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Archive for the 'Italian Phrases' Category

Guide to Improving Your Italian Conversation Skills!


How many times have you found yourself at a loss for words when speaking Italian, or a little shy when starting a conversation in Italian with people you have just met? Or, after the person you were talking to is gone, you think to yourself… “I could have said this… I could have answered that…”

This is normal, but it is especially true for conversations in another language, where not all words, sentences, or structures might come to mind immediately.

This is why it makes sense to prepare a little “helper”, a “conversation kit,” to help get the communication going and to help improve your conversation in Italian.

In this guide, you will find conversation starters, appropriate reactions to specific questions, filler words and phrases, and everything else to improve your Italian conversation skills!

Four Young People at a Table Taking Notes

Get your cheat sheet ready and start a conversation!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet
  2. Italian Reactions Words and Expressions
  3. Learn Italian Filler Words
  4. Questions and Answers
  5. Italian Conversation Starters
  6. How to Improve your Conversation Skills
  7. Conclusion

1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet

1- What’s a cheat sheet?

To improve your conversation in Italian, a conversation cheat sheet is the best way to quickly improve your skills by making a set of Italian words and phrases, lines, or expressions that you can learn and easily access when you need to start a conversation. It is a way to feel more secure and to be sure to always have topics and arguments that are interesting to you.

In this guide, we will give you some hints and suggestions (and many more you can find online), but ultimately, you are the one that will have to put together this list based on your profile, personality, and interests. And, of course, the type of Italian people you will have to interact with.

2- Why would I need one?

A conversation cheat sheet is very useful if you are a bit shy, a little insecure, and if you want to be sure you don’t get stuck without things to say and topics to tackle.

In fact, you can always start a conversation in Italian by introducing yourself and talking about the things you do and like. But this will only take you so far. You better be prepared to ask and answer questions about different topics in order to build relationships and friendships.

3- How do I make one?

A good way to start making your own conversation sheet is to make a brief description of who you are and what you like. Maybe mentioning what you did in your recent past and what you like and hope for the future.

Here is an example of a possible personal introduction to include in your conversation starter. Make sure you mention any particular or unusual event or hobby in your life. Those make great conversation starters!

Ciao, mi chiamo Jessica, sono americana e ho 28 anni. Da due anni, studio letteratura italiana all’Università di Bologna. Prima di venire in Italia, ho viaggiato molto e ho vissuto in diversi paesi. Sono fidanzata con un ragazzo brasiliano e mi piace molto leggere, cucinare e coltivare un orto in casa.
“Hi, my name is Jessica, I am American and I’m 28. I have been studying Italian literature at the University of Bologna for two years. Before coming to Italy, I traveled a lot and lived in different countries. I am engaged to a Brazilian guy and I really enjoy reading, cooking and growing a vegetable garden at home.”

Someone Writing on a Notebook

Start by writing a small introduction

Then, you can elaborate on individual parts and imagine how you would answer specific questions by gathering phrases and words specifically tailored to your needs.

  • Vivo in Italia da sei mesi. (“I’ve been living in Italy for six months.”)
  • È la prima volta che vengo a Roma. (“It is my first time in Rome.”)
  • Mi piace molto viaggiare. (“I really like travelling.”)

  • Vado spesso al cinema.  (“I often go to the movies”)
  • La mia attrice preferita è Anna Magnani. (“My favorite actress is Anna Magnani.”)
  • Ho molti hobby.  (“I have many hobbies.”)

  • Studio piano da quando ero piccolo/a. (“I study piano since I was a child.”)
  • Ho comprato una chitarra. (“I bought a guitar.”)
  • Adoro l’opera lirica. (“I adore opera.”)

4- Getting off to a good start

Don’t worry if you think it’s too hard for a beginner! There are plenty of resources you can use, depending on your level:

  1. Online translators are great tools to get fast translations into the target language. Make sure you translate simple sentences, and the translations will be mostly correct. Google translate is the most popular option, but you can also find other good tools.

  2. Other online tools such as Reverso context can help you with idioms and expressions, and they give a very good idea of how certain words or expressions are used in context. 
  1. ItalianPod101 has tons of free content, blog articles, and vocabulary lists you can use. The lists are especially useful if you’re looking for a specific topic, as they’ll provide sentences and vocabulary that suit your specific needs.

  2. A personal teacher is the perfect strategy for learning fast and hard. Your teacher can guide you through the process of writing your conversation cheat sheet and fix any tiny mistakes. Be sure to check our private coaching service from our Premium PLUS offer.

2. Italian Reactions Words and Expressions

Have you ever talked to someone who remained completely silent until it got really awkward and you couldn’t tell if they were still paying attention? This is what reaction words and expressions are meant to prevent.

In this chapter, let’s see how to react to a statement by expressing excitement, curiosity, annoyance, or disbelief. It will help make your conversations smoother and more lively, as well avoiding awkward silences that would make the other person uncomfortable.

That’s Great! – Bene! / Bravo!

Q: Nel tempo libero gioco a basket.  (“In my free time I play basketball.”)

A: Bravo/a! Lo sport è importante.  (“That’s great, sport is important!”)
A: Bene! Possiamo giocare insieme qualche volta? (“Cool! Can we play together some time?”) 

Really? – Davvero?

Q: Non sono mai stato/a in Spagna. (“I’ve never been to Spain.”)

A: Davvero? È bellissima, dovresti andarci. (“Really? It’s beautiful, you should go.”)

I’m sorry…  – Mi dispiace…

Q: Purtroppo non ho passato l’esame. (“Unfortunately I didn’t pass the test.”)

A: Mi dispiace, quando potrai riprovare? (“I’m sorry. When will you able to try the test again?”)

Unbelievable! – Incredibile!

Q: Non mi piace la pizza. (“I don’t like pizza.”)

A: Incredibile! (“Unbelievable!”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Seriamente? (“Seriously?”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Non ci credo! (“No way!”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Scherzi? (“Are you kidding?”) [Casual]
A: Scherza? (“Are you kidding?”) [Formal]

That’s too bad! – Peccato!

Q: Non posso venire al cinema. Devo studiare. (“I can’t come to the movie. I have to study.”)

A: Peccato! Questo film è molto bello. (“Oh, that’s too bad! The movie is very good.”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Che peccato! (“Oh, what a pity!) [Formal or Casual]

Keep me updated! – Fammi sapere!

Q: Forse riesco a raggiungervi più tardi. (“I think I’ll be able to catch up with you later.”)

A: OK, fammi sapere! (“Alright, let me know!”) [Casual]
A: OK, tienimi al corrente! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Casual]
A: Va bene, mi tenga aggiornato! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Formal]

    ➜ This is just a quick list of common reaction words and phrases, but you can find a few more in our blog article on Intermediate Italian Phrases on ItalianPod101.

3. Learn Italian Filler Words

Now that you have the foundations of your conversation sheet let’s change the tempo and talk about something slightly weirder. Academic studies can prepare you for many things, but when you start a real conversation, you’ll hear a lot of strange sounds and words that don’t ring any bells.

Italian Filler words are these short useless sounds and words that locals use to fill the gaps. They exist in every language I know, and you don’t necessarily have to use them unless you want to sound genuinely local. However, learning about them so you can filter them out is very important.

Young Man Can’t Decide Between and Apple and a Cake

Eh… la mela o la torta? (“Uh, apple or cake?”)

Here are some of the most common Italian filler words:

Italian: Eh…English equivalent: “Uh…”
Vorrei un cornetto e, eh… un cappuccino. (“I would like a cornetto and, uh… a cappuccino.”)
Eh… non so proprio cosa scegliere. (“Uh… I don’t know what to choose.”)

Italian: Beh – Be’ – BeneEnglish equivalent: “Well”
Q: Vuoi ancora del vino? (“Will you have more wine?”)

A: Be’, perché no? (“Well, why not?”)
A: Vino? Be’ … non credo proprio. Devo guidare. (“Wine? Well… I don’t think so. I have to drive.”)

Italian: CioèEnglish equivalent: “Actually”
Vengo domani, cioè, forse vengo. (“I’ll come tomorrow, actually, I’ll probably come.”)
Ti telefonerò, cioè, ti manderò un messaggio. (“I’ll call you, actually, I’ll text you.”)

Italian: AlloraEnglish equivalent: “Well” or “So”
Allora, cosa ne pensi? (“Well, what do you think?”)
Allora, ci andiamo? (“So, shall we go?”)

Do you want to know exactly how Italians use this filler word? Watch this hilarious scene from a popular series:

Italian: Vedi – Guarda (informal)
          Veda – Guardi (formal)
English equivalent: “You know” or “You see”
Vedi, non è una scelta facile. (“It’s not an easy choice, you know.”)
Guardi, vorrei solo parlarle cinque minuti. (“I just want to talk to you, you see.”) [Formal]

Italian: Mah – BohEnglish equivalent: “Who knows…” or “Well”
Mah, non so proprio cosa fare. (“Well, I really don’t know what do do.”)
Chi verrà alla festa? Boh! (“Who is coming to the party? Who knows!”)

4. Questions and Answers

Conversation is often made of a sequence of questions and answers. Like a ping pong match: you ask something, get an answer and another question, you answer and ask something else, and so on. Asking questions is the fundamental brick to getting to know someone, establishing a common ground, finding out something new or interesting, and simply getting the flow of the conversation going.

And formulating a question in Italian is particularly easy compared to other languages, as there is no particular pattern: no word order inversion, no adding of extra words. You simply change your intonation and make it sound like a question. Easy, right?

And then, of course, you can always add some typical Italian gestures if you really want to sound and look like an Italian!

And now, let’s get back to your conversation cheat sheet and to fill it with questions (and answers) relevant to your personal story and interests.

A Young Woman with Question Marks Above Her Head

Questions… questions… questions…

“Where are you from?”

Q: Di dove sei? [Casual]
Q: Di dov’è lei? [Formal]

A: Sono italiana, ma sono nata in Cile. (“I’m Italian, but I was born in Chile.”)
A: Vengo dal Brasile. (“I come from Brazil.”)

“Do you speak English?”

Q: Parli inglese? [Casual]
Q: Lei parla inglese? [Formal]

A: Non parlo inglese. (“I don’t speak English.”)
A: Sono fluente/madre lingua in inglese. (“I am fluent/native in English.”)

“What do you study?”

Q: Cosa studi? [Casual]
Q: Che cosa studia? [Formal]

A: Studio linguistica e letteratura. (“I study linguistics and literature.”)
A: Sto facendo un dottorato in relazioni internazionali. (“I’m doing a PhD in international relations.”)

“What kind of music do you like?”

Q: Che tipo di musica ti piace? [Casual]
Q: Che tipo di musica le piace? [Formal] 

A: Mi piace il jazz e la musica classica. (“I love jazz and classical music.”)
A: Ascolto soprattutto musica napoletana. (“I mostly listen to Neapolitan music.”)

“What’s your job?”

Q: Che lavoro fai? [Casual]
Q: Di cosa si occupa? [Formal] (literally: “What do you occupy yourself in?”)

A: Sono idraulico. (“I’m a plumber.”)
A: Lavoro nel marketing digitale. (“I work in digital marketing.”)

“Why do you study Italian?”

Q: Perché studi l’italiano? [Casual]
Q: Per quale motivo studia l’italiano? [Formal] 

A: Perché adoro il suono dell’italiano. (“Because I love the sound of Italian.”)
A: Per motivi di lavoro. (“For work-related reasons.”)

5. Italian Conversation Starters

Starting a conversation could be a difficult part of communicating. And doing it in another language makes it just a bit more challenging. And also, you may have noticed that while talking to some people is very easy, with someone else, you almost have to get the words out of their mouth.

But don’t worry! Just have some sentences ready in your sheet, and follow our examples, and you will be prepared for every situation.

Here are a few examples that you can use with different people and in various situations:

  • Ti piace la cucina messicana?
    “Do you like Mexican cuisine?”

  • Cosa fai nel fine settimana?
    “What do you do on the weekend?”

  • Come hai conosciuto il tuo ragazzo / la tua ragazza?
    “How did you meet your boyfriend / girlfriend?”

  • Puoi consigliarmi un bel film o serie da vedere?
    (“Can you recommend a good movie or series to see?”)

  • Come ti trovi in questa città?
    (“How do you like this city?”)
    ➜ There are countless conversation starters for every situation: strangers, people you already know, colleagues, schoolmates, romantic dates. For many more examples, you could stop by our full guide on Conversation Starters, on ItalianPod101.

Young Woman Asleep on a Bad while Doing Homework

Cosa fai nel fine settimana? (“What do you do on the weekend?”)

6- How to Improve your Conversation Skills

1- Use every opportunity to practice

Yes, practice makes perfect. Or at least, it helps to gain confidence, rehearse different scenarios, and to learn what strategies keep the conversation flow going. So, don’t be shy and use every opportunity you have to talk to people. Strangers at the bus station, friends of your friends, and even online chats are good places to start a conversation.

And don’t worry if you make a few mistakes or if you can’t find the right word. Just keep practicing and improving your conversation cheat sheet and keep building on that.

2- Exposure to real content

Did you know that when you are exposed to a lot of spoken Italian, you will learn vocabulary, idioms, and even grammatical structures much faster and in a more pleasant way than just working on grammar books and courses?

And since speaking Italian to real people is not always an option (you might want to stay home, or you are not in Italy, or your friends are not available), a very good alternative is to immerse yourself in real content. You will have lots of options: from Italian music, to podcasts, to movies. There are tons of resources to learn Italian online, and, of course, one of the very best is! 🙂

Reading is also a very good strategy to get familiar with a foreign language and to find interesting topics of conversation. Whether it’s the news, a novel, or the latest sport events, it’ll give you good material to discuss and, without even noticing, you will be learning new Italian words and phrases.

3- Find available partners to chat 

If you are serious about improving your conversation in Italian, it is a good idea to find a partner to chat with in a consistent way. It could be another learner of Italian who is more or less at your same level, it could be someone interested in a conversation exchange. 

What is that? You find a native Italian who would like to practice conversation to improve his/her English, for example. And when you meet in person, you can have a conversation half of the time in English and the other half in Italian. You can easily find lots of people interested in exchanging conversation. And you can probably find it also online!

Another way to go is by hiring a private teacher to make fast progress in your conversation skills, especially if you want to also improve grammar and pronunciation. You can likely find a private teacher or classroom-based sessions in your area, or subscribe to an online service such as our Premium PLUS coaching on ItalianPod101.

7. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned how to improve your skills in speaking Italian. It all starts with making your own cheat sheet, then learning about various types of words and expressions specific to conversations: filler words, reaction phrases, questions, and answers. Do you want to share your thoughts about conversation skills? Do you want to know more Italian language learning resources? Let us know in the comments below!

On top of our bonus tips to improve your conversation skills, ItalianPod101 has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and Free resources to boost your studies and keep your Italian learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with BLEP words and more. 

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. And keep having fun with ItalianPod101!

About the Author: Jessica Barbagallo grew up on the sunny island of Sicily, in the south of Italy. She has lived in Florence, Milan, New York, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. After a career in digital marketing, she went back to what is most fun to her: teaching languages! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Countries and Nationalities in Italian


Possibly one of the first things you will be asked as a foreigner traveling or living in Italy, it will be: “Sei straniero? Da dove vieni?” (“Are you a foreigner? Where do you come from?”). That is why it is important to be able to answer with the appropriate vocabulary. And while it is certainly easy to learn and remember the vocabulary related to your nationality, you should be prepared to sustain a conversation about other countries and nationalities, of which there are quite a lot! But don’t worry, once you learn the names of the countries and the name of the nationalities in Italian, you will automatically also know the name of the language and the general adjective for anything related to that country.

Parlo francese ma non amo la cucina francese.  (“I speak French but I don’t like french cooking.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Italian Citizenship
  2. Countries & Continents
  3. Conversations About Nationalities
  4. Country, City, Nationality & Language
  5. Conclusion

1. Italian Citizenship

Even if we often use it to mean the same thing, nationality and citizenship are not necessarily the same. Nationality mainly indicates the cultural, religious, and traditions that link us to a country or to a state. On the other hand, citizenship represents your socio-political belonging to the country that issues your passport. So, if you have Italian citizenship, you can legally obtain an Italian passport, vote in the Italian elections, apply to public service, etc. In other words, you have full civil and political rights

If you have at least one Italian parent, you are immediately recognized as an Italian citizen whether you were born in Italy or a foreign country. This rule is called the “ius sanguinis“, which in Latin means, rather dramatically, “law of the blood.” This law also applies to adopted children.

But there are other ways to become Italian citizens. In fact, in the last few years in Italy there has been an increasing number of people applying for Italian citizenship

So, what are the requirements to apply for citizenship in Italy?

  • Citizenship by marriage (after two years of marriage)
  • Citizenship by residence (after five years of uninterrupted residence)
  • Citizenship by descent (by demonstrating that you descent from an Italian ancestor)

Over a million people have acquired Italian citizenship in the last decade, of which nearly 800,000 in the last five years. The most represented citizenships of origin are Albanian (26,000 acquisitions, 20.5% of the total), Moroccan (12.5%), Brazilian (8.4%), and Romanian (8%). 

2. Countries & Continents

1- Gender and Agreement

In Italian, most countries are singular feminine (l’Italia, la Francia, la Tunisia, l’Irlanda, la Cina, etc. (“Italy, France, Tunisia, Ireland, China,”), but there are exceptions. Some countries are singular masculine, like il Canada (Canada) or il Giappone (Japan), while others are plural, like gli Stati Uniti (The USA) or i Paesi Bassi (The Netherlands).

