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30 Italian Tongue Twisters That’ll IMPROVE Your Pronunciation (For All Levels!)

From beginner to advanced, boost your Italian pronunciation and master challenging sound combinations with these Italian tongue twisters

by Michele
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Italian Tongue Twisters That Will Improve Your Pronunciation
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Have you ever tried to order un bicchiere di Chianti (a glass of Chianti wine) at a Tuscan trattoria, only to find yourself tongue-tied, stumbling over those tricky syllables? Don’t worry, tongue twisters are the magical remedy to improve your Italian pronunciation

In Italy, they are called scioglilingua, a fusion of sciogliere (to untie) and lingua (tongue), perfectly capturing their purpose: to help you speak more clearly. Loved by actors, singers and radio speakers alike, these playful linguistic puzzles, often nonsensical, sharpen your pronunciation by mixing rhymes, repeating similar sounds and using other clever tricks.

Below, you’ll find a list of great Italian tongue twisters, ranging from the easiest to the most challenging, perfect for flexing your linguistic muscles. So, get ready to laugh, stumble, and twist your way through three levels of linguistic fun! And hey, try using some memory hacks to help them stick in your mind.

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Table to Contents

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide. Click on any title to jump to each section.


10 Easy Italian tongue twisters for beginners

Italian Tongue Twisters - Nove navi nuove navigavano

If you’re a beginner of Italian, these tongue twisters are your perfect starting point. They’re short, fun, and designed to help you get comfortable with the unique sounds of the language.

1. Nove navi nuove navigavano 

Pronunciation: Noh-veh nah-vee nwoh-veh nah-vee-gah-vah-noh
Literal meaning: Nine new ships were sailing  

This tongue twister is all about mastering the “n” sound paired with different vowels. This consonant is pronounced as in standard English, so you won’t have much difficulty. The same goes for the diphthong “uo” in nuove (new) where the “u” is like a ‘w’ sound. 

2. Tre tigri contro tre tigri  

Pronunciation:Treh tee-gree kon-troh treh tee-gree
Literal meaning: Three tigers against three tigers 

The rapid-fire “t” and “r” sounds here will definitely put your pronunciation skills to the test. Interestingly, this Italian tongue twister is so famous that it even inspired the title of a 1997 movie. More “t” and “r” coming up with #21!

3. No, non ho un nonno

Pronunciation: No non oh oon non-noh
Literal meaning: No, I do not have a grandfather 

This phrase teases your tongue with single versus double consonants. Can you hear the difference between the soft “n” versus the stronger “nn”? Also, notice how the vowel before a double consonant is pronounced shorter, like in nonno (grandfather), compared to non (not), where the sound is much longer.

4. Ramarro marrone 

Pronunciation: Rah-mar-roh mar-roh-neh
Literal meaning: Brown lizard 

Rrrr…. roll those “r’s” like a pro! This tongue twister is perfect for mastering tongue vibrations in Italian. And remember, with double consonants, the sound is longer and more emphasized.

5. A quest’ora il questore in questura non c’è

Pronunciation: Ah kwes-toh-rah eel kweh-stoh-reh een kweh-stoo-rah non cheh
Literal meaning: At this time the police commissioner is not at the police station

The consonant combos “qu” and “st” here join forces to test your pronunciation skills! Pay attention to how “s” followed by a consonant is pronounced hard. Plus, notice how “qu” usually comes before a vowel, and the “u” tends to be softer, putting emphasis on the following vowel.

6. Vada come vada vado a Vada

Pronunciation: Vah-dah koh-meh vah-dah vah-doh ah Vah-dah
Literal meaning: Come what may, I’m going to Vada

This one is perfect for practicing the Italian “v” sound, which is made by pressing your upper teeth lightly against your bottom lip. By the way, Vada is a lovely Tuscan village near Livorno!

7. Sette sassi smussati 

Pronunciation: Set-teh sas-see smoos-sah-tee
Literal meaning: Seven rounded rocks

This tongue twister is perfect for honing your skills with the double consonants (remember, both are pronounced, so really emphasize them!) and the “s” sound. Notice how the “s” can be pronounced in two ways: hard when it’s at the beginning of a word and is followed by a vowel (as in sette – seven) or like a “z” when it’s between two vowels or is followed by a voiced consonant (as in smussati – rounded, where “m” is voiced).

