Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Some Italian Words and Phrases

Some Italian Words & Phrases--Gondola in Venice, Italy

A gondola passing by in Venice

I’ve thought for awhile that I should eventually try to pick up some Italian. I had initially studied German because of my heritage, and I also have Italian heritage. However, I hadn’t done so by the time I went on a trip to Venice. I knew a few Italian words and phrases: Ciao (hi or bye), Grazie (thank you), Arrivederci (goodbye), Mi scusi (excuse me, though I had only heard scusi and didn’t know it was only to speak to someone rather than to pass by someone), Buon giorno (good day), and that was it.

I also knew I might come across some words similar to words I know in Spanish. If I would have looked them up ahead of time, I would have known that Si was yes (I stuck to the German ja) and No is the same as in English and Spanish. Similarly, one of the ways to say please is Per favore, which is similar to the Spanish Por favore. While there, I did figure out from context and their similarity to words in languages I do know such as  Ristorante (restaurant), Polizia (police), Entrada (entrance), and probably a few other things I can’t recall at the moment.

Despite knowing a few Italian words and phrases and being able to figure a few things out when I heard or saw them, I  felt even more lost in Italy than I had in France. Although it didn’t make a huge difference since the place I stopped in to eat had an English menu and I could figure out from context what the waitstaff was asking me, I felt kind of awkward not to be able to speak at least some of the language, especially since I look like I should. I couldn’t even ask where the bathroom was. I ended up just saying the German word as a question, “Toilette?” and got the answer back in English. The German word turns out not to be far off Italian since Dov’ è la toilette is a way of asking if where the toilet is, but there is also Dove posse trovare, and Dov’ è bagno (which turns out to be pronounced similar to the Spanish baño).

Here are some of the Italian words and phrases I think it might have been helpful to know besides those already mentioned above:

Non capisco (I don’t understand)

Parla inglese (Do you speak English?)

Quanta costa? (How much does that cost?)

Il conto, per favore (Check please.)

Permesso (Excuse me, to pass someone)

Biglietto (ticket)

Counting 1-10, which is also similar to Spanish, would also have been useful: Uno, Due, Tre, Quattro, Cinque, Sei, Sette, Otto, Nove, Dieci.

What words and phrases do you think would be most useful for traveling to Italy? Let me know in the comments below.

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