If your only Italian word is ‘Ciao’ and you’re a) tempted to spell it CHOW and b) not entirely sure if it means Hi or Bye – well, this is for YOU.
Here follows the essential words and phrases in Italian that I wish someone had handed me prior to my first visit to Il Bel Paese (so I’m including myself in the idiot-count, here). Stripped-back and no frills, this isn’t about making well-rounded sentences (buy yourself a phrasebook). Rather, the aim is to give you the best chance of understanding and being understood, when you prior knowledge is nil. Phrases are mostly in the formal third-person (the standard, when addressing a stranger) as I’m assuming you’re not on chummy terms with the locals, just yet. This is the list that you could practise on a 2/3 hour flight to Rome, and stand a chance of actually remembering and using.
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