In Essential Italian 2 we added “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, the subway or railway station, a bank, an ATM, or the Tourist Information. Asking such questions in Italian – especially if you’ve practiced your pronunciation a bit – may let your conversation partner assume that you understand Italian quite well. The result will be an answer and a stream of words that’ll fly right by you. So asking the person to speak more slowly could be your first reply in such a case. And it would be good to also know some basic directional words and phrases in Italian – left, right, straight ahead – as the typical answers may well include them.
Why These Phrases?
While in the previous lesson YOU were asking the questions, it would obviously be quite useful to also understand the possible answers. In Essential Italian 3, there are only two sentences you really may want to practice saying: “Potrebbe parlare più lentamente, per favore?” and “Molte grazie per il suo aiuto!” The other 11 phrases and sentences will be useful to understand as you receive answers to your “Dov’è…?” question. You still may want to record yourself saying them, so you can confirm, what you thought you understood, e.g. where to find the next water-bus stop in Venice. And – you’ll also remember them better that way.
The Next 13 Phrases
Food, Drinks, Restaurants
Finding a recommended restaurant, Café, or bar has been made much easier with GPS-equipped smart phones and mobile devices. And finding a good restaurant in Italy has to be part of your travel adventure. Once you have arrived at the place, you may have to ask for a table and the Menu, place an order and then ask for and pay the check. Knowing a few key phrases in Italian will make all this much easier. You’ll find them among the next 14 Phrases in Essential Italian 4. (Check back with us in a few weeks!) If you are used to the 15-20% tips, generally expected in US restaurants, you’ll be pleasantly surprised: In Italy, as in nearly all West-European countries, tips are included in your check. But for good service 5-10% tips are always welcome. As customary in Europe, when paying with a credit card, the transaction occurs at the table with a handheld device. European visitors are always amazed, and appalled, that in the U.S. we let a waiter disappear with our credit card, to then return after a few minutes with a paper slip to sign – and certainly with ample time to copy the card specifics. Amazingly – and credit to all the honest waiters an waitresses – we believe this only happened to us once in the U.S.!
If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Italian 1, you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 Italian essentials. These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, the next bus stop, the next subway station, or the railway station, a bank , an ATM, or the Tourist Information. And being in Italy, you may also want to know where you could find today’s open-air market.
The Next 12 Phrases: Where is…?
Getting around in Rome
Rome is a wonderful city to walk. But there’s also a good, user-friendly transport system for getting around. Figuring out what to take to get where you want to go can be part of the fun and adventure of visiting an interesting city like Rome. Rome’s Subway (Metropolitana) has 3 lines only (A, B, and C), which cross the city diagonally. By metro you can get to many of the city’s top attractions. The network of Bus lines is much more extensive: 338 day buses and 22 night buses. By bus you can reach almost any part of the city. In addition, Rome has 6 Tram lines, but these don’t go to the city center or the main tourist stops. The one line we frequented during our stay in Rome was Line 8, which connects Torre Argentina and Trastevere. (We had rented an apartment in the old Trastevere district.) To go to the Fiumicino Airport (it’s official name now is “Leonardo da Vinci Airport”), you can take the Leonardo Express train (14 euros in 2019) from the Termini Railway Station. There’s also a bus service, which is cheaper, but takes longer. Rome’s other airport, Ciampino Airport, is used by many of Europe’s discount airlines. More info about how to get to both airports from the City you’ll find here. There’s also Rome’s Urban Railway (Ferrovie Urbane) with 3 lines. The Rome-Lido line takes you to Ostia Antica. Rome Vacation Tips has a good summary of Rome’s public transport options.
Pickpockets on Busline 64?
Every guide book about Rome will warn you about pickpockets. We never became a victim ourselves during our five months in Rome. However, they indeed do exist. I once prevented such an incident in the crowded bus #64, which goes from the Termini Station to the Vatican: When I saw a man trying to slide his hand in the back pocket of the man standing beside him, I gently took hold of his arm and pulled it away. The pocket picker quickly slipped away as the victim turned around with a questioning look. At that time my Italian was not good enough to explain, and I just smiled.
Asking “Where”- questions in Italian may let the person you are asking assume that you speak Italian. The result will often be an answer and a stream of words you’ll probably not understand. It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Italian – left, right, straight ahead, etc., and a way to say: “Please speak more slowly.” So check out Essential Italian 3 and learn some of the possible answers..
Travelers visiting Italy can learn and practice 50-100 essential words and phrases here. We’ve posted the first 11 below. Listen. Record yourself. Play back and compare. Over the next few weeks we’ll add more essential Italian words and phrases. For those who’d like to learn more, we’ll recommend other resources. (under development)
Learn and Practice Tips
Click the black arrow to hear the Italian speaker.
Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the native speaker and then yourself.
Do it several times until you sound like the Italian speaker
Why learn these Phrases?
Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful. Let’s say, you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Italy and as the waiter serves you, you say “Grazie”. Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Italian, your effort may make him smile … And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit. And we start with the most obvious and easiest ones: “Yes” and “No”. We end with asking whether your conversations partner speaks any of the languages you may also speak.
The First 11 Phrases
Walking in the country side…
While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Rome and other large Italian cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a city is even more important. As we always notice when we walk in the countryside or in smaller towns, greetings are common and even expected! Being a visitor in Italy will make you much more welcome, when you make the effort to greet people in Italian.
The Next 12 Italian Phrases: Where is…?
In the next installment – Essential Italian 2– you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom, train and metro station, bank, pharmacy etc. are located. Even if you have a GPS enabled smart phone, it won’t tell you where the bathroom is – and you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to ask other “Where…?” questions. It’s also often a good way to start a conversation!