Larry, don't worry about your language skills. Just bone up on the most basic words, and smile and gesture for everything else! We just came back from Puglia, we do not speak Italian, and not many people there speak English. But it still no problem, everyone is so friendly and helpful.
I bring a Rick Steves phrase book, and use it when I am stuck, then I butcher their language. But I still give it a try, and I have fun doing it.
Start every conversation with a greeting and a smile.........and everything will go your way!
PS Stay out of Bari. It is the only town in Puglia that you do not want to be caught dead in. The petty crime is VERY bad. The old town during the day is fun, but " get outa Dodge" before the sun falls!
Any other town is wonderful. We stayed in a hotel on the water in Giovanazza.......loved the town, and found Puglia's best restaurant there, but wished we would have stayed up the road in Trani, a super neat little port town. Have a great time!