Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How’s the Weather? Fare (Part 3)

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 14th in a series that originated in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “How is the weather?”

This will lead into:
“What was the weather like?”

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Fare (Part 3):

What is the Weather Doing ?

(English: How is the Weather?)

As noted in the first two blogs on the topic of the verb fare…

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb fare, which is most often translated as “to do” or “to make.” This short, simple verb comes up often in conversation.

In fact, the Italian verb fare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

If you need a review on how to conjugate the verb fare,  visit our first blog on this topic: Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 1): What I am doing.

********************

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let’s learn how to describe what the weather is “doing” in Italian!

For a general assessment of the weather, Italians use the ever popular verb fare in the third person singular, which you will remember is fa.  In English, the verb to be is used to directly refer to “it,” meaning “the weather,” and how “it” actually “is” outside Instead, Italians speak of what weather “it” is making with the verb fa.

Below are some examples of how this works.  Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weather – il tempo.

Che tempo fa?                  What/How is the weather? (lit. What weather does it make?)

 

Fa fresco. It is cool. (lit. It makes cool.)
Fa freddo. It is cold. (lit. It makes cold.)
     
Fa bel tempo. It is nice weather. (lit. It makes nice weather.)
Fa bello.

Fa bellissimo.

It is nice/very nice out. (lit. It makes nice/very nice weather.)
     
Fa brutto tempo. It is bad weather. (lit. It makes bad weather.)
Fa brutto. It is bad outside. (lit. It makes bad weather.)

 

 

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Of course, we may want to know how the weather was during a certain event or at a certain time.  Maybe you’ve returned from Italy and want to describe how the weather was while in a certain town during your visit.

To talk about the weather in the past tense, we must return to our two well known past tense forms – the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.

The imperfetto third person singular form of fare, which is  faceva, is the most commonly used form with our general expressions.

Of course, if we want to refer to a specific time frame, the passato prossimo third person singular form of fare, which is  ha fatto, should be used.

Below are typical questions about the weather, this time in the past tense: 

Che tempo faceva? What was the weather? (lit. What weather did it make?)
Come era il tempo? How was the weather?  

 

 And our answers, depending on the situation…

Faceva caldo. It was hot. (lit. It made heat.)
Ha fatto caldo tutto il giorno.  It was hot all day.  
     
Faceva fresco. It was cool. (lit. It made cool.)
Ha fatto fresco ieri. It was cool yesterday.  
     
Faceva freddo. It was cold. (lit. It made cold.)
Ha fatto freddo quest’inverno. It was cold all winter.  

 

Faceva bel tempo. It was nice weather. (lit. It made nice weather.)
Faceva bello. It was nice outside. (lit. It made nice weather.)
     
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather. (lit. It made bad weather.)
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad outside. (lit. It made bad weather.)

If you can learn to use the verb fare in these expressions that describe the weather,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

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Learn Italian Cognates— The last of our Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As we’ve discussed  about Italian -English cognates before… anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

Italian-English cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -oso(a), -ia, -ica

 

Many adjectives that describe personality traits are cognates that end in oso or -osa in Italian, which corresponds to the English -ous.

ambizioso(a) = ambitious
corragioso(a) = courageous
curioso(a) = curious
generoso(a) = generous
nervoso(a) = nervous
spiritoso(a) = funny, witty, facetious

 

 

The ending ia in Italian is equivalent to the ending y in English.

archeologia

=

archeology
biologia = biology
famiglia = family
filosofia = philosophy
fisiologia = physiology
geologia = geology
psicologia = psychiatry
radiologia = radiology

 

 

The ending –ica in Italian is equivalent to the endings –ic or –ics in English.

musica = music
politica = politics
repubblica = republic

                                    

If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Your Italian Travel Tips… Liguria – Small Towns of Italy: Along the Gulf of Poets

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Once again, here is a blog with unique travel tips that I would like to share.

