Free things in Rome

Sights in Rome

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The Baldacchino over the altar of St. Peter's (Photo by Jorge Royan)
Free
St. Peter's
Rome: Vatican

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) in Rome: Motherchurch of Christendom

 
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The crowds at the Trevi (Photo by Oleg Brovko)
Free
Trevi Fountain
Rome: Tridente

The Fontana di Trevi just may be the world's most famous wishing well—certainly one of the most lucrative, what with every tourist tossing "three coins in a fountain"

 
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The Cerasi Chapel, with paintings by Annibale Carracci (center) and Caravaggio (left and right) (Photo by Frederick Fenyvessy)
Free

Rome's church of Santa Maria del Popolo is like a primer on the development of art and architecture from the early Renaissance through the baroque

 
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 (Photo by gula08)
Free
Trastevere
Rome: Trastevere

The popular Trastevere district (Rome's 'left bank') is a postcard neighborhood of narrow, cobblestone streets, fantastic restaurants, and overflowing bars and clubs

 
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The Mithraeum at the lowest level of San Clemente (Photo by Allie Caulfield)
Free
San Clemente
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

A few blocks from the Colosseum is the best place in Rome to see the layer-cake effect of its history in action: church piled atop church piled atop pagan temple

 
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 (Photo by Carlat82)
Free
Campo de' Fiori
Rome: Tiber Bend

Rome's Campo dei Fiori is an outdoor market by morning, party central by night

 
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The Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth) in the church portico (Photo by nekotank)
Free
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

It's a shame that so many who stop to see the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) on the porch don't take the time to go inside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin itself

 
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Free
Via Appia Antica
Rome: Outside the walls

The Via Appia Antica (Ancient Appian Way) is one of the original seven roads leading to Rome, Italy, and is lined by catacombs and Roman Ruins

 
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The ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome (Photo by Jakub Hałun)
Free
Largo Argentina
Rome: Tiber Bend

The sunken ruins of Largo Argentina in Rome, Italy, where Julius Caesar met his assassins and now cats nestle like easter eggs amongst the tall grasses

 
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 (Photo by Mike)
Free
Campidoglio
Rome: Tiber Bend

The Capitoline Museums, a Michelangelo-designed piazza, and killer views atop Rome's Campidoglio

 
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 (Photo by WolfgangM)
Free
Piazza del Popolo
Rome: Tridente

The "People's Square" marks the northern edge of the tourist's Rome, anchoring the Tridente neighborhood and flanked by the amazing church of Santa Maria del Popolo and above it, the greenery of Villa Borghese park

 
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Saint Peter's Square as seen from the base of the dome atop the Basilica San Pietro (Photo by Leinad-Z)
Free
Piazza San Pietro
Rome: Vatican

Bernini's elliptical colonnade and its fountains form the gorgeous front porch for St. Peter's

 
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The Contarelli Chapel with its Caravaggio paintings on "The Life of St. Matthew" (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Free
San Luigi dei Francesi
Rome: Tiber Bend

The church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome is a festival of Caravaggios

 
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The courtyard and facade (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov)
Free
Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
Rome: Tiber Bend

The swirling, curling lanterns atop the dome of this baroque church plays peek-a-boo with pedestrians on the surrounding streets—good thing, as the church itself is hidden in a courtyard

 
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Arco di Constantino (Photo by Mike)
Free
Arch of Constantine
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

This triumphal arch celebrates the battle that made Christianity the religion of Rome

 
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Apse (Photo by kraen)
Free

The oldest church in Rome preserves some its most glorious medieval mosaics

 
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A detail from Pietro Cavallini's amazing late 13C frescoes, hidden in the nun's cloistered loft (Photo Public Domain)
Free

This Trastevere church looks like nothing much... until you pay the nuns to sneak downstairs to see remnants of ancient Rome, or upstairs to see precious frescoes by medieval master Pietro Cavallini

 
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A view from the Gianicolo (Photo by Elena Gabrielli)
Free
Gianicolo
Rome: Vatican

The Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo) is one my favorite spots in all of Rome, Italy

