The Top Ten Tips for Talking Italian

Talking Italian - Caravaggio's 'la chiamata di San Matteo'

After our recent post on Italian dining etiquette, we thought we would give you some tips on speaking in Italian too. So whether you are getting ready for a trip to Italy, or you’d just like to impress your local Italian restaurant staff, here a few key Italian words and phrases to help you.

Don’t forget to use lots of hand-gestures when speaking, even if you are speaking on the telephone, to be truly like an Italian!

Un tavolo per uno/due/tre/quattro/cinque? – A table for one/two/three/four/five?: The first thing that any polite Italian would ask when entering into a restaurant. It’s not polite to sit before being led to the table or at least given the OK to be seated.

Per favore ? Please: Being polite in Italian is very important. When speaking with someone for the first time, or someone who is your senior, Italians address the person in third person ? just like you would do were you to be conversing with the Queen of England. So it is very important when speaking to someone that you are formally polite.

Grazie ? Thank you: ‘Grat-see-eh’. Thank you ? for the food, for the wine, for the stunning views, for the fantastic experiences, for the art, the weather, the fashion, thank you to the friendly locals, thank you thank you thank you!

Prego ? Welcome: You’ll here this everywhere in Italy and in many different circumstances. It is used as a response to ‘grazie’, as in ‘you’re welcome’, it is used to mean ‘after you’ when someone lets you enter a doorway before you.

Quanta costa ? What does it cost?: Used to ask for the price, you’ll need this when buying shoes, handbags, jewellery, clothing, artwork, and many of the other stunning artisan things to buy.

Vino ? Wine: It can be white (‘bianco’), red (‘rosso’) or in between (‘rosè’) – but in Italy, it is always good! And the prices aren’t bad either. There is also less sulphur used in most of the wines, meaning you won’t even get a headache the next day. Perhaps that’s why there is no real clear-cut word for ‘hangover’ in Italian.

Bella/Bello ? Beautiful: It’s easy to see why, but you’ll hear this word so often in Italy! Bella is for ‘feminine’ things (be it actual females, or objects that have for some logical reason ? or otherwise – been classified as female, like chairs, pens, a card, necklace, shirt, shoes, skirt, cup, grappa, handbag, keyboard, telephone call, pizza and many other things ? about half of everything actually) or male (a group, a telephone, a meal, wine, a ring, a motorbike, an aeroplane, a computer, and the other half of all things in the world).

Arrivederci ? Goodbye: The good thing about this way of saying goodbye in Italian is that it literally translates to ‘we’ll see each other again’. If you really want to say goodbye in a ‘goodbye and good riddance’ kind of way (as you may find yourself saying to your boss after visiting Italy and deciding to pack in your job and move here for good!), then you will need the word ‘addio’.

A dopo – See you later/A presto – See you soon: much more preferred than ‘arrivederci’ and certainly to ‘addio’ when it comes to places you visit in Italy!

So from us at Artviva, grazie for visiting our page, and ‘a dopo’.

*** If you’d like a much more intensive look at Italy and it’s culture, contact us for information on our tours and Italy experiences at or visit our site for details and pretty pictures: For a more personal touch, call us on Italian number 0039 055 264 5033 ***

*** If you would like to study Italian in Italy, there are many Italian language schools. One Artviva staff member learnt a lot from Alberto at AZ Language School in Florencel – ***

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