Differences between Italian sentences with the word "esempio"

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A few weeks ago, a student of Italian asked “Mi dai un esempio?”. While on one hand this is the right way to improve language skills, that’s not how you say it.

This is the result of a literal translation from English: “Can you give me an example?” and it is wrong.

When you don’t know something and are looking to learn how to use a word, grammar rule or anything else, you can ask: “Mi fai un esempio?”. And it would be better if you also added “per favore”.

  • "Non ho capito, puoi farmi qualche esempio, per favore?"

         (I don’understand, can you give me some examples, please?)


“Dare un esempio” in Italian means something different, and you can translate it into English as “set an example”. It refers to good behaviour.

  • Visto che sei più grande, dovresti dare l’esempio

         (Since you are the eldiest, you should set an example)


Also similar is “Essere d’esempio”.

  • Il maestro deve essere d’esempio per i suoi studenti

         (The teacher should set an example for his students)


From the perspective of morality, Italian people often say “Prendere esempio da qualcuno”, which means “To take a leaf out of someone’s book”.

  • Potresti prendere esempio da Lucia

         (You could take a page out of Lucia’s book)

How to ask about prices when shopping in Italy

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A show of hands from those who have never had a craving for shopping. If you are one of the few virtuous, you won't be interested in this article.

However, if you are not one of them, read the sentences below to learn how to ask about prices in Italian.

You can also listen to the recording and practice the pronunciation by yourself.


The most common way for asking about prices is "quanto costa?" / "quanto costano?". Often people mention what they are asking about. For example: "quanto costa questa maglietta?" ("how much is this t-shirt?") or "quanto costano questi pantaloni?" (how much are these trousers?)

How much is this?


How much are these?
 


If you want to sound more formal, you can say "che prezzo ha?" / "che prezzo hanno?" or, with no difference between singular and plural "può dirmi il prezzo?".

What is the price? (singular item)

 

What is the price? (plural items)

 

Can you tell me the price?


Lastly, if you are at the cash desk and you want to know how much is the bill, you can easily ask: "quant'è?"

How much is the bill?


Now you are ready for shopping in Italy. Buoni acquisti! ;)

Language, art and culture. Saloni Gandhi explains us the passion for Italian.

Saloni Gandhi

The first thing I thought when I first met Saloni was: she's so young! And I wondered how much experience she had as a language learner. I was a little skeptical but I was wrong. She is a very special young woman. Not only she speaks Italian very well but sha has also a lot to say. This is the reason why this interview is so long.  Enjoy it and if you want to know more about Saloni visit her blog.   

I know you are graduated in French and Italian language.  Why did you choose these languages?

It’s an interesting story! After my board examination, I didn’t know what to do. As I was great in academics, most people assumed that I would choose Science stream and become an engineer or doctor. Well, that’s the last thing you’d see me doing now!

I just thought of trying out a different career path and I chose Arts. So, during junior college, I had French as a second language apart from theoretical subjects like Economics, Psychology, etc. Unfortunately, I would just score passing marks in French in all semesters until I met this person who used to teach French in my area. I went to her and she taught me French for around 4-5 months. I didn’t realize how and when I started loving the language. In these 5 months, my score went from 40s to 90s. (No kidding!) That’s when I decided to pursue my graduation in French Studies.

When I went to the University of Mumbai for admissions, I had to opt for one more foreign language. I wanted to take Spanish because it has great career prospects but for some reason, I couldn’t. I was then suggested by a few seniors to take Italian and they told me that the University has a native professor and that I would enjoy learning it.

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They also told me that the second language shouldn’t matter much as the major subject was French. But honestly, the second language, Italian, made all the difference. I just loved the way it was taught by the Italian professor at University of Mumbai. He would always show us videos related to food, touristic places, gestures, etc. related to Italian culture. Eventually, I started enjoying Italian lectures more than the French. So yeah, I didn’t choose these languages, I think these languages chose me! Haha!

Reading the about page of your blog, one sentence caught my attention: “My studies were not only focused on the language reading, listening and communication skills; but also the countries’ history starting from Antiquity to Contemporary period and the various literary and art movements”. How important is it to learn the culture that goes with the language you're studying?

Is it possible to imagine the Italian language without Dante’s “La Commedia”, a chef d’oeuvre that summarizes all the ideologies and knowledge of Medieval period, expressed in a mixture of dialects and ‘high’ register language?

Although the Renaissance movement began in Italy, it influenced all the European countries.

The Northern Italy use “Lei” as a polite form in formal situations but the Southern Italy often use “Vous” for the same context, due to the French influence, although it’s a custom which is fading away.

So, you see... Culture, history, art, literature and language are inter-connected. They go hand in hand. Some language learners resist embracing the culture behind the language they’re learning and consequently, they have to put deliberate efforts to understand the language. And in the end, they would just rote learn the words and grammar.

Learning the culture along with the language is almost inescapable. For example, the culture shines through a language’s proverbs. In English, “touch wood” is said in order to avoid bad luck when you speak of your good fortune whereas the Italians say “Tocca ferro” (literally, touch iron).

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Also, there are a number of many dialects spoken in Italy like Tuscan, Venetian, Sicilian, Neapolitan, Calabrian, etc. as per the geographical zone. I was surprised to hear a Florentine pronounce Coca Cola as hoha hola, with the h-sound instead of “c”.

Thus, to appreciate the language, it is important to dive into the culture behind the language. It simply opens our mind to new ways of experiencing life. It makes us realize that the way see things is not the only way to perceive it.

What do you like best about Italian culture?

I have always been creatively inclined and embraced Italy’s art and architecture. It is one of the finest in the world. As I’ve studied and also had an opportunity to appreciate first-hand the artworks from various art movements, Baroque and Renaissance are my all-time favourites and I’ve been following the artworks of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Leonardo Da Vinci since my school days. In fact, before actually studying the Italian language and getting to know about Italy, I only knew these two artists. (and pizza!) I have read “Caravaggio Segreto” and “Leonardo Segreto”, written by Costantino D’Orazio. During my graduation, I had watched a movie based on real life events of Caravaggio directed by Angelo Longoni, which left me stunned. I used to follow a historical fantasy drama series too, directed by David Goyer that presented the early life of Leonardo da Vinci. It never ceases to amaze me!

You have been in Italy like a student. I know you have attended courses in two of the most important Italian Universities for Foreigners: Siena and Perugia. Tell us your experience.

Yes, they are the most prestigious universities in Italy. I was in Siena for almost a month in August 2013, when I had won a scholarship to pursue level B2 at the University for Foreigners of Siena. However, I spent around 4 months in Perugia while studying the level C2 at the University for Foreigners of Perugia. I feel privileged to be a part such significant universities where people from all around the world go to study Italian.

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At a very young age, it gave me the opportunity to not only understand the Italian lifestyle and culture but to acknowledge the culture of other countries and further, to express the cultural richness of the country where I come from. Apart from improving my communication skills when writing to and speaking to a person from a different country, I got an insider’s view of Italy. Studying a new language first-hand, connecting with people and hearing their stories have been a source of immense pleasure. It has contributed in expanding my horizons and making me see the world in a new way.