As you can see from the examples, when talking about a country you always use the article in front of the country name. In fact, if you learn the countries vocabulary together with the article, it will help you remember the gender and use the right agreement.

La Francia è bellissima. (“France is beautiful.”)
La verde Irlanda è molto piovosa in autunno. (“The green Ireland is very rainy in autumn.”)
Gli Stati Uniti sono entrati in guerra nel 1941. (“The United States entered the war in 1941”)

View of the Sicilian Coast on a Cloudy Day.

La Sicilia è bellissima! (“Sicily is very beautiful!”)

 2- Names and Adjectives

Once you know the country’s name, you could try and guess how to say the word for the people living there and the language spoken there. In fact, the name of the inhabitants and the language spoken in any specific country are the same. 

And don’t forget, if you are talking about the people of a specific country, you should use the initial capital letter (gli Italiani, i Canadesi). At the same time, if it’s simply an adjective, there is no need to capitalize, even if you are talking about people (un ragazzo italiano, un ristorante cinese, etc. “an Italian guy, a Chinese restaurant”). 

Here are a few examples:

Country’s nameNounAdjective
Un italiano, Un’italiana
(An Italian)
Un inglese, Un’inglese
(An Englishman/woman or a British person)
La Cina
Un cinese, Una cinese
(A Chinese)

Did you notice how, to make an adjective out of the name of the country, you sometimes add the suffix -ano/ana (italiano, americana, etc.), other times you add -ese (inglese, cinese, giapponese). These are by far the most common, but you can find other (and sometimes bizarre) ways to for the adjective, such as spagnolo, austriaco, guatemalteco, yemenita

And in some cases, the adjective has absolutely nothing to do with the root of the country’s name, as in the case of la Germania >> il tedesco… (“Germany >> German”).

There is no rule there, so, unfortunately, you will have to memorize them…

3- Who Comes to Italy, How, and Why?

The majority of the tourists visiting Italy come from neighboring countries. Lately, because of Covid, the number and the proportion of nationalities have changed. In this study prepared by Banca d’Italia, we see the ranking of nationalities visiting Italy in 2019:

17.2%GermanyLa Germania (F)Tedesco/a
12.5%United StatesGli Stati Uniti (M, PL)Americano/a
9.9%FranceLa Francia (F)Francese
8.6%United KingdomIl Regno Unito (M)Britannico/a
5.7%SwitzerlandLa Svizzera (F)Svizzero/a
4.8%Austria L’ Austria (F)Austriaco/a
4.2%Canada Il Canada (M)Canadese
3.8%SpainLa Spagna (F)Spagnolo/a
3%NederlandI Paesi Bassi (M, PL)
Incorrectly called: L’Olanda (M)
2.5%Australia L’Australia (F)Australiano/a

The study made by the Bank of Italy also mentions what are the main reasons for foreigners to travel to Italy, how they travel and how and other information that may not be so interesting to you… but they are a good way to increase the Italian vocabulary needed to hold a conversation about your trip and visit to Italy. Or maybe to be more comfortable when you go through customs at the airport or at any Italian borders.

An Officer Checking a Traveler’s Passport at the Airport Custom.

Motivo del viaggio? (“Reason to travel?”)

Motivo del viaggio? (“Reasons to travel?”)

    Vacanza. (“Vacation.”)
    Visita a parenti o amici. (“Visit to friends or relatives.”)
    Motivi personali. (“Personal reasons.”)

Dove alloggi? (“Where do you stay?”)

    Albergo. (“Hotel.”) 
    Ospite da parenti o amici. (“With relatives and friends.”)
    Casa in affitto. (“Rental house.”)
    Bed & breakfast.

Che tipo di destinazione preferisci? (“What type of destination do you prefer?”)

    Culturale, città d’arte. (“City, art, culture.”) 
    Al mare.  (“At the beach.”)
    Al lago. (“At the lake.”)
    In montagna. (“In the mountains.”)

Come sei arrivato in Italia? (“How did you arrive to Italy?”)

    In aereo. (“Flying.”)
    In macchina. (“By car.”)
    In treno. (“By train.”)
    In nave. (By ship.”)

4- Continents in Italian

EuropeL’Europa (F)Europeo/a
AsiaL’Asia (F)Asiatico/a
AfricaL’Africa (F)Africano/a
AmericaL’America (F)Americano/a
AntarcticaL’AntartideDo people live there?

*This noun or adjective is rarely used, and Italians tend to call people from Oceania -improperly- Australiani (“Australians”) even when they are Neozelandesi (“New Zealanders”).

A Family of Penguins Walking on the Snow.

Vengo dall’Antartide. (“I come from Antarctica.”)

Especially when talking about great geographical areas, you might need a bit more geographical references such as points and their use:

NorthIl nord
SouthIl sud

For example:

Il nord Africa. (“North Africa.”)
Il sud America. (“South America.”)
L’Europa dell’est. (“Eastern Europe.”)
Il Polo nord e il Polo sud. (“North and South Pole.”)

but also

NorthIl settentrione / settentrionale
SouthIl meridione / meridionale
EastL’oriente / orientale
WestL’occidente / occidentale

For example:

Milano si trova nell’Italia settentrionale. (“Milan is in northern Italy”)
Il meridione comprende le regioni italiane a sud di Roma. (“Southern Italy includes all regions below Rome.”)
Il muro di Berlino separava la Germania orientale e occidentale. (“The Berlin Wall used to separate East and West Germany.”)

3. Conversations About Nationalities

When you meet someone new in a foreign country, one of the first topics of conversation that comes up is countries and nationalities. People will ask you where you’re from and possibly how and why you are traveling.

As always with Italian, depending if you are talking to friends or people your age, you will use the casual form of address, or the formal mode, if you are talking with older people or if you are in a very formal setting.

Two Young Women Talking at a Coffee Shop.

Conversations about nationalities are great icebreakers.

1- Questions & Answers

How to Ask Someone Their Nationality
In this part, introduce a few common ways to ask about nationality. You can briefly explain the differences.

English[Casual >> tu][Formal >> Lei]
Where are you from?Da dove vieni? or Di dove sei?Da dove viene? or Di dov’è?
What country are you from?Da quale paese vieni?Da quale paese viene?
What is your nationality?Qual è la tua nazionalità?Qual è la sua nazionalità?
Are you from France?Vieni dalla Francia?Viene dalla Francia?
Are you French?Sei francese?È francese?

Here are some examples on how to answer questions about nationalities:

  • Sei inglese? No, sono Giapponese. (“Are you British? No, I’m Japanese.”)
  • Sono americana, ma i miei genitori vengono dalla Cina. (“I am American, but my parents come from China.”)
  • Da dove vieni?  Vengo dall’Austria, sono austriaca. (“Where do you come from? I come from Austria, I am Austrian.”)
  • Sei tedesco? Sì, sono tedesco, di Berlino. (“You are German? Yes, I’m German, from Berlin.”)

And a few more advanced ones:

  • Sono nata in Cile ma sono cresciuta in Italia. (“I was born in Chile, but I grew up in Italy.”)
  • Sono brasiliano e italiano. Ho la doppia cittadinanza. (“I’m Brazilian and Italian. I have dual citizenship.”)
  • Sono cinese ma vivo in Svizzera. (“I’m Chinese, but I live in Switzerland.”)
  • Sono cinese ma abito in Svizzera. (“I’m Chinese, but I live in Switzerland.”)
  • Sono italiana ma vivo in Francia da tre anni. (“I’m Italian, but I’ve been living in France for three years.”)
  • Mi trasferisco in Inghilterra l’anno prossimo.  (“I am moving to England next year.”)

2- Prepositions

One thing you definitely need to pay attention to when you talk about places, countries, and cities is the choice of the preposition you need to use.

The general rule is that 

  • when you are, or when you go to a country, a continent, or an island, you use in;
  • When you are, or when you go to a city, you use a;

Vado in vacanza a Roma, in Italia. ​​(“I’m going on vacation to Rome, Italy.”)
Abito in Francia, a Parigi. (“I live in France, in Paris.”)
Sono cresciuta in Sicilia, a Palermo. (“I grew up in Sicily, in Palermo.”)

But notice that when you come back, then the preposition changes into:

  • Da when you are coming back from a city;
  • Da + article when you are coming back from a country, a continent, an island;

Mario è tornato dall’Italia, da Roma. (“Mario has returned from Italy, from Rome.”)
Quando partirai dalla Sardegna? (“When will you leave Sardinia?”)
Molti sono emigrati dall’Europa in America. (“Many have emigrated from Europe to America.”)

4. Country, City, Nationality & Language

Now, let’s go back to a list of countries and expand with what we’ve learned: Name of the country, name of the nationality and language, and name of the major city. You will notice that some of the city’s names are translated… does it happen in your native language too?

 Pile of Different Language Dictionaries.

How many of these languages do you speak?

Let’s start with the same table we saw earlier, adding more countries and nationalities.

CountryItalianNationality/LanguageMajor City
GermanyLa Germania (F)Tedesco/aFrancoforte (Frankfurt)
United StatesGli Stati Uniti (M, PL)Americano/aNew York
FranceLa Francia (F)FranceseParigi (Paris)
United KingdomIl Regno Unito (M)Britannico/aLondra (London)
SwitzerlandLa Svizzera (F)Svizzero/aZurigo (Zurich)
AustriaL’ Austria (F)Austriaco/aVienna
CanadaIl Canada (M)CanadeseToronto 
SpainLa Spagna (F)Spagnolo/aBarcellona (Barcelona)
NederlandI Paesi Bassi (M, PL)OlandeseAmsterdam
AustraliaL’Australia (F)Australiano/aSidney
BrazilIl Brasile(M)Brasiliano/aRio de Janeiro
RussiaLa Russia (F)Russo/aMosca (Moscow)
IndiaL’India (F)Indiano/aNuova Delhi (New Delhi)
JapanIl Giappone (M)GiapponeseTokyo
Peruil Peru (M)Peruviano/aLima
PortugalIl Portogallo (M)PortogheseLisbona (Lisbon)
TunisiaLa Tunisia (F)Tunisino/aTunisi (Tunis)
ChinaLa Cina (F)CinesePechino (Beijing)
KeniaIl Kenia (F)KenianoNairobi
TurkeyLa Turchia (F)Turco/aIstanbul

Now you have all you need to use the vocabulary about nationalities, countries, languages, and cities, and you are ready to combine them all to introduce yourself and start a conversation.

Here are some examples:

  • Sono tedesca. Sono nata a Francoforte, ma adesso vivo a Ginevra, in Svizzera.
    (“I’m German. I was born in Frankfurt, but now I live in Geneva, Switzerland.”)

  • Sono americano, ma sono cresciuto nel Nord Africa.
    (“I’m American, but I grew up in Northern Africa.”)

  • Siamo brasiliani, ma abitiamo a Londra da qualche anno con la nostra famiglia.
    (“We are Brazilians but we’ve been living in London for a few years with our family.”)

  • Sono francese e vivo a Montreal, in Canada. Sapevi che in Quebec si parla francese?
    (“I’m French and I live in Montreal, Canada. Did you know that in Quebec they speak French?”)

  • Mi sono trasferita in Brasile tre mesi fa. Non parlo ancora bene il portoghese.
    (“I moved to Brazil three months ago. I still don’t speak Portuguese well.”)
  • Sono italiano e brasiliano. Sono cresciuto e Rio de Janeiro e ha la doppia cittadinanza.
    (“I am Italian and Brazilian. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro and have dual citizenship.”)

  • È spagnola, ma parla benissimo il francese e fa un corso di cucina francese.
    (“She is Spanish, but speaks French very well and takes a French cooking class..”)

    ➜ Telling where you’re from and what language you speak is a great starting point. To go a bit further, you can check out our vocabulary list with ten lines to introduce yourself in Italian on ItalianPod101.

5. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned everything about nationalities, from the names of countries and cities to adjectives and languages, capitalization rules, gender agreement, and prepositions. You also learned about the countries that are often visiting Italy, and how they spend their stay.

You should now be ready to break the ice in any situation, introduce yourself at your arrival, and even form some complex sentences with all these new words.

Did I forget any important topic on nationalities or country names you’re interested in? Feel free to share it with your fellow students in the comments below!

A good exercise to practice nationality vocabulary is to create fictional introductions where you combine the name of countries and cities, languages, and adjectives, using the right genders and prepositions. You can start simple and gradually add more complexity when you feel comfortable enough.

ItalianPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to boost your studies and keep your Italian learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher so that you can practice these new words and much more.

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Have fun with ItalianPod101!

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Learn the Most Useful Advanced Italian Phrases


Have you been studying Italian for a while? If so, it’s time to step up your skills and venture into more advanced scenarios. In this guide, we have listed a great number of advanced phrases, structures, and idioms that will help you show competence and confidence in the most diverse of environments.

It is important to study advanced Italian phrases because it will allow you to fit right in wherever you are. For example, if you plan on attending an Italian university, knowing advanced phrases will help you write an essay or perform well in an oral exam. Or, you might need to submit your resume to apply for your dream job; advanced phrases will definitely help with that while also giving you more confidence when it’s time for your interview. And how about participating in business meetings? Do you have the necessary skills? In any of these situations, our guide to the most useful advanced Italian phrases will help you demonstrate your Italian proficiency.

So, let’s start right away: prendi due piccioni con una fava. Learn useful advanced Italian phrases while having fun with ItalianPod101! And if you want to know what that phrase means, just keep reading until the end, where you’ll find a fascinating chapter about Italian idioms.

Girl with Glasses Holding a Tablet

Are you ready for some advanced Italian phrases?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Italian Phrases for Academic Writing
  2. Advanced Italian Phrases for Your Cover Letter
  3. Advanced Italian Phrases for Business and Meetings
  4. Advanced Italian Idioms, Sayings, and Proverbs for Everyday Usage
  5. Conclusion

1. Advanced Italian Phrases for Academic Writing

Italian universities offer great opportunities for foreign students to study topics related to Italian culture and to take advanced economy or science courses. Although you can find classes in English, being enrolled in an Italian university—especially for advanced studies—means that you’ll need to know sufficient Italian to sustain complex conversations, hold interviews, and write structured and coherent text for assignments and essays.

Below, you’ll find several advanced Italian phrases you can use to structure your essay, organize your thoughts, prove your point, and present your opinion or thesis. 

Per prima cosa / La cosa più importante 
“First of all” / “First and foremost”
Per prima cosa, cominciamo a definire i nostri obiettivi.
“First of all, we start by defining our goals.”

In vista di / In considerazione di 
“In view of” / “In consideration of”
In vista del prossimo esame, passerò più tempo in biblioteca.
“In view of the upcoming exam, I will be spending more time in the library.”

Secondo quanto detto da X / In riferimento alle opinioni di X 
“According to what X said”
Secondo quanto detto da Leonardo a proposito del volo, se lo provi una volta continuerai sempre a guardare il cielo.
“According to what Leonardo said about flying, if you try it once, you will be forever looking at the sky.”

Inoltre / In aggiunta 
“Furthermore” / “In addition”
In aggiunta a quanto già detto, possiamo affermare che questa scoperta è un’assoluta novità.
“In addition to what has already been said, we can say that this discovery is an absolute novelty.”

A questo scopo / Con questa intenzione 
“For this purpose” / “With this intention”
A questo scopo, è utile sfruttare tutte le conoscenze acquisite fin qui.
“For this purpose, it is useful to exploit all the knowledge acquired so far.”

In altre parole / In breve 
“In other words” / “In short”
In altre parole, l’autore ha voluto esprimere il suo dolore in questa poesia.
“In other words, the author wanted to express his pain in this poem.”

Allo stesso modo / Ugualmente 
“Similarly” / “Likewise”
Allo stesso modo, dobbiamo riconsiderare anche il nostro approccio.
“Likewise, we must also reconsider our approach.”

Un altro fattore chiave da ricordare / Un aspetto ugualmente significante 
“Another key factor to remember” / “An equally significant aspect”
Un altro fattore chiave da ricordare è che non tutti gli elementi fanno parte di un gruppo.
“Another key factor to remember is that not all elements are part of a group.”

Al contrario / D’altro canto / In alternativa 
“Conversely” / “On the other hand” / “Alternatively”
D’altro canto, non possiamo affermarlo con certezza.
“On the other hand, we cannot say that with certainty.”

In confronto a / Rispetto a 
“In comparison with” / “Compared to”
Rispetto al Medioevo, la nostra vita è estremamente sicura.
“Compared to the Middle Ages, modern life is extremely safe.”

Nonostante questo / Ciò nonostante 
“Despite this” / “Nevertheless”
Ciò nonostante, tutti gli indizi supportano la nostra teoria.
“Nevertheless, all the clues support our theory.”

A prova di ciò / Per fare un esempio 
“As proof of this” / “To give an example”
Per fare un esempio, il 1881 fu un anno controverso.
“For example, 1881 was a controversial year.”

Questo spiega come / Se ne può dedurre che / Ne consegue che 
“This explains how” / “It can be deduced that” / “It follows that”
Se ne può dedurre che la somma dei lati equivale al perimetro.
“It can be deduced that the sum of the sides equals the perimeter.”

Si può notare che / La cosa più significativa 
“It can be noted that” / “The most significant thing”
Si può notare che gli studi di genere si sono moltiplicati negli ultimi decenni.
“It can be noted that gender studies have multiplied in recent decades.”

Tutto considerato 
“All things considered”
Tutto considerato, questo corso mi è stato veramente utile.
“All things considered, this course was really helpful to me.”

