12 Travel experts share an Italian word or phrase that made their trip to Italy

Key Takeaways

Discover the Italian words and phrases that made travel experts’ trips to Italy unforgettable, and learn useful expressions for your own Italian adventure.

  • Michele from The Intrepid Guide embraced dolce far niente, the art of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
  • Jedd and Michelle from Intentional Travelers found perfetto perfect for describing Italy’s delights.
  • Hannah and Nick from Salt In Our Hair used qual e la specialita della casa? to discover local culinary gems.
  • Christina from Jetset Christina lives by la dolce vita, capturing Italy’s extraordinary charm.
  • Michael from Time Travel Turtle learned the importance of proper pronunciation with un latte per favore.
  • Abigail King from Inside the Travel Lab values the wisdom in chi non fa, non falla, encouraging learning through experience.

Quick facts

What does "dolce far niente" mean in Italian culture?

"Dolce far niente" means "the sweetness of doing nothing," highlighting the Italian value of enjoying life and taking time to relax without guilt.

How can the word "perfetto" enhance your Italian experience?

Properly pronouncing "perfetto" with Italian emphasis can express enthusiasm for Italy's food, scenery, and culture, making interactions more vibrant and genuine.

Why should you ask "Qual è la specialità della casa?" at Italian restaurants?

Asking "Qual è la specialità della casa?" encourages trying popular local dishes, enhancing your culinary experience by pushing you to explore authentic Italian cuisine.

What does "La dolce vita" symbolize in Italy?

"La dolce vita," meaning "the sweet life," embodies Italy's charm, from its beautiful landscapes to its delightful cuisine and joyful atmosphere.

Why is "scarpetta" a favorite word among food lovers in Italy?

"Scarpetta," meaning "little shoe," refers to using bread to soak up meal juices, an ingrained and cherished Italian dining tradition symbolizing savoring every last bit of food.

What lesson did Michael from Time Travel Turtle learn from ordering "un latte"?

Ordering "un latte" (a glass of milk) instead of a "caffè latte" taught Michael to embrace cultural differences and not assume things will be the same as back home.

How did the word "ciao" help Sundeep and Bedabrata in Italy?

"Ciao," used for both "hello" and "goodbye," became a vital conversational tool for navigating Italy despite language barriers, making their interactions more manageable.

What is the meaning behind the Italian phrase "Chi non fa, non falla"?

"Chi non fa, non falla" means "He who does nothing, makes no mistakes," encouraging the acceptance of mistakes as a part of learning and gaining experience.

How did a "tempesta" create a memorable moment for Lucy in Milan?

A storm ("tempesta") in Milan led Lucy to experience the Duomo di Milano's roof views alone in the rain, creating a unique and unforgettable memory.

Why should tourists learn the phrase "Dove si mangia bene?" in Italy?

Asking "Dove si mangia bene?" ("Where do you eat well?") can lead to discovering exceptional local eateries, as food is integral to Italian culture and social life.

My Thoughts

Italy is a country full of surprises. From the astonishing architecture to Italian culture and modern facilities that complement the historic views of one of the most beautiful places of all time, you’ll not run out of things to do when visiting Italy.

We’ve rounded up some travel experts which shared their stories with an Italian word or phrase that made their trip to Italy.

As a bonus, we also included travel experts from Italy that also shared a word or phrase they recommend for tourists on their first trip to Italy.

What makes you remember a place?

Nowadays, we have the luxury to enjoy remembering places we’ve been to using high-quality cameras and video recording tools.

But, an unforgettable memory of a vacation trip, may it be a new activity or a foreign food you enjoyed so much will linger for many years.

According to studies, our travel memories can shape our personality or even influence a new hobby.

On the other hand, how do you remember a place you’ve been to? Perhaps there must have been a time where you have associated a place when memorizing a foreign word.

Some memory gurus imagine scenarios that they can link a word that they are memorising.

Discover phrases that may inspire you to go to Italy soon!

Dove si mangia bene?

What’s the Italian word or phrase that made your trip to Italy?

Travel bloggers and influencers often include Italy as part of their vacation list when travelling around the world. There’s no hiding the fact that Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe.

Even when looking for an adventure, travel experts make it a goal to visit all hole-in-the-wall places in Puglia and off the beaten track in the Amalfi coast to really make their trip to Italy worth the wait.

For this reason, we’ve asked them the question, “what’s the Italian word or phrase that made your trip to Italy?”.

We have 11 experts who shared their trip to Italy with phrases they used to ask for directions, a word that appeared in a particular situation, or just anything about the Italian language that had an impact on their experience in Italy for good or bad.