If I have to talk about the cities, Siena is more of a touristic city whereas Perugia is quite student-friendly. Both cities are unique in their own way. The most remarkable memories that I have are witnessing the Palio in Siena and attending the grand concert of Radio Subasio in Perugia.

What’s your favourite Italian word and why?

Arrangiarsi. To get by or manage! According to me, life’s not about running behind what we don’t have, it is about what we make of what we got! It’s very important to be resourceful first and work with what we already have in difficult situations.

During the last period I’ve realized that so many Indians love Italy. Just out of curiosity: can you explain why?

Italians and Indians are like two peas in the same pod. We have a lot in common when it comes to history, art, food, religion and family values.

Also, these two countries complement each other pretty well. Italian government has initiated programs to get Indian IT professionals to contribute to the Italian IT sector. I have noticed that many North Indians work in the retail and restaurant fields in Italy.

People are now beginning to integrate into each other’s lifestyle by appreciating their similarities and respecting the differences.

Is there anything you wish to add?

Thank you for this opportunity! I’m honoured and grateful to be interviewed by The Italian Midday. You’re doing a great job! I wish you all the best for your future endeavours and I hope to see you soon in Italy.

 

How to Learn Italian with Comics - Part 3

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Finding effective language learning materials is mandatory for any successful language learner. In the third and final part of this series I'm going to suggest Italian comics for advanced learners and specific comics for Italian language learners.


Advanced

Corto Maltese

Corto Maltese is a sea captain adventuring during the early 20th century. The comic is widely renowned as the most literary graphic novel ever written. The main character is “a ruffian with a heart of gold” and plots are intriguing because they are woven together with real historical facts and imagination.

The language is well refined but what increases the difficulty of the literacy level is the context. The reader needs to know some history and literature to capture the deep sense of the story. As in the case of Dylan Dog, Corto Maltese is included with two episodes (“Dii altri Romei e di altre Giuliette” and “La laguna dei bei sogni”) in the Edilingua series “Imparare l’Italiano con i fumetti”. You can buy a book with the original text and a lot of explanations and activities on Amazon or on the website of Edilingua. You can also download for free audio track and glossary on this website (Materiali per studenti – Imparare L’italiano con i fumetti – audio or glossari and then you can choose what comics book).

 

Zero Calcare

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It’s impossible not to mention Zero Calcare, as this is the most important Italian comic phenomenon of the last few years: from his successful blog to over 100.000 copies sold. These comics strips are a kind of biographical pieces where an angry young man analyses the contradictions of modern life.

To read Zero Calcare you need to be at a very advanced level both for grammatical structures (the dialogues are full of wordplay and cultural references) and ofthe knowledge of modern Italian society.


Specific for Italian Learning

This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just tried to offer you a range of publications that can help you in learning Italian. For this reason, I would suggest to read a series of books published by Almaedizioni:

L’Italiano con i fumetti

Here, you can find 5 comics stories (Roma 2050, Una storia Italiana, Il Mistero di Casanova, Rigoletto, Habemus Papam) with practice activities for different levels of linguistic competence. Each volume presents strips, exercises and solutions. In addition, on the website there is also an animated version with different episodes so that you can  practice your listening comprehension.

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These comics are not authentic stuff, but stories written for Italian language learners. So, in some respects they might lack authenticity, in others they represent a great opportunity  for guided reading.

In conclusion, I can only wish you a good reading! Enjoy the Italian comics you prefer.

How to Learn Italian with Comics - Part 2

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In the previous article (Part 1), I suggested that we can use Comics as a different kind of material to practice foreign language with more effectiveness. I also indicated what are the main benefits of using them in our language learning process and started a list of the most important Italian "fumetti".

In this part, I'm going to continue that list with comics we can use at an upper Italian reading level.

 

From Beginner to Intermediate

Lupo Alberto

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Lupo Alberto is a blue wolf madly in love with a hen named Martha. She lives in the Mckenzie farm and Lupo Alberto constantly tries to steal her, but his attempts are never successful. The comics  are always laughable and the main characters are very popular, especially among teenagers.

Lupo Alberto was started in 1974 but it has stood the test of time (more poetic)  thanks to its brilliant dialogues and funny plots. Its reading level (readability is technically a word, but it’s very awkward and rarely used) is a little more complicated than that of Topolino. Grammar structures are simple but it contains a lot of slang terms and phrases.

You can have an idea of what the comics  are like on Amazon, where you can find a complete digital edition of all the strips of Lupo Alberto since its first appearance. If you want, you can read for free an extract of all the comic books. Each digital volume costs just 1,49 euro. 

 

Simple e Madama

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This comic has gained a recent popularity. Born as posts on Facebook, Simple e Madama is the story of a couple of cartoonists and their everyday experiences. It would be a great choice if you want to have a view of Italian culture in a simple and straightforward language.

Actually, Simple and Madama are the typical example of an Italian modern couple. Lorenza Di Sepio tells us, with humour, about the nights off with friends, shopping, dieting and their love life. You can find her comics on Amazon or you can simply follow her on Facebook where she shares strips almost every day.


From Intermediate to Advanced

If you already have a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary, you can choose one of these comics that are suited for upper levels.

Diabolik

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Diabolik is a very successful series that has inspired a film, video game adaptions, and animated tv series. The main character is an expert and an unscrupulous thief, an anti-hero that steals from criminals. He is also a master of disguise and is aided by his partner Eva Kant.

This acclaimed comic series was created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962. It’s marked by suspense and action. Its dialogues are strong and articulated and there are a lot of captions explaining the scenes.

The cheap way to read Diabolik is on Google Play or ITunes where you can find comic books at 0.99 euro.

 

Dylan Dog, Martyn Mystère and Julia

One is the nightmare investigator, the other the detective of impossible and the last a young criminologist looking like Audrey Hepburn. If you like detective stories, you will get addicted to Dylan Dog, Martyn Mystère or Julia. The first investigates paranormal events in the suburbs of London, the second is an archaeologist and studies the most enigmatic events of human history, and the third is the story of a brilliant female professor at University, who helps local police to solve crimes.

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According to the genre, the language of these comics is rich in hypothesis, conditional structures and complicated sentences. You need a solid knowledge of advanced grammar structures to fully appreciate these stories. The publishing house Edilingua has created a series named “Imparare l’Italiano con i fumetti” that include a short version of the original text of the first two episodes of Dylan Dog (“L’alba dei morti viventi” and “Jack lo squartatore”) and of Julia (“Ucciderò” and “Una cara, carissima amica”) accompanied by explanations and activities. You can buy it here or on Amazon. In addition, you can download the audio track and a glossary that will help you with reading for free, after registration on this website (click on Materiali per studentiImparare l’Italiano con i fumettiaudio or glossari and then you can choose what comics book).


