I do recommend that one of the first things you do before taking off to Italy is to buy yourself a travel guide book and also a phrase book. In the big cities many of the locals speak English particularly in the hospitality industry however it is always beneficial to at least know some of the everyday words. In the regional areas in most cases only the local language is spoken. I have experienced whenever I speak my “broken” Italian to the locals they are so delighted they are more likely to try harder to communicate. I have friends who have visited Italy and felt the trip would have been even better if they had at least some basic Italian.
An example. I enjoy my coffee hot, however in most cases in Italy it is served warm. So I know I must order “un cappuccino – molto caldo per favore”, = a cappuccino very hot please. Naturally when you do speak a few words of Italian they will invariably respond in Italian but it is fun and you will learn more of the language.