Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world, and for good reason. Its incredible food, stunning historic sites, and joyous culture are what got it ranked in our list of the best countries to visit in the world. While it certainly belongs on every traveler’s bucket list, some people are afraid to visit Italy because their Italian isn’t very good…if they even speak it at all. Not speaking the language should never stop you from visiting a country, but either way, in Italy there are some cities that are better than others for non-Italian speakers. Here are the best cities in Italy for English speakers who don’t speak much Italian.
Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern central Italy, and it is the home of the oldest university in the entire world. As a result, a large portion of Bologna’s population is university students, and a good percentage of them speak pretty good English. On top of just having the university, Bologna is often considered the culinary capital of Italy, as it’s surrounding region is where parmesan, prosciutto, ragu, tortellini, and balsamic vinegar all come from. While Bologna gets the fewest tourists of any city on this list, it definitely shouldn’t be missed on a trip through Italy. For more information on Bologna, be sure to read my Bologna travel guide.
As one of the most often visited cities in Italy, Venice is a place where non-Italian speakers can get around without much difficulty. The city itself is built on a bunch of canals, meaning that getting around via water taxi should be difficult for non-Italian speakers. It really isn’t an issue, though, as Venetians speak remarkably good English, on average.
Aside from having a ton of great English speakers, Venice is a really interesting city that certainly deserves a visit on your next trip to Italy. While it is overrun by tourists and is not nearly as “authentic” as it once was, visiting Venice is still a very cool experience – much like visiting Disney World – that shouldn’t be missed. Beware, though, as Venice is extremely expensive to visit during the peak season! For more information on visiting Venice, be sure to read my Venice travel guide.
As the capital and biggest city in Italy, it’s no surprise that Rome makes this list of the best cities to visit in Italy for people that don’t speak Italian. Among its millions of inhabitants, there has to be a fair share of English speakers, right? While the overall level of English in Rome is sometimes lower than some of the other cities on this list, you’re bound to always find waiters and locals that can take your order and point you in the right direction in English. While strangers on the street might not be able to help you solve complex problems in English, like where to buy a SIM card, almost anyone on the street will be able to point you to someone who can.
Rome is one of my favorite cities in the entire world, and it really shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Italy. You could do a full month in Rome and still only see a fraction of what the city has to offer. For more information about Rome, be sure to read my relevant Rome blog posts including the best sightseeing in Rome, the best things to do in the Vatican, and my Rome travel guide.
Milan is the financial capital of Italy, and it is also one of the most international cities in the country. While Rome’s biggest industry is tourism, Milan relies much more on industries like fashion and banking. As a city that is so relevant in the realm of international business, Milan’s level of English is fantastic. It is often said that the cities in the north of Italy tend to speak more English than the cities in the south of Italy, and I have found this to be true in my own experience. Milan is the biggest city in northern Italy, and English speakers shouldn’t have too much trouble getting around here.
Before visiting, I was told that Milan is boring and nothing more than a concrete jungle. I couldn’t disagree with this more. If you plan to visit Milan, be sure to read my blog posts on Milan, including the best day trips from Milan and my Milan travel guide.
On our most recent trip to Italy, we spent a week in Florence. Despite the extensive time I had previously spent in Italy, I had never made my way to Florence…crazy, right? To put it bluntly, Florence left me dumbfounded. I had only heard things like how touristy the city is, and how it is great to visit but entirely unauthentic, and how the prices are exorbitantly expensive and you can get the same experiences elsewhere for cheaper. Well, I don’t really agree with that.
I can’t begin to express how great of a city Florence is. Yes, it is touristy, and yes, it is expensive. Those things don’t detract from this city’s glory, though! Florence is by far the nicest, cleanest, safest major city I have visited in all of my travels through Italy. While tourists do run rampant in the summer and prices are certainly higher than other comparably sized cities, Florence absolutely deserves a visit on your next trip to Italy.
On top of all that, Florence exists solely for tourism. It doesn’t really have many other industries anymore. As a result, it feels like everyone in Florence speaks English, and they speak it well. Even if you don’t speak a word of Italian – like not even ciao – you’ll be able to get around without any issues at all in Florence. From taxi drivers to waiters to pedestrians, you will have a hard time finding yourself in a position where you can’t communicate at all with the people around you. For more information about visiting Florence, be sure to read my Florence travel guide.
Thanks for reading my post on the five best cities to visit in Italy if you don’t speak Italian. Hopefully these recommendations are useful to you as you plan your next trip to the Italy! If there is a place that you think we missed, or if you disagree with our rankings, please let us know by either dropping a comment below or sending us an email.