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How to learn Italian with Comics - Part 1

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Did you ever wonder how important “reading” is when learning a foreign language? Linguists are divided on this matter. Some experts believe that it’s more natural to learn a language by listening and speaking. While others underline the fact that reading fluency will result in speaking fluency. Whatever the truth may be, reading is an important part of the  language learning process. It can boost our vocabulary and help us to remember information.

However, novels, newspapers, and academic theses might give us examples of expressions that are highly unusual in ordinary conversations. For this reason, I would like to suggest a different kind of material to practice foreign language with more effectiveness: comics.

Three Benefits of Using Comics to Learn a Foreign Language

First of all, the most obvious advantage of reading comics in another language is that they offer a fun way to learn. They are an outstanding tool to engage the senses  and give you the chance to read less complex texts and find something interesting at your reading level.

Secondly, it is widely known that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The combination of text and images allows you to figure out the meaning of unknown words without having to use a dictionary.

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Comics also are a great source of informal common expressions. They are full of colloquial sentences, idioms and sayings, and their language is generally closer to that ofnative speakers. You could easily hear what you read in comics during a real Italian conversation. In addition, they provide great exposure to the culture of the language as they are filled with cultural and historical references.

A Rich Tradition of Comics

Comics have contributed many things to the cultural landscape of Italy. When thinking about Italian comics, don’t assume them to be only stories of superheros and heroines. Italian Comics have developed over time into tales of romance, crime, and works of satire. There’s plenty to choose from and it’s easy enough to find them. Where? If you live in Italy, they are available at all “edicole”, Italian news stand. Otherwise there are a lot of comic strips in the Itunes store or on Google Play. In addition, you can buy some of them on Amazon where both E-book  or hardcopy versions are available. Now that you know why it’s a good idea read comics and where you can find them, you are probably wondering what are the best Italian comics?


List of Italian Comics

Here you can find some of the most important Italian “fumetti”. I’ve listed them in order of difficulty.

Beginner

When you’re really a beginner, it’s good to start with comics for children.

Topolino, Paperino and Paperinik

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Topolino and Paperino are the Italian versions of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Even if they are inspired by American cartoons, they use the characters but write Italian stories, so they are original. In Italy, there is also a superhero version of Donald Duck, Paperinik, created in 1969 by Guido Martina who wove together Paperino and the popular character of another Italian comic series: Diabolik.

Topolino made its first appearance in 1932 and its long history interwines with the history of Italy. Nowadays it is enjoyed weekly by readers of all ages. It contains dialogues easy to understand with very simple grammar constructions and accessible vocabulary.

If you want to start with short comic strips of Topolino or Paperino, you can find them for free on the official website. At the following address http://www.topolino.it/archivio-storie/, there is an open database of approachable short stories. I’ve created for you a mini lesson inspired by one of these stories. Download it here.


Want to know more? Go to Part 2!

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Living the Spirit of Christmas All Over the Year in Naples

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Presepe

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From the feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Epiphany, in Italy every house, every place, and every church has its own Nativity scene. To be honest, when I was a child my first love was the Christmas tree, with its dazzling lights and ornaments, but what really makes the Christmas holidays unique is Presepe. Since I have grown I’ve come to appreciate this. Whether you are religious or not, Presepe makes you feel the deep sense of Christmas.

The word itself, presepe, comes from the Latin “praesepe” and means “manger”, this is in reference to Jesus’cradle. Presepe is a focus on the birth of Jesus. Not the lights and glitter of the holiday, but a theatrical construction that reminds us of what we are celebrating. The first Presepe was created by San Francis in 1223, but it became a must-have during the year 1400 in the kingdom of Naples. In each house of the aristocracy, it was displayed as a huge lavish scene with no expense spared.

The Nativity Street in Naples and Its History

The Presepe became a more popular tradition in time and it has wide spread from the North to the South. The home of Italian Presepe is undoubtedly Via San Gregorio Armeno in Naples, where it’s Christmas throughout the year. Here handicraftsmen work every day to create miniature figures, houses, and mechanical items, such as waterfalls, windmills, bakers, or cheesemakers at work.

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This street is one of the oldest in Naples, it has existed since the Classical era. During the Roman Empire, a temple to Ceres once stood here. Ceres was the goddess of agriculture and was frequently offered small terracotta figurines as a good omen for the harvest season. These figurines had been manufactured in the nearby workshop. In the 8th century, a church was built over the ruins of the temple by a group of nuns escaping from the Byzantine Empire. These nuns brought with them the relics of Saint Gregory the Armenian, because of this both the Church and the street took the name of the Saint. When the tradition of Presepe spread in Naples, artisans chose this street to showcase their creations, this wove together the pagan tradition of Ceres and the devotion to Saint Gregory.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Neapolitan Christmas Market?

Despite the fact that December is the best time to visit Christmas markets around the world, take my advice: consider visiting via San Gregorio Armeno at another time. The street of Nativity is a narrow and picturesque alley throughout the year but during the Days of Advent it is extremely congested. People are crammed together like sardines and it’s difficult to walk.

If you are planning to come in Naples to get all the materials you need to build your own Presepe or if you are simply curious, any other period of the year will offer you a more fulfilling experience. Far away from the busy or crowded days, you will have the opportunity to visit inside the craft workshops and to observe the Neapolitan artisans creating their miniature masterpieces. In addition, you will be free to walk slowly along the alley, appreciate, in your own time, all the fine details, and, of course, choose the best pieces for your Presepe.

Not Only a Christmas Market!

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Thanks to its rich history, this street has much to offer. As you can imagine, the Saint Gregory church and its cloister are worth visiting. The alley itself is dominated by the bell tower. It serves as a connection between the church and the monastery. In addition, just up the alley, inside the Church of San Lorenzo there is an interesting archeological site. A modern glass stairway leads to a part of the Greco-Roman Neapolis. A large archeological excavation that has brought to light the “macellum”, the ancient remains of the market. Just around the corner, in Via dei Tribunali, there is the entrance to the Napoli sotterranea (Naples underground) that gives you the opportunity to experience a fascinating journey forty meters below the street among the tuffaceous stone cavities excavated in the Greek era and exploited as cisterns for the water supply of the city for approximately 23 centuries. If you are also interested in food culture, you can’t miss having a traditional pizza. In Via dei Tribunali there are many of the most popular Pizzerie in Naples: Sorbillo, Decumani, Dal Presidente. Take your pick. Wherever you go, it will be the best pizza you have ever eaten. 

Discovering the Real You in Italy. Interview with the Life Coach Sophie Charlotte.

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Sophie Charlotte is the kind of person who can inspire you when you are at a standstill and you are ready to give up. Her life story is a motivating mix of courage, determination and spirit of adventure. Sophie did what everyone only dreams of doing: she left her comfort zone in Holland to do what she really wants. Moving to Italy has been an important step in this process. Aren't you curious to know the why? 

In your business, you help women to leave their comfort zone and finally fulfil their dream to live in Italy. According to your experience of life coach, what are they frightened of?