  • Michele – The Intrepid Guide
  • Jedd and Michelle – Intentional Travelers
  • Hannah and Nick – Salt In Our Hair
  • Christina – Jetset Christina
  • Vicky – Vicky Flip Flop Travels
  • Michael – Time Travel Turtle
  • Sundeep and Bedabrata – DelhiFunDos
  • Abigail King – Inside the Travel Lab
  • Lucy – Absolutely Lucy

Learn new Italian words and phrases from these travel experts.

Il cibo italiano è incredibile.

Michele – The Intrepid Guide: dolce far niente

The first time I travelled to Italy, I knew very little Italian, except how to sayBuongiorno. Come sta?(Good morning. How are you?)

This one phrase was a great ice-breaker because most locals weren’t expecting me to speak to them in Italian. Their faces instantly lit up and they smiled.

From there we would converse in broken Italian and English, but it didn’t matter.

They treated me like one of their own and it felt wonderful to feel so accepted and welcomed. It truly made all the difference. Because of this trip, I became serious about learning Italian and a few years later I moved to Rome.

It was here that I learned the expression “dolce far niente” which literally means “the sweetness of doing nothing“.

This is more than an expression, it’s a life motto. It describes the Italian art of doing nothing and not feeling guilty about it. It perfectly sums up what Italians value in life and the importance of taking time to slow down and enjoy life.

Michele is an Italian-Australian language educator and travel blogger and ‘guide’ behind The Intrepid Guide. Michele aims to enrich her readers’ travels with her detailed destinations guides and travel phrase guides. Michele also offers online language courses that use her unique 80/20 method to help you learn the local language so you can travel with confidence, enjoy meaningful interactions with the locals, and avoid being treated like a tourist. Follow Michele on Instagram, and Twitter and Facebook, and YouTube as she shares fascinating and little-known linguistic and cultural facts.

Fare una passeggiata in città.

Jedd and Michelle – Intentional Travelers: perfetto

Perfetto – this word reminds us of our visits to Italy. In Italy, we use it often to describe the amazing food we’re eating, the scenery we’re seeing, or the plans we’re excited about.

Perfect! It reminds us of speaking with our friend, Chicca, a fantastic cook in Tuscany.

But this word is also a good lesson in pronunciation. Said without that Italian emphasis, or neglecting the pause between the two t’s, the word loses its ring.

But with the Italian pronunciation, “perfetto is very expressive and imparts its true meaning.

Michelle Chang is a travel blogger and founder of IntentionalTravelers.com. She and her husband quit their traditional jobs in 2011 to serve as Peace Corps Volunteers. They have been location-independent digital nomads since 2014, and now co-host Chicca’s Cooking Club with their friend in Tuscany.

Hannah and Nick  – Salt In Our Hair: qual e la specialita della casa?

Italy is our favourite country in Europe, but it’s great to know a word or two in Italian, especially outside the very touristy places like the Tuscan hills.

The phrase we tend to use at restaurants is ‘Qual e la specialita della casa?’ meaning ‘What’s your most popular dish on the menu?’.

That phrase pushes us to try something on the menu that we otherwise would never choose.

Going off the beaten track in Italy is the best thing you can do as the country changes both in terms of landscape and culinary.

Have a look at our Italy travel guides for inspiration for your next holiday.

Hannah & Nick are two creatives behind the travel brand Salt in our Hair. They create inspiring travel blogs, videos, and photography to motivate others to go out and explore more of the world!

Christina – JetsetChristina: la dolce vita

The Italian phrase that I took home with me from my very first trip to Italy was “La dolce vita“. Literally meaning ‘the sweet life’, Italians not only use this phrase all the time, but they also live by it.

When you’re in Italy, everything is just a little bit sweeter. Nothing is ordinary, everything is extraordinary. From the gelato, to the sights, to the accents, to the sunshine, to the sparkling Amalfi coast. Italy just makes you smile a little bit bigger.

And, when you come home and dream of Italy, thinking of sipping Barolo or biting into fresh linguine with clams, or taking that boat ride across Lake Como, an unmistakable whimsy washes over you as you remember the magic of this gorgeous country. La dolce vita.

Christina Haisfield, also known as @JetsetChristina, is a leading luxury travel blogger and Instagram influencer. Known for her incredible travel recommendations, her blog, Jetset Christina, showcases the world’s most swoon-worthy locales around the world and reaches more than 2 million jetsetters per month.

