The best way to make your Italian trip better is to learn a bit of Italian. After all, knowing the basics can help you get around the country, order the right food at restaurants, and even interact more with the locals. So on top of purchasing a traveler’s phrasebook, here’s three things you should know about the Italian language:

  1. Italians appreciate it if you try to speak in their native language.

    Even a few basic words or phrases spoken in Italian will get you a nod or smile of appreciation. This is especially true in Rome, where people are known to be quite friendly (even if it’s a city of a few million people). And yes, even if you see them laughing while you’re struggling to pronounce something, don’t be offended! They’re laughing with you, not at you.Hence, here are some phrases to get you started:

    Good morning – Buon giorno
    Good night – Buona notte
    How are you? – Come va?
    I’m good. – Sto molto bene.
    Goodbye – Arrivederla / Arrivederci
    Thank you – Grazie

  2. There’s a difference between ciao and arrivederci.

    Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just use “ciao” when saying goodbye in Italy. This greeting is actually very informal and can only be used when you’re already quite close to the person you’re talking to. After all, this comes from a Venetian phrase meaning “I am your servant” or “I am at your service”!Hence, to avoid offending someone that you’ve just met, it’s best to use arrivederla or arrivederci. Arrivederla is the most formal way to say goodbye and is best used when talking to persons in authority or to older people. Meanwhile, arrivederci is less formal—a step down from arrivederla. It’s best used when the person you’re talking to thinks arrivederla is too formal.

    Finally, for an all-around substitute, you can use salve. Since it’s coming from the Latin word “salvere,” which means “to be well” or “to be in good health,” it’s a great greeting when meeting someone new.

  3. There are actually many different regional languages or dialects of Italian.

    While most people throughout Italy speak standard Italian, you will notice that some words may change pronunciation in some parts of the country. Or that they may use some totally different words for some common things you thought you knew the Italian words for!

    Before you start thinking your phrasebook is inaccurate, remember that there are different minority languages and regional dialects found across Italy. For example, there’s the Neapolitan language spoken in Naples and the rest of the Campania region; Sicily has Sicilian.

    That said, most Italians can speak both their local dialect and the standard Italian language. So yes, you can still use that phrasebook—you can still use it.

We hope these three tips can help you out on your trip to Italy!