The insecurity that moving abroad entails. You leave all that you know, and are extremely bored with, behind and leap into a totally new world that yes, excites you but also scares the hell out of you because it’s all new. I help my clients find that balance within themselves to face this new adventure in a grounded way providing practical, but also mental support dealing with fear, anxiety, worries and feelings of overwhelm.

In 2010 you’ve overcome your own fear and moved to Italy. Is your Italian life what you expected?

Yes, I did, I’ve actually overcome anxiety disorder by following my dream of moving to Florence! And what did I expect? Well, I simply expected to feel good. That’s actually why I moved here; because Italy always made me feel good – and still does. So yes, my Italian life is what I expected, but it’s become so much more than I expected. I’ve discovered parts of myself I didn’t know I had, like being a true business woman and people connector in many senses. I’ve done many different jobs like teaching English, interpreting, writing and I’ve eventually set up my own business as a life coach, so cool!


Learning a new language is hard because it’s not just remembering words and grammar structures, but actually learning to read – and listen – in between the lines. When Italians say: “certo, ci sentiamo presto!” you’ll probably never hear from them again. Or when they start using formal structures all of a sudden you know you’ve pissed them off. You don’t know that when you’re thinking “what Lei (she) is she talking about?” when you don’t know that Lei is the formal version of you in Italian. And many other funny tiny little massively important things like those.
— Sophie Charlotte - How to Make Life in Florence Work

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When you write about your life and your coaching activity, you use a word that has piqued my curiosity: renaissance. You mean rebirth and you’ve decided to reinvent yourself in Florence, that is where Renaissance (intended as cultural movement) was born. Is there a connection between you and the city?

Absolutely! I feel more and more that I’m meant to be in Florence and help other creative, sensitive, maybe somewhat lost women move here and reinvent themselves as well. I help them flourish, just like I did by finally allowing myself to be who I really am. Florence is a certain matriarch that just embraces you and nurtures you into being who you truly are. It’s a very special feeling that many people who’ve moved here experience as well. 

And how has Florence inspired you?

It’s inspired me to be more feminine, to show my beauty, to be proud of who I am, to express myself, to be warm, loving, generous and kind. To take life as it comes and to surrender to the flow of abundance that is there, but we just need to open up to. It’s inspired me to be me, to be the extroverted introvert I really am and to connect people.

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Italy is a tiny and complex country. Each town, each region has its own soul. Have you stayed in some other Italian city? Which one caught your eye?

I actually lived in Piombino for three months while I was doing my graduation project, teaching English to Italian kids at a secondary school. It was a lovely small seaside town, but to be honest, I got a little bored at some point and I decided to go to Florence one day. That’s when I realised again why I loved Italy so much. Florence represents everything I love about Italy: beauty, good food, the language, the weather. I love the Florentine mentality as well. Other Italians say they’re closed, but I always reply: “well, how do you approach them?” I always just chat with everyone and know so many people here that it feels like a little village to me. Which is really is!

I know that you are passionate about learning language and that in the past you taught English as a second language. In what way have you approached to the Italian language? Have you studied it before to move in Italy?

Yes, love everything language-related and English and Italian are my favourite languages. I did two Italian courses in Holland and I did a two-week course in Florence. Then I studied here for five months while working as the secretary at that school as well. That was real total immersion for sure! Learning a language is all about taking the leap all the time. You need to dare to make mistakes because that’s how you communicate eventually. Be willing to make a fool of yourself and you’ll move forward! When I now teach English I use a lot of coaching in there as well. 50 % is language knowledge, 50% is having the guts to just speak it.

What’s your favourite Italian word and why?

Ni. What other language has a word that means both yes and no? It represents all the possibilities that there are in Italy; it’s never just black or white. This can be seen as negative, but I just decide to look at the positive side and see it as a flexibility trait that we stressed northerners could really learn to master more!

Is there anything you wish to add?

That I’m all about positivity and bringing women together so they can make friendships, share their stories and have a safe space to promote what they are passionate about. I do this in my group The YES Woman and during our meet ups in Florence. Please join the group is this resonates. Also, a first consultation with me is always free. So if you’re considering moving to Italy, but feel stuck in the what ifs, hows and would like some practical and mental support on taking your own leap, then please contact me here.

Thanks for this and good luck with your big, bold dream of setting up your own Italian language school! Impossible is nothing.

Only for Addicted to Italy. Interview With the Blogger Ishita Sood

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The first thing that people understand when they visit the website www.ishitasood.com, is that its founder is “a lover of all things Italian”. The blog name Italophilia is saying a lot about Ishita. As Italian I’m very curious to understand what made her fall in love with Italy. Let’s find out, shall we?

I know you’re not a simple tourist, but you split your time between India and Italy. How do you find out your love for Italy?

Ciao Emanuela! I am from India and stay and work in Delhi. My love affair with Italy started many years ago when I first traveled for the first time. I instantly felt a connection for the country, the culture and the people. After that, there has been no looking back. Traveling to Italy is my goal every year and somehow I make it possible.

Usually how long do you stay in Italy? Do you plan to travel to different cities every time or you always stay in the same town and from there you visit places along the Boot?

It is usually about 3 weeks, though my shortest trip has been for 5 days in 2016 for the Mantua Literature Festival. I volunteered for those 5 days and explored Austria and Hungary thereafter. I usually try to see at least 2 new cities in every trip. I don’t do rushed travels. They are usually in a good place where I can enjoy local life and savour good food.


When I am in Italy, I love to observe the locals and catch a few extra words for my Italian vocabulary. I try to talk to anyone I can especially the Barista at the bar. Italians usually are a friendly and curious bunch of people and will make you feel comfortable.
— Ishita Sood - Italy Travel: Things to Know

In 2015 you’ve decided to learn Italian. According to your experience, what methods will be more effective?

The Italian language is a whole other game for me because my own mother tongue, Hindi, is no way even close to it. But over the past few months I have realized that the most effective way to learn the language is by speaking more even if to yourself. Also, watching Italian movies and listening to music is very useful. I somehow don’t even realize I know the lyrics of the songs but listening to them repetitively has been the best way for me, apart from usual studies.

In your blog, there is a sentence that has brought a smile on my face: “Italy is a country full of wonderful people, they go out of the way to help you. I have so many instances small or big where I was helped by a complete stranger. It makes travel memorable and you want to keep returning to thatplace”. Can you tell us one of these anecdotes?

It indeed is and one such anecdote that stays with me forever is of my travel experience from Orvieto to Perugia. I was cornered by two strange men for my bag and belongings at the Orvieto train station. Somehow I missed it luckily and took refuge with an Italian couple sitting inside the station. My train was late by an hour and I was worried. But the Italian couple stayed with me throughout. They did not know English but they understood me somehow and they made sure I reached Perugia safely. They helped me with my train travel, made sure they sat next to me in the train, provided me with taxi numbers and even went out of the train to say goodbye and make sure I wasn’t scared. Had it not been for them, I would have possibly been in a mess. So much for meeting kind Italian strangers!

