How to Go Shopping in Italian: Beginner’s Guide

20th June 2023

Planning on buying some lovely things in Italy? How about doing your shopping in Italian! Learn some useful phrases and tips so you can shop like a local.


Listen to the episode

When you go to Italy, what do you like to bring back with you? 

Leather, shoes, wine, pasta, espresso cups… there are loads of ways to fill your suitcase. 

But how do you buy them in the first place? If you hate feeling like an awkward tourist, relying on English and gesticulating, this post is for you! 

Here you’ll learn essential phrases for shopping in Italian, so you can buy and pay for things confidently. You’ll also pick up insider cultural tips and key vocabulary to impress your friends, family and Italian shop keepers.

Let’s start with the most important question...

Finding Out the Price in Italian

Isn’t it annoying when they don’t put the prices on things? 

Asking how much something costs can be awkward when shopping - even when you’re not trying to do it in Italian. 

Of course, you can always just go to pay and read the number on the cash register… but you might get a nasty surprise that way!

To find out the price of something you can ask a “how much” question. They all start with:

Quanto…? - How much…?

If you just learn one word to ask for the price, then it’s quanto. This word looks a bit like “quantity” in English, if it helps you remember. You can always just look at the shop keeper whilst holding or pointing to what you want and ask quanto? - “how much?”

Now, let’s make it a bit more sophisticated. Here’s how you can use quanto in a full sentence:

Quanto costa? - How much does it cost?

If you’re trying to buy more than one thing though, like two t-shirts, you’ll need to use the plural forms:

Quanto costano? - How much do they cost?

Not sure whether it counts as plural? You can also just ask this:

Qual è il prezzo? - What is the price?

Il prezzo means “the price”, and you should pronounce the double Z like pizza. 

Sometimes asking for the price can feel a bit scary, because the answer involves numbers! Do you know them in Italian?

If you want to revise that, have a listen to our podcast episodes on Italian numbers. Try starting with how to count to 20 in Italian, and once you’ve mastered them, you can learn how to count to 100 in Italian.

When buying things though, it’s worth knowing that Italians say the numbers of prices in a slightly different way.

Talking Money in Italy


How would an Italian say this amount? It’s the typical cost of a coffee in an Italian bar. 

Here’s the simplest and most natural way: 

Uno e dieci - One and ten

You might also hear: 

Un euro e dieci - One euro and ten

Watch out for the pronunciation of euro in Italian. You have to pronounce all the vowels. EH-YUR-O. If it feels like your mouth is working overtime - you’re saying it right! 

Occasionally, you might hear the long version of the price, which would be: 

Un euro e dieci centesimi - One euro and ten cents

Got it? Great. Let’s do a quick test. What would €2.50 be in Italian?

You could say one of these short versions: 

Due e cinquanta - Two fifty

Due euro e cinquanta - Two euros fifty 

Or the long version:

Due euro e cinquanta centesimi - Two euros and fifty cents.

Now you know how to talk about prices, it’s time to really start shopping around…

Shopping Around in Italian

So imagine you’re looking around a cute gift or clothes shop. The shop assistant might ask you:

Le piace? - Do you like it? (formal)

As the seller gently nudges you towards making a purchase, you’ll have to give your opinion about it. If you like it, can say:

Mi piace - I like it

È bello - It’s nice

Lo prendo - I’ll take it

If you think the price is especially good you can say:

È economico - It’s cheap/good value

But, if you need some more time to think about it, or you want to politely move on, you can say:

Grazie, ci penso - Thanks, I’ll think about it


Grazie - thanks

ci - about it

penso - I’ll think

This is a great way of getting out of buying something without having to explain exactly why you don’t want something. Italians use it all the time.

Or, perhaps you do want to explain what the problem is: 

Mi piace ma… - I like it but…

è un po’ costoso - it’s a bit expensive

è troppo piccolo / grande - it’s too small / big

If you can say what’s wrong with it, the seller might be able to find something else you really do want.

Or perhaps you’re buying clothes and you need to try something on. In Italy it’s important to know you’ve got the right size as very few shops offer refunds.

Posso provarlo? - Can I try it on?

Dove sono i camerini? - Where are the fitting rooms?

Once you’re happy with what you want to get, it’s time to actually buy it.

Buying Something in Italian

Time to head to la cassa (cash register) and pagare (pay). 

Sometimes it’s not so obvious you’ve finished shopping, and you have to ask to pay. To do that, try this:

Posso pagare? - Can I pay?

The question now is how you want to pay. Is that in cash?

In contanti? - In cash?

Or by card?

Con la carta? - By card?

So putting those together, how would you ask if you can pay by card?

Posso pagare con la carta? - Can I pay by card?

Or in cash?

Posso pagare in contanti?

Keep in mind that if you’re in a small town or village, you might find that some local shops don’t accept card payments, especially for low amounts. 

