Italian For Travelers

Resources for learning Italian before you visit Italy

Vucciria Market, Piazza San Domenico, Palermo, Sicily
Christof Koepsel/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Taking a trip to Italy and want to learn Italian? If you want to have an incredible experience (not like all of those typical tourists) with the language tour to Tuscany you booked or the relatives in southern Italy you’re visiting, learning to speak basic Italian is a must.

It's not enough to fare la valigia (pack your suitcase) and watch Italian language movies before you arrive. Whether you're sightseeing in world-famous cities like Florence, Rome, and Venice, on a business trip in Milan, or reuniting with family, there are a multitude of ways to improve your Italian before traveling to Italy.


Italian Survival Phrases

Your first objective should be to learn Italian survival phrases. Greetings and farewells will earn you goodwill, and ones related to train travel and your hotel will help you solve problems quickly.

Plus, remembering a few phrases related to dining out can make the difference between a good meal and a memorable one.

After all, if you don't know the difference between a pesca (peach) and pesce (fish), you might go hungry.


The Basics

If you're pressed for time, focus on the fundamentals. Study the Italian ABC's and Italian numbers, learn how to pronounce Italian words and ask questions in Italian, and brush up on the euro (after all, you'll have to reach into your portafoglio—wallet—eventually).


How To's

Don't want to miss the next train to Venice? Have tickets to La Scala for 20:00 and aren't sure when that is? Here are quick, step-by-step instructions on how to tell time in Italian that will help you avoid missing curtain call.

Michelangelo's is around the corner. Or so you thought the sign said. Avoid missing the highlights of Italy with simple instructions on how to ask for directions in Italian.

Travelers to Italy might also want to know , how to pronounce Italian words, and how to conjugate Italian verbs like a native.


It's All in the Hands

When all else fails—your is buried deep in your suitcase and you can’t even begin to think in Italian—try to speak Italian with your hands. It's not just pointing and grunting when ordering your favorite , either.

Italian hand gestures are a way to convey emotions and passions that Italians will understand implicitly. What might seem at first to be physical theater or a scene in an Italian comedy will actually be a way to connect that will be much appreciated.


Buon Appetito!

One of the primary reasons for traveling to Italy (besides the magnificent art, the incredible history, the amazing archeological sites) is la cucina italiana. One challenge is since dishes are usually served on separate plates in a specific order. include the autogrill, or roadside snack bar; the osteria, an informal place; the trattoria, which is a medium-priced, often family-run eating establishment; and the paninoteca, a place where sandwiches and salads are often available.

Travelers are often puzzled about tipping in restaurants in Italy, and for good reason. Il coperto (cover charge for bread and water)—but not the service charge—is usually included in il conto (the bill). Italians tend to tip minimally.


Divertiti - Have fun!

One of the best ways to pass time like an Italian is to spend a day (or a month) at the beach. Here are phrases to help you do that. You’re going to see incredible sights, so you’ll want to have suitable vocabulary to express how incredible whatever you’re seeing is. Plus, you’ll find some of the best shopping in the world in Italy. You better be prepared for it.

If you’re interested in learning Italian and becoming fluent, read this. And if you’re feeling really brave, you can visit these places that aren’t on the typical tourist’s itinerary.

Buon viaggio!

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Your Citation
Filippo, Michael San. "Italian For Travelers." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Filippo, Michael San. (2021, February 16). Italian For Travelers. Retrieved from Filippo, Michael San. "Italian For Travelers." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).