Holiday Italian – Know your essentials

Italy Holiday - Language Learning LibraryYou have booked your Italian holiday, you are all excited and you want to learn some holiday Italian but where do you start?

It’s a question I am frequently asked so I thought I would make a list.

One thing I will say about Italians is that they generally love a person who is attempting to use their language and you don’t need to pronounce things perfectly. Every time I have spoken and not been fully understood they are more than happy to help.

So, here goes…

Holiday Italian Essentials


Italians don’t really use good morning or good afternoon and instead favour using good day to cover both. Also, all of these can be used as the equivalent of Hello and Good Bye.

Good Day- Buongiorno ( Bwon-jor-no )

Good Evening – Buonasera ( Bwon-a-say-ra )

Good Night – Buona notte ( Bwon-a-nottay )

If you don’t think you can remember all three, then it is always perfectly acceptable just to use:

Hi – Ciao ( chow )

Now some introductions

My name is – Mi chiamo ( me key-a-mo )

How are you? – Come stai? ( comay sty )

I am well, thank you – Bene, grazie ( benny grat-zee-e )

Pleased to meet you – Piacere ( pee-a-cherry ) – my kids still laugh at that one every time!

The Essentials

Yes – Sì ( see )

No – No ( no ) – for this, the -o is pronounced more like the sound in bought

Please – Per Favore ( per fav-aw-ray )

Thank You – Grazie ( grat-zee-ay )

You are welcome – Prego ( pray-go ) – you will hear this a lot. It can also mean “can I help you” when asked by a waiter or sales assistant.

Sorry / Excuse me – Scusi ( skoo-zee )

Do you speak English? – Parla Inglese ( par-la een-glaze-ay )

At the hotel

I won’t go into checking in at the hotel as that could get a little complicated and goes beyond the realms of basic holiday Italian. The staff at the counter would likely speak English anyway. If not, it is perfectly acceptable to hand over a print out of your reservation.

When in the hotel though, you may need to highlight issues to a handyman or things like that so…

It is broken – è rotto ( eh row-toe ) – If you don’t know the word you need, you can simply point at it but here are a few:

The bed – il letto ( eel le-toe )

The shower – la doccia ( la doe-cha )

The toilet – il gabinetto ( eel ga-been-e-toe )

And if you need to ask for more…

Towels – asciugamani ( a-shoo-ga-man-ee )

Pillows – cuscini ( coo-shee-nee )

At a bar or restaurant

What holiday Italian list would be complete without teaching you to order. It’s pretty simple too…

Start with: I want – Voglio ( vol-yo )

And then you can add:

A table for two – Un tavolo per due ( oon tavolo per doo-e )

A menu – Un menu ( oon men-oo )

A drink – Una bevanda ( oona bev-anda )

A water – Un’acqua ( oon ak-wa )

A beer – Una birra ( oona bee-ra )

A wine – Un vino ( oon vee-no )

Red wine – vino rosso ( vee-no ross-o )

White wine – vino bianco ( vee-no bee-an-co )

A coffee – un cafè ( oon caff-e )

A tea – un tè ( oon te )

The bill – Il conto ( eel con-toe )

How much is it? – Quant’è ( qwan-te ) – this one is really useful in a shop too, you can just point at something and say quant’è

Finding your way around

Native Italians are lovely people and very very impressed by someone even trying to speak their language. “Where is the train?” would be perfectly acceptable if you were trying to find the train station so…

Start with: Where is… – Dov’è ( dov-e )

The bathroom – Il bagno ( eel ban-yo )

The bank – Il banco ( eel ban-co )

The train – il treno ( eel tre-no )

The bus – il autobus ( eel auto-boo-s )

The taxi – il taxi ( eel tax-ee )

Understanding the answer

Left – sinistra ( sin-ee-stra )

Right – destra ( des-tra )

Straight ahead – dritto ( dree-toe )

On the corner – sull’angolo ( sool angle-o )


One – Uno ( oo-no )
Two – Due ( doo-e )
Three – Tre ( tre )
Four – Quattro ( qwa-tro )
Five – Chinque ( cheen-qwe )
Six – Sei ( sey )
Seven – Sette ( se-tay )
Eight – Otto ( o-toe )
Nine – Nove ( nov-e )
Ten – Dieci ( dee-e-che )

Euro – Euro ( e-oo-row )

OK, I think that should be more than enough to get you started and help you have a fantastic holiday. If you have any questions or would like to suggest any other words, please add them in the comments below.

Have a great holiday!

If you feel ready to progress beyond holiday Italian or the basics that have been provided here, check out the Italian resources in the Language Learning Library