8. Li vuoi quei kiwi? 

Pronunciation: Lee vwah-ee kwey kee-wee?
Literal meaning: Do you want those kiwis?

Here’s a twisty mix of “v” and “q” sounds to help you conquer the diphthongs “uo” and “ue.” Plus, you can familiarize yourself with the letter “w,” which is called “doppia vu” (double v) in Italian. While it’s not that common, you’ll spot it in certain words of foreign origin.

9. In un piatto poco cupo, poco pepe cape

Pronunciation: Een oon pee-ah-toh poh-koh koo-poh, poh-koh peh-peh kah-peh.
Literal meaning: In a dish not deep enough, not much pepper fits.

This fun tongue twister helps you nail the “p” sound and get comfortable with the double “tt” pronunciation. Psst, this phrase is not about a sad dish – it’s just a playful reminder that trying to explain things to someone who just doesn’t get it or isn’t switched on is pointless.

10. Sopra al terrazzo, c’è un cane pazzo 

Pronunciation: Soh-prah ahl teh-rah-tzoh, cheh oon kah-neh paht-soh
Literal meaning: On the balcony there’s a crazy dog

Here’s another chance to nail those double consonants, particularly the intriguing “zz” sound, which is pronounced sharp and snappy like “ts.”

Keep practising!
30 Italian Tongue Twisters Cheat-Sheet (Free PDF Download)

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide and improve your pronunciation with30 Italian tongue twisters from beginner to advanced.Impariamo insieme!(Let's learn together!)

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10 Intermediate Italian tongue twisters

Italian Tongue Twisters - Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa

Now that your lips have had a bit of practice, let’s step it up with some intermediate tongue twisters. These ones have more words and complex pronunciation, so get ready for the challenge!

11. Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa 

Pronunciation: Soh-prah lah pahn-kah lah kah-prah kahm-pah, soh-toh lah pahn-kah lah kah-prah kreh-pah
Literal meaning: Over the bench the goat lives, under the bench the goat dies 

This classic Italian tongue twister is all about the repetition of the “ca” and “pa” sounds, spiced up with a bit of rolling “r.” Don’t worry, even native speakers find it a bit challenging!

 

12. Caro conte chi ti canta tanto canta che t’incanta 

Pronunciation: Kah-roh kohn-teh kee tee kahn-tah tahn-toh kahn-tah keh tihn-kahn-tah
Literal meaning: Dear earl who sings for you is singing so much that is fooling you

This phrase challenges you with six words starting with “c,” paired with either “a” or “o.” Here, pronounce it as “k” (but remember – if “c” is followed by “i” or “e,” it’s pronounced as “ch”). Also, notice how the relative pronoun chi (who) has a sneaky “h” after the “c,” making it a “k” sound once again.

13. Forse Pietro potrà proteggerli 

Pronunciation: For-seh Pyeh-troh poh-trah proh-teh-jeh-rlee
Literal meaning: Maybe Pietro will be able to protect them

This one seems simple, but wait till you try it! The Italian “p” sound isn’t that tricky, but the real challenge here is repeating the same consonant followed by a vowel (like in potrà – will be able to) or another consonant (like in proteggerla – protect her). Even native Italians might stumble over this. Don’t believe me? Check out this hilarious scene from the movie Un’Estate al Mare with Gigi Proietti!

14. Tre stecchi secchi in tre strette tasche stanno 

Pronunciation: Treh steh-kee seh-kee een treh streh-tteh tas-keh stah-nnoh
Literal meaning: Three dry sticks are in three tiny pockets 

This tongue twister focuses on double consonants and the infamous “tr” cluster (rolling that “r” after the “t” is quite the challenge). The real trick here is navigating through all those similar-sounding words like stecchi (sticks) and secchi (dry) or tre (three) and strette (tiny).