 
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Bramante's Tempietto (Photo by Quinok)
Free
San Pietro in Montorio
Rome: Trastevere

Bramante's Tempietto is a doll house–sized Renaissance church halfway up the Gianicolo hill

 
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View of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole (Photo by Angelo Nastri Nacchio)
Free
The Knights of Malta gate
Rome: Aventine & Testaccio

A peek-a-boo view of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole on the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta on Rome's Aventine Hill

 
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The facade (Photo by Berthold Werner)
Free
San Paolo Fuori le Mura
Rome: Outside the walls

St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls is one of the four great basilicas of Rome

 
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A nighttime panorama over the Forum from the back of the Capitoline Hill (Photo by Laruse Junior)
Free
Campidoglio Forum view
Rome: Tiber Bend

A secret panorama over the Roman Forum from the back of the Capitoline Hill

 
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The nave of the church (Photo Public Domain)
Free

The Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio (Museum of Souls in Purgatory)

 
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Ancient statues in the Aula Ottagona (Photo by Rene Boulay)
Free
Aula Ottagona
Rome: Termini train station

The Aula Ottagona is both the most atmospheric branch of Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano and the only one that's admission-free. Sadly, it's usually closed.

 
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Transept (Photo by Fczarnowski)
Free
Santa Maria degli Angeli
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is a church designed by Michelangelo to inhabit the remains of an ancient Roman bathhouse...you'd think it'd be more famous

 
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Pasquino, near Piazza Navona, is the most famous statua parlante (talking statue) of Rome (Photo by Emanuele)
Free
Pasquino
Rome: Tiber Bend

The Pasquino is the most famous of Rome's "Talking Statues"

 
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 (Photo by Ricardo André Frantz)
Free
Santa Maria in Aracoeli
Rome: Tiber Bend

The sad story of the Santo Bambino at the Capitoline church

 
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The Cornaro Chapel, with its Bernini sculptures (Photo by Livioandronico2013)
Free
Santa Maria della Vittoria
Rome: Termini train station

A baroque church with the bodacious Bernini set-piece of St. Theresa in Ecstasy marrying architecture and sculpture

 
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The stern end of the Isola Tiberina (Photo by Bgabel)
Free
Tiber Island
Rome: Tiber Bend

The Isola Tiberina, the only island in the Rome's Tevere River—and a brief history of the ancient medical profession

 
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The Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island (Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola) (Photo by Vlad Lesnov)
Free
St. Bartolomeo all'Isola
Rome: Lower Tiber Bend

An ancient church of healing on Tiber Island

 
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The nave (Photo by David Bramhall)
Free
Sant'Agostino
Rome: Tiber Bend

The church has works by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Sansovino—and lies just off Piazza Navona—yet sadly sees few visitors

 
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The nave and Pozzo's frescoes (Photo by sarahtarno)
Free
Sant'Ignazio di Loyola
Rome: Tiber Bend

The "dome" in this church is a masterpiece of trompe-l'oeil

 
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 (Photo by Simone Ramella)
Free

This triumphal column reads like an ancient Roman comic strip of the Emperor's accomplishments

 
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 (Photo by Dennis Jarvis)
Free
Ponte Sant'Angelo
Rome: Tiber Bend

The statue-lined "Bridge of Angels" across the Tiber River

 
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 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
Free
Teatro di Pompeo
Rome: Tiber Bend

The remnants of Pompey's Theater are hidden away in the basement of an unassuming restaurant near Campo de' Fiori

 
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Via del Portico d'Ottavia, the "main street" of Rome's medieval Jewish neighborhood (Photo by Palickap)
Free
Jewish ghetto
Rome: Tiber Bend

The medieval Jewish neighborhood of Rome

 
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The Forum Boarium, with the round Temple of Hercules Victor on the left and the rectangular Temple of Portunus on the right (Photo by Carole Raddato)
Free
Foro Boario
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Fraternal twin temples and the world's first sewer on lovely little "Cow Forum" by the Mouth of Truth

 
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The Teatro di Marcello and trio of columns of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus (Photo by Joadl)
Free
Teatro di Marcello
Rome: Tiber Bend

