The Italian letter U has two pronunciations. The explanation and equivalents provided here are based on the closest sounds that exist in American English, which are sometimes not very close at all. Phonetic symbols are provided in [brackets].
1. The normal u sound is similar to English "oo" as in food and boot. Phonetic symbol: [u].
|the letter u|
2. When u is followed by a or o, it diphthongs with that vowel and is pronounced much like an English w. Phonetic symbol: [w].
Hard vs soft
U is a hard vowel.