15. Precipitevolissimevolmente 

Pronunciation: Preh-chee-pee-teh-voh-lees-see-meh-vol-mehn-teh
Literal meaning: Very precipitously

With a whopping 26 letters, this adverb is one of the longest words in Italian! Its 11 syllables pack in lots of repeated letters, especially those double consonants and that vibrant ‘r,’ giving it a sense of urgency and intensity to its pronunciation that matches its meaning perfectly.

16. Chi ama chiama chi ama, chiamami tu che chi ami chiami

Pronunciation: Kee ah-mah kee-ah-mah kee ah-mah, kee-ah-mah-mee too keh kee ah-mee kee-ah-mee
Literal meaning: Whoever loves calls who they love, you call me since you call who you love. I’ll call who I love if you don’t call

This tongue twister is all about love, but don’t let that fool you – it’s rather difficult! Almost every word is a tongue-twister in itself with those repeated clusters of “ch” an “ma.” Plus, it mixes up the words in different orders and forms (like chiama/chiamami – calls/call me or ama/ami – loves/love), making it even trickier.

17. Sopra quattro rossi sassi quattro grossi gatti rossi 

Pronunciation: Soh-prah kwah-ttroh roh-ssee sah-ssee kwah-ttroh groh-ssee gah-ttee roh-see
Literal meaning: Over four red rocks four big red cats 

This phrase might look innocent with its basic vocabulary, but it’s a real tongue-twister beast. The reason is the use of those sneaky double consonants (tt, ss) and the way it shuffles around the same words. Plus, it’s another opportunity to practice the rolling “r” sound.

18. Sette scettici sceicchi sciocchi con la sciatica a Shanghai

Pronunciation: Set-teh shet-tee-chee sheh-ee-key sheh-ok-kee kohn lah shee-ah-tee-kah ah Shan-ghai
Literal meaning: Seven skeptical silly sheikhs with sciatica in Shanghai

This tongue twister is a chance to nail down the Italian “s” sound, which is hard when it’s at the beginning of a noun and followed by a vowel as in sette (seven). However, when it’s followed by the vowel “e” or “i” in the cluster “sc,” it takes on a softer sound, as in scettici (skeptical).

19. Un pezzo di pizza che puzza nel pozzo del pazzo di pezza

Pronunciation: Uhn pehts-soh dee peet-sah keh poots-sah nel pot-soh del pah-tsoh dee pehts-sah
Literal meaning: A piece of pizza which stinks in the well of the madman of cloth 

This is another great Italian tongue twister if you need to practice the double “z“ sound. And the fact that almost all the words in this phrase start with “p” followed by a different vowel adds an extra layer of difficulty.

20. Figlia, sfoglia la foglia; sfoglia la foglia, figlia

Pronunciation: Fee-llah, sfoh-lee-ah lah foh-llah; sfoh-lee-ah lah foh-llah, feel-llah
Literal meaning: Daughter, peel off the leaf; peel off the leaf, daughter

This phrase is all about the “gli” sound, which can be quite tough for Italian learners. Think of it as similar to the “l” sound in English words like “million” or “Italian”. Plus, the fact that you’re repeating the same words but in reverse order makes it easier to stumble.

10 Difficult Italian tongue twisters for advanced learners

Italian Tongue Twisters - Trentatré trentini entrarono a Trento tutti e trentatré trotterellandoReady to tackle some seriously tough Italian tongue twisters? These ones are long, complex, and truly challenging to pronounce without stumbling – even for native speakers!

21. Trentatré trentini entrarono a Trento tutti e trentatré trotterellando

Pronunciation: Tren-tah-treh tren-tee-nee eh-ntrah-roh-noh ah Tren-toh, too-ttee eh tren-tah-treh troh-tteh-reh-llan-doh
Literal meaning: Thirty-three people from Trentino came into Trent, all thirty-three trotting and toddling. 

With loads of double consonants and that tricky “tr” sound popping up seven times in rapid succession, this super famous Italian tongue twister is a real challenge. Your mouth might feel like it’s been to the gym after a few attempts, but hey, there’s no better way to nail that Italian rolling “r”!

22. Apelle, figlio di Apollo, fece una palla di pelle di pollo. Tutti i pesci vennero a galla per vedere la palla di pelle di pollo fatta da Apelle, figlio di Apollo. 

