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Basic Italian Phrases for Your Semester in Italy

by Chelsea Evans
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

When traveling or studying abroad, it’s always helpful to learn a few key terms or expressions to help you communicate.

Here are a few basic Italian phrases and words and that you can use when you study abroad in Italy.


Translation: “Thank you.”

Now this may be a word you are familiar with, but it is also one of the most commonly mispronounced Italian words as well. Make sure to pronounce it “grat-zee-aye” and not “grat-zee”.

2.  “Allora”

Translation: “Well…” or “So…” or “Hurry up…”

If you are ever in Italy for even a day, you will definitely hear somebody say, “Allora!” It’s one of those solid filler words that you can use in several contexts.

You can use it to start a sentence with “Allora,” as if to say “okay” or “well.” For example, “Allora, vuole prendere un gelato dopo classe?” (Translation: So, do you want to get a gelato after class?)

By itself, “allora” can be used to mean “hurry up” or “let’s go.”

3. “Andiamo”

Translation: “Here we go.” or “Let’s go.”

This is a must know word for any student studying in Italy. Directly translated, it means “we go” or “we are going,” but it can also be more loosely translated to “let’s go.”

“Andiamo” is the perfect word to say when you and your friends are getting ready to go get some gelato or are leaving for class. “Andiamo, il negozio chiude in 20 minuti!” (Translation: Let’s go, the store closes in 20 minutes!)

4. “Buona sera” vs. “Buona notte” vs. “Buongiorno”

Translation: “Good evening” vs. “Goodnight” vs.“Good day”

It’s easy to mix up these phrases, as they sound so similar! “Buongiorno” is a greeting used to say “good morning” or “good day.” It should be used in the morning through mid-day.

“Buona sera” is used to say “good evening” and should be said in the late afternoon or evening.

“Buona notte” means “goodnight.” Typically, this is reserved for when you are going to bed.

5. “Il Conto”

Translation: “The check”

Unlike in the United States, waiters in Italy will not check in with your table throughout the meal. They likely won’t even ask when you are ready for the check. Culturally, they expect you to ask for it when you are ready.

Saying, “Il conto, per favore” to your waiter will let them know you are done with your meal and ready for the check. But, there is no rush! Italians want you to enjoy your meal and have good conversation, so they will never hurry you out the door. Take your time and savor all the pasta you can!

Wherever you go in Italy, try out a few Italian phrases! People in Italy are very encouraging and love when people try out the language.

This post was contributed by Chelsea Evans, an AIFS Alumni Ambassador who spent a semester studying abroad with AIFS in Florence, Italy.

Pin image: Basic Italian Phrases for Your Semester in Italy | AIFS Study Abroad
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