20 Local Phrases for the European Explorer

24/08/2011 22:27 BST | Updated 24/10/2011 10:12 BST

The great British summer may be beginning to draw to a close, but that does not mean that the holiday season is over. While many of us will be stuck in our offices, university libraries, or collage classrooms, some lucky folk will be exploring the delights of some of Europe's finest cities.

So if you are heading off for a break to Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon, or Rome, remember these local phrases. They are very region-specific, fun, and will hopefully help you surprise some of the natives.


Je voudrais une baguette bien cuite s'il vous plaît > I would like one well-baked baguette please

Y a grève aujourd'hui ?(colloquial) > Is there a strike today?

Chauffard! > Road hog!

Où est le portrait de Mona Lisa? > Where is the Mona Lisa ?

Je voudrais acheter un béret! > I'd like to buy a beret!


¿La academia de catalán más cercana? > Where is the nearest Catalan School?

¿Cuándo van a terminar la Sagrada Familia? > When will they finish the Sagrada Familia?

¡¡Visca Barça!! > Go Barca (football team)

¿Vicky y Cristina siguen viviendo aquí? > Are Vicky and Cristina still living here?

¿Cómo se baila la Sardana? > How do you dance the Sardana?


Uma imperial e um pires de tremoços por favor! > One Sagres and lupini beans please!

Quero uma bica um pastel de Belém para a sobremesa > A shot of espresso and Portuguese custard for dessert.

Onde posso apanhar o cacilheiro? > Where can I take the Cacilheiro (a typical Lisbon boat) to Margem Sul?

Preciso de saber como chego ao bairro alto a pé? > What's the fastest way to go to Bairro Alto?

Onde se apanha o comboio para Sintra? > Can you help me with my sun lotion?


Quanti sono i luchetti a Ponte Milvio? > How many padlocks are there at Ponte Milvio (tourist attraction popular for couples)?

Se beccamo stasera a Trilussa? (Roman dialect) > Shall we meet tonight at Trilussa Square (common meeting point for young people)?

Andiamo a vedere il mago guarda! > Let's go to see 'Mago Guarda' (Popular street magician) Show!

Se famo du coppiette o na pizza scrocchiarella?(Roman dialect) > Shall we eat some raw sausages or crispy pizza?

Quella e una zona troppo turistica > There are too many tourists inside this area.

Final Thought...

So if you are heading abroad, do not forget that locals appreciate when you make an effort to communicate to them in their own language. Currently, many English speakers tend to use "point and ask a bit louder" method when conversing in a foreign country.

So be friendly, and if you feel confident enough, perhaps throw in one of our localised phrases. They may help you build bridges, or witness one of the many nuances that these magnificent cities have to offer.

Michael de Piano