W

hen I moved to Italy three years ago, In my excitement in moving to one of the world’s most beautiful country, I forgot to do one very important thing: learn Italian. While I recognize the absurdity of that now because hindsight has a way of making you see things in a whole new light, at that time, I confidently thought that I would absorb the language via osmosis.

Italy world atlas
Italian Map

Well, to make a long story short, I didn’t , as I had hoped, absorb the language thru osmosis or any other osis for that matter, and I didn’t understand or speak a word of Italian for my first whole year in Italy. And believe me, the experience isn’t something that I’d care to repeat again. So, now I’d like to share some Italian survival words and phrases, that in retrospect I wished I learned ,that would prove useful to anybody who’s thinking of visiting or even moving to Italy.

Italian Survival Word 1: Ciao

Ciao pronounced Chow is the very basic word Italian word that you should know. Ciao is the Italian informal way of saying hello and goodbye. Although, technically, you should only say Ciao to people you already know, but, it’s become a widely acceptable way of saying hello and goodbye.

Italian Survival Word 2: Buongiorno

Buongiorno means good morning, and is a very useful word especially when you are out early in the morning for coffee, or an early tour. You can now impress the locals and your fellow travelers by saying Ciao!, Boungiorno!

Italian Survival Word 3: Cuanto Costa?

Cuanto costa ? ( How much does it cost?) is probably one of the most useful phrases that I’ve first learned in Italy. If you’re a tourist, it’s a very useful phrase especially if you’re thinking of going  to the non- touristy areas of Italy where people only speak Italian. You don’t even need to know the word for the thing that you want to buy, just point, and say with confidence Cuanto costa?

Italian Survival Word 4: Dove

No, it’s not Dove, the soap. The word is pronounced doe-vay and it’s the Italian word for where. By itself dove is useless unless followed by something that you’re looking for.  Over the years that I’ve been in Italy, the most common thing that you might be looking for are the following:

  •  el bano : the bathroom
  •  la stazione : the train station
  •  il bancomat : the atm
  •  la chiesa: the church
  •  il ristorante: the restaurant
  •  el autostrada: the freeway

So, you can combine dove, with any of the words above, and you can be sure that you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Italian Survival Word 5: Grazie

Grazie, which rhymes with Yahtzee, means thank you. Italians, in general are a very polite group of people, and saying thank you is a sure fire way of fitting in. So don’t forget to say grazie whenever you can , the locals appreciate it. Or, if you are really really thankful you can say Grazie Mille! 

So, there you go, five words and phrases in Italian that I promise, will be a lifesaver to you if you find yourself traveling in Italy. So to you, grazie mille!

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