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You are an avid reader and in your blog you have listed some must-read Italian books. How useful do you think is literature to understand Italian culture?

Reading comes naturally to me. I have been a reader since I was very young, maybe 3 or 4 years. Hence, my reading choices in the past few years have been on Italian culture or books written by Italian authors. Literature greatly inspires culture and helps the reader understand society even better. There are some points about daily Italian life that even a person who has not visited Italy would know. For instance, a small example that an author can use is having a caffe from the moka pot in the morning. So Italian!


Festa dei Ceri involves the entire town and I think that is commendable because it gives a spirit of unity. Every man, woman and child; young or old, upholds the tradition and folklore behind this festival.
— Ishita Sood - The Medieval “Festa dei Ceri” in Gubbio

In your post The Medieval “Festa dei Ceri” in Gubbio, you’ve described this outstanding historical and religious event. What did impress you the most? From North to South, there are a lot of “feste” and traditions. In what way they are different from Indian festivals?

When I booked a trip to Perugia to visit the Festa dei Ceri in Gubbio, I had little or no idea about it except from the pictures I saw online. However, being there was almost as if I was back in time. It was surreal and a feeling I cannot explain. I found the festival very interesting and unusual too. But I should add that the festivals in Italy may be different from India in terms of deity but the aim of the celebration is the same - to uphold local customs and appreciate our culture. And how can I forget food!

Is there anything you wish to add?

I thank you for this opportunity to be online at The Italian Midday. Ci vediamo presto ;)

Eight Things You Should Know Before You Visit Calabria

 Street Art in Diamante (CS)

Street Art in Diamante (CS)

Are you planning to visit the toe of the boot? That sounds like a great plan! This region is one of Italy’s hidden treasures. There isn’t  a lot of information about Calabria available on the internet. In addition, the most popular guides only mention The Sila, Tropea, the Riace Bronzes in Reggio Calabria, and just a few other places. In spite of that, Calabria desire’s to be discovered. New York Times has noticed it and included Calabria among its selection of must-see locations. Don't be discouraged by very little information: great food, great beaches and wild nature await you.

Not Where But How

I’m planning to give you lots of travel tips in this blog, but today I don’t want to tell you where to go but “how”. I’ll share with you some interesting things about Calabrian culture and people that you should know before you come here.

 Marinella Beach in Palmi

Marinella Beach in Palmi

1. Calabria isn’t touristy, so don't expect all the usual tourist amenities. You'll live like a local!

2. Learn some basic Italian phrases. You’ll need them because in Calabria just a few people speak English. In small towns and between older people, Italian is also rarely spoken. Dialect is, often, the mother tongue. In spite of that people are very friendly and try to understand and help you in any way possible.

3. Do not worry if people stare at you. It’s very likely that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Calabrians are quite inquisitive. They tend to stare at things or at people, especially at strangers. It’s an odd aspect of the Calabrian culture and it’s more common with older people. So, if you make eye-contact with someone, and they continue to stare at you, just look away and act like nothing happened.

4. Greetings are important. It is a common expectation and practice of courtesy saying Buongiorno (Good morning) or Buonasera (Good evening) to others when you come in a shop, a café, an elevator, or anywhere. Similarly, it’s polite to say something like Arrivederci (Goodbye) when you are leaving. Read this post if you want to know more.

5. If people talk in a loud voice, don’t be frightened! They aren’t angry. This is a stereotype but it is quite true. Italians, especially people from Southern Italy, scream and gesture a lot. It is a way to emphasise emotions and to display the musicality of the language. Violent behaviour here is unusual though it may seem like the whole country is full of angry people, but don’t worry and have fun!

6. Public transportation isn't very good. You can use the train to move from town to town but the best way to discover Calabria is by car. There are a lot of places such as beaches, trekking paths, and historical villages that are reachable only by car. So, prepare your drivers licence and credit card. You’ll need them to rent a car.

 Different Types of Calabrian Salami.

Different Types of Calabrian Salami.

7. Calabrian cuisine uses many varieties of vegetables, especially eggplants and bell peppers. However if you are vegetarian, some people could look at you with surprise. This is because Calabrians love fish like stockfish and swordfish and are addicted to meat, especially the pork that is cooked and preserved in a lot of different ways: ‘nduia, soppressate, salsiccie, etc.

8. Make sure you have money to pay cash. You can use your debit or credit cards at the supermarket, but not for your shopping in the local street market. Calabria is full of little shops, botteghe, where you can find every kind of thing. Here you have to pay cash as in the bar or in the rosticcerie, typical italian takeaway where you can taste pizza, calzoni, arancini, etc.

Food in Italy outside the well-traveled regions.
Some of the best meals in Italy aren’t found in Rome or Tuscany, but from the southern region of Calabria. The toe of Italy’s boot is making a name for itself in food and wine circles, led by places like Ristorante Dattilo, Ristorante Ruris in Isola Capo Rizzuto and Antonio Abbruzzino in Catanzaro. Known for spicy dishes and much of the world’s supply of bergamot, Calabria is pivoting toward lighter fare, organic farming and wine made from local grapes.
— Danielle Pergament. New York Times

Having said that, there are different travel itineraries you can follow. The New York Times has underlined the quality of Calabrian food but if it’s an interesting place to visit you are looking for, you won’t be disappointed. The region of Calabria is an area rich in history, traditions and natural beauty. What are you waiting for?

The Days When Bertha Used To Spin

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During my childhood there was an expression that constantly piqued my curiosity: Sono lontani i tempi in cui Berta filava. Translated this means: “there was a long time from when Bertha used to spin”. I remember that I always wondered “who is Bertha?” and “why did she spin?”.

There are a lot of weird stories behind this saying. When asked about it, some people refer to medieval literature, while others prefer historical anecdotes. I want to tell you just one of the many folk tales about Bertha. According to it, Bertha was a poor widow with a great devotion to her king. One day she decided to spin thin yarn as a gift for him. The Monarch appreciated the gift and once he knew the miserable condition of the woman, decided to compensate her. The King lavished  Bertha with money and guaranteed her a comfortable future. It is said that, after this generous gesture of the Monarch, other people rushed to donate more or less valuable yarn but the King replied: “these are not the days when Bertha used to spin.”

In the Good Old Days

The time when Bertha spun is, therefore, lost time made by desire, dreams and luck. It is another way of saying “in the good old days”. Usually people say this when they want to refer to something good that has been before, but isn’t anymore. This expression is used with a point of irony and underlines a different status from the past. For example, “When I was younger I used to go to sea every day during the summer. I would spend  a lot of time snorkeling and fishing. These were the days when Bertha used to spin”.

 The singer Rino Gaetano 

The singer Rino Gaetano 

Rino Gaetano’s Song

E Berta filava is also the title of a beloved Italian song written by the singer Rino Gaetano. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s famous for his rough voice, his irony, and his tragic death at the age of thirty. His songs are still very popular even though he died in 1981. During each bonfire on the beach, Italian people sing many of his songs, such as Il cielo è sempre più blu, Mio fratello è figlio unico, or Aida etc.