This can be a real problem for travellers. To explain that you don’t have cash, you can say: 

Non ho contanti - I don’t have cash

Or maybe you have some, but not enough:

Scusi, non ho abbastanza contanti - Sorry, I don’t have enough cash

Assuming you are able to buy it, there’s one last question you might hear…

Culture tip: Do you want a bag?

Once you’ve made your purchase, Italian shop keepers are likely to offer you a bag. But watch out - the word for “a bag” is different in different parts of Italy.

In all regions, the question will begin with “do you want”: 

Vuole…? - Do you want…? (formal)

Followed by the word for a bag. The most common word in the north is sacchetto:

Vuole un sacchetto? - Do you want a bag?

In some areas, you might hear sporta or sportina:

Vuole una sportina? - Do you want a bag?

In the centre and south, they use busta:

Vuole una busta? - Do you want a bag?

That’s a lot of details to take in! If in doubt, use sacchetto and everyone should know what you mean! 

Finally, how do you know how to say “shopping” in Italian? 

How to say SHOPPING in Italian

Shopping in Italian - what are we actually talking about?

Grabbing a carton of milk from the local supermarket? Going on a clothes shopping spree?

In Italian, there’s a different word for each kind of shopping.

If you’re buying clothes, electronics, presents - anything which isn’t a food shop - Italians use a word that’s especially tricky to remember…


That’s right, Italians use the English word. 

Just remember to give shopping a bit more of an Italian sound to it. And Italians don’t “go shopping”, they “do shopping” - fare shopping. Use this expression when you need a new pair of jeans. Or perhaps you’re getting a gift for your family back home.

What’s the other kind of shopping?

Anything to do with supermarkets and groceries is: fare la spesa

Fare - To do

La spesa - The grocery shopping

Italians like to fare la spesa at least once a week. That could be in a supermarket or a typical open-air market.

Now you’re ready to hit the shops in Italian. Below, you’ll find a quiz to test your knowledge, but first, here’s a quick review of everything you’ve learned.

How to Go Shopping in Italian: Review

You started by learning some phrases to find out the price of something:

Quanto costa / costano? - How much does it cost / do they cost?

Qual è il prezzo? - What’s the price?

There are two short and simple ways to say the price: 

Un euro e dieci - One euro and ten

Uno e dieci - One ten

Written out fully, that’s: 

Un euro e dieci centesimi - One euro and ten cents

Then to say what you think about something, you can use these phrases:

Le piace? - Do you like it? (formal)

Mi piace - I like it

È bello! - It’s nice!

È economico - It’s cheap

Grazie, ci penso - Thanks, I’ll think about it

Mi piace ma… - I like it but…

È un po’ costoso - It’s a bit expensive

È troppo piccolo / grande - It’s too small / big

And to try something on, these phrases are useful:

Posso provarlo? - Can I try it on?

Dove sono i camerini? - Where are the fitting rooms?

Here’s how to pay for things: 

La cassa - The till / cash register

Posso pagare? - Can I pay?

…in contanti - In cash

…con la carta - By card

Non ho contanti - I don’t have cash

Non ho abbastanza contanti - I don’t have enough cash

Then just remember if they ask you if you’d like a bag, the word for bag changes depending on where you are:

Vuole un sacchetto? - Do you want a bag? (North, standard)

Vuole una sportina? - Do you want a bag? (Some areas of North)

Vuole una busta? - Do you want a bag? (South, centre)

Finally, do you remember the difference between the two kinds of shopping in Italian?

Fare la spesa - Do the shopping (supermarkets, the grocery shop)

Fare shopping - Go shopping (clothes, gifts and everything else)

All clear? One last thing to do - our quiz! Check out the questions below to see how much you can remember.

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Vocabulary: How to Go Shopping in Italian

fare la spesa = do the shopping (supermarkets, the grocery shop)
fare shopping = go shopping (clothes, gifts and everything non-food related)
quanto costa? = how much does it cost?
quanto costano? = how much do they cost?
le piace? = do you like it? (formal)
è bello! = it’s nice!
è economico = it’s cheap
grazie, ci penso = thanks, I’ll think about it
mi piace ma… = I like it but…
è un po’ costoso = it’s a bit expensive
è troppo piccolo / grande = it’s too small / big
posso provarlo? = can I try it on?
dove sono i camerini? = where are the fitting rooms?
posso pagare? = can I pay?
…in contanti = …in cash
…con la carta = …by card
un sacchetto / una busta / una sportina = a bag

Quiz: How to Go Shopping in Italian

How much did you learn? Find out in the quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to go shopping in Italian

Flashcards: How to Go Shopping in Italian

Remember the vocabulary from this lesson by downloading the digital flashcards

Not sure how it works? Click here to watch the tutorial

Transcript: How to Go Shopping in Italian: Beginner’s Guide

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

M: Let’s go shopping!

K: Matteo I’ve never seen you so excited to go shopping…

M: What do you mean? I love shopping! I saldi…

K: The sales? When’s the last time you went shopping? Anyway, whether you love to go shopping when travelling or not, almost everyone needs to buy things at some point… so if you want to know the price of something, you can ask: how much is it?