In conclusione / In ultima analisi / Volendo riassumere 
“In conclusion” / “Ultimately” / “Wanting to summarize”
In ultima analisi, l’apprendimento di una lingua dipende da tanti fattori.
“Ultimately, learning a language depends on many factors.”

Young Student Taking Notes in a Notebook

To write a good essay, you first have to organize your thoughts.

2. Advanced Italian Phrases for Your Cover Letter

Writing the perfect cover letter is an art… 

First of all, it’s essential that your cover letter be personalized for each job you’re applying to. You will need to research every company you’re sending an application to so that you can say something in your letter that applies directly and only to them.

It’s also necessary that you use phrases and concepts that stand out. You want to be memorable, but at the same time, you don’t want the employer to think you’re trying too hard.

Here are some advanced action phrases that will help you get your dream job. You can also use them in your interviews to make sure you leave a great impression.

La contatto per sottoporre la mia candidatura.
“I’m contacting you to submit my application.”

Sono sicuro/a di essere la persona adatta per questa posizione.
“I am sure I am the right person for this position.”

Sono certo/a di possedere tutte le qualifiche indicate nell’annuncio di lavoro.
“I am sure that I have all the qualifications indicated in the job advertisement.”

Possiedo una vasta esperienza nel campo di  ___.
“I have extensive experience in the field of ___.”

La vostra offerta di lavoro ha particolarmente suscitato la mia attenzione.
“Your job offer has particularly caught my attention.”

La mia formazione accademica in ___ mi ha permesso di acquisire ottime competenze in ___.
“My academic training in ___ allowed me to acquire excellent skills in ___.”

Sono alla ricerca di nuove sfide.
“I am looking for new challenges.”

Sarei felice di poterLa incontrare per discutere la mia candidatura.
“I would be happy to meet you to discuss my application.”

Ho ottime capacità analitiche e una comprovata esperienza nella risoluzione di problemi.
“I have excellent analytical skills and a proven track record in problem-solving.”

Pen Over a Resume

Writing the perfect resume is an art!

And finally, here are a few ways to end your letter:

Cordiali saluti.“Yours sincerely.”
La saluto cordialmente.“Cordial greetings.”
Le auguro una buona giornata.“I wish you a good day.”
Resto in attesa di un cortese riscontro.“I look forward to a kind reply.”
Grazie per la vostra cortese attenzione.“Thanks for your kind attention.”

3. Advanced Italian Phrases for Business and Meetings

It’s normal to be a little nervous before a business meeting. Sometimes, the stakes are high; this makes it important to be clear and to get everybody on board. This is why good preparation for a meeting starts with organizing what you want to say and how.

You can begin by clarifying what you’re trying to achieve and showing the meeting agenda. Doing a good job of preparation will boost your confidence and set you up for a successful meeting. But don’t forget that meetings can be fun and relaxed, so don’t be afraid to use informal or slang expressions.

To help you prepare, here’s a list of advanced Italian phrases to help you perfectly manage meetings and groups in any situation.

L’ordine del giorno 
“Today’s agenda”
L’argomento principale dell’ordine del giorno è il rinnovo dell’impresa.
“The main topic on today’s agenda is the renewal of the company.”

La scadenza 
“The deadline”
Non possiamo posticipare in nessun modo la scadenza del progetto.
“We cannot postpone the project deadline in any way.”

Avere tutto sotto controllo 
“To have everything under control”
La cosa più importante è avere la situazione sotto controllo.
“The most important thing is to have the situation under control.”

Prendere una decisione difficile 
“To make a difficult decision”
In autunno, saremo costretti a prendere una decisione difficile.
“In the fall, we will be forced to make a difficult decision.”

Soppesare i pro e i contro 
“To weigh the pros and cons”
Nell’affrontare una situazione, bisogna sempre soppesare i pro e i contro.
“In dealing with a situation, you must always weigh the pros and cons.”

Pensare in maniera strategica 
“To think strategically”
Bravi! Avete dimostrato di pensare in maniera strategica.
“Well done! You have demonstrated that you think strategically.”

Lo stato dell’arte 
“The state of the art”
Il nostro prodotto rappresenta lo stato dell’arte in materia ambientale.
“Our product represents the state of the art in environmental matters.”

Mettere le carte in tavola 
“To put the cards on the table”
È opportuno mettere le carte in tavola: l’onestà prima di tutto.
“It is appropriate to put the cards on the table: honesty first of all.”

Giocare secondo le regole 
“To play by the rules”
In questa azienda, abbiamo sempre giocato secondo le regole.
“At this company, we have always played by the rules.”

Mettere in piedi/in pista un progetto 
“To set up a project”
Il progetto che vogliamo mettere in piedi, rappresenta il futuro della nostra società.
“The project we want to set up represents the future of our company.”

Mantenere i nervi saldi 
“To keep your nerve”
Nelle situazioni difficili, è fondamentale mantenere i nervi saldi.
“In difficult situations, it is essential to keep your nerve.”

Dare il beneficio del dubbio 
“To give the benefit of the doubt”
Vogliamo dare ai nostri concorrenti il beneficio del dubbio su questo punto.
“We want to give our competitors the benefit of the doubt on this point.”

Six People Around a Red Table at a Meeting

Business meetings don’t have to be stressful…

4. Advanced Italian Idioms, Sayings, and Proverbs for Everyday Usage

To end this guide to advanced Italian phrases, we couldn’t omit the idiomatic expressions. These, along with sayings and proverbs, represent the backbone of communication in any language. But while they’re used by native speakers every day and comprise an essential part of Italian for advanced learners, you’ll have a hard time finding them in textbooks. 

In your everyday conversations with Italians, you’ll find that they tend to pop up all the time. Do your homework here, and surprise your Italian friends and colleagues by using just the right idiom or expression. 

Salvare capra e cavoli 
“To save both the goat and the cabbage”
Meaning: To keep everybody happy; To have one’s cake and eat it too
Con questa soluzione rischiosa, siamo riusciti a salvare capra e cavoli.
“With this risky solution, we managed to keep everybody happy.”

Prendere due piccioni con una fava 
“To kill two birds with one stone”
Meaning: To obtain the best outcome with the least amount of effort
Brava! Così hai preso due piccioni con una fava.
“Good job! This way, you killed two birds with one stone.”

Rompere il ghiaccio  
“To break the ice”
Meaning: To do something that removes the embarrassment during an initial meeting between people who don’t know each other
Per rompere il ghiaccio, vorrei iniziare questa riunione con un piccolo gioco.
“To break the ice, I’d like to start this meeting with a little game.”

Braccia rubate all’agricoltura 
“Labor force (lit. ‘arms’) stolen from agriculture”
Meaning: A mockery towards someone who is not suitable to fill the role he occupies
Molti uomini politici sono incompetenti. Tutte braccia rubate all’agricoltura!
“Many politicians are incompetent. All laborers stolen from agriculture!”

Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano. 
“Who goes slow and steady wins.”
Literally: Who goes slow, goes safe and goes far.
Non bisogna avere fretta, dopotutto chi va piano va sano va lontano!
“You don’t need to hurry; after all, those who go slow and steady win!”

Restare a bocca asciutta  
“To be left with nothing”
Literally: To be left with a dry mouth
Hai voluto esagerare con la tua offerta, e adesso sei rimasto a bocca asciutta.
“You wanted to overdo your offer, and now you are left with nothing.”

Trattare a pesci in faccia 
“To treat someone very badly”
Literally: To slap somebody on the face with a fish
Non accetto il loro comportamento. Mi hanno trattato a pesci in faccia.
“I don’t accept their behavior. They treated me with utter disrespect.”

A colpo d’occhio 
“At a glance”
A colpo d’occhio la situazione è abbastanza complicata.
“At a glance, the situation is quite complicated.”

Un’arma a doppio taglio  
“A double-edged sword”
Meaning: Something that is both helpful and harmful to someone/something
La nostra strategia è stata parzialmente vincente: si è dimostrata un’arma a doppio taglio.
“Our strategy was partially successful, but it proved to be a double-edged sword.”

Dare i numeri 
“To go nuts” / “To say whatever”
Literally: Throwing out numbers
Proprio non ti capisco… Stai cominciando a dare i numeri.
“I just don’t understand you… You’re starting to go nuts.”

Andare a rotoli 
“To go to pieces” / “To fall apart”
Literally: To go into rolls
Non posso stare a guardare il mondo andare a rotoli.
“I can’t sit back and watch the world fall apart.”

Mettere il bastone fra le ruote  
“To hinder/impede/boycott/thwart somebody”
Literally: To put a spoke in the wheels
Ogni volta che comincio un nuovo progetto, qualcuno mi mette i bastoni fra le ruote.
“Every time I start a new project, someone hinders me.”

Fare la parte del leone 
“Play the lion’s share”
Meaning: Unfairly hoard everything (or almost everything)
In questo affare, i primi investitori hanno fatto la parte del leone.
“In this deal, early investors got the lion’s share.”

Big Sheet of Ice about to Break

Per prima cosa, bisogna rompere il ghiaccio. (“First of all, we need to break the ice.”)

5. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned many advanced Italian phrases that you’ll be able to use for cover letters, business meetings, and other social interactions. Did we forget any important structure or expression you’d like to learn more about? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

Keep having fun with ItalianPod101 and our great variety of free resources designed to help you practice grammar and learn new words. Make sure you check our free vocabulary lists as well, where you can find useful words (along with their pronunciation) spanning a vast range of topics. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching. Your own private teacher will help you practice with advanced phrases and more, give you assignments, provide personalized exercises, and record audio samples just for you.

Not sure where to start? We recommend creating your free lifetime account and checking out the Level 5 pathway for some advanced Italian lessons. 

Happy learning!

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Useful Italian Phrases for the Intermediate Level


Now is the time to step up in your Italian studies. As you get ready to surpass the beginner level, you’ll need to practice using more tenses (past, future, conditional) and memorize several ready-to-use intermediate Italian phrases. To help you level up with confidence, we have prepared a list of the 50+ most common (and useful) intermediate Italian phrases for a variety of contexts. This guide will bring to your disposal all the must-know phrases for telling stories about the recent past, asking for advice, recommending a restaurant to someone, and more.

If you ever want to go deeper with your learning or have any questions, take a look at all the available Italian lessons, free resources, and interactive material on!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Explaining and Listing Reasons
  4. Making Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations
  6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings
  7. Conclusion

1. Talking About Past Events

So, you have already mastered simple sentences in the present. You can introduce yourself, describe yourself, ask for simple things, and give simple instructions. 

It’s time now to venture into more complex sentence structures, such as those for talking about stories or memorable experiences from the past. It could be talking about a recent night out or giving information about your family or your childhood. And if you want to learn even more conversational phrases, here you go!

When you talk about the past in Italian, you cannot avoid needing to decide between passato prossimo and imperfetto. If you need a little help with this, make sure you check out this lesson to see a good example and explanation of their use. 

Ready? Here are some intermediate Italian phrases for discussing the past.

People Dancing at a Club with a DJ

Che bella serata! (“What a nice night!”)

È stata una bella serata!
It was a beautiful evening!
Another way of saying the same thing: Che bella serata! (“What a beautiful evening!”)

Ci siamo divertiti moltissimo ieri sera.
We had a lot of fun last night.

Ho iniziato a lavorare nel 2017.
I started working in 2017.

Sono stato a Roma 3 anni fa.
I was in Rome three years ago.

Da piccolo/a avevo tanti amici.
As a child, I had many friends.
Literally: “As little, I had many friends.” 

You find the same construction with da ragazzo/a (“as a young boy/young girl”) and da giovane (“as a young man/woman”).

Mia nonna era pugliese.
My grandmother was from Puglia.

L’anno scorso sono stata in vacanza al mare.
Last year, I went on vacation at the beach.

Siamo stati sposati per 7 anni.
We’ve been married for seven years.

2. Making and Changing Plans

Making and changing plans in the immediate future is something that you’ll often need to do when interacting with friends and colleagues, organizing an event or meeting, or putting together a fun party. 

Are things getting complicated? Don’t worry. Just learn these simple intermediate Italian phrases, and they’ll help get you out of any trouble. Notice that even though we’re talking about the immediate future, in Italian, we don’t always need to use the future tense. Using the present tense with the appropriate temporal adverb is usually enough to convey that we’re talking about the future.

A Group of Five Friends Goofing Around Together

Posso portare qualche amico? (“Can I bring a few friends?”)

Sei pronta per uscire? 
Are you ready to go out?

Sei disponibile per una riunione domani?
Are you available for a meeting tomorrow?

Ne parliamo dopo. 
Let’s talk about it later.
Notice the use of ne, meaning “of it” or “about it.”

Possiamo rinviare l’appuntamento alla settimana prossima? 
Can we postpone the appointment until next week?

Posso portare qualche amico? 
Can I bring some friends?
Notice that the indefinite adjective qualche, even though it means “some,” is always followed by a noun in the singular.

Facciamo una videochiamata per entrare nei dettagli. 
Let’s have a video call to get into the details.

3. Explaining and Listing Reasons

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in situations where you will have to explain what happened or give reasons for your actions. Once you reach an intermediate level of proficiency in Italian, it’s important that you’re able to do this with relative ease. But don’t worry about it! We’re here to help you with some ready-to-use intermediate Italian phrases for giving reasons and explanations.

If you need more intermediate Italian vocabulary, check out our free dictionary on, where you can search for specific words and listen to their perfect pronunciation!

An Upset Businessman Pointing to His Wristwatch

Sei di nuovo in ritardo! (“You’re late again!”)

Sono in ritardo perché non ho sentito la sveglia. 
I’m late because I didn’t hear the alarm.

Questo è il motivo per cui non mi piace. 
This is why I don’t like it.
Literally: “This is the reason for which I don’t like it.”

Note that cui is the relative pronoun (just like che “that”) that we use together with prepositions such as di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra (“of, to, from, on, in, with, for, by, among”).

Ti do tre buone ragioni per non uscire stasera: primo, sta piovendo tantissimo; secondo, ho preparato una buonissima lasagna; infine… non ne ho voglia! 
I’ll give you three good reasons not to go out tonight: First, it’s raining a lot; then, I prepared a very good lasagna; finally…I don’t feel like it!

Piove troppo, quindi resto a casa.
It’s raining too much, so I’m staying at home.

Devi assolutamente venire alla mia festa, altrimenti mi arrabbio! 
You absolutely must come to my party; otherwise, I will get mad!

Visto che non hai capito, te lo spiego di nuovo. 
Since you didn’t understand, I’ll explain it again.

4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

How do we know if something is good or not so good? We usually rely on friends’ recommendations or, now that we’re in the era of social media, opinions and comments left by users on internet platforms.

So, let’s get ready to give five stars or to voice our complaints!

A Man in a Restaurant Complaining about the Salad He Received

Posso reclamare col cuoco? (“Can I complain to the chef?”)

È un piatto fantastico. Dovresti provarlo.
It’s a wonderful dish. You should try it.

Te lo consiglio vivamente.
I strongly recommend it.

È il miglior ristorante della città.
It’s the best restaurant in town.

È la miglior pizza di Napoli.
It’s Napoli’s best pizza.

È un hotel bello ed economico. Sicuramente ci tornerò. 
It’s a nice and cheap hotel. I’ll definitely go back.

Il servizio in quel locale non è un granchè. 
The service in that place is not that great.

Mi sono lamentato con il servizio clienti. 
I complained to the customer service.

5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations

In any conversation, it’s important to have the right reaction to what we’re being told. This helps us better empathize with the other party, and it makes them feel that we care or that we’re impressed.

As a beginner, you might often find yourself struggling to find the appropriate words. And that’s okay. But once you reach an intermediate level, you’ll want to be able to say the right thing at the right time. In fact, learning natural reaction phrases is one of the best ways to improve your Italian at this stage! 

Here are some sample conversations to help with that. And don’t forget that body language and intonation also play important roles in establishing empathy in a conversation. Especially in Italy!

A: È stata una bella serata! (“It was a beautiful evening!”)
B: È vero! Anch’io mi sono divertito/a! (“True! I had fun too.”)

A: Ci siamo divertiti moltissimo ieri sera! (“We had a lot of fun last night!”)
B: Davvero moltissimo! (“Really a lot!”)

A: Ho iniziato a lavorare nel 2017. (“I started working in 2017.”)
B: Complimenti! E dove lavoravi? (“Congratulations! And where were you working?”)

A: Sono stato a Roma tre anni fa. (“I was in Rome three years ago.”)
B: Fantastico! Anche a me piacerebbe visitare l’Italia. (“Fantastic! I would also like to visit Italy.”)

A: Da piccolo avevo tanti amici. (“As a child, I had many friends.”)
B: Che bello! Eri un bambino felice? (“How nice! Were you a happy kid?”)

A: Mia nonna era pugliese. (“My grandmother was from Puglia.”)
B: Come si chiamava tua nonna? (“What was your grandma’s name?”)

    ➜ Notice how nonna/o translates both as “grandmother”/“grandfather” and as “grandma”/“grandpa.”

A: L’anno scorso sono stata in vacanza al mare. (“Last year, I went on vacation at the beach.”)
B: Io invece sono stato in montagna. (“On the other hand, I went to the mountains.”)

A: Siamo stati sposati per 7 anni. (“We had been married for seven years.”)
B: Avete divorziato? Mi dispiace.  (“Did you get divorced? Sorry to hear that.”)

A: Vorremmo adottare un cane. (“We would like to adopt a dog.”)
B: Buona idea! (“Good idea!”)

A Black Dog Barking

Che bello! Ho adottato un cane… (“How wonderful! I adopted a dog…”)

6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings

And last but not least, here are some intermediate-level Italian phrases for being polite in a variety of social and business contexts. Learning them will give you a leg up in your personal and professional life while in Italy, because good etiquette is always appreciated.

