Italian language: survival kit for your vacations

Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world. Of the over 7,000 known living languages only 3 have more students than those that study Italian. The fellow European tongues of English, Spanish and French take the top three spots.

So why is the Italian language so popular one might ask? What is the draw that keeps the 19th most spoken language at the top of the ‘To Learn’ list? Mirko Tavosania, director of ICoN believes it has to do with inherent qualities of the language itself.

Italian is a romance language. It flows in a song like pattern that is pleasing both to the speaker and the listener alike. Italian was the language of Dante. ‘Italiano’ not only feels good on the tongue, it tastes good as well.

Some of the most popular cuisine in the world finds it roots near the ancient Roman capital. Classics such as Risotto, Vermicelli and Fettuccine have already taught us a useful set of flavorful words.

As the third most visited European country with a little over 47 million new arrivals each year, perhaps the utility of speaking with new acquaintances in their own linguistic space has spurred a large portion of tourists to learn Italian.

Here’s a language survival kit which could be useful in various occasions when travelling in Italy.

Sopravvivenza (Survival kit) – Communication when you first learn Italian can be a bit challenging. For fluent speakers the speed of the Italian language is no trouble. For newcomers it can be a bit intimidating. The following phrases are useful for controlling the pace of conversation.


Potresti ripetere per favore?
– Can You Say It Again?

Puoi parlare lentamente?
– Can You Speak Slowly?

Non capisco!
– I Don’t Understand!

il mio italiano è orribile.
– My Italian is bad.

Scrivilo per favore! 
– Write It Down Please!

Esigenze (Needs)The Italian language is beautiful but there are still times when necessity outweighs the need for flourishes. Using the following sentences you can request assistance and sound good while doing it.


– Che ore sono?
– What time is it?

– Ho bisogno di un dottore!
– I need a doctor

– Cos’è questa cosa?
– What Is it?

Indicazioni (Directions) – If you’re out and about in Italy it can be a bit tricky navigating the streets especially in the bigger cities like Rome and in places like Sicily. Italian language directions can be a bit tricky. These phrases will get you going in the right direction.


– Mi sono perso
– I’m Lost

Sto cercando il mio albergo
– I’m looking for my hotel

Quant’è lontano a…?
– How far is it from…

– Dov’è il bagno?
– Where are the toilets?

– Indica sulla cartina, per favore.
– Point it out on a map

Mangiare (Eating) – As mentioned, Italy is home to some of the most tempting and delicious dishes in the world. With the right words you’ll have all the tools you need to turn Ciao into chewing down.


– Potrei vedere il menù?
– May I see the menu?

– Non mi piace, posso cambiarlo?
– I don’t like it, can I change it?

– Buon appetito!
– Enjoy! (for meals…)

– Può portarci il conto, per favore?
– May we have the check please?

Alloggio (Accommodation) – Unless you know someone with their own countryside villa, at some point you will need to check into an accommodation, may it be a downtown apartment for rent or a hotel. Most people in the hospitality industry will have at least a working knowledge of popular languages but just in case these phrases are a good starter to getting checked in and comfortable.


– Avete una stanza libera?
– Do you have any vacancies?

– L’acqua calda non funziona
– Hot water is not working

– Puoi portare i miei bagagli in camera?
– Can you take my luggage in the room?

Compere (Shopping) – What’s a visit to one of the most glamorous countries in the world without shopping? These two sentences will serve you will during an afternoon long shopping spree through the some of Italy’s most famous vendors.


– Quanto costa?
– How much is it?

– é caro!
– It’s Expensive

Innamorarsi (Falling in love) – The longer you study Italian the more in love with its classic patterns and seductive cadences you will likely become. To express your new found appreciation for the country and its language here a few select terms to get you started.


– Amo gli Italiani 
– I love Italians!

– Mi piace l’italiano
– I like Italian

– L’Italia è bellissima!
– Italy is beautiful!

– Questa villa è magnifica!
– This Villa is amazing!

– Ti amo!
– I love you!