6 Italian Words You’ll Need to Know in Rome

When you study abroad in Italy, it’s important to get to know the local culture and customs. One thing that comes along with that is learning the language. At John Cabot University, your classes will be in English, but your everyday surroundings–your life in Rome–will be in Italian. So why not go ahead and start learning some Italian phrases?
There are plenty of wonderful Italian professors at JCU who will teach you the language of your host country, but for now, there are a few very commonly used words you can learn on your own.
John Cabot University Italian Language

Here are 6 Italian words you’ll need to know when you study abroad in Rome:

1. Domani


It’s no secret that Italians love to take their time with things. They enjoy a slower pace, and really take in the beauty of life, or la dolce vita. In the same way, they don’t often seem to rush to get things done. That’s why you will commonly hear locals put things off until tomorrow, or domani. It is also common for friends to say goodbye to one another with an a dopo! or a domani! (“See you later!” or “See you tomorrow!”)

2. Riposo

“Rest” (Siesta)

Riposo, or the Italian version of “siesta,” is a time for rest and relaxation during the day. Often, this acts as an extended lunch break. During the riposo, many businesses, stores, and restaurants close for the break, and the streets usually become emptier and quieter. When you live in Rome, you will come to know and love this word.

3. Dai

“Come on”

Dai is an expression that most closely translates to “come on!” When you live in Rome, you will hear this phrase in many different contexts, and in the Roman dialect it is written and pronounced a little differently, as daje. For such a short word, it is pretty versatile. It can be used between friends in a heated conversation, when someone is irritated, to coax you to do something, or when they are cheering you on!

4. Boh


Boh is Italian slang for “dunno.” Often this very casual phrase is accompanied by an exaggerated shoulder shrug and a facial expression that indicates something like “who knows.” This is a great word to know that will make you sound more like a local, and show that you are picking up Italian cultural nuances. You can also use the more formal non lo so (“I don’t know”) if you want to be more proper.

5. Permesso

“Excuse me”

When you live in Rome, you will often find yourself in crowds of people. Rome is a metropolitan city, and public transport, small streets, and grocery stores can sometimes get a little bit crowded. A great phrase to know in these situations is permesso. You can use this as an “excuse me” or “pardon me” if you are trying to pass someone on the sidewalk, or trying to get closer to the door on the tram or bus. You can also, of course, use scusi as well.

6. Basta

“Enough” / “Stop it!”

Basta is another all-encompassing phrase that means something like “stop it!” or “that’s enough”. This word can be used in many different situations, and the meaning also depends on your tone of voice. You can say it lightheartedly when you’re joking with friends, angrily when you want someone to leave you alone, in an annoyed tone when you’re fed up with something, or even politely when you’re telling someone to stop pouring water into your glass.

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