There are those of you who love learning a new language, and those who don’t. Many travelers heading to Italy have no desire to learn the language and think everyone will just speak English anyway, so what’s the point.
Personally, I am in the first camp, especially when it comes to learning Italian. It’s just one of the most beautiful and melodic languages out there – I relish the opportunity to use it and learn more of it.
But I certainly understand those who don’t have the time or desire to tackle a new language. But, I still think learning some beneficial Italian language phrases before traveling to Italy, is a good idea. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Learn Italian pleasantries. Yes (si) and No (no) are easy. Hello and Goodbye (ciao), Please (per favore), Thank You (grazie) and You’re Welcome (prego) all go a long way and should be used often. Basic Italian greetings like good day (buongiorno) and good night (buona notte) sound lovely and will come in handy.
2. Learn how to ask questions. Who (Chi) , What (Che), Where (Dove), When (Quando) and How (Come). My biggest recommendation of the bunch is where or dove, pronounced doh-vey. It is an invaluable Italian word for travel. Very useful when you need directions, a bathroom, a specific restaurant, the post office or a museum. Commit Dov’é il gabinetto to memory. It means ‘where is the bathroom’?
3. Learn the days of the week, numbers 1-10 and how to tell time. These things will be very helpful when reading a train ticket, metro or bus schedule, as well as opening and closing hours for restaurants and museums. It is important to know that Italy generally follows military time.
4. Learn how to ask if someone speaks English. Sure, if you ask them in English and they do speak English, they will most likely answer you back. But asking in Italian is just more respectful. Locals will like the fact that you are at least making an attempt to speak a little of their language and they may be more helpful. Just ask “mi scusi, parla Inglese?” Conversely, learn how to tell someone you don’t speak Italian by saying “Mi dispiace, non parlo Italiano.”
If you wish to learn some Italian language basics, and pronunciations, here are a few related links that might help:
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