If your Italian has progressed to the point at which you’re comfortable enough for a real-life conversation, you’re in luck because Italians love talking.  And Italian culture has such a variety of interesting topics—sports, art, opera, film, wine, cars, and so on—that you’re spoiled for choices as to what to start chatting about.  In Italy, the conversation is viewed as an art-form, organic and free-flowing, so don’t be afraid to just jump in and offer your views and opinions; if you wait patiently for your turn to speak, you’ll be waiting for a very long time!  But what are the best ways to start a conversation in Italian?  If you’re tongue-tied, here are a few icebreakers you might want to consider.

  1. Compliment the food.  There are two common ways to do this.  If you’re dining at someone’s house and wish to speak about a specific dish, say, Questo cibo e molto buono.  This translates to, “This food is very good.”  Alternatively, if you want to compliment the food in general, say at a certain restaurant, say, Il cibo e molto buono.  And, of course, there is the indispensable, Buon appetito!
  2. Talk about football.  It’s a pretty safe bet that whoever you’re talking to is an avid supporter of their local team, and are just dying to talk your head off about it.  To ask them what is their favorite soccer team, say, Qual è la tua squadra di calcio preferita?  It’s sure to lead to a long and impassioned talk about the recent match.
  3. Talk about art and films.  This covers a broad range of subject matter, and is generally safe grounds for a conversation.  Ask about someone’s opinion on the works of Dante, Cosa ne pensi di opere di Dante? and you are sure to learn more about the great poet than you ever wished to know.  If you have no interest in antiquated literature, you can always ask, Quale preferisci, La Dolce Vita o 8 ½? or express your wish to see some of the great works of Italian art: Hai visto il David di Michaelangelo?  Spero di vederlo un giorno.  (Have you seen Michaelangelo’s David?  I hope to see it someday.)ball_ball_macro_266209_l
  4. Flirt with them.  Depending on the social situation, (not appropriate for business meetings, but the nightclub scene is okay,) flirting can be a good way to meet Italians.  Gain their attention by telling them they’re enchanting, Sei affascinante if speaking to a man and Sei incantevole if speaking to a woman, or very simply, Sei bellissimo/a to say that they’re beautiful.
  5. Compliment their English.  Just as you would feel gratified to have a native compliment your Italian, it can be a lead-in to a friendly conversation about language-learning.  (They will most likely protest that their English is bad, and then you can ask them where they learned it.)  A good way to begin this exchange is to tell them, Parli (or Parla, if you want to be formal,) benissimo l’inglese.  To learn more great conversation starters as well as the skills to follow up on them, sign up for one of our Italian courses, or send us an enquiry—we’d love to hear from you!