Do you want to know more? Check out our article on everything you should know about Italian etiquette.

Buon appetito.
Bon appetit.
To this, you can reply: Grazie, e altrettanto! (“Thanks, and to you too!”)

Buongiorno, (come) posso aiutarla? 
Hello, (how) can I help you?

Benvenuto/a nel nostro negozio. 
Welcome to our store.

Please, come in.
Literally: Get comfortable. 

Notice how it changes when we use the formal: Si accomodi.

Fa’ come se fossi a casa tua. 
Make yourself at home.
Literally: Do as if you were at your house.

Fammi sapere se hai domande.
Let me know if you have questions.
Some variants include: 
  • Fammi sapere se hai dubbi. (“Let me know if you have doubts.”)
  • Fammi sapere se hai bisogno di aiuto. (“Let me know if you need help.”)
  • Fammi sapere se hai bisogno di altro. (“Let me know if you need anything else.”)

Mi fai sapere cosa ne pensi? 
Will you let me know your thoughts?
Literally: Will you make me know what you think about it?

Resto in attesa di una tua risposta.
I look forward to your response.
Literally: I remain waiting for an answer of yours.

Buon lavoro!
Have a good workday!
Literally: Have a good work. 

This phrase shouldn’t be confused with Bel lavoro! (“Good job!”)

Buon viaggio!
Have a nice trip!

Buone vacanze! 
Have a nice vacation!

Two People Relaxing in Chairs at the Beach

Buone vacanze! (“Have a nice vacation!”)

7. Conclusion

I hope you liked this guide and that you found it useful for increasing your arsenal of intermediate Italian phrases. Do you know what else you might find useful and interesting? All the incredible learning tools you’ll find on, such as the vocabulary lists and other free resources

Have fun learning Italian with our podcasts, videos, and YouTube channel. And if you upgrade to Premium PLUS, you can check out MyTeacher to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. They can help you practice the intermediate phrases from this list and aid you in creating your own. In addition to providing you with personalized assignments and exercises, your teacher can record audio samples just for you and review all your work.

Keep having fun with ItalianPod101!

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Simple Italian Phrases for Beginners


Are you just starting out with Italian? In this guide, you’ll find all the Italian phrases for beginners that you will need in order to meet and greet people, get around cities and regions, ask for directions, and even order food or go shopping. All the basic sentences to get you going in your first Italian conversations!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Greetings and Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining
  4. Shopping Phrases
  5. Asking for Help
  6. Conclusion

1. Greetings and Self-introductions

Hello. Good morning. How are you? Nice to meet you. 

The first thing to know is that, in Italian, we have two ways of addressing people: with formal speech and with informal speech. Habits are slowly changing, and informality is becoming increasingly common and accepted in contexts where it previously would have been unheard of (in the workplace, between people of different age groups, etc.). 

Especially in the case of new Italian learners, using informal speech is completely acceptable. But here, we have included phrases for both formality levels.

Two Women Having a Pleasant Chat Over Coffee or Tea

L’italiano è facile! (“Italian is easy!”)

Let’s start with some basic Italian phrases that you could use when meeting people in Italy. 

Hi. / Bye.
The word ciao is the most common greeting in the Italian language for friendly and informal encounters. You can use it when first meeting someone and when saying goodbye; you can also use it when addressing either one person or a group of people. The word is of Latin origin, and it was once used primarily in Northern Italy, though it is now used internationally. 

[Formal or casual]
Literally: “Health to you.” 

This is another common Italian word derived from Latin. It is considered neutral, and it can be used in both formal and casual contexts.

[Formal or casual]
Literally: “Good day.”

[Formal or casual]
Good evening.
So, what time of day do we start saying buonasera? It might vary from region to region, but typically it’s correct to greet with buonasera when it starts getting dark. Obvious, right?

Now that you’ve greeted everyone, it’s time for some polite questions and answers:

Come va? 
[Formal or casual]
How is it going?

Come stai? 
Come sta? 
How are you?

Tutto bene. 
Bene, grazie, e lei? 
All good.Fine, thanks, and you?

Once you’ve gone over the basic greetings, you’ll want to find out a bit more about the people you’re meeting. This is the perfect time to start asking and answering more personal questions.

Come ti chiami? 
Come si chiama? 
What’s your name?
Literally: “How do you call yourself?”

Mi chiamo Maria.
My name is Maria.
Literally: “I call myself Maria.”

[Formal or casual]
Nice to meet you.
Literally: “Pleasure.”

Di dove sei? 
Di dov’è? 
Where are you from?

Sono Italiano/a.
I’m Italian.

Sono di Roma.
I am from Rome.

Abito a Roma.
I live in Rome.

Quanti anni hai? 
Quanti anni ha? 
How old are you?
Literally: “How many years do you have?”

Ho 27 anni.
I’m 27 years old.
Literally: “I have 27 years.”

Are you ready for some in-depth practice? We recommend checking out our video lessons on how to say hello and how to introduce yourself in Italian. 

A Businesswoman Receiving a Business Card from a Japanese Businessman

Piacere, mi chiamo Maria. (“Nice to meet you; I am Maria.”)

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

Grazie! Nothing expresses courtesy, pleasantry, and kindness better than this word—also of Latin origin—which literally means “graces.”

Why is it important to master courtesy phrases and expressions? Because they help you navigate new environments, elicit sympathy from other people, and make it easier to communicate with others. 

Below are several simple Italian phrases for beginners that will help you put your best foot forward in any situation. 

Thank you.
Literally: “Graces.”
Despite being the most basic Italian word, grazie can be a bit tricky to pronounce, especially the final -zie. Here is a little phonetic help for you: Pronounce this word as if it were written graTSeeAY. If the phonetic transcription looks strange, just listen to the audio recording… 😉

You’re welcome.
Literally: “I pray.”

You can also express this concept using one of these phrases:

Di nulla. / Di niente.
Literally: “Of nothing.”

Scusa. / Scusami. 
Scusi. / Mi scusi. 
Excuse me. / I am sorry.
This word works both for apologizing and for catching someone’s attention before asking a question. 

For example: 

Scusa, mi puoi dire dov’è la stazione? (“Excuse me, can you tell me where the station is?”)

Per favore. / Per piacere. 
[Casual or formal]
Literally: “As a favor.” / “As a pleasure.”

A Man Scratching His Head and Grimacing in Uncertainty

Mi dispiace… (“I’m sorry…”)

Another way to apologize:

Mi dispiace.
Literally: “It displeases me.”

Non c’è problema.
That’s okay.
Literally: “There is no problem.”

This is a good way to end the forgiveness topic. Better to forget and move on. But if this still isn’t enough, check out our guide on how to say sorry in Italian

And now, it’s time to say goodbye!

Literally: “Let’s see ourselves again.”

Remember that you can also use the ever-useful ciao when you’re leaving an informal setting.

[Formal or casual]
Buonanotte is generally the departure phrase we use at the very end of the day. Basically, right before we go to sleep. Would you like to serenade your Italian with a nice romantic lullaby? Here’s Buonanotte fiorellino (“Goodnight, Little Flower”) for you. 

A più tardi. A dopo!
See you later.See you!
Literally: “Until later.”Literally: “Until after.”

A presto.
See you soon.

A domani.
See you tomorrow.

Buona fortuna.
Good luck.

3. Dining 

Whether you’re studying Italian or just traveling around, at some point you’ll find yourself sitting down in a restaurant or a trattoria. When this happens, you’ll get the best experience if you know a few basic Italian phrases for ordering food, getting your waiter’s attention, and more.

A Kid Holding a Fork and a Knife while Waiting for Food

Ho fame…! (“I’m hungry…!”)

Andiamo a pranzo?
Shall we go to lunch?

Andiamo a cena?
Shall we go to dinner?

Ho fame.
I’m hungry.
Literally: “I have hunger.”

Posso vedere il menù?
Can I see the menu?

Qual è il piatto del giorno?
What is today’s special?
Literally: “What is the dish of the day?”

C’è un menu turistico?
Is there a tourist menu?

Per me una pizza margherita e una birra, grazie.
I would like a pizza margherita and a beer, thanks.
Probably the most renowned type of pizza, it’s very simple and traditional with an interesting story behind it.

Da asporto / Da portare via
To go
Literally: “To remove” / “To take away”

Il conto, per favore.
The bill, please.

4. Shopping Phrases 

What fun is traveling if you don’t stop to shop for souvenirs, local foods, and other fun stuff to bring home or give as a present? 

So, here is a list of phrases to help you have the best (and easiest) shopping experience, whether you’re in an open-air mercatino or in a centro commerciale (shopping mall).

Very important! The first thing you’ll want to do is get the attention of the seller. Do you remember how? Yes! Scusi! And you might also lift your index finger for increased effect.

Scusi, posso avere…?
Excuse me, can I get…?

Scusi, posso vedere…?
Excuse me, can I see…?

If you want to be just a little more polite, try and use the conditional form. Don’t worry too much about learning the tense; just use this simple formula…

Scusi, potrei avere…? 
Excuse me, could I have…?

Scusi, vorrei
Excuse me, I would like…

And, especially if you’re going to local neighborhood markets, make sure to review your fruit and vegetable vocabulary with one of our fun lists. And then, you’ll really be ready to shop!

When it’s time to pay, you have a few options, depending on whether you plan to pay with cash or card. Here are some useful Italian phrases to get you started:

Quanto costa?
How much does it cost?

How much is it?

Quanto viene?
How much is it?
Literally: “How much does it come (for)?”

Quanto le devo?
What do I owe you?
Literally: “How much do I owe you?”

Posso pagare con la carta? 
Can I pay by credit card?
Literally: “Can I pay with the card?”

Pago con la carta.
I will pay by credit card.
Literally: “I will pay with the card.”

Ecco la carta.
Here is my credit card.
Literally: “Here is the card.”

But actually, right before paying, it’s a good habit to ask to try on (or taste) the merchandise, right?

Posso provarlo?
Can I try it on?

Posso assaggiarlo?
Can I try/taste it?

If you need more shopping words, take a look at this free vocabulary list on

Women Tasting Different Ice Cream Flavors

Posso assaggiare il pistacchio? (“Can I taste the pistachio?”)

5. Asking for Help

There is no shame in asking for help, especially if you’ve just started learning Italian. Asking for help is a great way to talk to people, find out information, establish contact, and even make new friends along the way. 

You’ll find that most Italians, especially those not in the middle of the most touristic cities, will be more than happy to help you. Some will even go out of their way to show you special attention and give extra help! And if you’re very lucky, you might even get an invitation to lunch or to a homemade cappuccino!

1 – Help with Directions

Below are a few beginner phrases in Italian you can use to ask for directions. Just remember: 

  • Address the person with scusa if you want to be casual.
  • Address the person with scusi if you need to be a bit more formal. For example, when speaking to older people or to a poliziotto/a (“policeman” / “policewoman”) or a vigile urbano (“traffic policeman”).

Where is…?

Dove si trova?
Where is…?
Literally: “Where can it be found?”

Scusa, dov’è il bagno? 
Scusi, dov’è il bagno?
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?
While traveling through Italy, you might often hear la toilette. Maybe it just sounds more elegant if you give it a French name!

Scusa, cerco la fermata dell’autobus. 
Scusi, cerco la fermata dell’autobus.
Excuse me, I’m looking for the bus stop.

Come arrivo a…?
How do I get to…?

Vorrei andare a…
I would like to go…

Mi sono perso/a.
I got lost.

    → Do you need more help when it comes to getting around and asking for directions? Here is a more exhaustive vocabulary list with lots of practical direction-related words and samples of their pronunciation.

An Explorer Looking through a Spyglass while Out at Sea

Mmm… Mi sono perso? (“Mmm… Am I lost?”)

2 – Overcoming Language Barriers

We all know the feeling: As beginner learners, listening and speaking can be challenging and even terrifying… 

What if I don’t understand? What if they speak too fast? What if they don’t understand me? What… what… what? 

Don’t worry. Here are some useful phrases to ease your communication with native speakers, even if you’re an absolute beginner.

Parli inglese? 
Parla inglese? 
Do you speak English?

Non parlo bene l’italiano.
I don’t speak Italian very well.

Non capisco.
I don’t understand.

Non ho capito.
I didn’t understand.

Come si chiama questo in italiano?
What do you call this in Italian?

Come si traduce questa parola in italiano?
How do you translate this word in Italian?

Puoi ripetere? 
Può ripetere? 
Can you repeat?

Puoi parlare più lentamente? 
Può parlare più lentamente? 
Can you speak slowly?

Someone Trying to Understand Complex Drawings and Symbols on a Blackboard

Aiuto… Non capisco! (“Help… I don’t understand!”)

3 – A Little Help from a Friend!

For those situations where nothing makes much sense and you just need a little help understanding what’s going on, here are some good beginner sentences to help you get out of trouble. You actually saw one of these earlier in the article.

Cosa è successo?
What happened?

Che cos’è?
What is it?

A che serve?
What is it for?
Literally: “What does it serve?”

Non so.
I don’t know.

Non lo so.
I don’t know.
Literally: “I don’t know it.”

Ho bisogno di aiuto!
I need help!

Non preoccuparti. 
Non si preoccupi. 
Don’t worry about it.

Non c’è problema.
There is no problem.

Non fa niente.
There’s nothing to it.
Literally: “It doesn’t do anything.”

And remember, when the situation gets really confusing, you can always resort to the most useful word in the whole Italian vocabulary: Boh! A great little word that’s wonderful for expressing uncertainty, disbelief, and contempt all at once.

6. Conclusion

We hope that this simple guide has helped you acquire the most common Italian phrases for beginners. You can now face simple situations such as first meetings, greetings, asking and answering basic questions, and finding your way out of different everyday situations.

Are there other situations that you think we should have covered? Please let us know in the comments below, and we’d be glad to help you with those too.

And if you still haven’t had enough, you can practice some more with our Can-Do Italian for Absolute Beginners course! It features 105 lessons for a total of 5.5 hours of lesson material covering basic words and phrases you should know when first starting out. 

Don’t forget to explore to start taking advantage of our free resources, useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings, and a variety of fun lessons designed to make learning Italian easy.

Remember that you can also upgrade your account to use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. Your tutor will help you practice, provide personalized assignments and exercises, and even record audio samples of pronunciation just for you. In addition, they can review your work to help you improve faster.

Keep it up with ItalianPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Advanced Italian Words to Spice Up Your Vocabulary


So, you’ve passed the intermediate level in Italian. You have all the basics and then some, but you want to go the extra mile and learn more advanced Italian words and sentences. 

Are you applying for an Advanced Italian certificate [CILS], corresponding to the C1 or C2 level? Or are you enrolled in an Italian university? Maybe you just need to write an essay, compose the perfect cover letter, or take part in more formal and complex discussions with your Italian friends and colleagues. 

According to the Common European Framework Reference for Languages (known in Italian as QCER, Quadro Comune Europeo di Riferimento delle Lingue), advanced learners of a language are able to effortlessly understand virtually everything, whether it’s written or oral. They can also use the language effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes, as well as produce well-structured and articulated text on complex topics.

Do you think you’re getting there? 

Here, we’ll present you with a great list of advanced Italian vocabulary words, including verbs, nouns, connectors, and example sentences and phrases. This list will help you sort out any complex linguistic situation for any professional environment you might find yourself in. But, if you still want more by the time you reach the end, check out our wide array of vocabulary lists with audio recordings. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Academic Words
  2. Advanced Business Words
  3. Advanced Medical Words
  4. Advanced Legal Words
  5. Advanced Words for Acing Italian Writing/Essays
  6. Conclusion

1. Advanced Academic Words

Let’s start with some vocabulary you’ll need to feel at ease in any academic context.

A Boy Frustrated with His Homework

Are you ready for some serious academic work?

Approccio (n.)Bisogna avere un approccio scientifico.
ApproachYou have to have a scientific approach.

Beneficio (n.)Tutti possono trarne beneficio.
BenefitEveryone can benefit from that.

Concettuale (adj.)Si tratta di arte concettuale.
ConceptualThis is conceptual art.

Ruolo (n.)Il ruolo fondamentale della storia
RoleThe fundamental role of history

Astratto (adj.)Questo è un concetto astratto.
AbstractThis is an abstract concept.

Punto di vista (n.)Devi capire il mio punto di vista.
Point of viewYou have to understand my point of view.

Parere / Opinione (n.)Non è facile cambiare parere.
OpinionIt’s not easy to change your opinion.

Polemica (n.)Agli italiani piace fare polemica.
ControversyItalians like to argue.

Valutare (v.)Bisogna valutare tutte le posizioni.
To evaluateYou have to evaluate all the positions.

Funzione (n.)La funzione della scuola è educare.
Function / RoleSchool’s role is to educate.

Fascicolo (n.)Dove hai messo il fascicolo completo?
Dossier / FileWhere did you put the complete dossier?

Argomentare (v.)Come argomenti la tua tesi?
To argue / To defend / To discussHow do you defend your thesis?

Comportare (v.)Che cosa comporta?
To involve / To implyWhat does it imply?

Verificarsi (v.)Questa situazione si verifica raramente.
To occurThis situation rarely occurs.

Atteggiamento (n.)È un atteggiamento ragionevole.
AttitudeIt is a reasonable attitude.

Implicare (v.)Questa conclusione implica che la premessa era giusta.
To implyThis conclusion implies that the premise was correct.

Interpretazione (n.)È una questione di interpretazione.
InterpretationIt is a question of interpretation.

