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Learn Some Basic Italian Phrases Before Going Abroad

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/8/2013

You booked your flight to Italy but you do not know how to speak Italian. What kind of situations might you come into and what phrases can help you out?

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    Traveling to Italy

    Maybe you just booked your romantic honeymoon or perhaps you will be traveling throughout Italy for the summer. Either way, you will be in Italy and the only Italian words you know are “Ciao,” “Si,” and the universal “No.” With these words, you will only get as far as saying hello, goodbye, yes, or no to others. Maybe you do not have enough time to learn an entire language or you do not feel the need to learn all of Italian. So what common Italian phrases and words do you need to know when traveling to Italy?

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    Greetings:

    An obvious greeting in Italy is “Ciao,” which you may or may not know. This is a very general way of saying hello and goodbye. If you want to make what you are saying more personal here are a few necessary phrases:

    • Buongiorno: Good Morning
    • Buon pomeriggio: Good Afternoon
    • Buona sera: Good Evening
    • Come sta? How are you? (formal)
    • Come va? How are you doing?
    • Salve: Hello
    • Pronto: Hello (used when answering the telephone)
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    Traveling

    You cannot get by on small talk and introductions alone especially when renting cars, booking hotels, booking airfare, dining out, etc. So what else will you need to know about tourist or travel talk in Italian?

    • Avere una stanza libera? Do you have any vacancies?
    • Ho prenotato una stanza: I have a reservation
    • Quanto si paga per notte? How much is it per night?
    • Hai bisogno dei nostri passaporti? Do you need our passports?
    • Ecco il passaporto: Here is my passport
    • Posso telefonare al mio consolato? Can I telephone my consulate?
    • Potrei vedere il menu? Can I see the menu?
    • Cosa ci consiglia? What would you recommend?
    • Puo portarci il conto, per favore? May we have the check, please?
    • Quanto costa? How much will this cost?
    • Vorrei noleggiare una macchina: I would like to rent a car.
    • Devo annullare il mio volo: I have to cancel my reservation.
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    Destinations

    Phrases that can help you locate important destinations during your travel.

    • Dove è l'ospedale? Where is the hospital?
    • Dove è l'aeroporto? Where is the airport?
    • Dove è il museo? Where is the museum?
    • Dove è il bus? Where is the bus?
    • Come ottengo all'aeroporto? How do I get to the airport?
    • Come ottengo al museo? How do I get to the museum?
    • Come ottengo all'hotel? How do I get to the hotel?
    • Vorrei ottenere un tassì. I would like to get a taxi.
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    Emergency Phrases

    Some emergency phrases that you never know when you may need:

    • Ho bisogno dell'aiuto. I need help
    • Ho bisogno di un medico. I need a doctor.
    • Sono ferito. I am hurt.
    • Prendalo all'ospedale. Take me to the hospital.
    • Prendalo alla farmacia. Take me to the drugstore.
    • Sto avendo difficultà con il mio cuore. I am having trouble with my heart.
    • Sto avendo difficultà con la mia respirazione. I am having trouble with my breathing.
    • Sto avendo difficultà con il mio stomaco. I am having trouble with my stomach.
    • Sono stato vestito. I have been robbed.
    • Denomini la polizia. Call the police.

    I recommend buying a small Italian phrase book as you may come into situations not mentioned here. One book I recommend is “Italian Phrase Book” by Eyewitness Travel Guides Phrase Books. This book offers basics of the Italian language, including but not limited to everyday phrases, food, shopping, numbers, and time.