Pronunciation: Ah-pehl-leh, fee-lyoh dee Ah-poh-lloh, feh-cheh oon-ah pahl-lah dee pehl-leh dee pohl-loh. Too-tee ee peh-shee vehn-nehr-roh ah gahl-lah pehr veh-deh-reh lah pahl-lah dee pehl-leh dee pohl-loh fah-tah dah Ah-pehl-leh, fee-lyoh dee Ah-poh-lloh.
Literal meaning: Apelles, son of Apollo, made a ball of chicken skin. All the fish came to the surface to see the ball of chicken skin made by Apelles, son of Apollo. 

This classic Italian tongue twister doubles as a catchy nursery rhyme, thanks to its musicality. It’s all about nailing those repeated “p” and “ll” sounds in different words. Plus, it’s a great way to practice the pronunciation of “gli” as in figlio (son).

23. Se l’arcivescovo di Costantinopoli si disarcivescoviscostantinopolizzasse, vi disarcivescoviscostantinopolizzereste voi come si è disarcivescoviscostantinopolizzato lui?

Pronunciation: Seh l’ar-chee-vehs-ko-vo dee Kos-tan-tee-no-po-lee see dee-zar-chee-veh-sco-vee-skoss-tan-tee-no-po-lee-tsahs-seh, vee dee-zar-chee-veh-sco-vee-skoss-tan-tee-no-po-lee-tseh-res-teh voy koh-meh see eh dee-zar-chee-veh-sco-vee-skoss-tan-tee-no-po-lee-tsah-toh loo-ee?
Literal meaning: If the Archbishop of Constantinople were to un-Archbishop himself, would you un-Archbishop yourselves to un-Archbishopize him?

Those three lengthy words with multiple syllables are responsible for placing this Italian tongue twister on the difficult end of the spectrum. The only way to conquer it is to take it slow and try to break those words into smaller chunks like “disarcivescovi” and “scostantinopolizzasse.” Practice saying them separately for some tackling the whole sentence.

24. Guglielmo coglie ghiaia dagli scogli scagliandola oltre gli scogli tra mille gorgogli. 

Pronunciation: Goo-lyel-mo ko-lyeh gya-ya da-lyee sko-lyee ska-lyan-do-la ol-tre gli sko-lyee tra mil-le gor-go-lyee
Literal meaning: Guglielmo grabs gravel from the rocks, hurling it over the rocks in a thousand gurgles.

The key here is to nail the “g” sound. When it’s followed by “a,” “o,” or “u,” like in “gorgogli” (gurgles), or when paired with an “h” and followed by “e” or “i,” like in ghiaia (gravel), you pronounce it hard. But when it’s part of the “gl” cluster followed by “i,” like in scogli (rocks), it softens up.

25. Se la serva non ti serve, a che serve che ti serva di una serva che non serve?

Pronunciation: Seh lah sair-vah non tee sair-veh, ah keh sair-veh keh tee sair-vah dee oon-ah sair-vah keh non sair-veh
Literal meaning: If the servant doesn’t serve you, what’s the use of a servant who doesn’t serve you?

This Italian tongue twister plays with similar-sounding words to nail the hard sound of “s” in the cluster “se.” Notice how serva (servant) and serve (to serve) sound alike but mean different things? It’s also a great way to brush up on Italian pronouns, as in ti serve/ti serva (serve you).

26. Sul tagliere l’aglio taglia, non tagliare la tovaglia. La tovaglia non è aglio, se la tagli fai uno sbaglio. 

Pronunciation: Sool tahl-yeh-reh lah-lyoh tah-lyah, non tah-lyah-reh lah toh-vah-lyah. Lah toh-vah-lyah non eh ah-lyoh, seh lah tah-lyee fah-ee oo-noh sbah-lyoh.
Literal meaning: On the cutting board, the garlic is cut. Don’t cut the tablecloth. The tablecloth is not the garlic. If you cut it, you make a mistake. 

Not only does this phrase challenge you with the “gli” sound which pops up 8 times (remember, it’s pronounced soft), but it also adds some handy kitchen vocabulary like tagliere (cutting board), aglio (garlic), and tovaglia (tablecloth). Perfect for expanding your culinary Italian repertoire!

