After my vacation, a few people have asked me how I fared with English or presumed that I spoke some Italian. In actuality, the Italian I know are either limited to not very useful words like "allegro" or "poco-a-poco", or extremely simple ones like "scusi" and "parla inglese?".
It was very convenient to converse in English at all the major tourist sites and with hotel and restaurant staff. I rarely felt any difficulties getting around Italy. For the most part the pronunciation was easy to understand, with church and tourist information booth staff having the least obvious accent.
Many of those in the tourism industry spoke French and German as well. (I noticed quite a lot of German tourists in Italy.) For some reason, the French and German they spoke sounded very much like Italian in intonation, while their English was generally quite good.
What I found more useful than speaking or listening (the announcements on trains are fairly incoherent in any languages, make sure to look at the signs approaching a station) was reading. Most signs have Italian as the largest and most visible words. Restaurants away from the main tourist streets also may not have English on menus.
Studying up on some basic Italian before a trip is helpful but if you have a basic grasp on some other Romance languages, you can "learn on the fly". It was fairly simple to identify basic patterns in the language and memorize useful words like "biglietteria" (ticket office) selling "biglietti" (tickets).
I basically don't have too much to say on the subject other than it's fairly easy to get around the major tourist destinations with English. Obviously you'll need more Italian knowledge for locations off the well worn paths.
There are still a lot more posts about my trip to Italy. I took a slight break for a little whilte but I aim to restart my blogging efforts soon.