Vicky – Vicky Flip Flop Travels: scarpetta

One year I was working in Puglia, in the south of Italy, for a few weeks – painting, olive picking, and gardening, and I was introduced to the word ‘scarpetta‘.

It’s definitely my favourite Italian word. It refers to the tradition in many cultures of getting a little bit of bread and mopping up the juices from your meal.

I LOVE that there’s a word for this in Italian and use it a lot. ‘scarpetta‘ means ‘little shoe’ and it’s that ‘little shoe’ that soaks up the most delicious part of the meal so it doesn’t go to waste.

Whenever I do this at a meal I’m taken back to that glorious summer and using my ‘scarpetta‘ to soak up the oils from my tasty anchovies at the end of the meal.

Vicky is a travel and festival blogger at vickyflipfloptravels.com. She loves a bit of adventure, will try anything once, and has a strong passion for the local food and drink, whatever it may be. She’s here to inspire her readers to travel to places a little out of their comfort zone, or at least to explore the usual destinations in a different way. Find her @VickyFlipFlop on all social media and YouTube.

Michael – Time Travel Turtle: un latte per favore

Although I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy many times, I can still clearly remember the first day of my first trip, more than 20 years ago, and a lesson that has stayed with me ever since.

Arriving at a café in the morning, I felt so clever to stand at the bar rather than sit down, knowing I would be charged more (as a backpacker, I was counting every lira).

I was still smug as I ordered my coffee: “un latte per favore“. The man behind the bar questioned my order, but I insisted. Yes, of course, that’s what I want! And so that’s what he made, and what he put down in front of me – a big glass of milk.

Of course, what I had been expecting was a caffè latte which, in Australia, we just call ‘a latte’. But I pretended I had received what I wanted, and I drank my milk.

From then on, though, I saw Italy (and the world) in a slightly different light, different and exciting, always remembering not to compare it to home, never expecting things to be the same – even something as simple as a coffee order.

Australian journalist Michael Turtle has been travelling the world for more than a decade and writes about the best way to experience destinations on his website, Time Travel Turtle.

Sundeep and Bedabrata – DelhiFunDos: ciao

This was way before the internet era. Italy had still been a dream destination. So when we got an opportunity, we somehow scrambled funds and bought the tickets. We flew from Mumbai and reached Rome.

While we found Italy to be fairly tourist-friendly, a huge impediment was the language. Apart from Indian languages, the only foreign language we spoke was English.

Very little English was spoken in Italy those days. This was before the days of online maps. Thus, commuting or locating places or buying food anywhere in Italy was an ordeal.

We do not remember most of the Italian language we were subjected to. The only word that stuck was “ciao”.  We heard this word frequently at a store, museum, or hotel. It was used in place of “hello” or “goodbye”. We figured out it is like a general greeting like we say “Namaste” in India. The word “ciao” was our go-to resource while starting a conversation.

Ciao made our trip to Italy somewhat manageable. It has been more than two decades but “ciao” has still retained a place of fond memories in our hearts.

Sundeep and Bedabrata are blogger-duo discovering life through travel, food, theatre, art, craft, and culture. One of them is a graphic designer and the other an IP lawyer and this is their Dr. Jekyll – Mr. Hyde story. When they do not run with design or legal briefs, they travel in and around Delhi and India, and the world and share their fun experience on their platform DelhiFunDos.

Abigail King – Inside the Travel Lab: chi non fa, non falla

Chi Non Fa, Non Falla

He who does nothing, makes no mistakes.

I love this Italian quote for its simplicity. It reminds me of my medical days, when senior doctors would repeatedly remind us that “if you never make any mistakes, you aren’t seeing enough patients.”

Perhaps that’s not such a reassuring phrase for patients, but as with all these sayings, there is an element of truth.

There are limits to what we can learn and the skills we can gain without experience, which, when all is said and done, is about making mistakes.

I heard this phrase, a more poetic version, of course, in Italy during a cooking lesson. My ravioli looked ravaged, my penne pummelled. I was about to say that the situation was less serious than in medicine, but given the love for food in Italy, I kept that thought to myself.

But it’s stuck with me, every time something goes just a little bit wrong. When learning a foreign language, travelling to a new place or having another go at making pasta.

Chi Non Fa, Non Falla 

Let’s have another go.

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and broadcaster who has worked with the BBC, UNESCO, the EU, NASA and more. She’s the founder of Inside the Travel Lab, described by National Geographic Traveler as “Essential Reading” and Lonely Planet as “one of the best travel blogs in the world.”

Lucy – Absolutely Lucy: tempesta

My word is “tempesta“.