Fattore (n.)Il fattore più importante è l’ecologia.
FactorThe most important factor is ecology.

Definizione (n.)Troverai la definizione sul dizionario.
DefinitionYou will find the definition in the dictionary.

Fonte (n.)La fonte di questo studio è molto antica.
SourceThe source of this study is very old.

For more words and phrases about school, school subjects, or even life on a school campus, make sure to refer to our free vocabulary lists!

2. Advanced Business Words

Many people travel for business reasons, and there’s no better way to conduct business than through effective communication. The business terms on this advanced Italian vocabulary list will help you avoid any misunderstandings when doing business with Italians. 

Strategia (n.)È una buona strategia di vendita.
StrategyIt is a good sales strategy.

Controproposta (n.)Aspetto la vostra controproposta.
Counter-proposalI’m waiting for your counter-proposal.

Preventivo (n.)Sceglieremo il miglior preventivo.
Price quotationWe will choose the best quote.

Bilancio (n.)Il bilancio aziendale è in attivo.
BudgetThe company’s budget is in the black.

Rimborso (n.)I clienti hanno diritto ad un rimborso.
RefundCustomers are entitled to a refund.

Contabilità (n.)La contabilità è un settore critico.
AccountingAccounting is a critical area.

Fattura (n.)La fattura è arrivata dopo 30 giorni.
InvoiceThe invoice arrived after 30 days.

Bolla di accompagnamento (n.)Senza bolla di accompagnamento, il prodotto non può essere spedito.
Packing slipWithout a packing slip, the product cannot be shipped.

Ricerca di mercato (n.)Abbiamo fatto un’estesa ricerca di mercato.
Market researchWe have done extensive market research.

Consumatore (n.)Dal produttore al consumatore
ConsumerFrom producer to consumer

Dirigente (n.)Il dirigente della mia azienda guadagna troppo!
Manager / DirectorMy company director earns too much!

Capo reparto (n.)Il capo reparto sa sempre tutto.
Department headThe department head always knows everything.

Mercato di nicchia (n.)Il mercato del lusso è un mercato di nicchia.
Niche marketThe luxury market is a niche market.

Filiale / Succursale (n.)Abbiamo tre filiali all’estero.
BranchWe have three branches abroad.

Inventario (n.)Il negozio faceva l’inventario ogni anno.
InventoryThe store made an inventory every year.

Ricavi (n.)Quest’anno i ricavi sono calati.
RevenuesRevenues have dropped this year.

Azionisti (n.)Gli azionisti sono molto soddisfatti dei risultati.
ShareholdersThe shareholders are very satisfied with the results.

Giro/Volume d’affari (n.)Il giro d’affari di questo business è enorme.
TurnoverThe turnover of this business is enormous.

Ufficio acquisti (n.)Ho fatto domanda all’ufficio acquisti.
Purchasing departmentI made a request to the purchasing department.

Estratto conto (n.)L’estratto conto ormai è solo digitale.
Account statementThe bank statement is now only digital.

Raggiungere gli obiettivi (v.)Quest’anno non abbiamo raggiunto gli obiettivi previsti.
To achieve goalsThis year, we didn’t achieve the expected goals.

Assumere (v.)L’azienda assumerà centinaia di giovani lavoratori.
To hireThe company will hire hundreds of young workers.

Licenziare (v.)Purtroppo sono stato licenziato.
To dismiss / To fireUnfortunately, I was fired.

Licenziarsi (v.)Non ne posso più. Mi licenzio!
To quitI have had enough. I quit!

Maternità (n.)La maternità in Italia è obbligatoria per cinque mesi.
Maternity leaveMaternity leave in Italy is compulsory for five months.

Bancarotta (n.)Certe volte la bancarotta è inevitabile.
BankruptcySometimes, bankruptcy is inevitable.

Marchio registrato (n.)Ferrari è un marchio registrato.
Registered trademarkFerrari is a registered trademark.

Stipendio (n.)Lo stipendio è versato il 27 di ogni mese.
SalaryThe salary is paid on the 27th of each month.

Busta paga (n.)Le tasse sono detratte dalla busta paga.
PaycheckTaxes are deducted from the paycheck.

An Elderly Couple Checking Over Their Finances with an Accountant

Are the accounts correct?

→ Want to learn more vocabulary for doing business successfully? You’ll find it here!

3. Advanced Medical Words

Whether you’re planning to study medicine in Italy or you need medical attention while traveling, being able to discuss medical issues requires a somewhat advanced vocabulary. To give you a head start, we’ve compiled this list of several advanced words in Italian related to the medical field. And if you really want a full immersion experience, check out the ten (10!!!) seasons of the historic TV series Un medico in famiglia (A Doctor in the Family) from the Raiplay platform. 

Analisi del sangue (n.)Domani devo fare le analisi del sangue.
Blood testI have a blood test tomorrow.

Anticorpi (n.)Gli anticorpi combattono le malattie.
AntibodiesAntibodies fight diseases.

Chirurgia (n.)La chirurgia plastica è molto invasiva.
SurgeryPlastic surgery is very invasive.

Diagnosi precoce (n.)Una diagnosi precoce diminuisce i rischi.
Early diagnosisEarly diagnosis decreases the risks.

Dosaggio (n.)È necessario controllare il dosaggio delle medicine.
DosageIt is necessary to control the dosage of the medicines.

Ecografia (n.)Dall’ecografia si vede se il bambino è sano.
UltrasoundThe ultrasound shows if the baby is healthy.

Raggi X (n.)Ho fatto i raggi X perché avevo un braccio rotto.
X-rayI did the X-rays because I had a broken arm.

Prurito (n.)Se hai prurito, ti gratti.
ItchIf you itch, you scratch.

Emorragia (n.)Siamo riusciti ad arrestare l’emorragia.
BleedingWe managed to stop the bleeding.

Ricetta (n.)Il medico prescrive le ricette.
PrescriptionThe doctor gives prescriptions.

Sistema immunitario (n.)Il mio sistema immunitario è debole.
Immune systemMy immune system is weak.

Gesso (n.)Per quanto tempo devi tenere il gesso?
PlasterHow long do you have to keep the plaster on?

Frattura (n.)Per fortuna non è una frattura esposta.
FractureThankfully, it’s not an open fracture.

Pressione arteriosa (n.)È bene controllare regolarmente la pressione arteriosa.
Blood pressureIt’s good to check your blood pressure regularly.

Contagio (n.)Chi sta diffondendo il contagio?
InfectionWho is spreading the infection?

Cura (n.)A volte la cura sta nella prevenzione.
CureSometimes the cure lies in prevention.

Tirocinio (n.)Quella dottoressa ha fatto il tirocinio all’ospedale San Paolo.
InternshipThat doctor did her internship at the San Paolo Hospital.

Cancerogeno (adj.)Questo materiale è cancerogeno.
CarcinogenicThis material is carcinogenic.

Two Medical Professionals Looking Over a Chart Together

Does it look okay to you?

→ Check out our vocabulary list to practice talking about medicines and medical treatments.

4. Advanced Legal Words

Are you a fan of detective and crime stories? If so, you might love to watch the entire series of Il commissario Montalbano (Detective Montalbano), set in wonderful Sicily. You’ll need to study and practice a few advanced legal words first, but these words could be useful in many other situations as well. You never know…

Procuratore (n.)Ti presento il procuratore della Repubblica.
Attorney / ProsecutorThis is the public prosecutor.

Avvocato (n.)Alcuni avvocati non hanno una buona fama.
LawyerSome lawyers don’t have a good reputation.

Querela (n.)Ho ricevuto una querela per quello che ho detto.
LawsuitI got a lawsuit for what I said.

Essere passibile di (v.)Il tuo comportamento è passibile di una sanzione pesante.
To be liable toYour behavior is liable for a heavy penalty.

Fare appello / ricorso (v.)Gli avvocati hanno fatto appello immediatamente.
To appealThe lawyers appealed immediately.

Verdetto (n.)Il giudice ha annunciato il verdetto.
VerdictThe judge announced the verdict.

Tribunale (n.)Ci vedremo in tribunale!
CourtWe will see you in court!

Arresti domiciliari (n.)Il politico è stato messo agli arresti domiciliari.
House arrestThe politician was placed under house arrest.

Abrogare (v.)È necessario abrogare questa legge ingiusta.
To repealIt is necessary to repeal this unjust law.

Arresto (n.)L’arresto è stato spettacolare.
Arrest / CaptureThe capture was spectacular.

Calunnia (n.)Quello che dici è solo una calunnia.
SlanderWhat you say is just slander.

Reato (n.)È un reato molto grave.
CrimeIt is a very serious crime.

Diffamare (v.)È molto facile diffamare su internet.
To defameIt is very easy to defame (someone) on the internet.

Indagine (n.)Hai visto l’ultima indagine del commissario Montalbano?
InvestigationHave you seen the latest investigation by Detective Montalbano?

Multa (n.)Se superi il limite di velocità, ricevi una multa.
FineIf you exceed the speed limit, you will be fined.

Precedenti penali (n.)Hai dei precedenti penali?
Criminal recordsDo you have any criminal records?

Sentenza (n.)Questa è una sentenza storica.
RulingThis is a historic ruling.

Testimone (n.)Il testimone apparirà in tribunale.
WitnessThe witness will appear in court.

Patteggiare (v.)I miei avvocati mi hanno convinta a patteggiare.
To settle / To negotiateMy lawyers convinced me to negotiate.

Udienza (n.)Quando è fissata l’udienza?
Court hearingWhen is the hearing scheduled?

Verbale (n.)Il carabiniere ha fatto il verbale dell’accaduto.
MinutesThe carabiniere took the minutes of the incident.

A Detective Looking Up through a Spyglass

I love detective stories!

5. Advanced Words for Acing Italian Writing/Essays

Writing essays, whether for language certification or a student thesis, is definitely an art! But you’ll do well as long as you choose your vocabulary carefully, selecting less common words to deliver key concepts in the best possible way.

Here is a selection of verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions that will immediately increase your score on an essay or paper. 

1 – Alternative Verbs

Sometimes, the trick is to substitute a common verb with a more sophisticated one that has the same meaning. Here are some examples. Note that the first word is the common version, while the second one is the more advanced Italian verb. 

AverePossedereIl mio amico possiede una bella casa.
To haveTo ownMy friend owns a nice house.

DireAffermareCome puoi affermare una cosa del genere?
To sayTo claimHow can you say such a thing?

DareConsegnareHai consegnato la tesi al professore?
To giveTo deliverDid you deliver the thesis to the professor?

ScrivereRedigereDevo redigere il mio curriculum.
To writeTo redactI have to redact my resume.

ComprareAcquistareIl mio sogno è acquistare tutto!
To buyTo acquireMy dream is to buy everything!

VolereDesiderareDesidero un bicchiere d’acqua, per favore.
To wantTo wishI would like a glass of water, please.

PiacereApprezzareApprezzo il vino di qualità.
To likeTo appreciateI appreciate quality wine.

IniziareIntraprendereHo intrapreso una nuova avventura.
To startTo undertake / To embarkI have embarked on a new adventure.

2 – Conjunctions

AffinchéBisogna controllare le grandi aziende affinché non inquinino.
So thatBig companies must be controlled so that they do not pollute.

NonostanteNonostante il freddo, abbiamo fatto il bagno.
DespiteDespite the cold, we went swimming.

A meno cheStasera ci sarà il concerto, a meno che non si metta a piovere.
UnlessThere will be a concert tonight unless it starts raining.

Piuttosto chePiuttosto che guardare questo film, vado a dormire.
Rather thanRather than watching this movie, I’m going to sleep.

Non appenaNon appena arrivo ti telefono.
As soon asAs soon as I arrive, I will call you.

ComunqueComunque è meglio di niente.
In any caseIn any case, it is better than nothing.

PoichéNon siamo usciti, poiché c’era il coprifuoco.
AsWe did not go out, as there was a curfew.

BenchéBenché sia simpatico, non lo inviterò alla mia festa.
AlthoughAlthough he is nice, I will not invite him to my party.

3 – Adverbs

DecisamenteQuesto è decisamente un bell’articolo!
DefinitelyThis is definitely a good article!

FrequentementeMi succede frequentemente di sbagliare.
FrequentlyIt happens frequently to me to make mistakes. / I frequently make mistakes. 

ModeratamenteSiamo moderatamente ottimisti.
ModeratelyWe are moderately optimistic.

AssolutamenteNon ne voglio assolutamente parlare.
AbsolutelyI absolutely don’t want to talk about it.

OstinatamenteContinuava a rifiutare ostinatamente.
StubbornlyHe kept stubbornly refusing.

ImprovvisamenteImprovvisamente tutto è diventato buio.
SuddenlySuddenly, everything went dark.

BruscamenteSe n’è andato bruscamente.
AbruptlyHe left abruptly.

A Man in a Suit Plugging His Ears with His Fingers

He stubbornly refused to listen…

4 – Adjectives

AccattivanteHa un sorriso molto accattivante.
CaptivatingHe has a very captivating smile.

CaoticoIl traffico di Roma è caotico.
ChaoticTraffic in Rome is chaotic.

GradevoleLa temperatura dell’acqua è molto gradevole.
PleasantThe water temperature is very pleasant.

MaliziosoNon mi piace il tuo sorriso malizioso.
MischievousI don’t like your mischievous smile.

ViziatoÈ un bambino troppo viziato.
SpoiledHe is an extremely spoiled child.

ImpeccabileIl suo comportamento è stato impeccabile.
FlawlessHis behavior was flawless.

PacatoParla sempre con un tono molto pacato.
CalmHe always speaks in a very calm tone.

VivaceMi piacciono le conversazioni vivaci.
LivelyI like lively conversations.

RagionevoleMi è sembrata una proposta ragionevole.
ReasonableIt seemed like a reasonable proposition.

InaccettabileLa tua controproposta è inaccettabile.
UnacceptableYour counteroffer is unacceptable.

ImbarazzanteÈ stata una situazione imbarazzante per tutti.
EmbarrassingIt was an embarrassing situation for everyone.

A Bald Man with Glasses Yelling at Someone

You seem like a reasonable person…

6. Conclusion

In this guide, you have learned a large collection of both general and specialized advanced Italian words, from medical vocabulary to legal terms and business phrases. If we forgot any important topic or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below.

Make sure to explore ItalianPod101, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review new words and learn their pronunciation. Not sure where to start? Then we recommend checking out our advanced Italian course

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching. Your own private teacher will help you practice advanced words and phrases, provide you with assignments and personalized exercises, and record audio samples just for you. Your teacher will also review your work and help you improve your pronunciation.

Keep learning and having fun with ItalianPod101!

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Time, Love, Wisdom: A Guide to the Top Italian Proverbs


Proverbs are pearls of wisdom, sometimes coined by famous individuals but more often of anonymous origin. Some proverbs go back to the beginning of humanity itself, and although they sound a bit old sometimes, they always have a practical application in everyday life and can help us deal with complicated situations. 

In general, proverbs tend to transmit popular wisdom in a very concrete way. They often stand out for their irony, their colorful comparisons, and their funny tones and metaphors.

Italian proverbs are an important part of the language, because… 

  • …Italians use them often in conversations.
  • …they belong to a shared body of knowledge.
  • …they typically denote specific cultural traits of the country. 

That last point is especially important, because each culture has its own set of proverbs and idioms. They reflect a particular sense of wisdom, in harmony with the history of each country. Many of these are universal, but there are equally well-known local variations.

In this guide from, you’ll learn about some of the most common Italian proverbs, what they mean, and how to use them.

An Old Book Lying Open with Pages Turning

Proverbs = traditional popular culture.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Time
  2. Proverbs About Food
  3. Proverbs with Animals
  4. Proverbs About Love and Family
  5. Proverbs About Life, Wisdom, and All the Rest…
  6. Conclusion

1. Proverbs About Time

There are a great number of proverbs about time, maybe because our wise ancestors knew how important it is—and how easily we forget about it or even waste it.


ItalianIl mattino ha l’oro in bocca.
Literally“The morning has gold in its mouth.”
EquivalentThe early bird catches the worm.
This is the perfect proverb to begin our guide, since it deals with getting the right start. According to this proverb, if you get up early, you’ll get the most out of your day. This proverb also praises the value of acting immediately, and presents a concept well-known since ancient times and in many different cultures.

Another version of the same proverb is: Chi tardi arriva, male alloggia. (“Who arrives late, settles badly.”)

And you? What part of the day do you prefer?


ItalianChi dorme non piglia pesci.
Literally“Who sleeps does not catch fish.”
EquivalentDon’t love sleep, or you will become poor; open your eyes, and you’ll have enough to eat.
This well-known Italian proverb of ancient origin is used to warn those lazy ones among us that without work and commitment, it’s impossible to get what you want or need. The proverb is therefore a real exhortation to get busy because nothing is achieved without effort.


ItalianMeglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani.
Equivalent“Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.” 
This Italian proverb seems to express that it’s more convenient to settle for the little certainties of today than to risk losing them.  

In fact, it could have a double interpretation, which is a common characteristic of proverbs. Another meaning could be that of another common proverb: Chi non risica non rosica. (“Who does not take risks doesn’t eat.”) Both talk about the behavior of prudent people, as well as the behavior of those who are willing to risk a little.
As Aristotle used to say… “Virtue lies in the middle, in the balance of the two opposites.”


ItalianLa gatta frettolosa fece i gattini ciechi.
Literally“The hasty cat made the blind kittens.”
EquivalentHaste makes waste.
This proverb emphasizes that everything should be done at the right time and in the best possible way. Haste is always a bad advisor, and even if it gives you the impression of being very productive, it can eventually create some unpleasant situations to solve.

