Benvenuto in italia! If you look to your left, you’ll see the Roman Colosseum. At your right is the Sant’Angelo Castle. Right over there is the Fontana di Trevi. And if you walk a little further, you’ll find the Sistine Chapel. Okay, fine. You’re not in Italy…. yet.

But can you imagine going there? Seeing all this breathtaking, full of history monuments? Tasting their delicious, traditional food? Well, this blog is the perfect first step towards your trip to Italy!

One of the things we highly recommend for when you’re about to visit a new country is learning some slang words and phrases. Italy is no exception to that. As you can imagine, Italians speak with slang every single day. It’s part of how they express their ideas and feelings.

So, if you’re going to speak to them, you must learn some slang to understand everything and not get confused or lost. And believe us, you want to speak to them. Because that will help you learn more about their culture, everyday lives, history, traditions, and how they’re as people.

To help you, we’ve made a list of some Italian slang you must learn for your trip. Check it out!

10 Italian Slang Words and Phrases

1. Mamma mia!

Come on! We had to start with this one. There’s a song with this Italian slang as a title, there’s a movie too; it’s one of Mario Bros’ classic phrases. It’s so popular we bet you’ve heard it; maybe even used it.

But what does it mean? Well, in Italian “mamma” means “mom” and “mia” is “my”. So, literally you’d think it means “my mom”; but it’s not really used like that. It’s used as slang and it’s like saying “oh my god!”. So it’s helpful to express pain, fear, shock, surprise or happiness. Basically, it can be used in many different situations.

For example: “Mamma mia! My phone just fell into the fountain”. Or “Mamma mia, you look stunning!”.

2. Boh!

This is a common Italian expression for when you don’t know something. It’s like saying “I don’t know” or “who knows”.

For example: “Do you know what time is your brother coming home? – Boh!”

3. Figurati

This is like “no problem” or “don’t even mention it”.

For example: “Thanks for helping me carry the groceries. – Figurati”.

4. Un cavolo

Literally, “cavolo” means “cabbage”. But as a slang term it works as “nothing” or as “a damn”.

For example: “I’ll probably fail the exam; I didn’t understand un cavolo of what the teacher was saying”.

You can also just use “cavolo” as a mere expression for when something goes wrong, or when you’re frustrated. Or even when you’re happy or surprised. It all depends on the context and your tone. It’s like “damn!” or even like “wow!” in certain circumstances.

For example: “Cavolo! I failed the exam, what am I going to do now?” Or “Guess what? I got an A+ on the exam! – Cavolo! Are you serious?”

5. Che casino!

Here’s an expression in Italian that people use for when something is a mess, chaotic or complicated. Basically, it means “what a mess!”.

For example: Let’s say you come home to find out your dog broke the couch and took out its filling. Your immediate expression could be: “Che casino! Lucky, what did you do?”

6. Che schifo!

Yuck! Do you smell that? It smells really gross! Well, thank God we have the perfect Italian slang for this kind of situation: “Che schifo!”. And it’s not just for smells. That’s right, this phrase is used for when something is disgusting, gross, and sucks.

For example: “Che schifo! This doesn’t taste like real lasagna; it’s not even well cooked”.

7. Figo

This word is used to say “cool”. You can also say “che figo”, which would be like “how cool”. You might also find it as “fico” and “che fico”; don’t get stressed, it means the same.

For example: “Che figo! My mom bought me tickets for the Taylor Swift concert”. Or “How was The Eras Tour concert? – Figo!”

Wait! There’s more. “Figo” or “fico” can also be used to express that a man is attractive or hot. But you must be careful of using its feminine ways, “figa” or “fica”, as they’re a vulgar way to refer to the vagina.

For example: “My boyfriend is so fico”.

8. Ma dai!

This is the perfect expression for when you’re surprised or feel in disbelief. It’s like saying “really?”, “seriously?”, “no way”, “I don’t believe you”, and those kinds of incredulity expressions.

For example: “Guess what? Lily and Dean broke up! – Ma dai!

9. Acqua in bocca

“Aqua” is water and “bocca” is “mouth”, so literally this means “water in mouth”. But we must remember this is slang and so it shouldn’t be taken literally. As a slang phrase, it actually means to keep something for yourself. So, if someone tells you this expression, they’re telling you not to spill the beans.

From this point of view, the expression makes more sense, right? After all, you can’t say much if you have water in your mouth. See?

For example: “Sophia’s parents got her a car for her birthday. But acqua in bocca, she can’t know yet”.

10. Che pizza

We’ve all eaten the amazing and traditional Italian pizza. It’s a classic that has fans all over the world. But in this case, the slang “che pizza” doesn’t allude to how delicious this food is. In fact, “che pizza” is used to say that someone or something is boring.

For example: “Che pizza! This movie is the worst”.

How to Practice Your Italian Slang

Play memory card game
Create a memory card game. In some cards you write the slang words or phrases and in others you write the descriptions for each of those words and phrases. Then, it’s time to play! Flip two cards and see if they match the word with its meaning.

If you have doubts because you’re just learning, first try to guess if they match. Then check out this blog to see if you were right or not. Continue the game until you’ve finished and you’ve guessed and matched correctly all the cards.

It’s fun, helps you reinforce your memory around this vocabulary, and you can play alone or with friends.

This one might sound obvious, but is necessary to say, because speaking in a second language is one of the hardest things to do.

Mostly because we feel insecure about making mistakes. But it’s the one that will help us the most. You can learn this list of slang words. But if you don’t speak using them you might forget because you won’t reinforce the knowledge through practice.

We understand your nervousness of speaking to a native. In that case, you can start practicing your Italian with your loved ones that know the language, or maybe with friends from your Italian classes. That way, you’ll feel safer and more comfortable.

If you don’t know someone that speaks Italian, you can search for an Italian conversation club and join. Everyone will be learning just like you. So they won’t judge.

If you’re learning Italian, we think it’s because at some point of your life you’d like to travel there, right? And if not, you should.

Traveling is the best thing you can do for your second language skills. You’ll get immersed in the culture, learn about their lifestyle, and will be forced to practice the language with actual native speakers.

This also means you’ll get to use your new slang with the locals and impress them! So, after you’ve practiced using the tips we gave you above, we recommend you start saving for your trip to Italy.

We Care About You, So Here’s One Last Tip for Practicing Italian. It’s Super Useful!

Sign up for TruFluency classes! We’re a completely online language school. This means we offer flexible schedules and that you don’t have to drive long ways to get to our school. You can study from the comfort of your home. But besides that, what makes us special?

Let us tell you about our Bellieu Method. It was created by our founder, language expert, and CEO, Micah Bellieu based on her own experience of learning and practicing a new language. The method consists of speaking in your target language using all you’ve learned so far.

Why? Because speaking with fluency is super important when learning a language. After all, you want to communicate properly in it. But we know that speaking is hard and not every school focuses on that. Yeah, this means you’ll get to practice your Italian slang by speaking in our classes!

But that’s not it. Our native teachers also customize all the lessons to your language goals and needs. So if you tell us you want to learn more slang for your next visit to Italy, we’re here for you. Or if you want to learn how to present yourself in Italian, we’re ready to help you. Whatever it is you want, we’ll make sure you achieve it.

Good news! You can take two trial classes of 1 hour now! Choose between our flexible schedules. You’ll have 24 hours to cancel in case you need it. You’ll get to see how we work, and we bet you won’t regret it.