Anyway, let’s get back to E Berta filava. The song shows us that the Italian verb filare can mean many different things. In each verse, there is a diverse connotation of it. Repetition becomes almost a riddle because while listening you try guessing what meaning the singer has in mind. The result is an enjoyable and satirical song.

Filare: One Verb, Many Different Meanings.

In the first verse, Berta filava e filava la lana, la lana e l'amianto del vestito del santo… The meaning is “to spin”. The translation is Bertha spun and spun wool, wool and asbestos of the saint’s dress…. She could be a character of a folk tale  (like in the origin story of this saying) but definitely she isn’t. Have you ever heard of a saint dressed in asbestos in a folk tale?

In the second verse, E Berta filava e filava con Mario, e filava con Gino. New verse, new meaning. “Filare con qualcuno” means “to flirt with someone”. Translation: Bertha flirted, flirted with Mario and flirted with Gino.

In the third verse, E Berta filava, filava dritto, e filava di lato. The meaning is “to go straight, to behave properly”. Translation: Bertha went straight, and went sideways or Bertha behaved properly and misbehaved. In Italian we can say “filare a dritto/ filare dritto” or also “rigare dritto”.

In another point of the song, Berta filava il bambino cullava cullava. Here’s another connotation: “to pay attention to”. Translation: Bertha paid great attention to the baby, cradled and cradled. It is often used in negative sentences: Gli ho chiesto di aiutarmi ma non mi ha filato proprio ("I asked him to help me, but he didn’t consider me").

There are also other meanings that are not subject of the song. For example:

Filare liscio: go right

Filare a cento all’ora: run a hundred miles an hour.

Fila via! Vattene!: get out of here!

Filarsela: to slope off.

The Hidden Gem of Pentedattilo in the Toe of the Boot

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Driving down the SS106, along the coast a little bit south of Reggio Calabria, in the Melito Porto Salvo area, you can see the unusal peak of Monte Calvario sticking out like a sore thumb. In English its name is Mount Calvary, this is in reference to the place where Jesus was crucified. The suggestive aspect of this place doesn’t end here.

Continuing in the direction of the torrent Annà and going up the hill, the road narrows to a single winding ribbon of asphalt and a spectacular vista reveals itself: an enigmatic village built into the fingers of a giant stone hand at the edge of the breathtaking panorama of the Strait of Messina.  The village looks towards Sicily, it seems as if it is supported on the palm of a hand erupting from the ground to protect it while presenting the village to the gaze of the world. The magical appearance of Pentedattilo is such that the Dutch artist Escher depicts it in a number of lithography when he journeyed in Calabria.

Five Stone Fingers

It is a picture-perfect postcard. Anyone with a good camera can take suggestive photos of this village that capture the poetic imagery. Its charm is already in the name: Pentedattilo, from the Greek penta daktilos, which means five fingers. You will enjoy the scenery, but once you set foot on one of the cobblestone alleyways and find yourself surrounded by empty houses nestled between sandstone rock and lush vegetation, you might overwhelmed by the sense of mystery that permeates this place. Pentedattilo is a tiny ghost town. Abandoned since the nineteenth century, yet it still retains its magic.

A Tiny Ghost Town with a Long History

But what is most striking is the quantity of prickly pears and unusual rocks that stick out everywhere and include some houses. While it is uninhabited today, Pentedattilo has a long history, in fact ithas Greek origins not only in its name. Founded in 640 BC, it had been a Calcidese colony, then a Fort controlling access to the upper part of Aspromonte. From 1660, it became part of a noble family estate. During the years, its property was transferred from a family to another as part of trades or legacies.

The Devil’s Hand

In the 18th century, a bloody story known as The Massacre of The Alberti caused great distress in the town. The massacre was the cruel end of the clash between two noble families. Brides and missed marriage are involved in a messy romance that was finally resolved with the use of violence. According to the legend, the five stone fingers are often named the Devil’s Hand because the rocks flow with blood.

Further misfortune befell the town, as with the earthquake of 1783 depopulation and desertion of the town continued until no one was leftNow only the Castle, the Church of SS. Peter and Paul and the Church of Candlemas remain to preserve records of its glory days. Moreover, who come here will fall in love with the incredible panorama. From the place in front of the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, you can see the valley with the riverbed, the Strait of Messina, and finally Sicily and Mount Etna.

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pentedattilo church.jpg

Rediscovering the Ghost Town

Nowadays Pentadattilo relives for tourists and filmmakers. In the town there is an International Short Film Festival that attracts here young and master directors (for more information visit www.pentedattilofilmfestival.net/en/). The narrow streets and the evocative places during the summer are the perfect location for concerts planned by the “Paleariza”, an itinerant music festival with events in many towns of the Greek Calabria (www.paleariza.it).  

How to Write an Email in Italian

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Writing an email is one of the first tasks to be carried out by every language learner. Italian language certifications, like CILS or PLIDA test the ability of the student to write an email or a short message. Beyond this situation, it’s easy to be in a position where you need to know how to write an email. Nowadays emails are commonly used to ask for information, apply for a job, make a reservation, etc.

Sounds difficult ? Not so much if you follow a few simple rules. The first thing you have to know is that an email is a text with a particular structure. If you organize your text into functional paragraphs and you use appropriate opening and closing formulas, you are already  half of the way there. Here are some useful expressions for each paragraph that you can use to write a wide range of emails.

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The Opening (Formula di Apertura)

This part of the email can change a lot depending on who your reader is. If you are writing to a friend or to someone you know, you can use Caro/Cara (Dear) or simply Ciao (Hi). If you don’t know your reader, for example when you are writing to a hotel or a school, you can use some adjectives before the name: Gentile direttore/ Gentile insegnante (Gentle director/ Gentle teacher) or Egregio direttore/ Egregio professore and Egregia professoressa. The last are very formal and when you use them you have to pay attention to the gender agreement, using correct feminineand masculine nouns. With the name of a business you must use Spettabile (Respectable). For example: Spettabile Scuola di Italiano.

Buongiorno and buonasera are increasingly used. These  are greetings and should be used only when speaking, but the trend is changing. Very often they are preferred to the other salutations when you can’t say “Ciao” because is too informal, but don’t want to exaggerate. They are a middle ground and an easy solution when we don’t know the name or the gender of the reader.

Introduction (Introduzione)

At this point you can:

1)    Introduce yourself: Sono Michael; Mi chiamo Allison Bay; Mi chiamo Robert Nash e sono un ingegnere elettronico.

2)    Thank the other person for their previous correspondence : Grazie per la tua email (Thanks for your email); Sono stata molto felice di ricevere la tua email (I’m very happy to receive your email); Non vedevo l’ora di leggere tue notizie (I couldn’t wait to hear from you); etc.

