Italian Language Lesson 13: What to Say When Dealing with Emergencies

| Sat, 05/17/2014 - 03:40

No one likes to think that anything could go wrong while they are on holiday, and the probability of you needing to deal with an emergency is low. But sometimes things do go wrong and so it’s a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality, so here’s a short language feature that you can print out and keep with your passport and travel in the knowledge that you can summon assistance should anything happen.

Emergency Numbers:

Unlike the United Kingdom and the U.S. Italy doesn’t have a single number that will connect to all emergency services, so it’s a good idea to take note of the numbers needed.

  • 12 – Is the number required for general telephone and directory enquiries.

  • 112 – Connects you to the Carabinieri, the national military police of Italy, policing both military and civilian populations.

  • 113 – This is the emergency Police number that will also connect to the ambulance and fire services.

  • 115 – Connects you exclusively to the fire department.

  • 118 – Is solely for medical emergencies.

If you need to call for police assistance, it is advisable to always call 113 first as the operator will then be able to ascertain if you need to be directed to the Carabinieri instead.

Asking for Help: Here is a brief list of sample sentences that you may need to ask for assistance.

The word for help is "aiuto":

Mi aiuta per favore - Help me please

Ho bisogno di aiuto - I need help

Mi può aiutare - Can you help me

To ask someone to call the emergency services, you would say:

Chiamate la polizia/un’ambulanza/un medico - Call the police/an ambulance/a doctor.

If your Italian language skills are very basic and you feel you need to communicate with an English speaker, your first question would possibly be:

Mi scusi, parla inglese? - Excuse me, do you speak English?

To ask where  you can find either a pharmacy or a doctor, etc:

Dove posso trovare un medico/una farmacia/un agente di polizia? - Where can I find a doctor/a pharmacy/a police officer.

If you require the person to communicate with you in English, simply add, che parli inglese - who speaks English, to the end of your sentence.

So if we assume you’d like to find a doctor who speaks English, the complete sentence would be:

Dove posso trovare un medico che parli inglese?*

The Police: We hope you never have to call the police during your time in Italy, but if you need to here are a handful of helpful phrases to communicate your predicament effectively.

Sono stato derubato (m) / Sono stata derubata (f) - I’ve been robbed (please take note of the vowel endings of the sentence applicable to your gender.)

Dov’è la stazione di polizia? - Where is the police station?


Voglio denunciare un furto. - I want to report a theft.

Mi hanno scippato/a.- I was mugged.

I ladri sono entrati in casa mia. - Thieves have broken into my house.

C’è stato un furto nel mio appartamento. - There was a burglary in my apartment.

Enjoy your time in Italy and don’t worry about crime; figures show that the Italian crime rate involving tourists is low in comparison to many other countries.

*Next month there will be a more detailed feature to help you deal with speaking to a doctor.