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10 Need-to-Know Phrases for Your Next Trip to Italy

Here's what to say to eat, drink, and shop like a local in Italia.


When you're traveling in Italy, just a few phrases will up your shopping game from turista to native in no time. Once you've mastered the basics - counting, directions, please and thank you - these are the essentials to add to your vocabulary:
Avete ... "Do you have ... ?" If you're looking for a particular item in a shop, or want to order a dish you don't see on a restaurant menu, just ask! "Avete parmigiano reggiano?" will get you a quick answer and save browsing time. And when you're walking up to a crowded restaurant, ask "Avete un tavolo per [number of people - due, tre, quattro, etc.] persone?" to find out if they have a table available.

Bicchiere. If you're not in the mood to order a bottle of wine, simply ask for "un bicchiere di vino rosso/bianco" and you'll get a glass of the house red or white.
Bio. The organic movement is very popular in Italy these days - not surprising for a country that takes so much pride in its native produce! The direct translation of organic is biologico, but you're more likely to just see bio in shops and restaurants.
 
C'e una specialita della casa? Though they may offer a large menu to please their patrons, many Italian chefs pride themselves on having perfected one or a few dishes, often regional delicacies from their hometown. Ask your waiter for the chef's specialty if you're not sure what to order. 
Una bottiglia d'acqua frizzante/naturale, per favore. Unlike in American restaurants, you won't get water in an Italian restaurant unless you ask for it. Ask for a bottle of sparkling (frizzante) or still (naturale) water when you sit down if you want to stay hydrated.

Prego. A multipurpose courtesy term that literally means "pray," you may hear this from a bartender or shopkeeper as a way of saying "how can I help you?," from a person on the street as they let you pass, or as a final polite word after you've said "grazie." 
Quanto costa? All-important when you're shopping, this is how to ask how much something costs. Don't worry about deciphering the answer; most shop owners are happy to write the number down for you so you can consider your bargain.
Il conto, per favore. "Check, please!" Italian restaurant owners are not going to rush you out the door, so when you're ready to pay, you'll need to ask for the bill. 
Caffe latte. The proper way to order the espresso-and-steamed-milk drink we call a latte here in the U.S. Caffe is espresso, and latte is milk - ask for "latte" in an Italian coffee bar and you'll end up with a glass of cold milk! 
Cin cin. Cheers! 


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