3)    Apologize: Scusa se non ho risposto prima ma sono stato molto impegnato/a (I’m sorry I didn’t answer before but I was very busy); È passato tanto tempo dall’ultima volta che ti ho scritto, ho avuto molto da fare ultimamente (It has been ages since I last wrote, I’ve been rushed off my feet recently); etc.

Main Body of the Text (Corpo dell’email)

This is the main part of your email. Here you can explain the reason you are writing: Scrivo perché vorrei qualche informazione sui vostri corsi di italiano (I’m writing to you because I want to know more about your Italian classes); Vorrei prenotare una camera (I would like to book a room); Scrivo per presentare la mia candidatura per il posto di…(I’m writing to apply for the position of); et

The Ending (Formula di Congedo)

Atthe end, you can use Fammi sapere (Let me know); Un abbraccio (A hug); A presto (Write soon). When you are writing a formal email you can choose among Distinti saluti or Cordiali saluti (Yours sincerely / Yours faithfully).

203 Travel Challenges in Italy. Interview with Travel Blogger Maria Angelova

Maria Angelova is one of the founders of 203challenges.com and its editor-in-chief. She calls herself "a traveling disaster roaming the world". I reckon she is a talented blogger and I love how accurate her descriptions are. She lived in Italy for a while and I asked her to tell us something about her italian experience.

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I really like the post “5 unique little towns in Italy for true explorers”. Everyone around the world knows Rome, Florence or Naples but there is much more to see along the “Boot”. How do you consider these hidden gems of Italy? Do you think they are so different from Italian big cities?


Italy has so much to see that you could easily get overwhelmed and give up before you even start.
— Maria Angelova, 5 Unique Little Towns In Italy for True Explorers

As someone who've lived in a small town in Italy for a while, I find them very different. In a little town, almost nobody speaks English but people are more prone to help you. There's no official tourist center but the locals will show you the best places and will tell you the amazing stories behind them. There aren't world-famous restaurants but your neighbor may invite you over for a dinner and teach you how to cook the perfect Tiramisu.

Let’s focus on the language. I know that you lived in Italy for 6 months. When you moved to Italy, did you speak a bit of Italian? Any trouble communicating with the locals? If you have studied Italian, what is the hardest part about learning it?

I could say only “Buongiorno” and “Grazie” the first time I set my foot in Italy but living in a small non-touristy town helped a lot in my mission to learn Italian. I simply had no choice. My university professors were kind and understanding, my landlord was friendly, and all the old ladies who were trying to explain something important to me were all part of the learning process. Well, living in Abruzzo was the reason why I started straight with a bit of a dialect but that's the best part about Italian language – all these different sounds and words – you travel around the country and discover new ways to say the same thing.

 Maria in Thiesi, Sardinia.

Maria in Thiesi, Sardinia.

Italy welcomes millions of tourists every year, but don’t expect Italians to speak English. Before you go, it’s well worth jotting down some useful phrases in Italian. Italians are genuinely flattered when a foreign visitor makes an effort to speak their language, and will open their hearts to you.
— Maria Angelova, 22 Honest Travel Tips for Italy


According to your website's spirit, what is the biggest challenge you have completed in Italy?

Italy is a country where you can fulfill your craziest ideas and you'll always be surprised by the result. My love affair with Italy started in 2009 and my biggest challenge (because it's lifelong) is to visit it every single year of my life. So far, I've done it for eight years in a row.

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Is there anything you wish to add?

I want to challenge everyone reading this to discover an amazing story during their next trip (a fascinating local legend, the life story of a butcher in a small town, or the story of your favorite painter, which can be turned in your next travel itinerary).


3 Characteristics that Make You the Perfect Language Learner

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It is a common thought that the best time to learn a foreign language is as a child. But how true is this statement? And how can we manage learning a foreign language as adults?

We can always learn

Exposure to a foreign language during the first ten years of life, without any doubt, leads to a very high rate of success. But this statement must be followed by a number of considerations. First of all, consideration should be given to what recent studies on neurolinguistics have highlighted: Age doesn’t matter when you want to learn a new language.

Even though the human brain changes over the years, it can always learn a new linguistic system. That being said, it is clear that some important differences remain, but younger people are not better at everything. Let's see the characteristics that make an adult the ideal learner:

1) Learning speed.

A very common mantra says that children learn faster than adults when it comes to learning a new language. Some research has led to an almost opposite outcome. Children reach higher levels of competence for longer periods of exposure to L2, but in the short term, they are overtaken by adults. What does this mean? It means that if an adult and a child start learning a foreign language, the adult will reach the basic level faster.

The reason is that an adult has a deeper cognitive complexity and a deeper linguistic awareness. It sounds absurd, but it’s true. On the other hand, when we talk about bilingual people, we consider people who are exposed to two linguistic systems from birth to maturity and, therefore, people who have experienced languages for 15 years or even more. And what happens in the case of a child who is exposed to a foreign language for a couple of years at most? Are we sure he will remember more than an adult who has studied a language for 2 years?

2) There is not just pronunciation

We all know (and it is impossible to deny) how a child can acquire the phonological apparatus of a language. All studies have shown that phonology is the most sensitive aspect with regard to the learner's age: there is a time limit after which it is difficult to acquire the native pronunciation of a second language. But we have to consider two aspects. The first is that it is more difficult but not impossible. The second is that it is not only about pronunciation. Failing to acquire native accent does not affect your ability to communicate in L2. I don’t know what you think, but I find it very funny listening to those who speak Italian with English or Spanish accent. And even if I don’t realize it, I'm sure that I speak English with a marked Italian accent. The fact is, who cares? It's part of my identity and I'm not ashamed of it. On the other hand, realizing my grammar mistakes is something that worries me. But here's the good news: according to the modern psycholinguistics, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary can be acquired at all ages and often even more successfully by adults.

3) Motivation.

 Opera

Opera

To get good results, you know, you have to be motivated. And in this regard, adults can only have an extra kick. Children have an advantage when L2 is learned in a natural context: they move to a new country and speak two languages, one at home and the other at school. They are driven by the desire to interact with their peer group. When they are not faced with a socialization need, they do not perceive the usefulness or the importance of knowing one or more foreign languages. Often, the learn other languages s a result of the parents’ choice or because they are provided by the school curriculum.
For an adult, the situation is different. An adult learns Italian for a specific reason he knows well and which will be the basis for all his progress. As far as I'm convinced that it's always a need and never just a pleasure, you do not study Italian just because it's a musical language, but because you are planning to move to Italy because of your Italian origin, or you are fascinated by the language and culture of your grandparents. It could also be that you are keen on cooking or you are interested in classical music and want to know more. Language is always a means. We would not learn a new language if ours allowed us to do everything we wanted.