So, beware of multitasking and hyperactivity…!


ItalianSe sono rose, fioriranno.
Literally“If they are roses, they will bloom.”
EquivalentTime will tell.
This old proverb has a second part that’s usually omitted… “if they are thorns, they will sting.” But in any case, the meaning is clear: Keep working on a job or a project with faith, because only at the end will you see the results.

And if you want to keep optimistic about it, you can rely on yet another proverb about time: ll tempo è galantuomo. (“Time is a gentleman.”) It means that in the end, time will solve every problem, even if you can’t see it at the moment.


ItalianIl buongiorno si vede dal mattino.
Literally“Good morning starts in the morning.”
EquivalentA good beginning makes a good ending.
This proverb reminds us of something we already know: If a day or endeavor has a good start, it’s likely to be a success. If it starts well, it will probably end well.

This is also the bottom line of another very common Italian proverb, stating: Chi ben comincia è a metà dell’opera. (“Well begun is half done.”) Both proverbs stress the importance of starting con il piede giusto (“with the right foot”).


ItalianMeglio tardi che mai.
EquivalentBetter late than never.
This is the perfect proverb for the typical Italian… While it may be an oversimplification, it’s partly true that Italians tend to be late. Not all of them, obviously, but arriving a little late to an appointment (especially among friends and family) is accepted—and even almost expected—in Italy. So, if you’ve been waiting on someone or something for some time, you can use this proverb to express your disappointment with a little irony. 

It’s also used in reference to people who finally change a bad behavior or have finally come to understand something:

Finalmente hai lasciato il fidanzato…meglio tardi che mai! (“You finally left your boyfriend…better late than never!”)


ItalianFinché c’è vita, c’è speranza.
EquivalentWhere there’s life, there’s hope.
This proverb comes from a quote by Cicero from more than 2000 years ago. It encourages us not to despair, even in difficult situations. As long as we’re alive, we can still make our dreams come true. How wise and optimistic is that?

Another way of saying it is: La speranza è l’ultima a morire. (“Hope is the last to die.”)

A Little Girl Rubbing Her Eyes While Waking Up in the Morning

A good morning starts in the morning.

2. Proverbs About Food

Italians love to eat. They eat all the time, and when they’re not eating, they’re talking about food! It’s only natural that there are so many popular Italian proverbs about food and wine.


ItalianCome il cacio sui maccheroni.
Literally“Like cheese on macaroni.”
EquivalentTo be just right for the job.
Cacio—a mixed cheese made of sheep’s and cow’s milk—is the perfect combination for macaroni, because its strong flavor completes it. So, you can use this proverb when describing something that makes a situation just perfect

This proverb must date back to the origin of the short and pierced pasta called macaroni, in the early Middle Ages in Sicily. Even today, this combination of pasta and cacio is present in the well-known Roman cuisine dish called “cacio e pepe.”

There’s another Italian saying that means the opposite: come i cavoli a merenda (“like cabbage for snacks”). This refers to a combination that just doesn’t work.


ItalianBuon vino fa buon sangue.
Literally“Good wine makes good blood.”
EquivalentAn apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Nothing goes better with a pasta dish than a good red wine…but in this proverb, we also find the ancient wisdom that a little (especially red) wine every day makes your whole spirit better. 

If wine isn’t your favorite drink, check out our vocabulary list of 20 Drinks to Quench Your Thirst and learn how to say your favorites! 


ItalianO mangiar questa minestra o saltar questa finestra.
Literally“Either eat this soup or jump out of this window.”
EquivalentTake it or leave it.
Whether it’s something we don’t like on our dinner plate or any other unpleasant situation, we’re often presented with things that we have to accept out of necessity, because there’s no alternative.

Interestingly, the Italian term minestra today simply means “soup,” but in Ancient Rome, it referred to any food served at the table. This is because the minister was the person who served food during meals (from which we get the verb “to administer”). 


ItalianNon tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.
Literally“Not all doughnuts come out with a hole.”
EquivalentYou can’t win them all.
Even though this proverb talks about the Italian doughnut ciambella, it’s not really about food. Rather, it’s about the fact that not everything turns out as planned. It also encourages us to be ready for surprises!


ItalianAvere le mani in pasta.
Literally“Having your hands in the dough.”
EquivalentTo have a finger in the pie.
This expression refers to being involved in a situation or project (especially a dubious one), either financially or for personal interests. It has a negative meaning and is normally used to refer to “dirty” business.

It originates from the old times, when several people used to work together with sticky dough while manually making pasta and bread.

A Variety of Donuts

Not all doughnuts come out with a hole.

3. Proverbs with Animals

Why are there so many proverbs with animals? Since the oldest times, animals have helped people, made great companions, and provided food and warmth. For these reasons, it makes sense that they occupy a special place in the long list of Italian proverbs.


ItalianCane che abbaia non morde.
Literally“Dog barking does not bite.”
EquivalentHis bark is worse than his bite.
We’ve all met a grumpy person who yells and maybe even threatens us—but who, in the end, is totally harmless. Just like the dog that protects its home or owner by making lots of noise!


ItalianIl lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio.
Literally“The wolf sheds its hair but not the vice.”
EquivalentA leopard cannot change its spots.
It’s very difficult to get rid of bad habits, right? That’s exactly what this old proverb means. In its original Latin version, it talked about a fox rather than a wolf, but the concept remains: a person can work hard to make changes in their life, but still struggle to overcome certain habits.

Mario ha di nuovo cominciato a bere… il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio! (“Mario has started drinking again…a leopard cannot change its spots!”)


ItalianQuando il gatto non c’è, i topi ballano.
EquivalentWhen the cat’s away, the mice will play.
There’s really no need to explain this proverb, which is common in many different cultures. We all remember when we were kids and our parents were away, right?


ItalianA caval donato non si guarda in bocca.
EquivalentLook not a gift horse in the mouth.
This proverb has to do with good manners and graciousness: If you receive a gift, do not make a fuss about its value. 

It comes from not-so-ancient times when, before buying a horse, people would look into the animal’s mouth to determine its age and its health condition from the teeth. But remember not to do that if the horse was a gift, okay?

A Horse Neighing

Gift or no gift…he doesn’t want you to look inside his mouth!

4. Proverbs About Love and Family

Because family and relationships are such fundamental aspects of the Italian lifestyle, there’s no shortage of love and family proverbs in Italian. Here are a few of the most common ones. 


ItalianI panni sporchi si lavano in famiglia.
Literally“Dirty clothes are washed within the family.” 
EquivalentDo not wash your dirty linen in public.
Dirty clothes, thanks to this popular proverb, have become synonymous with delicate and private matters. 

It’s better to solve delicate matters inside the circle of those who are directly concerned. Only those who are close, like members of the same family, can understand the facts and situations that those on the outside may misinterpret.


ItalianMoglie e buoi dei paesi tuoi.
Literally“Wives and oxen of your country.” 
This is a really dated proverb—way before globalization, Erasmus, and all the traveling we do today. It basically suggests that, like in agriculture, it’s better to stick to local “breed” in relationships and not marry (or breed) foreigners.

Of course, it’s painfully politically incorrect today, especially because it only refers to mogli (“wives”) and it compares them to animals…but oh well, you got the point. After all, it’s just saying that cultural differences in a relationship will come back to haunt you in the long run! 


ItalianChi si assomiglia si piglia.
Literally“Who looks alike chooses each other.”
EquivalentBirds of a feather flock together.
People tend to relate to others who have similar personalities, lifestyles, and tastes as they do. For this reason, we find it easier to establish relationships with people who are similar to us. 

Another related proverb says: Dimmi con chi vai e ti dirò chi sei. (“Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who you are.”)


ItalianTra moglie e marito non ci mettere il dito.
Literally“Between wife and husband don’t put a finger.”
EquivalentDon’t go between the tree and the bark.
You should not get involved in family affairs that are not your own, because the problems of the couple are so intimate that they can be judged only by the husband and wife.

In other words… Fatti gli affari tuoi! (“Mind your own business!”)


ItalianLa mamma dei cretini è sempre incinta.
Literally“The mother of fools is always pregnant.”
EquivalentThere’s one born every minute.
There are many versions of this very old and wise proverb:

La madre dei cretini (“fools”) è sempre incinta. 
La madre degli idioti (“idiots”) è sempre incinta.
La mamma degli stupidi (“stupid people”) è sempre incinta.
La mamma degli imbecilli (“imbeciles”) è sempre incinta. 

So, you can change the word but the concept is the same: There will always be idiots around to make things difficult.


ItalianVolere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca.
Literally“Wanting a full wine barrel and a drunk wife.”
EquivalentHave your cake and eat it too.
Here’s another example of a proverb that’s not very kind to Italian women…but its metaphorical meaning is clear: You cannot have everything in life!

Vuoi dimagrire continuando a mangiare di tutto? Non puoi avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca! (“Do you want to lose weight while continuing to eat everything? You can’t have your cake and eat it too!”)

5. Proverbs About Life, Wisdom, and All the Rest…

A Lovely Garden in Canada

Why is the neighbor’s grass always nicer???

We could all use a little guidance now and then, which is where these Italian proverbs about life and all of its trappings come in! 


ItalianOcchio non vede, cuore non duole.
Literally“Eye does not see, heart does not hurt.”
EquivalentOut of sight, out of mind.
Ignorance can be a blessing and it sometimes spares us a lot of suffering. Another popular way of saying this is:

Beata ignoranza! (“Blissful ignorance!”)


ItalianChi troppo vuole nulla stringe.
Literally“Those who want too much obtain nothing.”
EquivalentGrasp all, lose all.
Don’t be greedy! This proverb ultimately invites us to not do/want too many things at the same time, because none of those things will be done well in the end.


ItalianA buon intenditor, poche parole.
Literally“To the good connoisseur, a few words.”
EquivalentA word to the wise (is sufficient).
This proverb indicates that if you’re intelligent and aware of things, you don’t need many explanations in order to understand a concept. A few words should be enough.


ItalianL’erba del vicino è sempre più verde.
Literally“The neighbor’s grass is always greener.”
EquivalentThe grass is always greener on the other side.
Envy is one of the most defective traits we can have, but it’s unfortunately a pretty common trait in our society. Often, as this proverb suggests, we prefer to look at the possessions or success of those around us, often thinking they’re better than us.


ItalianRide bene chi ride ultimo.
EquivalentLaughs best who laughs last.
This proverb highlights how one should not celebrate before the end of a situation, even if things seem to be going in the right direction. And this is not only out of superstition! We all know that everything can change at the very last minute.


ItalianFra i due litiganti il terzo gode.
Literally“Between the two litigants the third enjoys.”
This proverb comes from the title of an Italian comedy of errors from the end of the eighteenth century. It means that sometimes, if two people fight about something, a third person might benefit in the end by taking advantage of the distraction and weakness of the two busy fighting.

So, don’t make war, please!


ItalianNon è tutto oro quello che luccica.
EquivalentAll that glitters is not gold.
This metaphorical phrase warns about things, behaviors, or situations that appear fantastic from the outside—but which are far worse when you take a closer look!

Another proverb that warns us not to judge by appearances is: 

L’abito non fa il monaco. (“The dress does not make the priest.”)

A Little Toddler Climbing Up the Stairs

Life is made of stairs…


ItalianIl mondo è fatto a scale, c’è chi scende, e c’è chi sale.
Literally“The world is made of stairs, some go down, and some go up.”
EquivalentEvery dog has his day.
Life, as luck, comes and goes. You never know what direction life will take.


ItalianChi fa da sé, fa per tre.
Literally“He who works by himself does the work of three (people).”
EquivalentIf you want something done right, do it yourself.
It’s true that often, in order to do a good job, you have to do it yourself. But, ironically, you could also say the opposite using another motto: L’unione fa la forza (“Unity is strength”). So, who do you think is right?


ItalianTra il dire e il fare c’è di mezzo il mare.
Literally“An ocean lies between what is said and what is done.”
EquivalentActions speak louder than words. 
Talking is easy, but it’s much more difficult to actually do things. This proverb refers to people who have a tendency to speak a lot and make promises they don’t keep.


ItalianA mali estremi, estremi rimedi.
EquivalentDesperate times call for desperate measures.
Sometimes a drastic action is called for—and justified—when you find yourself in a particularly difficult situation.


ItalianSbagliando s’impara.
Literally“Learning by mistakes.”
EquivalentPractice makes perfect.
Don’t worry about making mistakes, as they are life experiences that we can learn from. And if you’re learning Italian, you can be certain that making a few mistakes is paving the road to greater skills. And practice—with—definitely makes perfect! 

6. Conclusion

In this guide, you’ve learned the 35 most common Italian proverbs. Do you know any others? Make sure to share them with our community in the comments below!

And keep up the good work with your Italian studies! We encourage you to take advantage of all the free resources, vocabulary lists, and video and audio podcasts on to boost your studies and keep learning fun!

Make sure you also check out our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching with your own private teacher. He or she will use assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples to help you improve your Italian like never before! 

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10 Places to Visit in Rome, the Eternal City


Tutte le strade portano a Roma. (“All roads take you to Rome.”)

If you plan to visit Italy, you might as well start in the nation’s political and cultural capital. Another popular saying—Roma, città eterna (“Rome, the eternal city”)—sums up its unique historical importance and beauty. Rome is a multilayer city with immense artistic treasures and historical architectures that will make you dream of walking through the Ancient Roman Empire, the Baroque and Renaissance periods, and everything in-between.

Before you plan a visit to Rome, though, you’ll have to do your research. And that’s where we come in. In this article, you’ll learn what to expect and where to go for the best experience! 

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy

Rome, Eternal City

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Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Survival Italian Phrases for Travelers
  4. When in Rome… (Common Slang Expressions Used in Rome)
  5. Conclusion

Before You Go

The history of Rome, the one that everybody knows, starts with a bang! At one time, Rome was on top of the known world. At its peak, the Roman Empire spread from North Africa to England, and from Portugal to the Balkans, and lasted around five centuries.

In Latin, you would say: Roma caput mundi. (“Rome top of the world.”) 

The wonderful thing is that you can still get a pretty good feel of Rome’s grandeur just from walking by the imperial ruins. But even with its size and majestic past, Rome is still a very easy-going city. A nice place to take a walk, yet full of mysteries and surprises.

As the capital city of Italy, Rome hosts all of the Italian government organizations such as the Parlamento (“Parliament”) and the Presidenza della Repubblica (“President Headquarters”). Also, the headquarters of Italy’s many political parties are here. So if you see a lot of very serious people, dressed mostly in blue and going around with an escort and many newspapers under their arms, you can guess who they are. In Italy, these locations are often referred to using the name of the building, so be aware of these terms:

  • il Quirinale: where the President is
  • Montecitorio: the Chamber of the Deputies
  • Palazzo Chigi: the house of the Prime Minister
  • Palazzo Madama: where the Senate meets

Rome is a big and vibrant metropolis that incorporates the quintessential aspects of the Italian character and lifestyle: warm, welcoming, easy-going, happy, a bit loud, and a bit chaotic. Finally, let’s not forget that it is here where the concept of La Dolce Vita was born and beautifully eternalized by the great Federico Fellini. And if you want a more recent portrait of this beautiful city, watch the other acclaimed movie La Grande Bellezza (“The Great Beauty”) before visiting.

    → If you’re a fan of Italian cinema, don’t miss a visit to Cinecittà, the largest film studio in Europe. And yes, it’s in Rome!

Even if it’s not the top of the world anymore, you need to keep in mind that Rome is huge! While you can walk and get pleasurably lost in some neighborhoods, you still need some sort of transportation to get from one part of the city to another. Driving is definitely not the easiest thing to do in Rome, as the traffic can be bad and the Roman drivers are…unruly and a bit reckless. 

Our suggestion is to opt for public transport. Or better yet, buy a tour bus ticket and have a guided overview of all the sightseeing attractions in Rome while comfortably sitting on the bus. Later, you can go back on your own to spend more time in the parts of the city you’re more interested in.

Rome is blessed with mild weather, which makes it very pleasant to walk around—and even stay outside—all day. Still, the best time to visit Rome is in the spring or in the autumn. It won’t be as hot as it is in the summer months (July and August), but it’s still warm enough to stay outside all day (and all night).

A Man in a Bright Suit Making Large Soap Bubbles in Rome

La dolce vita… (“Sweet life…”)

In principle, you should find fewer tourists during the off-seasons. But because Rome is visited by around nine million people each year, you have to be ready to endure lines in most places—and you might have to wait to be served your spaghetti carbonara

How much money do you need to travel to Rome? Of course, that depends on your budget and your traveling style. If you’re a backpacker, you can get by with around $50 per day. This takes into account staying at a hostel (check out the Ostelli della Gioventù), eating lots of pizza slices with plain water, getting around by foot and bus, and paying for certain attractions. But if you love traveling luxuriously, then your budget can swell up to $265 per day.

And talking about money, you should carry euros with you or pay with your international debit or credit card. You should be able to easily draw cash from a Bancomat (“cash machine”) or uffici di cambio (“exchange offices”). Whatever you do, don’t assume that you can take out your dollars or pounds to pay for an espresso or your favorite newspaper! Besides, who wants to calculate exchange rates, make conversions, and check to see if anyone has made a mistake (or is trying to be smart…)? 

