Italian is a delightful, musical language – but it’s also a grammatical maze that can baffle foreigners before they’ve even got past ciao! Add local dialects to the mix (which can add a dash of Greek, French, Spanish, Arabic, German and even a few Slavic idioms!) and you’re heading straight for a linguistic meltdown. If you want to be able to do more than an elaborate mime act on your next trip to Italy, take a look at these key words to help you impress the locals – and equally importantly, order the right apéritif!


Thanks to a world-leading economy that stretched as far as China by the 14th century, the soft Venetian dialect has a wide range of influences. If you’re planning a stay in the historic city of Venice, remember that the traditional apéritif here is a biancheto, also known as a glass of white wine. Afterwards, order the celebrated canocie e peoci  – mantis shrimp and mussels – from Remigio, at a trattoria patronised by discerning Venetians. Finally, remember that those enchanting boats that will sail you around this magical city are called vaporetti.

Palazzo Di Pieto - Italy - Oliver's Travels

Palazzo Di Pieto – Italy – Oliver’s Travels

Lake Garda

Villa Storia - Italian Lakes - Oliver's Travels

Villa Storia – Italian Lakes – Oliver’s Travels

If you’re heading off to the tranquillity of Villa Storia on the western shore of Lake Garda, you can leave the Martini glasses at home. The local apéritif of choice is a lively blend of sparkling white wine and liqueur called a pirlo – ask for a Franciacorta with Campari or Aperol to really blend in. Sip yours slowly on the shores of the lake, admiring the gentle ripples cast by the two prevailing winds – the pelèr from the North and the ora from the South.


The Casa Victoria is one of our most stunning luxury villas with pools in Italy, thanks in large part to the Sicilian landscape that surrounds it. As you wander through the ancient streets of Cefalù admiring the mediaeval duomo, make sure you stop to pick up a spicy, hot sfinciuni, a legacy of the ancient Mediterranean trade. The name for this bread roll filled with spicy sausage, cheese, onion and tomato originates from the Arabic isfang, meaning fried pie. Enjoy yours as a revitalising snack en route to the beach – after all, as the locals say, saccu vacanti nun pò stari a gritta – an empty sack cannot stand upright!

Casa Victoria - Sicily - Italy - Oliver's Travels

Casa Victoria – Sicily – Italy – Oliver’s Travels

And now that you’ve got few tricks in your sleeve and Italian doesn’t seem so complicated any more, why not choose the perfect Italian villa to spend your holiday in! And if you can’t make your mind up, just get in touch with our Concierge team who can take all the hassle out of finding your perfect destination!

Photo credit : Lead image via Context Travel on Flickr.

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