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Advantages of learning a foreign language

The advice to start studying a language as a child is not because you can no longer learn but because there are some skills that, if acquired as a child, can be improved with less effort.
Having said that, it makes no sense to put the ideal native speaker as the point of arrival. Consider, for example, that almost nobody in Italy has a perfect pronunciation. Just communication professionals: radio or TV journalists and actors. All the others carry their regional accent. When you learn a foreign language as an adult, your identity is well respected and your language skills are enriched to interact, travel, create relationships, and know the world.
Each new L2 you experience (even at very low levels) improves the linguistic system as a whole, with positive implications also for your mother tongue. No effort is wasted, even if it does not lead to full ownership of the language that you chose to learn.

Language is something that requires daily practice. Obviously, the earlier you start, the best results you’ll get. But more than just the age when you started learning a language, it is important not to give up.

 

Italian Grammar: Gender of Nouns.

Gender of nouns is a basic aspect of italian grammar. When you use an italian noun you need to know if it is masculine or femenine so that you can make other words that go with it masculine or feminine too. It’s a huge difference from what happened in English and in other languages that don’t use grammatical gender.

How to recognize what gender a noun is?

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Regarding people and animals, grammatical gender is nearly always related to sex. It is much more difficult to define a rule regarding things: the choice between masculine or feminine seems to be totally arbitrary. The reason is historical. Italian nouns retain their gender from the Latin.

Generally, the letter a noun ends is a guide to its gender. Words ending in -o are nearly always masculine. Words ending in -a are nearly always femenine.

 

Masculine

cappuccino

cioccolata

 

Femenine

cioccolata

crostata

 

When a noun ends in -sione or -zione is femenine. For example, una occasione, una lezione. Almost all nouns ending in -tà and in are femenine.

Instead, words ending in a consonant are nearly always masculine: un film, un bar, uno sport. They are almost all nouns with a foreign origin.

Masculine

film

bar

sport

computer

 

Femenine

occasione

lezione

bontà

virtù

 

Nouns ending in –i are femenine (if they are singular): la crisi, la diagnosi.

Words ending in -e can be masculine or femenine. For example caffè is masculine, while notte is femenine.

In this case, you have to remember the gender. A good way to avoid confusion is to learn words with their article: il caffè, la notte. With masculine noun you use il ora un, with femenine noun you use la or una.

 

The Art of Coffee: 10 Ways to Drink Coffee in Italy

 Caffè (espresso)

In Italy, you can find a Cafè on almost every street corner. But pay attention: its italian name is “bar”. This is a place where Italians go every time they need an energizing break. Here you can find people have breakfast in the early morning or simply have a coffee all day long.  Italian coffee is quite different from the one you can find in the rest of the world, and so are Italian habits about it. For example, the single word “caffè” means only a kind of coffee: espresso! Served in a very hot little ceramic cup, il caffè is short and very strong.

NOT ONLY ESPRESSO

If you want something different you have to specify it. You can choose among: caffè macchiato, an espresso with a dash of foamed milk, or a cappuccino, an hot drink prepared with espresso, milk, milk foam and a dusting of cocoa powder. It’s very similar to macchiato but bigger. Italians drinks cappuccino only for breakfast and in the early morning, never after lunch!

 Macchiato

Macchiato

Furthermore, if you prefer a drink less strong than espresso you can have un decaffeinato, an espresso without caffeine, or un ginseng, a very popular coffee that is sweeter and with less caffeine than a common espresso. You can also have un caffè corretto, espresso with a shot of sambuca or brandy.

 Caffè nocciolato

Caffè nocciolato

If you are in Naples, I recommend you try caffè nocciolato, espresso with a teaspoon of handmade hazelnut cream. During the summer, you have other alternatives to face the hot weather. For example, la crema di caffè, similar to a coffee ice-cream, or caffè freddo, cold sweet espresso, or una granità al caffè, a coffee snow cone usually served with handmade milk cream and a brioche. Remember: Sicily is the best place where you can taste granita!

COFFEE AROMA and fresh-baked smell

 Cornetto

Cornetto

For breakfast, usually Italians have cappuccino e cornetto. Un cornetto is a croissant with chocolate, marmelade or cream inside. Bars also sell other puff pastries as trecce, saccottini or girelle. You can choose the one you prefer. As an alternative you can look for a cake or a tart or a brioche. In Naples you can eat graffa, a donut without frosting but only dusted with sugar. Italian breakfast is totally sweet. You can also have a juice but you never find eggs or bacon served in a bar for breakfast. A lot of hotel serve a kind of “colazione continentale” with all these things but it is something you can find only in hotel.

 

 

Suspended Coffe, Empathetic Coffee.

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Do you know what “un caffè sospeso” is? The idea was born in Naples. It is thus basically a way to anonymously offer a coffee to someone who cannot afford to pay for their own. When you go inside a cafè, you can pay a coffe for you and a suspended coffee for a needy stranger. Thanks to social networks, a lot of cafès around the world have signed up to the goodwill initiative. 

In this video, Denise Lawson explains why she wanted to introduce this custom in her library in UK.

 The interview is in Italian but you can download the transcript here.

There is Always Time for Greetings

Fast-paced is an adjective that doesn’t fit the Southern Italian way of life. We have many engagements everyday but, time management is a bit different from the rest of Europe and even from Northern Italy. How? A slow life is a cliché for many reasons, but first of all, no matter if you are in a hurry, you have to say Hallo!

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SAYING HALLO

Italian people always greet each other: both strangers that friends. In the first case, you can simply say "Buongiorno" or "Buonasera", make a smile or a gesture. And Italians, you know, teach the world how to talk with hands. In the second case, it's getting a bit more complicated depending on where happened the encounter: if you meet someone in a public place or during a walk, it is expected shaking hands or kissing cheeks. Typically, this is a wonderful occasion for having a little chat. If you are in a cafè, probably you will have a cup of coffee offered but there are also bad habits due to the importance of greetings. In Southern Italy, you can see people, completely heedless of the traffic, stop their car to say Hallo. The reason is that greetings aren’t only formality but they are an easy way to establish and reinforce social relationships. They show other people that you are truly interested in how their life is going and that you want to share your time and your life. In Southern Italy nobody is an island. Greetings don’t waste your time but do it better.

THE MOST COMMON GREETINGS AND HOW TO USE THEM

You can choose from a variety of Italian greetings.The most famous is Ciao. Nowadays this word is friendly and informal but its origins are quite different: it descends from the venetian word “schiao” that means “slave”. It was a formal greeting with the meaning of “at your disposal”, “I’m your slave”. Today this word means something less ceremonious. Usually we say “ciao” to relatives and friends both when we arrive and when we leave.

Salve, buongiorno e buonasera are more formal. We only use them with strangers or acquaintances to start a conversation. You can also hear people say buongiorno to friends and relatives especially in the early morning: in this case it means "A good awakening" or "Have a good day" and loses its formal characteristic.To say goodbye, we use arrivederci.

Without formal or informal connotations is buonanotte. People say it before going to sleep. Another way to say goodnight is sogni d’oro, that means "Have sweet dreams".

Do you know what are the most common Italian greetings? Click here if you want to learn or repeat them.