Useful phrases for your trip to Italy
Imagine you have arrived in the Bella Italia, you are lost and you really need to ask for information. You stop the first person who passes by and ask "Mi scusi, parla inglese?"- Sorry do you speak English? - the guy stares at you and says "Non capisco!" - I don’t understand! - and now? What do you do?
People usually think that Italians do not really speak English or any other language, guess what... it is kind of true. Even though in the most touristic spots on Lake Garda you will easily find people who are able to speak English and German, if you want to live the authentic Italian experience and go off the beaten paths, you will have to deal with older generations and people who will talk to you in Italian. But do not worry, we are here to help you communicate by teaching you some useful Italian sentences you will need once you get here.
First of all you need to learn how to greet people. You can say "Buongiorno" or "Buona sera", - good morning and good evening - and you can end any conversation with an "Arrivederci" - goodbye. If you want to stay informal you can just say "Ciao", which means both hello and goodbye. If you want to introduce yourself, then you can say "Piacere, sono Paul" - nice to meet you, I am Paul.
Asking for information/ directions
To stop someone politely you have to say "Scusi..."- Excuse me... and then add whatever you need to ask. For instance if you are lost you will say "Scusi, mi sono perso. Puo’ aiutarmi? Dove devo andare?", that is to say Excuse me, I am lost. Can you help me? Where do I have to go? To ask directions for a precise place you can say "Come si va a Bardolino?" - How do I reach Bardolino? - or "Dov’è la fermata dell’autobus?"- Where is the bus stop?
Here is a small guide to understand directions:
- Svolta a destra / sinistra → turn right / left
- Vai dritto → continue straight
- Torna indietro → turn back
If you do not understand you can ask "Può ripetere per favore?" - Could you repeat please? - if you do understand the answer then you can thank the person with a "Grazie" or "Grazie mille".
At the restaurant
Having greeted the staff of a restaurant, you need a table and so you can ask "Avete un tavolo per 4 persone?" - Do you have a table for 4? Once you seat yourselves, you read the menu and you are ready to order, so you ask "Possiamo ordinare?" - Can we order? If you are still undecided, do not hesitate to ask for advice to the waiter "Cosa mi consiglia?".
To appreciate your dish you can then say "Buonissimo!", if you do not like it instead you can say "non mi piace". Finally you need to ask for the bill, "Possiamo avere il conto, per favore?". Italians like cash but most places nowadays accept credit cards. In order to ask if it is possible to pay with credit card the phrase is "È possibile pagare con carta di credito?", the answer can be "Sì, certamente" or "No, mi dispiace" - Yes of course or No I am sorry.
At the hotel
You have arrived at your accommodation and want to announce you have a reservation, then you say "Buongiorno, abbiamo una prenotazione a nome Smith" - Good morning, we have a reservation under the name Smith. "Dov’è la camera?" - Where is the room? - "Dov’è il bagno?" - Where is the toilet? You may need to ask at what time they do a certain activity, like breakfast for instance. Then you say "A che ora è la colazione?" - At what time do you serve breakfast? If you want to ask how much you have to pay for an extra service, for instance a drink at the bar, then you can say "Quanto costa?" - How much is it? Or "Quanto costano?"
if it is more than one thing. And if you spill that drink on the floor and need to apologize, to say sorry in Italian you say "Mi dispiace".
And now you just need a bit of practice and you are ready to go. So, buon viaggio! Have a nice trip!