What else to bring to Rome? Here’s what we recommend: 

  • Sunglasses, because being outside all day under a perfect blue sky can really tire your eyes
  • A small umbrella in case of rain
  • Multiple layers of clothing to be ready for any temperature
  • Your favorite ItalianPod101 app to help you polish your Italian on the go 😉

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

Even if you have just a few days in Rome, there is still a lot that you can see and experience. The absolute must-see attractions if you’re just passing by for one day are: 

  • The Roman ruins
  • The Colosseum
  • The Roman Forum
  • The beautiful Trevi Fountain
  • The Spanish Steps
  • Piazza Navona
  • St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City

Plan to visit Rome by night? Then you can enjoy an osteria (“tavern”) in Trastevere.

But really, just one day in Rome is not enough. So here’s a packed (but more enjoyable) three-day itinerary.

Ancient Rome

The best way to start your visit in Rome is by experiencing the ancient ruins and its most famous (and most-visited) monument. Once there, you’ll find yourself in front of a colossal structure that will immediately conjure up images of gladiator fights and exotic wild animals. And then, just a few strolls away, you’ll be immersed in a different time—it will feel as if you were walking around in a toga, going to meet with Julius Caesar!

1 – Colosseum 

The Colosseum is Rome’s most famous monument and one of the most-visited in all of Europe. In addition to being the world’s largest amphitheater, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the entire historic center of Rome).

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Timeless beauty

It was built around 80 AD and could hold an average of 65,000 spectators. There, they observed not only gladiator fights but also impressively hi-tech shows for the time, such as mock sea battles (where the whole theater was entirely filled with water!) and dramas based on Roman mythology.

The Colosseum clearly reflects the architectural and construction concepts of the early Imperial Age. This is particularly evident in its use of curved and enveloping lines offered by the oval plan, and in the structural relationships of arches and vaults.

So, enter this truly colossal structure and let yourself be enveloped by the density of the emotions the spectators of Ancient Rome felt. Also be ready to endure two inevitable—and rather annoying—features around the Colosseum: long ticket lines and fake Roman centurions asking you for money in exchange for a tacky picture. You can avoid the first nuisance by buying the tickets online via this site. As for the second nuisance…sorry, you’re on your own for that!

2 – The Roman Forum and Palatino

The Roman Forum is a lovely sight, and its location right next to the Colosseum makes it very easy to visit both places on the same day. It used to be Rome’s political, juridical, religious, and economic center. It can be defined in all respects as the beating heart of Ancient Rome.

In the early days of the Republic, this was a chaotic place with food stalls, brothels, temples, and the Senate house. The food stalls were eventually replaced by shopping malls and courts, and the Forum became a ceremonial center under the Empire. Here, all the monuments, temples, and basilicas were concentrated. Today, you can even admire what remains of the temple built in honor of Julius Caesar.

The Roman Forum

The beating heart of ancient Rome

Not far from the Forum, you can visit the Palatino (“Palatine Hill”). It’s one of the seven hills of Rome and constitutes the oldest part of the city. It is a real open-air museum! According to Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus, the famous brothers suckled by the she-wolf who became the founders of the city, came to light on the Palatine Hill.

In any case, the Palatine Hill remains one of the most evocative places in the city, as it was the home of the ruling class of Ancient Rome and, later, of the Farnese family gardens. The pleasant green of the rich vegetation envelops the vestiges of the past and accompanies people on this historical journey. And from here, the view is just breathtaking.

3 – Trastevere

After a whole day among stones and ruins, nothing beats a cool night out in Trastevere. Rome can be a great lively city, but Trastevere shows that it has never lost its village atmosphere. It’s a colorful neighborhood along the Tevere, the river that cuts through Rome. 

It used to be a working-class area and today is a funky, bohemian spot. It’s known for traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs, artisan shops, simple B&Bs, and budget hotels.

Here, you’ll find the intimate side of the capital. It’s a place of pastel red buildings with green ivy that hangs down from the facades of the houses, and squares full of cafes and pizzerias, with “front row” seating to observe the river and the life that flows around it.

Sunset on the Tevere

Sunset on the Tevere

4 – Campo dei Fiori

Another option for spending your night is Campo dei Fiori, probably the oldest market in Rome. Every morning since 1869 (except on Sunday), the square has been filled with colorful stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fresh fish and, as a matter of fact, fiori (“flowers”).

During the day, Campo dei Fiori is really the right place to buy Roman specialties or to stock up for a nice picnic in a park. But at night, the square turns into one of the meeting places for nightlife, the perfect place to enjoy a drink or something to eat in the many outdoor cafes and restaurants.

Vatican City

Vatican City is definitely one of the best things to see in Rome. It’s a town in its own right, and is in fact a different state. When you enter St. Peter’s Square or the Vatican Museums, you cross the state border from Italy to the Vatican. It’s a very little state, considering that, apart from the Pope, it has only another 850 or so citizens, most of them being cardinals, diplomats, and guards.

Despite its small size, the Vatican City is visited every year by thousands of tourists, either for religious reasons or to get a glimpse of its many artistic treasures.

View from the Top of the Basilica

View from the top of the Basilica

5 – Piazza San Pietro e i Musei Vaticani

Once in the Vatican, you cannot miss St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica. The square is huge and from its center, you can see the most famous windows in the world, the ones from which the Pope looks out of every Sunday to give his blessing to thousands of followers. It’s also the window from which the most well-known sentence in Latin is announced after the successful election of a new head of the Catholic Church: “Habemus Papam…” (“We have a new Pope…”).

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and it’s considered one of the most sacred Catholic shrines as, according to tradition, Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly right below the high altar of the basilica. 

If you can, don’t miss the chance to go to the top of the dome, where you’ll have a fantastic view of the whole city, as well as the chance to see the Basilica and the square from above.

To visit the Vatican Museums, it’s best to arrive very early and/or to buy a skip-the-line ticket because it gets very crowded around midday. There is a lot to see and you can easily spend the whole day there, but you can opt to “limit” your visit to the Sistine Chapel and the fabulous Double Helix Staircase. If you have limited time or the lines are too long, keep in mind that you can also try a virtual tour.

    → Word of caution: Shorts, mini-skirts, and tank tops are not allowed in most churches, so think about the right dress code before visiting the Vatican…

6 – Castel Sant’angelo

A nice walk from St. Peter’s Square, the Castel Sant’Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for the emperor Hadrian and it has overlooked the Tiber River for almost two thousand years. In this time, it has evolved from its initial role as a tomb, becoming a fortress, then a castle, and finally a museum.

Today, it’s open to the public and you can climb to the top for a splendid view of the city. You’ll also be able to admire the construction techniques that have allowed it to survive for two millennia.

Castel Sant’angelo in Rome, Italy

From mausoleum to castle to museum

Central Rome

7 – Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is among the most famous places to visit in Rome, built on commission from the Pamphili family. It is the best example of Roman Baroque style. Like many piazze in Rome, this location boasts a lovely central fountain. This was sculpted by Bernini and is enriched with an Egyptian obelisk made of a unique block of stone where the four largest rivers in the world are represented. 

If you happen to visit Rome during Christmas or the other winter holidays, don’t miss the traditional market and street artists.

8 – Pantheon

The Pantheon is an imposing temple dedicated to all the Roman gods, originally built in 27 BC! It is a unique building due to its shape and dimensions.

The Pantheon in Rome, Italy

The House of all Roman gods

The Pantheon has a circular shape, in front of which there is a classical colonnade. The dome has the particularity of not being completely closed: there is an opening at the top, called oculus (“eye” in Latin), that functions as a sundial—the sun, passing through the oculus, marks the passing of the hours and seasons. And when it rains? Well, the inside gets wet but, thanks to a series of holes in the floor, the water flows away.

The dome of the Pantheon is considered the biggest in the world, with a diameter of over 43 meters and a weight of 5000 tons. It’s considered among the largest in the world, and it undeniably constitutes a masterpiece of engineering and architecture, especially if we take into account the period in which it was built.

9 – Fontana di Trevi 

From the Pantheon, you can easily get to the Trevi Fountain. Over the years, this fountain underwent many changes and was rebuilt several times, but the final version presents us with another great example of the Roman Baroque style. 

It is one of the symbols of the Eternal City, as well as the largest and most spectacular of the Roman fountains with a width of 20 meters and a height of 26 meters. This extraordinary work celebrates the wonderful and changing world of water. Approaching la piazza, you can already hear the sound of the water, which creates a breathtaking view as it flows from the white stone. 

There are many legends told about the famous Trevi Fountain, but the best known is certainly the one that claims if you throw a coin into the fountain (strictly from over your shoulder), you will surely return to Rome. And a lot of people throw coins in this fountain; an estimated one and a half million euros are collected each year from the fountain. Where does it all go? A part goes to the Caritas and a part to the maintenance of the city’s cultural heritage.

Don’t do this, unless you want to get a fine!

And of course, there’s the cinema, Fellini, Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, and La Dolce Vita. But don’t try to imitate that, or you’ll get a fine! 

10 – Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps)

To wrap up our trip around the ten must-see places in Rome, let’s go to Piazza di Spagna. Another masterpiece of Baroque architecture, it opens at the end of the luxurious Via Condotti and, in the center, the Barcaccia Fountain and the majestic Spanish Steps.

The fountain was built by Bernini and owes its shape to a legend that says a real boat was found there, perhaps brought by a strong flood of the Tiber. Barcaccia, in fact, means “the big ugly boat.”

The monumental 136-step staircase was built in 1725 to connect the church of Trinità dei Monti, located at the top, to the Spanish Embassy in the square. The best time to visit is in the morning, because of the beautiful light, especially on spring days with blue skies when the staircase is covered with azaleas!

The staircase was to be used not only as a passageway, but as a place to stop and sit. However, a new regulation has recently come into force that prohibits sitting (and especially eating) on the ladder, so be careful!

A Crowd of People Near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy

A night out, Italian style

Survival Italian Phrases for Travelers 

Now for the elephant in the room: Can you visit Rome without knowing Italian? 

In Rome, there will be people speaking English at most tourist attractions (though possibly with a thick Roman accent), but don’t expect that everybody on the street or in small venues and stores will be able to understand. This is actually good news, because you will be able to practice your Italian. And ItalianPod101 will be with you all the way! 

Here is a list of essential survival phrases in Italian for your trip:

“Hello!” / “Good morning!”
“Good evening!”
Grazie (mille).“Thank you (very much).”
Non parlo Italiano.“I don’t speak Italian.”
Per piacere. / Per favore.“Please.”
Scusa. / Mi scusi.“Excuse me.”
Mi dispiace.“(I am) sorry.”
Dov’è il bagno?“Where are the toilets?”
Può ripetere per favore?“Can you repeat (please)?”
Quanto costa?“How much is it?”
Vorrei questo.“I would like this.”
Parla inglese?“Do you speak English?”

These are just some basic phrases to help you get by. For more on this topic, be sure to check out our survival guide on Italian Travel Phrases.

When in Rome… (Common Slang Expressions Used in Rome)

While walking around the Roman Forum or sipping a beer in Trastevere, you might hear some Roman expressions that you don’t understand. This is because people in Rome use a lot of colloquial slang called romanesco. It’s not a dialect, just a collection of common expressions used in Rome

Here are the six most common expressions that you might hear during your visit:

Aò! Ciao!“Hello!”
Daje! E dai!“Come on!” (irritated)
Anvedi!Guarda!“Check it out!”
Annamo. / ‘Nnamo. Andiamo.“Come on.” / “Let’s go.”
Mortacci tua / ‘tacci tuaA highly offensive, but very common insult. You will hear it a lot, but don’t use it! 😉“Your ancestors” (cursing)


After reading this guide, you’re ready to visit one of the most wonderful cities in the world: Rome! When you go, tell us all about your adventures in the comments below. Did you discover any hidden treasure? Were you able to practice your Italian (or even your romanesco)? 

In any case, make sure to explore, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words before you visit Italy. And when you go, don’t forget to bring with you our awesome mobile apps. Our vocabulary lists are another great way to review words and learn their pronunciation.

Happy learning, and enjoy your travels in Rome!

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Itanglish: A Guide to English Words Used in Italian


Languages are influenced by a variety of factors, and words often travel from one language to another by way of loans, borrowings, translations, and general misuse. Some languages, including English and Italian, have had more of an influence on the world than others and are widely used (and misused) the world over. Italian has been influencing other languages, especially English, for a rather long time. This influence mainly appears in the fields of music, food, and science. 

Today, there are also several English words used in Italian. This English influence on Italian is more recent, resulting from the huge influence that British and North American culture have had on our old continent in the last few centuries. Italians have borrowed many words, but sometimes these borrowed words are endowed with a somewhat different meaning than that of the original.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the different word exchanges between English and Italian. You’ll see that studying these commonly used (and misused) words can give you a head start in your vocabulary-building and help you communicate easily even as a beginner.

Communication Meaning in a Dictionary

English, Italian, or Itanglish…as long as we communicate!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Loanwords
  2. Introduction to Itanglish
  3. Do You Speak Itanglish?
  4. English Words Derived from Italian
  5. Conclusion


We may not even realize it, but loanwords are everywhere and we use them all the time. But what exactly are they? A loanword is defined as a word that has been borrowed from another language. For example, an English word that becomes incorporated into another language (like Italian) without translation would be considered a loanword.

So, don’t be puzzled if you’re walking around Milan one evening and hear someone say: 

  • Dove butto il chewing gum? (“Where do I throw the chewing gum?”) 


  • Durante l’happy hour offrono sandwich e cocktail. (“During happy hour, they offer sandwiches and cocktails.”) 

Even though half of the words are English, these are perfectly correct Italian sentences.

Of course, you could have said: Dove butto la gomma da masticare? and Durante l’aperitivo offrono panini e bibite alcoliche, but nobody speaks like that anymore. This is because some words have entered the common vocabulary with such force that using the original Italian word sounds a bit old-fashioned.

A Gumball Machine

Chewing gum o gomme da masticare?

Although Italian has lent a great number of words to every other language, some “purists” hate to see our language “contaminated” by other languages. This feeling is especially strong toward Anglicisms, which they believe there are way too many of these days. But the reality is that languages change constantly and we have to accept the way people talk.

Here are some of the most commonly used English loanwords and their Italian equivalents.

SandwichHai portato i sandwich? (“Did you bring sandwiches?”)

It is rather funny that we borrow the English word for it, even though we have exported the Italian name for it all over the world…
CocktailVorrei un cocktail esotico. (“I would like an exotic cocktail.”)
Italians have always been more into wine, so maybe that’s why there is no real equivalent for this word unless you make a huge periphrasis: mistura di bevande alcoliche con succhi o frutta e ombrellini (literally: “mixture of alcoholic drinks with juice or fruit and small umbrellas”).
Chewing gumNon ingoiare il chewing gum! (“Don’t swallow the chewing gum!”)
Gomma da masticare

Nobody really says this anymore, but you may hear people call it gomma or cicca in some parts of Italy.
Happy hourA che ora è l’happy hour? (“What time is the happy hour?”)
Aperitivo or Apericena

They also sound happy, right? You can read our blog post on Untranslatable Italian Words if you want to learn more about apericena and other words that cannot be easily translated.
SmartphoneHo comprato uno smartphone nuovo. (“I bought a new smartphone.”)

This cute word was actually created as a name for the old-style cell phones, but it is still used today for the smart models.
ChatNe parliamo in chat? (“Should we get on a chat?”)
If you chat in person, it’s chiacchiere, but there is no Italian equivalent for chatting over the internet. That said, you can ‘Italianize’ the word “chat” by conjugating it as a regular verb: chattare (io chatto, tu chatti, lui/lei chatta, ecc.). 
T-shirtChe taglia è questa t-shirt? (“What’s the size of this T-shirt?”)
Maglietta (a maniche corte). 
WeekendCosa fate per il week-end? (“What are you doing for the weekend?”)
Fine settimana.

It’s interesting to note how Italians use these English words with different syntactic rules. For example, we don’t add -s to make them plural (i sandwich, gli smartphone, le t-shirt) and we do assign them the same gender as the Italian equivalent:

  • il panino → il sandwich
  • la maglietta → la t-shirt
  • il fine settimana → il weekend

All of the words above have been used for decades and are part of everybody’s daily vocabulary. But there are other loanwords that have recently entered the jargon of young Italians and professionals of the new economy. 

It’s considered “cool” to use the English equivalents of these words, even though they have perfect Italian equivalents. So be aware: if you’re in an Italian work environment, you might actually end up listening to a lot of English words!

Il marketing del brand del “Made in Italy.” (The marketing of the “Made in Italy” brand.)

MarketingLei è il nuovo direttore marketing? (“Are you the new marketing director?”)

Of course, “marketing” refers to everything that has to do with selling strategies and all the communication that goes with it.
BusinessDobbiamo fare crescere il business. (“We need to grow our business.”)
Affari, attività economica. 

This word is also widely used in combination with other words, as in: business class, business school, core business, and show business.
BrandFerrari è il brand più forte al mondo. (“Ferrari is the world’s strongest brand.”)

It is not uncommon to hear people talking about il brand del “Made in Italy. Believe it or not, that is a correct Italian sentence!
MeetingIl meeting è alle tre. (“The meeting is at three.”)

Besides being used in the workplace, it is also used for some sporting competitions, such as in: il meeting di atletica (“the track and field competition”).
BriefingHai letto il briefing di oggi? (“Did you read today’s briefing?”)
Istruzioni brevi. 

Did you know that the term “briefing” originally derives from the Latin brevis (“short”)? And now it has returned to Italian as a loanword…
Know-howÈ importanto valorizzare il know-how. (“It is important to enhance the know-how.”)
GapIl gap salariale è troppo alto! (“The retribution gap is too high!”)
Divario, dislivello. 
Coffee breakCi meritiamo un coffee break. (“We deserve a coffee break.”)
Pausa caffè. 

