The joy of languages

20 Italian Survival Phrases

Art, good food, the sea… it’s no mystery why every year millions of us choose to make Italy our summer holiday destination.

If you’re heading to Italy this year, don’t forget that not only Italian is one of the most beautiful languages in the world, but it’s also loads of fun to speak!

We’ve compiled a list of 20 phrases that will serve you well on your next trip to Italy, using our exclusive Native Speaker Videos from the Membus tour. Remember to check out Memrise for more!

Andiamo! Let’s go 💪

1. Che meraviglia! / How amazing!

In Italy you’re going to be seeing gorgeous buildings, ancient sites, breathtaking vistas and beautiful sunsets. This phrase will be useful for describing all of them!

2. Buongiorno / Good morning

If you find yourself in a quaint Italian village, it’s only polite to say good morning to people, even if you don’t know them!

3. Il caffè è delizioso / The coffee is delicious

Italians are serious about their coffee. They drink cappuccinos in the morning, and espressos after a meal. Don’t get them mixed up! Just smile, and compliment the taste of one of Italy’s proudest creations.

4. È molto buono / It’s very good

Compliments are important in Italy, so store this one up safe and use it whenever you can! You can use it for food, the weather, people’s clothes, ideas… literally anything!

5. Capisci? / Got it?

Who said watching US gangster films wasn’t educational? You may recognise this one from the big screen. But it’s super important, so learn it. Capisci?

6. Mamma mia! / OMG!

Use this extremely useful Italian phrase to respond to anything vaguely alarming or startling that may happen while you’re away. It literally means “my mother”.

7. Sei un genio / You’re a genius

Remember what we said about compliments being important? Learn your Italian phrases well enough and you may hear people saying this to you!

8. Sono arrabbiato perché ho fame / I’m angry because I’m hungry

Food is an essential part of Italian life. If you find that getting hungry has an impact on your mood (hangry?), use this phrase to explain yourself. Everyone will understand!

9. Siamo dipendenti dallo zucchero / We’re addicted to sugar

Ever felt embarrassed about having to ask for even more sugar with your coffee? Just explain to your waiter that it’s not him, it’s you!

10. Ovviamente parlo inglese / Of course I speak English

The word “ovviamente” is one of those really fun Italian words that rolls straight off the tongue. Why not add it to the front of “parlo inglese” to sound really impressive? And also to rescue yourself if people are speaking too much Italian and you don’t understand 😅

11. Piacere di conoscerti / Nice to meet you

It’s very easy to meet people in Italy who will quickly become your best friends. So learn this phrase and use it whenever you get chatting with someone new.

12. Devo comprare un ombrello / I have to buy an umbrella

Hopefully you won’t really have to use this on your next trip to Italy, but after all you never know…

13. Il cliente ha sempre ragione / The customer is always right

If you find yourself having problems with service while you’re in Italy, feel free to use this one to remind your waiter who’s paying the bill!

14. Puoi ripeterlo per favore? / Can repeat that please?

Having trouble following what people are saying?? This phrase will come in handy. Your other alternative is just to study the gestures. Very closely. They mean much more than you think…

15. Mi piacerebbe, ma devo alzarmi presto domani / I’d love to, but I have to get up early tomorrow

Italians love socialising and going out, and sometimes it can be hard not to join them. This is a great excuse to get yourself to bed if you need to get up early. That is, if you can say no!

16. Per quale squadra tifi? / What team do you support?

Football is a way of life in Italy. And talking about football is also one of those international languages that almost everyone, everywhere can understand. Kick off a conversation with one of Italians’ greatest passions with this useful phrase.

17. La fortuna del principiante / Beginner’s luck

If you find yourself watching sport with Italians whose team lose, here’s one way of consoling them. If they can be consoled at all!

18. È acqua passata / Water under the bridge

Here’s another way to reassure your Italian friends that the world didn’t end that day their team lost the match.

19. Così è la vita / That’s life

In a country where anything can go on strike at any time, for any reason, and for any duration, this is a phrase that you may find yourself using more than you’d think! That’s life… in Italy!

20. Morto un Papa, se ne fa un altro / There are plenty more fish in the sea

This phrase literally means “One Pope dies, we’ll make another”.

Want to brush up your Italian before you head off on your next trip to Italy? Check out Memrise!

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