Italian spelling alphabet

A person working, studying, or simply on vacation in Italy may have to spell a word in Italian sooner or later. Has this happened to you? For example, your first and last name.

When booking a hotel, we communicate information over the phone. When doing paperwork at an office, we usually fill in some forms. The employee may ask us: “come si scrive?”

Would this catch you off guard? Then read this article to avoid it from happening.

Here you will learn to spell a word in Italian using the “Italian spelling alphabet.”

How to spell a word in Italian?

It can happen to all of us to not hear or understand a word clearly. The solution is to repeat the word more slowly or dictate it letter by letter. But the way words are spelled can vary from one country to another.

However, here is a practical solution for anybody studying Italian. Learn the Italian spelling alphabet.

What is the Italian spelling alphabet?

The Italian spelling alphabet is also called the “Alfabeto Telefonico” (telephone alphabet). It is a series of words, usually associated with the Latin alphabet letters. Our interlocutor can (usually) understand the correct spelling of a word when we use this spelling system.

It is known as the “Alfabeto Telefonico” because it is a system we commonly use when talking on the phone.

So, how does the system work? In Italy, when we have to spell surnames or difficult words, we use the names of cities. Most of the time, they are Italian cities. The biggest and most well-known cities make it to the list. The purpose is to avoid confusion as much as possible.

Here is a list of the cities generally used for spelling in Italian.

A Ancona
B Bologna
C Como
D Domodossola
E Empoli
F Florence
G Genoa
H Hotel The only letter for which we don’t use the name of a city!
I Imola
L Livorno
M Milano
N Napoli
O Otranto
P Palermo
Q Quarto
R Rome
S Savona
T Torino
U Udine
V Venezia
Z Zara Why is there a Croatian city on this list? Well, it was once an Italian city too.

That was a tour around Italy! Did you enjoy it?

I recommend you memorize the list. It’s an opportunity to review the letters of the alphabet and at the same time study a bit of Italian geography!

As you may know, the Italian alphabet has only 21 letters.

The letters J, K, W, X, and Y are considered “foreign” letters. However, here also are words that Italians will quickly understand when spelling.

J Jolly
K Kursaal
W Washington
X Xeres
Y Yacht

Wrapping Up!

I bet you will smile the next time somebody asks you to spell a word in Italian. Hopefully, you will smile because you are acquainted with this spelling system. Thank me later.

Thank you for exploring all these Italian cities with us. I wish you may not only learn them but even get to visit each one someday!

Did you enjoy this post? You will also like this other one about fun facts about the Italian language. Click here to check it out!

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