27. Quanti rami di rovere roderebbe un roditore se un roditore potesse rodere rami di rovere? 

Pronunciation: Kwan-tee rah-mee dee roh-veh-reh roh-deh-reb-beh oon roh-dee-toh-reh seh oon roh-dee-toh-reh poht-teh-seh roh-deh-reh rah-mee dee roh-veh-reh?
Literally: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Here’s another tongue twister that’s all about mastering those Italian “r” sounds, along with the “i” and “e” vowels. Plus, it’s a good workout to refresh the conditional (roderebbe – would chuck) and conjunctive (potesse rodere – could check) verb tenses

28. Tu che attacchi i tacchi, attaccami i tacchi – Io attaccare i tacchi a te, che attacchi i tacchi? Attaccati te i tuoi tacchi, tu che attacchi i tacchi.

Pronunciation: Too keh ahk-ka-kee ee tahk-kee, ahk-kah-mee ee tahk-kee – Ee-oh ahk-kah-kah-reh ee tahk-kee ah teh, keh ahk-ka-kee ee tahk-kee? Ahk-kah-tah-tee teh ee twah-ee tahk-kee, too keh ahk-ka-kee ee tahk-kee.
Literal meaning: You who attach your heels, attach my heels – Should I attach your heels, you who attach your heels? You attach your heels, you who attach your heels.

This one is pretty famous in Lombardy, especially when pronounced in the local dialect. It focuses on the similar sound between the word tacchi (heels) and the verb attaccare (to attach) allowing you to practice on the “ch” sound and the pronunciation of double consonants.

29. Ti lascio l’ascia sull’uscio liscio, tu l’ascia liscia sull’uscio lascia

Pronunciation: Tee lah-shoh l’ah-shah sool-oo-shyoh lee-shoh, too lah-shah lee-shah sool-oo-shyoh lah-shah
Literal meaning: I leave you the axe on the smooth threshold, you leave the smooth axe on the threshold

This Italian tongue twister is tricky because it plays around with words that sound almost the same, since they all contain the “sc” cluster. Plus, notice the assonance (ie. similarities in sound) between “la” in lascio/lascia (leave) and l’ascia (the axe). Also, the second part of the phrase flips the word order, further adding to the challenge.

30. Incontrovertibilissimamente

Pronunciation: Een-con-tro-ver-tee-bee-lee-see-mah-men-teh
Literal meaning: Incontrovertibly

Here’s another lengthy adverb – 27 letters – that is a real tongue-twister champ. It beats #15 for size and complexity, since it puts together many different sounds, including  the “tr” and a double consonant. Better to break it down into two parts – “incontroverti” and “bilissimamente” – for easier practice before attempting to say it in full.

Keep practising!
30 Italian Tongue Twisters Cheat-Sheet (Free PDF Download)

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide and improve your pronunciation with30 Italian tongue twisters from beginner to advanced.Impariamo insieme!(Let's learn together!)

I promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
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6 Tips for practicing Italian tongue twisters

Now that you have a bunch of Italian tongue twisters to play around with, let’s make sure your practice sessions are super effective and fun. Here are some tips to help you out:

  1. Start slow, finish strong: start off by reading the tongue twisters slowly, trying to understand each different sound. As you grow more confident, gradually increase your speed. Remember, if you can’t say them slowly, you won’t manage them quickly either!
  2. Know the words: familiarize yourself with the vocabulary hidden within each tongue twister. This not only helps with memorization but also ensures smoother pronunciation. 
  3. Divide and conquer: break down each tongue twister into smaller chunks, so you can focus on perfecting the pronunciation of individual words before tackling the whole phrase.
  4. Use pen and paper: don’t just rely on reading them on a screen. Write them down in your notebook. Writing things out by hand helps reinforce memory and understanding, particularly with the more complex ones. 
  5. Keep at it: consistency is key in language learning. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice these tongue twisters and you’ll see that, with time, those initially daunting phrases will start to roll off your tongue effortlessly.
  6. Have fun: tongue twisters are meant to be both instructive and fun, so embrace the inevitable stumbles and the giggles that come with them!

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