For my 29th birthday, I booked a long weekend in Milan & Lake Como. It was a fabulous weekend of sightseeing, exploring wine bars and art galleries, and day trips to Lake Como.

Unfortunately, the weather was a little unpredictable and just at the moment we went to visit the Duomo di Milano, a huge storm broke out across the piazza.

Everyone else fled, but we braved the rain and found ourselves on the roof of the cathedral with incredible views over the city as the rain poured.

We were the only people on the roof and it’s a moment that will always remind me of Italy.

Afterwards, we dried off in an underground wine cellar with local Italian wines and of course, no trip would be complete without fresh Italian pasta with my other favourite Italian wordtartufo“.

For anyone who would like to visit Milan, I’ve written a blog post with everything you need to know. You can also check out my guide to planning a day trip to Lake Como.

Absolutely Lucy is a solo female adventure travel blogger from the UK who has been backpacking for over seven years to nearly 40 countries. She’s all about empowering travellers to seek a life outside the ordinary and sharing the real, raw, travel experience without all the filters. Lucy is unafraid to tackle tougher topics like mental health, racism, and loneliness, she also shares her passion for sustainability. Recently, Lucy has started a new adventure exploring the UK vanlife scene and is working on a campaign to diversify the online vanlife community.

Bonus: Which word or phrase would you recommend for tourists on their first trip to Italy?

Italians also love to travel and share their culture and history with people around the world.

If it is your first time in Italy, useful Italian phrases can help you get by throughout the day.

We’ve also rounded up Italian bloggers and influencers that would like to share their perspectives on what Italy can offer for first-time tourists and travellers that just can’t get enough of Italy.

  • Ana and Luca – The Wildest Road
  • Greg Sideris – The Vienna Blog
  • Monica Cesarato – MonicaCeserato.com

Here are words or phrases that Italians recommend when you visit Italy for the first time.

Ana and Luca – The Wildest Road: dove si mangia bene?

We come from Portugal (Ana) and Italy (Luca), and both our countries share an undying passion for good food.

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It’s something that we always take with us on our travels, and exploring a new destination’s cuisine is always one of our top priorities!

It is for this reason that we consider this phrase as one of the most important ones a tourist should know when travelling to Italy for the first time:

 Dove si mangia bene? 

Where do you eat well?

We would argue that few countries can compete with Italy when it comes to eating well. Good food is absolutely integral to Italian culture, much more than many foreigners realise!

To an Italian, a good meal is more than just food.

It’s something that brings families and friends together, a passion and tradition that is passed down from one generation to the other, and a real source of national pride.

Every region has its own jealously protected traditional recipes and specialities, each one different from the next.

Visiting Italy without having a proper Italian meal would be a real shame. So, if you’re unsure of where or what to eat, go ahead and ask the locals!

Asking an Italian where you can eat well means tapping into a part of the culture that is all about good feelings and happy memories, so you’re sure to get big smiles, enthusiastic responses, and directions to what might be one of the best meals of your life!

If you’re lucky, they might be enthusiastic enough to show you around and, who knows, maybe even join you for lunch. How awesome would that be?

Ana & Luca’s blog The Wildest Road started at the beginning of 2021. They have been sharing their passion for travel on their blog, along with their love for discovering different cultures and traditions.

Greg Sideris – The Vienna Blog: la bella vita

I love the Italian way of life. I love Italian music, food and coffee, and the incredible historic architecture.

And most importantly the Italian way of life, “La Bella Vita”

Greg Sideris is a Digital Content Creator in Vienna. He is the founder of www.theviennablog.com a Premium Travel and Lifestyle Magazine. His Instagram philosophy involves 3 words: Photography, Travel, and Mindfulness

Monica Cesarato – MonicaCesarato.com: potrei avere..?

Potrei avere…?

Could I have..?

It is the perfect way to begin a conversation when asking for food/drink in a restaurant, for a room in a hotel, etc.

Monica Cesarato is a Food & Travel Blogger, Food Guide, Cooking Instructor, and Overall Talker.

Our tip to remember foreign words

Italy will be more memorable if you relate an Italian word that you’ve heard when you travel as far as Abruzzo to Veneto.

We also suggest that you repeat phrases or words that you hear from audio lessons and mimic native Italian speakers.

That way, you can keep repeating Italian conversations and later on, you’ll even notice you’re picking up the grammatical structure and the logic behind each sentence.

Check out Ripeti con me, a full audio lesson, which prompts you to speak and think in Italian which is the best way when learning a language.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

Italian word of the day
Non capivo più niente dal sonno.
I was so tired that I couldn’t think.
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