Score: 5/10

Pros:
a selection of funny (but few potentially relevant) Italian phrases for travelers; some amusing remarks about the cuisine, culture, and people of Italy; good for a laugh in Italian; ad hoc pronunciation given with every entry; very inexpensive

Cons:
limited selection of phrases compared to robust travel phrasebooks; nearly all phrases included are too over-the-top for daily use; more of a joke book than a resource that helps you learn Italian


In its organization and presentation, this thin, pocket-sized, 64-page book doesn’t stand out among other phrasebooks for foreign travelers to Italy. Its content is what sets Wicked Italian apart. The illustrations and spicy, parody-driven humor place it alongside books like Dirty Italian.

Eight sections cover humorous words and phrases allowing you to curse, romance, lie to policemen, complain about taxi drivers, even confess to an Italian priest. Most phrases are akin to “tuo padre è un pollo” (Tomb’s translation of “your father is as smart as a chicken”) or “Lui si è attaccato alla bottiglia dell’olio d’oliva” (“he started drinking the olive oil straight”). A relative few of the book’s phrases are practical to the extent that you’ll actually consider using them in a conversation.

Wicked Italian includes snippets about Italian culture, but these are equally light, sarcastic and fail to take their information seriously. This attitude is highlighted by cartoon drawings scattered throughout the book’s pages.

stands out as a fun little phrase booklet that gives readers a good chuckle, perhaps something to share with fellow Italian learners. Although it does use real Italian, and reference life events dear to real Italians, the book always focuses on the joke rather than any learning objectives. As such, you won’t be surprised to find it in the humor section of your local bookstore.