Once when I was seeing and savoring Italy with a group of fellow taste travelers, someone asked me who my friend “Louie” was. They said I talked about him a lot. Not knowing the Italian language they didn’t realize that my friend “Louie” was actually spelled “Lui” and referred to the Italian personal pronoun for he or him. So when I would say “Lui mi piace” or “Mi piace Lui”, I wasn’t saying “I like Louie” as in a person by name but rather I was referring to someone of the male gender not necessarily named Louie.
Confusing? All the more reason for you to know a little Italian when seeing and savoring Italy. But knowing a little Italian can be a dangerous thing. Phrase book Italian is confining and is a little like speaking from a script. Learning vocabulary is good but limited. There is no “quick, easy, instant” way to learn the Italian language. A language has many dimensions and language without grammar and conjugation is a meaningless shell. Although an Italian phrase book is a good starting point for your first trip to Italy you will need to build on these rout sayings and idioms to carry on a conversation. Of course, many Italians do speak English but if you will be traveling to little known places in Italy, outside of the tourist “comfort zone” you will need to understand and speak some Italian. That way you can experience all that Italy has to offer.
However you decide to find your friend Lui; audio, video, textbook, flash cards or formal classes, begin and keep at it. Once when I was complaining to my Italian cousin, Ornella, about how difficult it was to study the Italian language she laughed and told me about the building of Milan’s Cathedral, the Duomo.It took 500 years to build. I sometimes feel that studying the Italian language is my Duomo but then again how else would I have found my friend Lui.