So you’ve arrived in Italy or you’re planning a short vacation but you’re equipped with nothing more linguistically than the words ‘pizza’, ‘pasta’, ‘ciao’, ‘bella’ and maybe ‘O sole mio’…
You don’t necessarily need to speak Italian to find the Colosseum, the bathroom or hail a taxi… but if you have hopes of perhaps falling in love (or just have some racy holiday fling!) then the ability to compliment your local flirt could very well come in handy.
Here are five very simple phrases that can be used whether you’re chasing a boy or a girl, a gentleman or a lady, a spring chicken or mature vintage… The Italians do flirting like no other nation in the world so you need to be prepared with at least a little linguistic reciprocity!
And for those who are happily in relationships and not seeking out a love affair, it’s still great to flatter in order to be culturally respectful. Paying someone a compliment is part of life here so it doesn’t necessarily mean that married waiter is wanting to run off with your wife – it’s just common courtesy and a bit of fun.
Good luck and long live amore!
1. You’re so funny – Sei molto simpatico/a (this is the informal but if a waiter in a trattoria is telling you jokes or having a laugh with you then it’s okay to use this wording normally reserved for friends and family)
2. You have been very kind – Lei e’ stato molto gentile (this is the formal, which is good for situations with hotel managers who have looked after you or perhaps a restaurant owner who finds you a table even when the kitchen is closing)
3. Your English is excellent – Parli benissimo l’inglese (informal) or Parla benissimo l’inglese (formal)
4. You’re charming/enchanting – Sei affascinante (to a male) or Sei incantevole (to a female)
5. You’re so sweet – Sei carinissimo/dolcissimo (to a male) or Sei carinissima/dolcissima (to a female)
6. You’re hot/beautiful/fit/genetically blessed/I’d love to breed with you – Sei bellissimo (to a male) or Sei bellissima (to a female)
Want to read about real life dating in the Eternal City? You can find my ramblings on this subject in What’s it Really Like to Date an Italian and in 7 Deadly Dates or in What to Cook an Italian Lover.