M: Quanto costa? (x3)

K: Then they’ll tell you how much it is. Now, if you don’t know your numbers in Italian, quanto costa can feel like you’re going into dangerous territory: what if you don’t understand the answer? 

M: We’ve got a couple of episodes about numbers, including tips on how to remember them. Start with episode 14, how to count to 20 in Italian, then once you’re confident with those numbers, you can move onto episode 15 and learn how to count to 100. You’ll find the links in the description. 

K: Let’s look at how to say prices in Italian now. As you’re listening at home, if you already know these words, try to say them in the pause, and if you don’t, no worries! Say them with Matteo, trying to get your pronunciation as close to his as possible.

M: Italian prices follow a slightly different structure compared to English. 

K: What’s a typical price of say… un caffè, an espresso, in Italian, Matteo?

M: Hmmm, dipende… nowadays in Milan, maybe un euro e dieci centesimi

K: Quanto costa?

M: Un euro e dieci centesimi

K: Ah OK - got it. One euro and ten cents. 


Un euro - one euro

E - and

Dieci - ten 

Centesimi - cents

M: But Italians usually use the short version.

K: Yeah, no need to say centesimi. We just say: 

M: Un euro e dieci (x3)

K: Literally “one euro and ten”. Now, the pronunciation of euro is a bit tricky, it took me ages to get it somewhere decently similar to how Italians say it! The secret is to separate out the E and the U at the beginning. 

M: E - U - RO (x3). Euro. 

K: It takes a lot of practice, so I’d recommend saying it a lot, maybe whilst in the shower, that’s always a good place to practice pronunciation! 

M: E - U - RO (x3). Euro. 

K: Now, what if it were two fifty? Literally “two euro and fifty”. 

M: Due euro e cinquanta (x3)

K: Or how about… nine seventy?

M: That would be a really expensive caffè… nove euro e settanta (x3)

K: Yes, if the price of a coffee were nine seventy I think it would be very normal to ask them to repeat it several times! 

When you go to pay, they’ll send you to the till, or cash register:

M: La cassa (x3)

K: Where you might ask: can I pay by card?

M: Posso pagare con la carta? (x3)

K: That’s


Posso - Can I

pagare - pay

con - with

la carta - the card

Posso pagare con la carta?

K: Now Italy is a little behind the times when it comes to digital payments - especially outside of the big cities. It’s best to bring cash with you at all times, just in case. “Only in cash”, in Italian is:

M: Solo in contanti (x3)

Solo - only

in - in 

contanti - cash

Solo in contanti

K: Putting those together, let’s say you only had cash - how would you say: Can I pay in cash?

M: Posso pagare in contanti? (x3)

K: So that’s the bare bones of buying things. Let’s go into a little bit more depth now and hit the shops…

M: Sì!

K: Earlier, we mentioned how to say “how much is it”

M: Quanto costa? (x3)

K: And if you’re buying more than one thing, you change costa to costano. How much are they: 

M: Quanto costano? (x3)

K: You can also say: “What’s the price?”

M: Qual è il prezzo (x3)

K: The sales person might ask you: “Do you like it?”

M: Le piace? (x3)

K: To say it’s nice, you say:

M: È bello! (x 3)

K: Then again you might have some misgivings… I like it, but..

M: Mi piace ma…. (x 3)

K: Maybe it’s a bit expensive

M: È un po’ costoso (x3)

K: Or conversely it could be cheap

M: È economico (x3)

K: Or it’s a bargain, or a deal! 

M: È un affare!  

K: Finally you decide to go for it - do you remember how to ask if you can pay by card?

M: Posso pagare con la carta?

K: Unfortunately not! Cash only. Only in cash

M: Solo in contanti 

K: But there’s a problem - I don’t have cash

M: Non ho contanti (x3)

K: Or rather, I have a bit, but not enough. I don’t have enough. Enough is: 

M: Abbastanza (x3)

K: I don’t have enough cash

M: Non ho abbastanza contanti (x3)

K: Finally though it all works out! To tell your friends what you’ve bought you can say “I bought”: 

M: Ho comprato… (x3)

K: What’s something you’ve bought recently, Matteo?

M: Ho comprato il giornale. 

K: Il giornale! The newspaper. See, this is how enthusiastic Matteo really is about shopping. 

M: And what will you buy next time you’re in Italy? Whatever it is, you can now have a go at buying it in Italian. 

K: The numbers do take some getting used to, but even if you aren’t super confident with them, don’t be afraid to try in Italian. Especially once you get to the till, you can always look at the number on the screen. 

M: So you can cheat a little bit and still get away with doing everything smoothly!

K: Remember, if you want to see everything written down from this episode, and get bonus materials, like vocabulary cards and a quiz, head over to our website, and search for episode 99.

M - See you next time.

K - Or as we say in Italian.

Alla prossima!

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