When most people are planning a vacation to a different country, language barriers that may exist are a big concern. Some people even shy away from going to a foreign country for that very reason even if they can afford it.

Going on an Italian vacation does not mean you need to learn to speak Italian first. However, you will need some basic vocabulary to help you get around and make sense of signs or even to ask for help or directions.

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If the person you ask for help does not speak English at least they may be able to point you in the right direction if you can say “bus stop” in Italian. Another reason to learn some of the language is to enhance your experience. The words you know before you leave for your Italian vacation will serve as a basis for you to learn more words when you get there and expand your vocabulary.

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Italian is considered a “Romance Language” because it is derived from Latin. It is said to be one of the closest to Latin and uses the Latin alphabet. Italian language is characterized by the stressing of certain syllables. There are formal ways to say things and informal versions. For your needs when traveling, the informal versions would probably be most appropriate.

One of the most important reasons to learn a few Italian words is if you plan on using public transportation. Many guides, taxi drivers and hotel employees are fluent in English and most speak at least some English. But there are a few scenarios where you may need specific words during your Italian vacation. There are some basic words that you need to know. These are all the informal versions. Most people are familiar with the Italian word for “Yes.” It is Si. No is simply No.  If you need to say “Hello” it is Ciao. The word Ciao can also be used for “Goodbye.”  “How are you?” is Come stai?

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During your Italian vacation, everyone will agree that you need to know how to greet. Italians are very friendly people and to immerse yourself in the culture you must be able to respond when you are greeted or offer a greeting first. “Good morning” is Buon giorno!  “Good afternoon” is Buona sera! “Good evening” is Buona sera!  “Good night” is Buona notte! And that is in reference to sleeping well. For your Italian vacation it is important to learn how to say “please” and “thank you” These are Per favore and Grazie! Italian words that you will need to help you get directions include “Where…?” which is Dove…? This is a great word to know because it will help you make all kinds of sentences such as dove la toeletta? Where is the bathroom?

If you plan on using public transportation at the very least make sure you carry around with you a card with words for “left, right, north, south, east, west, bus stop, train” etc. Or if you can, carry along an Italian dictionary. That will also be a big help on your Italian vacation.  Enjoy! Ciao!

Written by Kecia Clarke