How to Ask for and Understand Directions in Italian

7 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Italian Words and Phrases for Traveling

Exploring Italy can be quite an adventure, but if you want to be sure to see everything on your list, you need to know how to ask for directions in Italian and understand the directions you are given. After all, if you don't know how to understand what you're told, you might miss the very things you hoped to see.

Whenever you need to find something, the first thing to do is ask for assistance. To get help you can say Per favore può darmi alcune indicazioni? [Formal] (Can you give me some directions, please?); or Mi scusi, mi servono delle informazioni, per favore. (Excuse me; I need some information, please).

If you are really having a hard time finding a place, you might ask the person to show you where to go by saying Può mostrarmi dov'è? [Formal] (Can you show me where that is?)

If you ask for directions in Italian, you may hear the standard reply Va sempre diritto (just keep going straight). When giving this response, it's common for the speaker to extend one arm straight out from his or her head and move his or her hand in such a way that it looks like it's shaking some invisible person's hand.

The following words can be used when asking for or receiving directions in Italy.

nord [m] (north)
sud (south)
ovest [m] (west)
est [m] (east)
giri a destro [Formal] (turn right)
giri a sinistra [Formal] (turn left)
va sempre diritto [Formal] (straight)
a destra (on the right)
a sinistra (on the left)
una cartina (map)
all'angolo (at the corner of)
davanti a (in front of)
città [f] (city, town)
via [f] (street)
accanto a (next to)
strada [f] (street; road)
viale [m] (avenue)
entrata [f] (entrance)
qui vicino (nearby)
di fianco a (adjacent to)
è proprio qui vicino (it's very near)
lontano (far)
è lontano (it's far)
a destra (right)
a sinistra (left)
va fino in fondo . . . [Formal] (go all the way to the end of. . .)
dietro all'angolo (around the block; around the corner)
uscita [f] (exit)
piazza [f] (square)

Asking for directions

Maps and road signs can be confusing in countries that use more than one language, such as Switzerland and Luxemburg. In these countries, there are often multiple names for the same street which are used interchangeable. So, you might see one street name on a map and a completely different name on the actual street sign.

The following phrases are typical of asking for directions in Italy.

  • Scusi, sa dov'è la stazione? (Excuse me, do you know where the train station is?)

  • Scusi, c'è una farmacia qui vicino? (Excuse me, is there a pharmacy nearby?)

  • Dove posso trovare una cartina della città? (Where can I find a map of the city?)

  • Non troviamo il nostro albergo. (We can't find our hotel.)

  • In quale via si trova il teatro? (What street is the theatre on?)

  • Come arrivo al museo? (How do I get to the museum?)

  • Io sono a piedi. (I'm on foot.)

  • È lontano? (Is it far?)

  • Dovrei prendere l'autobus? (Should I take a bus?)

  • Quale numero di autobus? (What bus number?)

  • Dov'è la metropolitana? (Where's the subway?)

  • Dov'è l'ostello della gioventù più vicino? (Where is the youth hostel around here?)

  • Dov'è la banca più vicina? (Where is the nearest bank?)

  • Ci siamo persi. (We're lost.)

  • Mi scusi, siamo vicini al Palazzo Ducale? (Excuse me, are we near the Palazzo Ducale?)

  • Scusi, quanto dista la Galleria degli Uffizi? (Excuse me, how far is the Uffizi Gallery?)

  • Dista duecento metri. (It's about 200 meters away)

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The Essentials of Italian Words and Phrases for Traveling

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