People who interact regularly with tourists—such as hotel, restaurant, museum, and transportation personnel—generally speak some English. However, often even highly educated Italians speak only Italian. Many are slightly offended if a foreigner assumes they speak English without first asking politely "Parla lei inglese?" If you do ask, most Venetians, even those with no English, will try to be helpful. Venetians tend to be very tolerant of foreigners who try to speak their language and do wonders in understanding fractured Italian.
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