Italian in Southern Italy: Beginner Friendly


One of the most inviting aspects of Sorrento and the surrounding area of Southern Italy is the friendliness and sense of hospitality that exists here. These unique characteristics also make this region of Italy particularly enjoyable when learning Italian. Here, you can almost always find locals who will patiently wait while you figure out how to word something in Italian and those who are willing to help you better understand the language better by correcting your mistakes.

Photo courtesy of: Kendal Lariviere

Admittedly, there are often times when you go into a shop or a restaurant and they immediately say “hello” instead of “ciao” or give you the English version of the menu. This isn’t done out of spite or to point out the fact that you’re a foreigner, but rather to make you feel more comfortable in their place of business. However, if you choose to try to speak to the locals in Italian, they’re more than willing to help you through the process. The people will smile and listen carefully as you work your way through a sentence, then reward you with a warm “bene!” or offer some slight corrections.

Photo courtesy of: Katie Hibbard

Being completely new to Italian, it’s encouraging to be learning the language for the first time in a place that is so accepting of beginners. When asking questions about the beautiful pastries in a pasticceria, you’ll find the bakers and the baristas to be more than willing to tell you what each delicacy is called and explain what is in it (understanding how to order pastries will be an essential part of your life, trust me). There are never any feelings or impatience or annoyance when you’re slowly trying to order some meat at the salumeria  or trying to pronounce a pasta dish in a restaurant. Using your Italian around town allows you not only to practice, but is also a way to build relationships with the local townspeople.

Pastries, absolutely essential. Photo courtesy of: Katrina Syrakos

The locals of Sorrento and the surrounding areas truly appreciate when you make an attempt to use their native language, even if you’re not great at it yet. This is clear in the way they will encourage you and gently coach you along by giving you corrections to your pronunciation or word choices. And in the event that you really can’t understand something, the people are happy to speak to you in English or figure out other ways to communicate so that you’ll clearly understand what they are trying to say.

Heading off to a foreign country with little to no knowledge of the language can be intimidating, to say the least. When you head to Southern Italy, to a place like Sorrento, you’ll find an encouraging learning environment in the everyday world beyond the classroom. You’ll easily improve your Italian skills here, and much of that is thanks to the patient, helpful, and welcoming qualities of the friendly locals.

Photo courtesy of: Katie Hibbard

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