How to START a CONVERSATION in Italian: 67 useful and interesting Questions!

Studying a language and practising it are two completely different things, as I am sure you are well aware. This means that talking to native speakers and having a “real” conversation with them could be hard for lots of different reasons: pressure, expectations, shyness, performance anxiety… And then, let’s face it, the pandemic has made things worse… So, let’s roll up our sleeves e let’s think a bit about how to get over these “absence of social life”… In this video I have decided to collect some useful, original and interesting questions to break the ice and start a convesation in Italy! So, to avoid those common and predictable questions, such as “Come va?” (How are you?) which lead to short answers… and then nothing! All followed by moments of embarrassing silence! No, no, no, no!

Sentences to breake the ice and have a conversation in Italian

To make it easier to understand, I have divided the sentences according to topic or place of use. Let’s get started!

While travelling

If you are travelling in Italy and would like to start a conversation with a local, you might ask:

  • Ci sono delle chicche nascoste da vedere qui intorno? (Are there any hidden gems to see around here?)

  • Cosa mi consigli di fare? (What do you suggest I do?)

  • Cosa c’è in zona che non posso assolutamente perdermi? (Is tehre somenthing around here that I absolutely cannot miss?)

  • C’è qualche storia o leggenda locale da conoscere su questi posti? (Is there any local history or legend I should know about these places)

After you have gained some familiarity, you could also ask slightly more personal questions such as…

  • Cosa ti piace di più della tua città? (What do you like most about your city?)

  • Da quanto tempo vivi qui? (How long have you been living here?)

Otherwise, talking about food is always the best solution!

  • Conosci qualche posto buono in cui mangiare? (Do you know any good places to eat?)

  • Qual è il tuo ristorante preferito in città? (What’s your favourite restaurant in the city?)

  • Quali sono i piatti tipici qui? Voglio provare la cucina locale! (What are the typical dishes here? I would like to try the local cuisine!)

  • C’è una bevanda del posto che vale la pena di provare? (Is there a local beverage I should try?)

Always try to avoid “yes or no questions”, you should try to lead an active conversation.

As an alternative, if you just want to talk about travel, you could ask:

  • Stai pianificando un viaggio? / Dove vorresti viaggiare prossimamente? (Are you planning any travel? / Where would you like to travel next?) (If they answer you no, just change the subject to one of the following ones!)

  • (If you already know that this person has recently travelled becuase she/he has told you) Raccontami del tuo viaggio in …. ! Ne vale la pena? Merita? Me lo consiglieresti? (Tell me more about your travel in …! Is it worthy? Would you reccomend it?)

  • Sto pensando di andare a/in… Ci sei stato/a? (I am thinking about going to… Have you been there?)

  • Sei mai stato/a in un altro continente? Hai qualche consiglio per il jet lag? (Have you ever been to another continent? Do you have any tips for the jet lag?)

Or, more in general…

  • Preferisci viaggi in auto o con i mezzi pubblici? (Do you prefer travelling by car or public transportation?)

  • Preferisci un viaggio rilassante o sei più amante dell’avventura? (Do you prefer a relaxing trip or are you an adventure lover?)

At work

Perhaps you have found a job in Italy and you would like to start some conversations with your new colleagues. You could ask things like…

  • Da quanto tempo lavori qui? (How long have you been working here?)

  • Come sei finito/a a fare questo lavoro? (How did you end up doing this job?)

  • Come ti trovi a lavorare qui? Hai sempre fatto questo lavoro? (How do you like it here? Have you always done this job?)

These sentences are perfect to break the ice in new working enviroments, because they encourage you to share facts about yourself and keep the conversation going.

But there are others, perhaps even more interesting, which allow you to receive answers that are different from the usual ones and to share funny stories, including your own. Maybe don’t use them as soon as you meet your colleagues, but keep them for future meetings.

  • Qual è la richiesta più assurda che ti ha fatto un datore di lavoro? (What is the most absurd request an employer has made to you?)

  • Qual è stato il tuo peggior lavoro? (What was your worst job?)

  • Qual è stato il migliore/peggiore consiglio per la tua carriera che tu abbia mai ricevuto? (What was the best/worst career advice you have ever received?)

  • Se avessi la garanzia di successo, quale lavoro faresti? (If you were sure you would succeed, which job would you do?)

  • Hai mai avuto un collega veramente fastidioso? (Have you ever had a really annoying colleague?)

  • Cosa ne pensi del lavoro da remoto? Vorresti alternare i giorni di lavoro in persona e quelli di lavoro da remoto? (What do you think about home office? Would you like to alternate between working in the office and working from home?) (A very current question in this period!)

