17 essential phrases for a trip to Italy

Are you planning on traveling to Italy? You’ve got the tickets, hotel bookings, a list of places you want to visit but there’s one more thing you really need and that is some basic Italian vocabulary. Most Italians don’t speak any other language, and learning some words in advance could actually make a big difference. Here’s a list of useful questions and phrases for a trip to Italy:

Dove è…? – Where is…?

You can have a map, GPS and a fair idea of what you are looking for, and still be unable to find it. So the best thing you could do is ask the locals. Just add the name of the place at the end of the phrase, and wait for instructions. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the words, Italians will do their best to help you even if it means taking you to your destination.

Come si arriva a…? – How to get to…?

Same as above. If you are looking for Piazza Venezia in Rome, for example, ask “Come si arriva a Piazza Venezia?”. Then follow the directions suggested by the locals.

Sempre dritto – Just straight

Best case scenario, you would only need to go straight ahead in order to reach your destination. No chance to miss it. ‘Sempre’ means ‘always’, and ‘dritto’ means ‘straight’, so if you hear just ‘dritto’, it still means you should go straight ahead.

All’angolo – At the corner

This one is easy. Just remember that ‘angolo’ and ‘angle’ have the same origin, and if someone says something is ‘all’angolo’, or that you should make a turn ‘all’angolo’, it means ‘at the corner’.

Gira a destra – Turn right

‘Destra’ means ‘right’. If it’s the only word you manage to catch, it probably means you need to go to the right.

Gira a sinistra – Turn left

‘Sinistra’ means ‘left’. ‘Gira’ is the imperative form of the verb ‘girare’ which means ‘to turn’. Knowing the words for left and right, you should manage to find your way around Italy.

Sto cercando questo indirizzo. – I am looking for this address.

If you have the address on a piece of paper, on your phone or marked on the map, just show it to a friendly local, and they should be able to help you.

È vicino? – Is it close?

This is a simple one but one of the most useful phrases for a trip to Italy. Imagine you’ve been walking all day and you just need to get to your hotel, a restaurant, or somewhere else where you can rest a bit. It’s important to know how far it is so you can decide whether to take some kind of transportation, or keep walking.

È lontano da qui? – Is it far from here?

This is another way to ask how far a place is from where you are. The answer should be easy to understand – Si (yes) or No.

Quando parte il treno? – When is the train leaving?

Usually you can check the train schedule on the huge screens inside any train station in Italy but if you are in a hurry, or just want to be sure about the time, it’s always better to ask.

If you want to learn the numbers in Italian, here are the numbers from 0 to 10, and from 11 to 20.

Quale binario? – Which platform?

‘Binario’ means ‘a train platform’.

If it’s your first time taking a train in Italy, it’s important to know that you need to validate the ticket before you get on the train using the validation machines located inside the station and on the platforms. They will stamp your ticket with the current date and time without which your ticket would not be valid.

Quando arriva l’autobus? – When is the bus arriving?

It is good to know when you will arrive at your destination so you could plan accordingly. Unlike train tickets, bus tickets don’t show arrival time, so this is another one of the most useful phrases for a trip to Italy.

Quando parte l’autobus? – When is the bus leaving?

If you choose to travel by bus, this is an important question to learn in advance. The departure time may not be written on your ticket, so you should definitely ask about it. Hopefully they will write it somewhere and show it to you, so you could make sure you got it right.

Dove posso scendere per andare a…? – Where can I get off to get to…?

If you take the bus or the subway in any Italian city, you would need to identify the nearest stop to wherever you want to go. Subway stations are usually marked on city maps but with buses it may be more complicated. That’s why asking this question can make your life a lot easier. Just add the name of your destination at the end of the phrase.

Dove è la stazione dei treni / della metro? – Where is the train station/ subway station?

train at an Italian train station

‘Stazione dei treni’ means ‘a train station’, while ‘stazione della metro’ is ‘a subway station’. They should be marked on the city map but if you don’t have one, or if you are not sure where you are exactly, you should definitely ask someone.

C’è uno sconto per studenti/bambini? – Is there a student/children discount?

If you are a student, or traveling with children, this is one of the most important phrases for a trip to Italy. Usually there are discounts for transportation, entry tickets, etc. and you don’t want to miss out on these just because you don’t know how to ask.

Quanto costa (il biglietto)? – How much does it (the ticket) cost?

If you need to ask for the price of anything in Italy, it’s enough to say ‘Quanto costa?’ and point to the item in question. If you want to clarify that you are asking about the ticket price, just add ‘il biglietto’ which means ‘the ticket’.

I hope you will remember these phrases and use them during your trip to Italy. If you are interested to know more, check this free online course on Italian for travelers (it takes only 30 minutes to complete it!).


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