Italian Pronunciation – Cities

Hello dear hearts. I’ve been getting a lot of queries lately about how to pronounce the names of Italian cities – so, without further ado, let’s pronounce them correctly!

As explained in previous pronunciation guides, my pronunciation spelling overcompensates for the American pronunciation of the letter “e.”

Rome = Roma = ROAM-ah

Milan = Milano = meal-AH-no

Venice = Venezia = vain-AITZ-ya

Padua = Padova = PAH-dove-ah

Naples = Napoli = NAH-pole-ee

Bologna = Bologna = bowl-OWN-ya

Florence = Firenze = fear-ENZ-ay

Sicily = Sicilia = see-TCHEEL-ya

Turin = Torino = tor-EEN-oh (Olympics flashbacks)

Assisi = Assisi = ahs-SEE-see

Capri = Capri = COP-ree (Yes. Really.)

Ischia = Ischia = EESS-kya

Cinque Terre = TCHEEN-quay TAIR-ay

And, as an added bonus, other places we know and love:

Paris = Parigi = Pahr-EE-gee

London = Londra = LOANED-rah

Nice = Nizza = rhymes with pizza

Barcelona = Barcelona = Bahr-tchail-OWN-ah

United States = gli Stati Uniti = let me just say something here about “gli.” It is the WORST SOUND EVER to try to pronounce if Italian is not your native language. The closest I can come to is this: make your tongue go into position like you’re going to say “yes.” Keep it in that position, but instead say, “lee.” I know. It sucks.

Anyway. Just say, “America” and you’ll be fine.

28 thoughts on “Italian Pronunciation – Cities

  1. ? im confused about this lol but im getting a tatoo an italian is not my native language but my family’s heritatge is italian i was wondering if you could help me i was going to get the phrase you’ll be fine in italian but with slang an dialec i kno you cant take you’ll …be….fine… an string them together…
    any suggestions…

  2. Hmmm…italians would more likely say, “it’ll be fine” instead of “you’ll be fine.” I’m not sure what your family’s phrase is, but here’s some help:

    you’ll be fine = tu starai bene
    it’ll be fine (more like, everything will go alright) = tutto andrà bene

    but they’re both awkward and not normally said in Italian.

  3. How would I contact someone in Marcianise, Italy about my ancestors Tommaso Porfidia and Concetta Maiorino? Do you pronouce the e at the end of Marcianise? Grazie!

  4. Hi Diane,

    In reply to your comment below,

    The area is pronounced:

    Mar-tchya-KNEE-zeh

    The names are:

    Toam-MAH-so Poor-FEE-dya

    and

    Cone-CHET-tah My-your-EE-no

    And you’d have to call the town’s comune.

    Cheers and good luck!

  5. Could you please tell me the appropriate way to pronounce Tuscany? I’ve heard a few weird ways and I don’t want to sound like an idiot lol…
    Thanks.

  6. Thanks for this! My husband and I are visiting Ischia next month and each time I try to say it I stumble in uncertainty. Hopefully I will have mastered it (and some more basic Italian) before my toes touch the water.

  7. Don’t take offense to this but I’m currently living in Napoli for two years and not one of my friends says “COP-Ree”. I have no idea where you got that from. My girlfriend, who has lived her whole life in Pozzuouli verified this. In Italian the words are exactly as they are written.

    Care to explain where you got this idea?

    • The words in Italian are indeed pronounced as written, which is one of the reasons I love it!

      I used “COP” instead of “CAP” because of the American tendency to make the soft “a” sound quite flat (as in the word, “flat”), which is not a sound in the Italian alphabet. If an American says cop-ree, it sounds much closer to how Italians pronounce the “a” sound than if they were to say cap-ree.

      I hope that makes sense!

    • Wow, that’s quote a word! I’ve never heard of it and that spelling doesn’t come up in Google, so I’m thinking it’s in a dialect. That word would be pronounced “cal-ECK-a-bet” but honestly, it probably has a more formal spelling that would be pronounced a bit differently. Sorry I can’t help you more!

  8. Hi Christine, I own a bicycle which was handmade by a family in the northern town of Cuneo. The name is “Sancineto”. I have heard it pronounced son-sin-EE-tow but I’m confused as to why it wouldn’t follow the rule where the c is pronounced “ch” as in “chin” since it is followed by an “i”. Could you help me to understand?

    • Hi Michael, it would be pronounced: san-cheen-EH-toh (or as Americans should pronounce it, vis-a-vis my comment to Allen above, son-chee-NAY-toh). The rule in Italian is that the letter c, when followed by an i or an e, is always pronounced like the c in “church”. With the other vowels, it’s pronounced like in “cat”. the same goes for the letter g – when followed by an i or an e, it has a “j” sound, but a hard g as in “good” for other vowels.

      Lemme know if that makes sense!

  9. Thank you, Christine! I wasn’t sure if perhaps there were exceptions to the rule when a person’s name is concerned. I heard it pronounced differently and it confused me because I was aware of the i & e rule.

    • No problem Michael! In Italy, Italian names are always pronounced using the proper rules. But in America, the names can be pronounced in a wide variety of ways, as immigrant families tried to make it easier for Americans to pronounce/spell them.

    • …also, I hear many people pronounce the c in Sicily like an s however you stated that the correct pronunciation should be see-TCHEEL-ya. This is what confuses me.

      • Right – it’s the anglophone version of the name. Kind of like how anglophones say “par-iss” but the French pronounce it “par-ee”.

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