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Essential Italian Phrases for a European Tour

November 11, 2013 - 10:17am
?Buon giorno,? which means ?hello,? and other basic phrases can be useful for travelers taking European tours through Italy.

Along with featuring visits to Germany, Spain, Denmark and other countries, a grand European cruise lets seniors explore the vibrant cities of Italy. Tour members may experience slight culture shock when arriving at this Old World country - visitors are exposed to unique customs developed over thousands of years, from specific dinner etiquette to the right ways to drink a cappuccino.

The language, too, can take guests by surprise. Italian, unlike English, is largely phonetic, which means words are pronounced the way they are spelled. But some of the letters do not sound the same as they do in English. These five letter combinations trip up travelers the most:

  • "gl" is pronounced "ly"
  • "gn" is pronounced "ny"
  • "gi" is pronounced "j"
  • "ce" and "ci"are pronounced "ch"
  • "ch" is pronounced "k"

Understanding these phonetic differences is important for a successful trip. Additionally, before hitting Italy on their European tours, seniors can prepare by learning some key phrases.

Greetings, Goodbyes and Other Basics
While many languages have one expression for greeting people, Italian has a different phrase for each part of the day:

  • "Buon giorno" means "hello" in the daytime
  • "Buon pomeriggio" means "hello" in the afternoon
  • "Buona sera" means "hello" in the evening

There are other basic remarks that senior travel tour members can use to meet new acquaintances during their vacation. For instance, to ask someone's name, say, "Come si chiama?" After meeting a person for the first time, it's customary to say, "piacere," which means, "pleasure to meet you." Other useful terms include:

  • "Come sta?" is "how are you?"
  • "Scusi" is "excuse me"
  • "Buona notte" is "goodnight"
  • "Grazie" is "thank you"

If you're having trouble following what one of the locals is saying, simply tell him or her, "non parlo Italiano," which means "I don't speak Italian." Most residents of the country also speak English fluently, and many will gladly talk to visitors in their own language.

Essential Phrases for Dining and Touring
Seniors will take many of their meals aboard the cruise ship; however, there will be opportunities for exploring Italian cuisine on land. Travelers can prepare by brushing up on these words that are often found on Italian menus:

  • L'antipasto = appetizer
  • Il primo = first course
  • Il secondo = second or main course
  • Insalata = salad
  • Formaggio = cheese
  • Frutta = fruit
  • Dolce = dessert
  • Digestivo = an after-dinner drink like limoncello
  • Caffe = espresso

Other terms that may come in handy while touring Italy include:

  • "Come arrivo a…" = "how do I get to..."
  • "Dove e..." = "where is…"
  • "Quanto costa questo?" = "how much does this cost?
  • "Posso usare il bagno?" = "may I use the restroom?
  • "Non so" = "I don't know"

Italian is a complex language that takes years of learning and practice to master; however, with these basic words and the help of a senior travel group leader, visitors can enjoy successful explorations of the country's unique culture.