Marcellus's Theater was the Colosseum 1.0, the original Roman amphitheater

 
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 (Photo by Francesco Gasparetti)
Free
Piazza della Repubblica
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's loveliest traffic circle is known mainly as a Metro stop, but don't forget to poke into its sights as you zip from the nearby train station to the attractions of the historic center

 
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The facade (Photo by Martin Falbisoner)
Free
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Rome: Termini train station

The grand basilica of St. Mary Major is a wonderland of mosaics in a crummy neighborhood

 
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The lower register of Michelangelo's Monument to Julius II (1505–45) (Photo by Andrea Moroni)
Free
San Pietro in Vincoli
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Michelangelo's famous Moses statue on tomb of Pope Julius II—plus the chains that bound St. Peter—at the chruch of "St. Peter in Chains"

 
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Market stalls (Photo by Roberto Riccardi)
Free
San Giovanni clothing market
Rome: The Viminal, Esquiline, and Quirinal

Dress like a Roman without boutique prices at Rome's biggest used and new clothing market at the Mercato di Via Sannio

 
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Beata Ludovica Alberoni (1671-75) by Gianlorenzo Bernini (Photo by Sailko)
Free
San Francesco a Ripa
Rome: Trastevere

This Trastevere church contains one of the raciest religious sculptures in the world, Bernini's Beata Ludovica in Ecstasy

 
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 (Photo by Torvindus)
Free
Acqua Paola
Rome: Trastevere

THE spot for Roman wedding photos

 
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The amazingly preserved 5C carved wooden doors (Photo Peter1936F)
Free
Santa Sabina
Rome: Aventine & Testaccio

This ancient church on the Aventine Hill has some of the oldest Christian art in the world

 
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View of the dome of St. Peter's (Photo by fabian.kron)
Free
Giardino degli Aranci
Rome: Aventine & Testaccio

A hidden garden with great views on the Aventine

 
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The miraculous footprints (Photo by Peter Heeling)
Free
Domine Quo Vadis
Rome: Outside the walls

The only church in the form of a question, built on the site where St. Peter finally found his mettle

 
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 (Photo by Anthony Majanlahti)
Free
Ponte Milvio
Rome: Outside the walls

The ancient Roman bridge where Constantine converted

 

Experiences in Rome

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Pope Francis I greeting the flocks at a papal audience in Rome's St. Peter's Square (Photo courtesy of SMCS Music Office)
Free
Papal Audience
Rome: Vatican

How to get tickets to hang with his Holiness on St. Peter's Square in Rome

 
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 (Photo by Gianfranco)
Free

The puppet theater on the Janiculum Hill

 

Dining in Rome

Aperitivi at Meo Pinelli (Photo courtesy of Meo Pinelli)

Bar hopping for free stuzzichini (snacks) and canapés during the aperitivo Happy Hour

 

Planning a trip to Rome

Typical prices and costs in Rome faced by visitors and tourists

 

Enjoy free admission to various Rome sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Sights in Italy

Sights and experiences you can get for free in Italy

 

Experiences in Italy

 (Photo courtesy of Paris Greeters)

Free greeter programs around the world encourage locals to welcome you to their hometown

 

Lodgings in Italy

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The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami (Photo courtesy of the property)

Free lodgings in Italy: Hospitality networks (couchsurfing), home swaps, and house sitting services

 

Ways to sleep for free in Italy

 
 (Photo courtesy of Europosters)

Couchsurfing and other hospitality networks allow you to sleep for free in other member's homes

 
Getting to know some locals is a bit part of staying with a fellow hospitality club member (Photo courtesy of The Affordable Travel Club)

Hospitality networks gather folks who are willing to put up fellow members in their homes for free or for a small fee

 
This luxurious Tuscan apartment is in Pietrasanta, by the Forte dei Marmi seaside resort, halfway between Pisa and the Cinque Terre (Photo courtesy of Homeexchange)

Trading spaces isn't just a show on basic cable anymore. It's a way to live life like a local on your travels absolutely for free—so long as you let the local borrow your life (and home) in return.