Even if you only need a few seconds to drink an espresso ristretto, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a longer break. 😉

A Cup of Coffee and a Saucer Sitting on a Newspaper

Time for a coffee break (a rather old time…).

Introduction to Itanglish

All of the loanwords we’ve seen so far tend to make sense. They are common, they are universal, and they help us communicate. But some words have taken on a life of their own to form a ‘language’ called Itanglish. This consists of English words that are used in Italian communication on a daily basis, but with a twist. 

This is a rather interesting phenomenon and one that exists in every language. Basically, for some mysterious reason, an English word enters the Italian common use but with a slightly different meaning from the original word. In the end, the word looks and sounds English, but it is not English anymore because its meaning is altogether something else. Now, the origin of the meaning of these words is difficult to trace back, but the fact is that everybody in Italy agrees on the same meaning.

Do You Speak Itanglish? 

These words are a great source of comedy because Italians will use them with the definite conviction that any English speaker will know exactly what they mean. But nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that, out of context or without the help of the proverbial Italian gestures, nobody will understand… Here are some examples of English words used in the Italian language that might confuse you at first glance.

ZappingFrom the verb “zap,” meaning to destroy your enemy, it has become “to change channels compulsively with your remote control” in Itanglish.
Smetti di fare zapping! (“Stop changing channels!”)
FootingIn English, this can refer to the action of moving by foot (“she was seen footing across the field”). It is also used to describe the state of one’s feet having a secure grip on something (“I nearly lost my footing”). For some reason, it is used as a synonym for jogging, or correre, in Itanglish.
Faccio footing ogni mattina prima di andare al lavoro. (“I jog every morning before going to work.”)
SmokingHow do you get from “smoke” to dinner jacket or tuxedo? Beats me…but this is the meaning of the Itanglish word!
Mio padre metteva lo smoking per andare a teatro. (“My father wore a tuxedo to go to the theater.”)
FlipperA flipper is a pinball machine. Well, I guess what happened here is that since the little fins you operate to throw the ball back are called ‘flippers,’ the whole machine took that name in Itanglish.
Mi piace giocare a flipper. (“I like playing with the pinball machine.”)
BoxWe all know what a box is, right? Well, not exactly… In Itanglish, box has become a small enclosed space, like a garage for a car or a box doccia (“a shower cabin”).
Questo appartamento è dotato di un box? (“Does this apartment come with a garage?”)
MisterNo, we are not talking about just any man. In Itanglish, the mister is one specific man: the coach (also known as allenatore) of a team. This is normally used for the coach of a soccer team. 
Il mister ci ha fatto i complimenti per la partita. (“The coach praised us for the game.”)
SpiderYou don’t like spiders? I bet you’ll like these, though. In Itanglish, this word refers to a two-seat sports car. So how do you go from a car to a spider? Apparently, in the past, the disproportion between the size of the tires and the small cockpit made them look like spiders…
Il mio sogno è avere una spider rossa. (“My dream is to have a red sports car.”)
ToastWhen you think of toast, a single slice of slightly toasted bread comes to mind. But in fact, if you ask for a toast (pronounced un tost) in Italy, you will receive two slices of toasted bread with ham and cheese between them.
A pranzo ho mangiato solo un toast. (“I just ate a ham and cheese toast for lunch.”)
GolfIf you’re thinking of long afternoons playing on green grass, think again. Because for some strange reason, Italians use un golf to refer to a light woolen pullover. Why? Who knows… And if you hear someone talk about un golfino, it’s just another cute way of saying the same thing.
Porta il golf che stasera farà freddo. (“Bring a pullover because it will be cold tonightl.”)
SlipMaybe because it means “to slide” or “to move quickly” in English, this word means “underwear” in Itanglish. It makes sense, right? And of course, if it is very small or belongs to a little child, it turns into lo slippino.
Ho comprato tre slip per 10 euro. (“I bought three pairs of underwear for 10 euros.”)
FeelingIn Itanglish, this is a very particular emotional state. It is when there’s a spontaneous and immediate emotional bond between people…a special understanding.
Fra di noi c’è del feeling. (“There’s chemistry between us.”)
FictionIn English, fiction refers to any literature in the form of prose, such as novels or short stories, that tell a story not directly based in reality. But in Itanglish, it has taken on the meaning of “TV series.” Once upon a time, they were called sceneggiati.
Non posso perdere l’ultima puntata della mia fiction preferita. (“I can’t miss the last episode of my favorite TV series.”)

A Mother Taking the Remote Control From Her Young Daughter

Basta zapping! (“Stop channel surfing!”…Let go of the remote!)

English Words Derived from Italian

How did you like speaking Itanglish? Well, you should know that there are also many Italian loanwords that are commonly used in English. Most of them belong to the realm of music, arts, food, and science.

Let’s review some of them:

→ From music

  • Fiasco
  • Soprano
  • Opera
  • Diva
  • Piano
  • Prima donna
  • Concerto
  • Finale
  • Ballerina 

→ From the arts

  • Chiaroscuro
  • Scenario
  • Mask (maschera)
  • Studio

→ From science

  • Volcano (vulcano)
  • Lava
  • Influenza
  • Medico
  • Malaria
  • Quarantine (quarantena)
  • Tarantula (actually, from the city of Taranto)

→ From food (of course)

  • Lasagna
  • Spaghetti
  • Pizza
  • Broccoli
  • Mozzarella
  • Panino
  • Pasta
  • Gelato
  • Pesto
  • Granita
  • Gusto
  • and tons of others…


As you’ve seen in this guide, there are plenty of English words in Italian to help you start communicating even as a beginner! You’ve also seen some Itanglish words that will take some getting used to, but which will make your speech that much more natural once you do. Did we forget any important Itanglish word that you’ve heard before? Tell us about it in the comments!

Keep working on and having fun with your Italian studies on, where you can find tons of vocabulary lists, free resources, and even mobile apps

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Your private teacher will guide you so that you always know what to study next, based on your needs and progress. He or she will provide you with assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples to help boost your progress. There is no faster way to learn Italian than with ItalianPod101!

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The 25 Most Well-Known Italian Quotes


Quotes are the perfect way to go deeper into the cultural wealth of a language. They give us a clear vision of people’s philosophy, mindset, history, and popular culture. This means that by studying Italian quotes, you’ll not only be able to better understand the people around you and better express yourself, but you’ll also be able to explore Italian culture at a deeper level.

In this article, we’ll go through the most commonly used Italian quotes, from sayings about love to words of traditional wisdom.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life and Wisdom
  3. Quotes About Love
  4. Quotes About Family and Friends
  5. Quotes About Food
  6. Dante’s Quotes
  7. L’importante è finire!

1. Quotes About Success

We’ll start our list with a few Italian quotes of strength and success. How can you apply these to your everyday life?

1. Veni, vidi, vici. 

(“I came, I saw, I conquered.”)

In Italian, it’s: Venni, vidi, vinsi

This is probably the oldest and most memorable of all the popular Italian quotes, and it comes from ancient Italian times (and more precisely, from ancient Rome). The original quote is in Latin, coined by Julius Caesar to describe one of his many quick and easy military victories. Today, this quote has—fortunately—lost its military connotation, but it continues to be commonly quoted in its original Latin form to describe great personal achievements that were accomplished quickly and without much effort. Does it sound like bragging? Well, yeah! After all, it is Julius Caesar we’re talking about!

Veni, Vidi, Vici Written on a Blackboard

I came, I saw, I conquered.

2. Il fine giustifica i mezzi. 

(“The end justifies the means.”)

Success, particularly in the political realm, was what Machiavelli had in mind when he wrote this famous and oft-quoted phrase. This sentence has been used since the Renaissance to depict a type of political system that would resort to every evil means in order to reach its goals, no matter the costs. This isn’t exactly what Machiavelli meant, but it doesn’t matter much anymore since it’s such a widely known concept. There was even an adjective created to illustrate this very idea: machiavellico (“Machiavellian”).

3. La calma è la virtù dei forti. 

(“Calm is the virtue of the strong.”)

But success is not derived from military strength or political ability alone. On the contrary, a very old saying (the origin of which is now lost) tells us the secret to being strong and successful: be calm, be sure of yourself, and face any situation. It’s basically another way of saying “Keep calm and carry on,” the famous phrase from a 1939 poster made by the British government before World War II.

2. Quotes About Life and Wisdom

Now let’s look at some Italian quotes about life from some of Italy’s greatest minds and artists. 

4. La semplicità è l’ultima sofisticazione. 

(“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”)

When talking about life and wisdom, it just makes sense that we quote one of the wisest, most intelligent, creative, and brilliant minds of all times! Have you guessed? Of course, we’re talking about Leonardo da Vinci! He loved to say that la semplicità è l’ultima sofisticazione (“simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”), or in other words, “keep it simple” or “less is more.” This seems like very good advice for anybody in any situation—and in any case, anything that good old Leonardo said will make you look good!

A Sketch of Vitruvian Man

Keep it simple, says Leo Da Vinci!

5. Dietro ogni problema c’è un’opportunità. 

(“Behind any problem, there is an opportunity.”)

Galileo Galilei, another great scientific and philosophical mind of the Renaissance, brought us this very modern-sounding quote. He probably had no idea that this concept would be used five centuries later by managers and marketers all over the world, all agreeing with the advantage of turning problems into opportunities.

6. La libertà è come l’aria: ci si accorge di quanto vale quando comincia a mancare. 

(“Freedom is like air: you realize its value only when you miss it.”)

Next is the jurist Piero Calamandrei, one of the most prominent protagonists of la Resistenza (“the Resistance”). His quote is true of many things: you miss them when they’re gone. But the quote gains significance when we talk about freedom, one of the vital elements of life, just like air. 

7. Se comprendere è impossibile, conoscere è necessario. 

(“If understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary.”)

And from the same historic time—the aftermath of WWII—comes another memorable quote, this time from the novel Se questo è un uomo (“If This is a Man”) by Primo Levi. Talking about his experience as a survivor of a concentration camp, he underlines the importance of remembering and studying the absurd tragedies of the past.

8. Se non hai mai pianto, i tuoi occhi non possono essere belli. 

(“If you haven’t cried, your eyes can’t be beautiful.”)

Wisdom can come from many different sources. You don’t need to be a scientist or a philosopher to say something so beautiful and meaningful that people cite it for years to come. For example, this quote of simple popular wisdom is from the mouth of the beautiful Italian actress Sophia Loren. It entails the notion that real beauty has the depth of life, and suffering is a part of living.

A Tear Streaming Down a Woman’s Face

Did you know that crying can make you beautiful?

3. Quotes About Love

Italian quotes about love… We can’t talk about this without making a reference to the delicious Baci Perugina. These are chocolate and hazelnut pralines that, since the 1920s, have made the perfect romantic present. They’re individually wrapped in popular literary love quotes that are translated into four languages. In Italy, they’re synonymous with romanticism (or cheesy pickup lines, depending on who you ask…).

But no love quote is more famous than this one:

9. Amor ch’a nullo amato amar perdona. 

(“Love that exempts no one loved from loving in return.”)

Considering that Dante wrote this quote in his Divina Commedia in 1320, it’s not very easy to understand. But it basically means that love has a powerful way of attracting love. The rhythm of this verse is so beautiful that people like to quote it just to hear the sound. Give it a try!

10. Siamo angeli con un’ala sola: possiamo volare solo se abbracciati. 

(“We are one-wing angels: we can only fly together.”)

Not as old as Dante’s quote but just as poetic, is this quote from the Neapolitan actor, director, and writer Luciano De Crescenzo, in his film Così Parlò Bellavista. It’s a beautiful metaphor of the force of true love.

11. L’amore è cieco. 

(“Love is blind.”)

Italians often quote this universal concept of love to justify an improbable relationship. Lately, people have added another small pearl of wisdom to the sentence: L’amore è cieco…ma la sfiga (la sfortuna) ci vede benissimo! (“Love is blind…but bad luck sees perfectly well!”). This addition actually comes from one of the Murphy’s Law books by Arthur Bloch.

4. Quotes About Family and Friends

You all know how important family is to Italians—especially the family members that gather around a table on special occasions! Family isn’t limited to our immediate relatives, but includes all of its members, close or distant. Nowadays, Italian families have a tendency to be more and more extended. The bottom line is that every family is different and none of them are “normal.” 

There are many Italian quotes about family (and several proverbs) that discuss the sweet and sour dynamics of family life.

12. Si può fare tutto, ma la famiglia non si può lasciare. 

(“You can do anything, except leaving your family.”)

This may be another way of saying that we don’t choose our family and that family ties are stronger than anything. Or so believed Gianni Agnelli, whose family owned the Italian automotive giant Fiat (which is today Fiat-Chrysler). And it’s no wonder he would say that, since his family allowed him to be the richest man in Italy for decades!

13. Gli faremo un’offerta che non potrà rifiutare. 

(“We will make him an offer he cannot refuse.”)

When talking about famous and powerful families, how could we forget the—fictitious, but quite realistic—Corleone family from The Godfather? This is by far the most memorable citation from the movie, and one that people quote all the time as a joke about making a very good offer of any kind. It goes without saying that Cosa Nostra is not something to joke about, but this quote has entered Italy’s everyday language.

14. Dagli amici mi guardi Iddio che dai parenti mi guardo io. 

(“Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my relatives.”)

We choose our friends, and we inherit our families. In the end, they are both very important to us—but they can be dangerous, too! Or at least that’s what the famous comedian Totò thought. You don’t know Totò? Well, he was “just” the most popular Italian performer of all time. He said this quote in a movie, paraphrasing an old proverb. If you want to learn all about crazy family and friend dynamics, just watch any of his old movies!

A Family Eating a Large Dinner Together

Nessuna famiglia è “normale.” (“No family is “normal.”)

15. Sai cos’è l’amico? Un uomo che ti conosce a fondo e nonostante ciò ti vuole bene. 

(“Do you know what a friend is? Someone who knows you deeply and still loves you.”)

Vittorio Gassman gave us this quote about friendship in his movie Profumo di Donna (“Scent of a Woman”). It depicts the quintessential and bittersweet quality of the movie.

5. Quotes About Food 

Considering the prominent food culture in Italy, it should come as no surprise that Italian food quotes are very common. Here are some of the best Italian quotes about food!

16. Buono come il pane. 

(“Good as bread.”)

Italian food is the celebration of simple flavors, and this concept is best illustrated through this quote. Simpler things are the best, and bread is the greatest example of honest, traditional, and good qualities. This saying can apply to people as well!

17. Non si vive di solo pane. 

(“We do not live by bread alone.”)

Bread is great, but according to this traditional saying, it’s just not enough…

18. La vita è una combinazione di pasta e magia. 

(“Life is a combination of pasta and magic.”)

Nobody can describe the beauty of life better than the Maestro Federico Fellini, who summed it all up in this quote. What else is there to say? Genius!

19. Altro il vino non è se non la luce del sole mescolata con l’umido della vite. 

(“Wine is nothing but sunlight mixed with the humidity of the vine.”)

Or maybe we can just add another element to Fellini’s formula with Galileo Galilei’s definition of wine. It just reminds us how important nature is in all aspects of our life.

20. L’uomo passa la prima metà della sua vita a rovinarsi la salute e la seconda metà alla ricerca di guarire. 

(“Men spend the first half of their life ruining their health and the second half trying to fix it.”)

Pasta and wine are great, but better not overdo it. So it’s Leonardo Da Vinci to the rescue, reminding us to keep our future in view while we enjoy ourselves in the present! I bet we can all relate to this quote…

A Table Laid Out with Italian Pasta Dishes, Wine Bottles, and Fresh Ingredients

Is it pasta or is it magic?

6. Dante’s Quotes

Before wrapping up, we can’t forget to introduce the most common and widespread citations by Italians. When it comes to Italian quotes, Dante’s Divina Commedia is a major source of modern-day quips. Maybe it’s because it was the first literary work written in Italian, or maybe because Italians have to study it inside and out for school. Perhaps it’s because he really was the greatest Italian poet.

Dante’s quotes can sometimes be obscure. They’re written in archaic Italian, and they’ll definitely make more sense if you read the book…but we’ll provide you with the most popular quotes so you can show off to your Italian friends!

21. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura. 

(“In the middle of my life I found myself in a dark forest.”)

Let’s start with the very first sentence of his Divina Commedia. You’ll hear this citation quoted all the time in reference to any difficult situation (the dark forest) that a person has experienced at some point in life (in the middle of my life).

22. Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse. 

(“Guilty was the book and who wrote it.”)

This quote is used to refer to a person, an object, or an event that made a relationship possible.

23. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate

(“Leave all hope, you who are entering.”)

This grim phrase was written on the door of hell, making it clear that there was no coming out once you went through that door. But today, it’s a favorite quote for students who are about to enter their classroom, used as a joke about the desperation of being in school-hell! 🙂

24. Non ti curar di lor, ma guarda e passa

(“Don’t pay attention to them, but observe and move on.”)

This quote is used to mean that one should be superior and not worry about what others do, think, or say.

25. L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle. 

(“Love that moves the sun and the other stars.”)

Let’s conclude with a cosmic love citation, giving us the feeling of just how important love is. Love is all we need! And, from the Middle Ages to today, that hasn’t changed!

The Immortal Dante Aliguieri

7. L’importante è finire!

“The important thing is the end” sang the famous Italian singer Mina in the 60s. We hope you enjoyed learning the most important and common Italian quotes on success, wisdom, love, family, and much more. 

Do you want to learn more quotes and citations? Do you have something specific in mind? Make sure to share them with us in the comments below! also has tons of free vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to improve your Italian in a fast and fun way!

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