Learn Italian – How to ask for something?

The scenario: Having arrived in Italy, you decide to go to the airport caffe, here’s a few words / phrases which should help you out.

Calabria Coffee Cappucino

Worth Nothing

At a busy bar, where you generally stand at the counter, it’s usual that you go to the cash desk (la cassa) first and place your order, pay for it and get a receipt (uno scontrino). This receipt is then handed to the person making the drinks at the bar.

Greeting someone

Buongiorno – good morning / afternoon Buonasera – good evening (from mid-afternoon)

Listen out for ‘Prego’

(Prego literally means I pray) is used in a number of situations.

In reply to ‘grazie’ (thank you), it means ‘don’t mention it’ or ‘not at all’.
It’s also used to say can I help you?/ please do/ help yourself.
Prego, si accomodi – do sit down.

They may say ‘Dica’?

(pron. Dika) Also meaning what can I do for you?

What would you like? – Desidera? Desiderano? (if addressing more than one person)
E lei? – and for you? Benissimo – certainly.
Subito – right away / Va bene – fine (after you’ve ordered).

You may need to attract attention

(don’t take it personally, the Italians are not the best at orderly queues)

  •  Scusi (pron. Skuzi).

Then, the easiest approach when asking for something is to just name it…

  • Un caffe (you will be served an espresso) e un cappuccino.
  • Un caffe lungo – black coffee with extra water(avoid calling at an Americano).
  • Un caffe doppio – double the amount of strong black coffee.
  • Un caffelatte – mild black coffee with hot milk.
  • Un caffe / cappuccino freddo – cold coffee / cappuccino, refreshing on a hot day!
  • Un Te – tea, ask for it with milk (al latte) or else it will be served – al limone (with a slice of lemon).
  • Zucchero (pron. zukero) – sugar / Una Pasta – pastry.

If you’re struggling and need to point at something you want just say ‘Questo, per favore’

  • Please – per favore / Thank you – Grazie.
  • Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque (pron. Chinkwe) – one to five.
  • Non-alcoholic aperitif – un bitter analcolico (like the crodino we serve).
  • Glass of – un bicchiere / A bottle of – una bottiglia.
  • di vino rosso / bianco – red / white wine / di acqua minerale – water.
  • di birra (alla spina) – beer (draught) un’aranciata – orange.