 
This house in the Tuscan hills needs someone to house-sit and watch their dog for three weeks this spring... (Photo courtesy of mindmyhouse.com)

Sleep for free on vacation in Italy by watching someone's house (and, often, watering their plants and feeding their cat)

 
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami lessons by a Japanese artist. (Photo courtesy of the property)

Programs like WWOOF and Helpx let you barter your services for a free place to stay

 
Sailboats (Photo by plb06)

If you love sailing, or just have an unquenchable taste for adventure and new experiences, you can sign on to help crew a boat just about anywhere in the world, including Italy

 

Dining in Italy

Many Italian bars lay our free snacks in the evenings (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Free

Yes, there are a couple of ways to enjoy excellent Italian food absolutely free

 

Planning for a trip to Italy

Skype is the cheapest way to make international calls (Photo by Skype)

Use Skype (and an internet connection) to make and receive free voice and video calls—or have your friends and family Skype your cell in Italy for 10¢ per minute or $3 per month.

 
Useful links
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for rail travel

English (inglese) Italian (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...train station la ferroviaria [or] la stazione lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah [or] lah stat-zee-YO-nay
ticket un biglietto oon beel-YET-toh
first class prima classe PREE-mah CLAH-say
second class seconda classe say-CONE-dah CLAH-say
one way solo andata SO-low ahn-DAHT-tah
round trip (return) andata e ritorno ahn-DAH-tah ay ree-TOUR-noh
Just the supplement Soltanto il supplemento soul-TAHN-toh eel sou-play-MEN-toh
Just a seat reservation Soltanto una prenotazione soal-TAHN-toh oo-nah pray-no-tah-tsee-YOH-nay
I have a Eurailpass Ho il Eurailpass oh eel YOO-rail-pahs
sleeping couchette una cucetta oo-nah koo-CHET-tah
berth in a sleeping car un posto nel vagone letto oon POH-sto nell vah-GOAN-nay LET-toh
track binario been-AR-ree-yoh
train treno TRE-no
car (carriage) carozza ka-RO-tza
seat posto PO-sto
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay
left luggage deposito bagagli day-PO-zee-toh ba-GAHL-yee
     
punch your ticket timbrare il biglietto teem-BRA-ray eel beel-YET-toh
Is this the right platform for the Rome train? E questo il binario per il treno à Roma? ay KWAY-sto eel been-AR-ree-yo pair eel TRE-no ah RO-ma? 
delayed in retardo een ree-TAR-do
strike sciopero SHO-pair-oh
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
City / Train station names
English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Main station
Rome Roma Termini
Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Venice Venezia Santa Lucia
Milan Milano Centrale
Genoa Genova Porta Principe
Naples Napoli Centrale
Leghorn Livorno Centrale
Turin Torino Porta Nuova

Useful Italian for air travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
flight volo VOH-lo
gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
customs dogana do-GA-na
shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

Useful Italian for car travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
car automobile ow-toh-MO-bee-lay
scooter/motorboke un motorino oon mo-tair-EE-no
gas station stazione di servizio stah-zee-YO-nay dee sair-VEE-tzee-yo
gas benzina ben-ZEE-nah
diesel gasolio [or] diesel gah-ZOH-lee-oh [or] DEE-zell
Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the highway l'autostrada lout-oh-STRA-dah
...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] lah sta-TAHL-eh
...the road for Rome la strada per Roma lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
to cross attraversare ah-tra-vair-SAR-ay
toll pedaggio peh-DA-jo
parking parcheggio par-KEH-jo
road map carta stradale kar-ta stra-DA-lay
where can I pay the fine? dove posso pagare la multa DOH-veh Po-so pag-GAR-ray la MOOL-tah


Typical road signs / terms » more

English (anglais) French (français) 
Stop Stop
Exit  Uscita
Staffic light Semaforo
One-way Senso unico
Dead-end Strada senza uscita
Parking prohibited No parcheggio or parcheggio proibito
Pedestrian zone Area pedonale
Limited Traffic Zone (you pay to drive in) ZTL or Zona Traffico Limitato

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).