Learning Italian: Lifestyle tips (1)

Whatever country you travel to, understanding the social etiquette, the dos and don’ts, and the cultural norms of the country are just as important as learning the language. Here are a few tips for different scenarios you will likely come across in Italy – to save you from any awkward interactions!

In a café or bar

A café is called un bar in Italy. On their way to work most Italians have a quick coffee at the bar, often accompanied by un cornetto (a pastry) or una pasta (a cake).

Sometimes you begin by paying for what you’re going to order alla cassa (at the till) and then go to the bar with your scontrino (receipt). It’s worth having a look around to see what other people are doing.

If you order an aperitivo (an aperitif) you will most likely be served some snacks to accompany your drink.

There are several ways you can say Cheers! in Italian, such as Salute! and Cin Cin! To make a toast, you say facciamo un brindisi!

Shopping in Italy

You will need to take a ticket to get a place in the queue at the meat, cheese or bread counters in most supermarkets or bakeries. If you’re not sure where to get one, you can say dove prendo il numerino? (where do I get a ticket?)

The price of some foods behind the counter, such as cheese and delicatessen items, may be given by etto (one hundred grams). When buying such things, you can ask for un etto, or due etti etc.

Getting around


Whilst driving across the beautiful landscapes of Italy may sound relaxing, you must remember one thing: your driving licence. If you’re asked for it by the police, and don’t have it on you, you may well be fined. The police officer might ask you: patente, prego (your driving licence, please).


Generally, you have to buy your ticket before getting on the bus, which you can get from many newsagents and tobacconists. Once you board the bus, you have to get your ticket punched in a machine. Nowadays, you can pay with contactless on the bus, or download a transport app which allows you to buy your ticket.


Like the bus, train tickets need to be punched before you get on a train. Tickets are only valid if they have been punched on the day, so if you have forgotten to do this, it is advisable to find il controllore (ticket inspector) as soon as you can, or you might be fined.  

Remember to save this blog post for when you plan a trip to Italy, and don’t forget to come back for the next blog post to help you continue with the conversation!

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