  • (Then, the typical perfect question to come out of every situation!) Hai piani per questo fine settimana (o qualsiasi altra festività o vacanza)? (Do you have plans for this weekend… or any other festivity?)

Current events

Current events are something which work almost always and everywhere: you will never be out of place! And if you see that someone is not an expert in a particular topic or field… move on to another topic. There are countless of them!

  • Hai visto le ultime notizie al telegiornale? (Have you seen the latest news?)

  • Hai letto questo articolo su…? Mi piacerebbe conoscere la tua opinione a riguardo! (Have you read that article on…? I would like to know your opinio about it!)

  • Che ne pensi di questa cosa che è successa? (What do you think about what happened yesterday…?)

  • Stai seguendo quello che sta succedendo in…? (Are you keeping updated about what is happening in…?)

  • Ho sentito alla radio che… Cosa ne pensi? (I’ve heard on the radio that… What do you think about it?)

  • Hai guardato la partita di…? (Have you watched the match…?)

  • Hai guardato il nuovo film al cinema? (Have you watched the new movie at the cinema?)

  • Hai guardato la nuova serie su Netflix? (Have you watched the new Netflix’ series?)

These questions could lead the conversation to more current topics, and usually this kind of conversation is much more spontaneous and natural than others. You just need to find the right topic for you and your interlocutor.

At a social event

If you are attending a social event and don’t know how to start talking to someone, you can ask questions like…

  • Cosa ti porta qui? (What brought you here?)

  • Come conosci…? (If you’re attenfing an event organised by a particular person) (How do you know…?)

  • (Fashion is usually a “safe subject” in Italy, so you could say things like…) Wow, mi piace molto il tuo vestito / il tuo look / il tuo … ! Dove lo hai comprato? (Wow, I really like your dress / your look… Where did you buy it?)

  • Or, very similar: Mi piacciono molto i tuoi capelli! (I really like your hair!) (A sincere compliment is always welcome!)

  • Ti stai divertendo? / Ti piace la festa? (Are you having fun? / Do you like the party?)

  • (If you notice someone further away, you could ask…) Conosci molte persone qui? (Do you know a lot of people here?) or (if you too are a bit further away because you don’t like crowds) Non mi piacciono tanto questi eventi così affollati… Anche a te? (I don’t like these crowded events so much… What about you?)

  • (If you also like what a person is eating or drinking, you might say…) Anche io adoro… Sei un intenditore / un’intenditrice! (I also love it… You are an expert!)

The weather

There is no doubt that the weather is a topic you can always talk about: no matter how bad or good it is, it always breaks the ice. Yes, maybe the other person will realise it was your ace in the hole, but let’s face it: everyone likes to talk about the weather, at least a little! And then you’ll see… Off to new topics and new conversations!

  • Guarda che bel sole fuori! (Look at the sun outside!)

  • Che bella giornata oggi, non trovi? (It is a really nice day today, don’t you find?)

  • Non potevamo chiedere tempo migliore oggi! (We couldn’t have asked for a better weather today!)

  • Peccato, sta piovendo. (Too bad, it’s raining)

  • Fa freddo oggi, no? Ieri era più caldo! (It’s cold today, isn’t it? Yesterday it was warmer!)

  • Sembra proprio che stia per piovere. Conviene trovare un posto al riparo! (It looks like it is going to rain. We better find a shelter from the rain!)

  • Che ventaccio! Ma quando arrivano le belle giornate? (What a wind! When will the good weather arrive?)

  • Comincia a piovere… (It’s starting to rain…)

  • Mamma mia che caldo oggi! Si muore! (What a hot day, I’m dying!)

  • Questo sole è bollentissimo! Dove posso trovare un po’ di ombra? (The sun is so hot! Where can I find some shade?)

  • (If you’re at work) Guarda che bel tempo durante la settimana. Poi puntualmente piove nel fine settimana! (Look at the good weather during the week. Then it always rains at the weekend!)

  • Al meteo hanno detto che nei prossimi giorni… Sarà vero? (The weather forecast said that in the next few days… Is this true?)

  • (If you’re talking to a local, you might ask…) Ma il tempo qui è sempre così bello / brutto / caldo / freddo / umido / pazzo…? (Is the weather here always so nice / bad / hot / cold / humid… ?)

  • (If you want to be a bit funny during a very boring event) Ok, fingiamo di essere interessati al meteo… (OK, let’s pretend to be interested in the weather…) (and then you use one of the questions written above)

And that’s it. What are your own experiences with conversations with native speakers in Italy? Positive? Negative? Non-existent? Let me know in the comments!

Next time you want to chat with an Italian, try using these phrases! And let me know how it goes! If you are afraid to speak and feel stuck and uncomfortable, watch the video where I give you some advice on how to overcome your fear of speaking!

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