Taking a large group to Italy
So in October I will be taking a large group of friends (10 including my husband and I) to Italy for 2 weeks.
I studied abroad in Florence about four years ago and my husband and I try to go to a new country every year so we know what to expect but only 1 of my friends has ever been to Europe. Most of them have never even been outside the US.
Three of them speak Spanish so I'm not so nervous about them however I am pretty nervous that I'm the only one in the group that speaks any Italian and we're going to smaller towns during the day where English probably won't be known. We'll be staying in Florence/Rome though.
Any advice? Especially when it comes to making reservations/ordering food? Also, to clarify, I'm asking them all to learn some pretty basic words.
I reserve apartments through AirBnB on the internet. Everything is in English. I believe all major hotels can be reserved on the internet in English.
I have never made dinner reservations.
Most restaurants have their menu posted outside. Many have the local language with English and German in smaller print below. If they don't have a language you know, use Google translate before you go in. If can't pronounce menu items, point.
Museums typically have both the local language and English on the little cards by the objects and in the brochures.
I have spent a week in many counties where I don't speak the language. Just smile a lot and you will have a good time. Yes it good to know the language and be part of the culture. We recently spent 4 weeks off the tourist track in Italy only speaking English twice. Once we met some Russians they only spoke Russian and English and they needed help buying things in a farmers market. The other time was in an Afghanistan market where they did not speak Italian.
Speaking the language is fun. But you can have just as much fun without speaking the language.
I never recommend them for someone who actually wants to learn the language, but you might look into different translator apps. I haven't used them myself, but my brother (who doesn't know anything but English) has used them in different countries to communicate with people who don't speak English. They've progressed a lot in the last few years. And maybe have them pick up a phrasebook just in case.
A traditional phrasebook is always handy. It is no good for learning the language, I agree (unless maybe for numbers, and very basic stuff), but pointing at a sentence still works well in shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, etc.
And very often phrasebooks provide useful information on local customs, standard timetables, national holidays, etc.
Make sure that they are all definitely going (insurance also in case they have to back out for unforeseen reasons at the last minute). There are plenty of organizations which deal with group travel, including the IYHA.