5 Italian Words You May Hear in Italy

You may not speak the language, you may have optimistically brought the phrase book with you on your trip to Rome, but you’re too sleepy each night when you fall into your hotel bed to look up what you’ve been hearing all day. Here are 5 things you’re may hear during your travels to Italy.

“Permesso”

This is usually said if you’re blocking someone’s way, when they’re trying to move past you in a crowded bar or when you’re looking at a monument with your head tilted up and they’re about to knock you over with their bicycle or Vespa. It’s a polite way to say ‘get out of the way!’

“Busta?”

You will be asked this in a shop or supermarket at the checkout. You are being asked if you would like a ‘plastic bag’ for your groceries. Generally, you are expected to pack your items yourself and if you delay, you’ll hold up the whole process for the next person. Best to respond by saying ‘Si, grazie’ and to get packing.

“Spiccioli?”

Italians are fixated on paying with exactly the right ‘spiccioli‘, which is the word for small change,  and this means paying right down to the last centesimo with those one and two centesimo coins. If you hand them a 20 or 50 euro note, let them know that you have just withdrawn cash and you’re fresh out of coins.

“Basta così?”

You’ll generally hear this if you’re in a delicatessen or buying fruit or perhaps if you’re ordering more than one item standing at the bar of a cafe. It means ‘is that all?’ or ‘would you like anything else?’ or basically, ‘shall I calculate the total cost’ or ‘would you like to add something else?’

Attenzione!”

This means ‘watch out’ or ‘be careful’! It’s a handy one to know because it could be shouted at you when you’re about to step out onto a road, have your giant gelato scoop fall off your cone or to bump into someone as you are looking at a monument and carry on walking. If you hear this word be alert and get out of danger.

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