Rome Slang

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Rome Slang

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The old adage says, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," and this applies perfectly to communicating with the locals while you visit Rome. Slang terms and phrases are commonly used and knowing a bit of the local lingo will help ease some of your apprehension and allow you to thoroughly enjoy your visit.
Local language: Buon giorno
Translation: Hello, good day


This pleasantry is sure to be exchanged countless times with any number of people on a daily basis. Locals are always happy to see a new face in the crowd, and are happy to make your acquaintance. Be sure to repeat it back, as some people take it as a sign of rudeness if you do not - I've learned this lesson through experience! Saying "buon giorno" every time you enter a shop or restaurant will make you feel less like an outsider in Rome.

Local language: Arrivederci
Translation: Goodbye


Kindness is a way of life in Rome; the city is home to some of the most polite locals on the planet. It is deemed a sign of respect to always say "arrivederci" when taking leave of someone. This tradition has been passed down for generations. I once left a relative's home after visiting, and I neglected to offer this expected tidbit of local lingo. Rome tradition kicked in, and I was immediately deemed disrespectful.

Local language: Quanto costa?
Translation: How much is it?

This is quite possibly one of the most useful phrases in Rome's local language. Many high-end boutiques and retail chains will have standard price signs below their products, but if you visit some of the smaller shops that dot the city, you will find that many have not adopted this practice. This is especially true of those who sell fresh produce and meats, as the prices can fluctuate daily based on supply and demand. I have always noticed if you are polite in asking, you can receive some fantastic deals.

Local language: Parle inglese?
Translation: Do you speak English?


Try to remember one thing when visiting Rome, or any foreign city for that matter: just because you may speak English, it does not mean that everyone else does. Some locals are capable of speaking English very fluently, but the majority of people are more comfortable using their native dialect. If you are having a hard time grasping Rome slang, my advice would be to use these two simple words to break the ice. Hopefully you will receive a pleasant response in English.

Local language: Per favore
Translation: Please


One thing you will surely come to understand about Rome, regardless of the length of your visit, is that it is a town that is built on respect and politeness. Using common words such as "please" and "thank you" in Rome local language will show people that even though you may not fully comprehend the Italian language, you are at least making the effort to be polite.

Local language: Mi scusi
Translation: Excuse me


On my first visit to Rome, I leaned that if someone is speaking to another person, you do your best to not interrupt them. However, if your need to get their attention, I suggest using "Mi scusi" in a soft tone. You will find that more times than not, they will respond much more kindly if you do so.

Local language: Dov'e...?
Translation: Where is...?


I do not know about everyone else, but when I am in a new city or country I constantly find myself asking, "Where is such and such located?" The problem with my request is that I am usually asking it in my own native tongue, as I have not yet had the time to master the local language. In Rome, my suggestion would be to learn this word before any others. You will have a hard time finding anything of interest or importance otherwise.

Local language: Farmacia
Translation: Pharmacy

From time to time, everyone has the misfortune of feeling under the weather, and when you are in need of medical advice, visiting a hospital in a foreign country can end up costing more than your entire vacation. Never fear, however: pharmacists in Italy have the ability to write prescriptions on the spot for certain medications, if you are able to describe your ailments. Do not be afraid to write or even draw your symptoms, if possible, in order to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding in your attempts to find relief.

Local language: Piazza
Translation: Public square


In the early evening, locals and tourists alike converge on one of the city's many public squares, to bask in the amazing views that come to life in the pale light of the setting sun. The atmosphere changes completely, it is really something you have to experience first hand in order to fully comprehend the true spectrum of Rome's beauty. If you find yourself out and about during this time of day, be sure to ask any of the locals you may come across "Dov'e la piazza?" I am sure they would be happy to show you the way.

Local language: Sagra
Translation: Local fair


If you want to really experience the true essence of Rome, visit any number of local fairs held throughout the summer, spring, and fall, which pay homage to the Earth's bounty. Sagras are packed with vendors selling homemade goods and delicious traditional cuisine. Combine that with live entertainment, an atmosphere of excitement and goodwill and your newfound grip on Rome slang and its local lingo, and you are sure to leave with memories that will stay with you for years to come.

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