In Italy not speaking fluent Italian. Free download printable Italian Phrase Cards from

Not Speaking Fluent Italian

Speaking Italian… as many of you know, one of my goals this year is to learn Italian. My biggest hurdle — me! I have little patience and want to know it all immediately and speak it fluently right away. Gary laughs at me – he knows me well.

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Being in Italy without speaking fluent Italian is not a deal breaker. Here are some great tips to help you too with your next trip. -
photo credit: Alessandra Vita

Lessons Learned

My other problem is when we came to Italy for both our 90-day adventures, we had to return to the United States by law for 90 days on our US passports. Gary and I didn’t really keep up with the words I had learned. Big mistake.

Now that we are Italian citizens and will be spending a bit more time here, I think I have a better chance of retention. I also mentioned to Gary I want to continue speaking the words and phrases I have learned when back in the United States. I truly have the attention span of a child when it comes to learning a language. It is hard work. But it takes time and I understand if I put in the time, I will achieve better results. We shall see. I think it’s almost like exercise. I have good intentions but it doesn’t quite happen every day.

Being in Italy without speaking fluent Italian is not a deal breaker. Here are some great tips to help you too with your next trip. -

Truly learning a language does require some effort, but no one needs to be fluent to enjoy the beautiful country that is Italy. Locals are very appreciative if you at least make an effort to communicate in their language. I always get a smile or a “thumbs up” when I say, “Sto imparando l’italiano” – which translates to “I am learning Italian.” You would be amazing the recognition and appreciation I get when I just say this one phrase.

During this year-adventure that I am learning, I can make a mistake and stumble. Italians are gracious and correct me. I have finally figured out this is the way I am really going to learn.

A Creative Idea

When visiting Italy, this might be an idea for you. Create flashcards or use the ones we’ve created below if you feel memorizing is not possible. You can print them out on 3×5 photo paper and you will always have them at your fingertips. Printable Phrase Cards.

I was using my phone to keep the phrases organized but when I needed the words right away, it took me too long to find them on my phone. I like the use of the cards, what do you think?

new travel planners from Ilene Modica - 2 weeks and now 30 days


Using Technology

I have been using Google Translate for some time but just figured out it has a camera function that lets you scan the word for instant translation. I have not used the “handwriting” feature but I really like the “Conversation” feature and used it many times in Conversano. The voice recognition is great when you don’t want to use the keyboard.

But… I found something even better!

Italian Translator + by Vidalingua is a collection of reference tools for learning Italian that you are sure to find useful. The translate feature offers an advantage over Google Translate in that it provides comprehensive dictionary entries for one-word lookups.

The app is specialized in Italian so you’ll find a phrasebook, verb conjugator, vocabulary quizzes, and flashcards to help you learn Italian quickly and have fun doing it. You can download Italian Translator + for free on your iPhone or iPad. It’s also available in Google Play under the name Italian English Dictionary + for Android.

I am loving this app and was so happy to have the creator Marc bring it to my attention. Both Gary and I have it downloaded and have really enjoyed starting to find out all the functions that are available. You should too!

Take a Trip to Italy!

Join others who have purchased and read our book – leaving heartwarming reviews!
Join our journey – we’d love to have you along for the ride!

Books by Ilene and Gary Modica, Our Italian Journey, When Your Heart Finds Its Home and audiobook,

Fun Learning Games for Speaking Italian

There are also great free apps for your phone for learning. I use Italian Fun, Easy Learn Italian, Italian Lite, and Duolingo. They are a fun way to learn a language. I usually will do this when waiting for an appointment (back in Arizona) or when we are traveling by train in Italy.

Free Podcasts

If you have access to iTunes, there are several free podcasts that you can download to your computer and smartphone. I am using My Daily Phrase Italian right now. There are 100 episodes and they start from basics and also include situational phrases. I am currently using this podcast too.

When All Else Fails…

When you have exhausted all easy options, look for someone under thirty years old. Most public schools in Italy teach English so the younger generation has some knowledge of the language. You will find though that even though they might “know English” they will usually apologize for not being more fluent or that their English is not good. 99.9% of the time, it’s good enough for us to communicate. Gary always tells someone, “Your English is better than my Italian.” They always smile and then it’s almost as if Gary is giving them permission to stumble.

Again, you don’t need to be fluent in Italian to enjoy Italy! Speaking Italian, even a little bit, will go a long way.

When in doubt, ask…
Parli Inglese?


  1. All good advice Ilene. I have also found it useful to know the subjunctive. If I had known the subjunctive when we lived in Italy, I would have made fewer mistakes.
    Tutti buoni consigli, Ilene. Ho anche trovato utile apprendere, il congiuntivo. Se conoscessi(subjunctive) il congiuntivo quando vivevamo in Italia, avrei (conditional( commesso meno errori.

  2. […] Some of the most useful blog articles explain the means of transportation available in major cities and how to use them. Other articles provide tips about choosing a good wine, tipping in Italy or getting by without speaking fluent Italian. […]

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