack.

I balance my time across writing, reading, speaking, and listening. When I am exhausted from reading, I focus on another area for a while. 

Practice, Practice Practice

While there are several ways of learning a new language, all methods require practice.

I have used DuoLingo, Hello Talk, and Tandem to learn Italian. DuoLingo is good because it lets you learn at your own pace. Hello Talk and Tandem are excellent choices for connecting with native speakers.

I prefer this method because it is more interactive, they correct my pronuciation, and we can have live confirmations on WhatsApp.

The difference in time zone can be a challenge with Italy being 7 hours ahead. It seems that 2PM CT works best for both countries.

iTalki is another great app for conversations with native speakers. I am also used this method and arranged for private lessons with an Italian instructor.

Another tip is to speak to yourself. While having an Italian breakfast, say what you are eating (in your new language)! 

Final Thoughts on Italian Phrases for Travelers

horse carriages in rome

Learning some common Italian phrases can greatly enhance your travel experience in Italy.

As well as helping you to communicate more effectively with locals, you will also gain a better understanding of the local culture.

If you learn a few key phrases, you can feel more comfortable and confident when ordering food, asking for directions, or simply greeting someone.


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10 Comments

  1. This is a great guide on the best Italian phrases every traveler should learn! We love Italy and would love to return.

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      I think foreigners appreciate it when you try to speak their native language, even though it’s not perfect. I think Americans feel the same when foreigners try to speak English 🙂

  2. Sarah | Travel for a Living says:

    Very helpful. I usually do my best to at least learn a few phrases in the local language. Even if it is only ‘hello’ and ‘sorry, I don’t speak your language, do you speak English?’ Usually people are more than happy to help out in English, once they see you make the effort of communicating in their language.

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Yes, at the very least all terms that show good manners are an excellent start!

  3. Great guide! I feel like stumbling across this post is a sign that I should be planning a trip to Italy, right? haha

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Yes, you should (take me with you)!

  4. I love those language facts at the beginning! So interesting. This is a great guide! I knew a few of these when we visited Italy a few years ago, but I wish I would have had this table with me so I could have learned a few more 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  5. This guide will come in very handy when I go to Italy. I didn’t know any Italian words.

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      You will have a wonderful time in Italy! Let me know if you need a plus one 🙂