About once a month, I have been re-blogging a post about lesser-known sites or places to visit in Italy under the title “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

The post for June was written by Orna O’Reilly,  a former interior designer from Ireland, who also worked for many years in South Africa and Mozambique. Now living in Puglia in the south of Italy, Orna is writing full time and her award winning blog covers all things Italian. Her first book, on home renovation, was written specifically with women in mind and is available on Amazon.com and on Lulu.com. It is called ‘Renovate & Redecorate without Breaking a Nail.’  Orna regularly writes for popular Italy Magazine and for glossy Irish magazine Anthology.

Orna comments about why she wrote this blog:

“I have always been a great fan of the Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century. At school, the nuns encouraged us to learn quite a lot of their poems off by heart and I can still remember large chunks of wonderful odes and sonnets. But the poem I loved most was ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley and I developed a great curiosity about his life and his early death by drowning off the coast of Liguria.”

“The Gulf of La Spezia, named after the main town on this deep bay in the Ligurian Sea, became widely known as the Gulf of Poets due to the incredible number of poets and artists who settled there over the centuries… And the Gulf of La Spezia is particularly beautiful, with a golden light all of its own. A special place.”

 

In the blog to follow, Orna tells us about many of the special towns along the Ligurian coast of Italy, along with their importance to many well-known poets through the centuries. Read on and I’m sure you will enjoy the unique insights and beautiful photos that she shares about this special part of the Italian coastline.

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

The storm that hit the Gulf of La Spezia on 8th July, 1822 was sudden and fateful. Percy Bysshe Shelley, en route from Livorno in his boat, Aerial, to his home in the village of San Terenzo, was tragically drowned.

I have always been a great fan of the Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century. At school, the nuns encouraged us to learn quite a lot of their poems off by heart and I can still remember large chunks of wonderful odes and sonnets. But the poem I loved most was ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley and I developed a great curiosity about his life and his early death by drowning off the coast of Liguria.

The Gulf of La Spezia, named after the main town on this deep bay in the Ligurian Sea, became widely known as the Gulf of Poets due to…

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Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 2): Let’s go shopping!

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 13th in a series that originated in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “Going shopping…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experience:
Going shopping for…. what we need

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

Fare…

Going Shopping in Italian

As noted in the first blog on the topic of the verb fare…

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb fare, which is most often translated as “to do” or “to make.” This short, simple verb comes up often in conversation.

In fact, the Italian verb fare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

If you need a review on how to conjugate the verb fare,  visit our first blog on this topic: Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 1): What I am doing.

********************

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let’s learn how to describe the act of “shopping” in Italian!

While Americans use the simple phrase “go shopping,” for any shopping that they do, Italians often “go to do the shopping,” bringing into use the verb fare, with the expression “andare a fare la spesa.”  This interesting expression, fare la spesa, refers only to grocery shopping.  A phrase denoting the location of the shopping, such as “al supermercato,”   which means, “at the supermarket” can be used to complete the sentence.  In most cases, the place to obtain groceries is known by both speakers, and so the actual place is omitted.

If one is going to shop for non – grocery items, there are several phrases that can be used.  “Fare spese” is similar to the phrase we have just learned for grocery shopping, but instead means “to go shopping for clothes, shoes, or other personal items,” usually in the piazza or shopping district in town known to the speakers.

Two phrases can be used for shopping in general, for any purchase: “fare compere” and “fare acquisti.”  A very popular phrase in Italy today that can be used for any type of shopping is simply “fare shopping”!

Otherwise, to shop for a specific item, use “andare a comprare…” for, “I go/ I am going to buy…” and mention what you are going to buy; for instance, complete this phrase with the word vestiti for clothes.

Below are tables that summarize the above discussion.

 

Grocery Shopping

fare la spesa to do the grocery shopping

to do some grocery shopping

 

General Shopping

fare spese to do the shopping
(clothes, shoes, or other personal items)
fare compere to do the shopping
(any purchase = la compera)
fare acquisti to do the shopping
(any purchase = l’acquisto)
fare shopping to do the shopping

 

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Below are some examples of what I would say to convey that I am going” shopping” in Italian. 

Notice that the English translations are all basically the same, although in Italian it is possible to convey what type of shopping is being done by the phrase chosen.

Also, it is important to remember that the present tense in Italian can always “stand in” or be translated as, three different English present tense expressions.  So, in this case, all of our shopping expressions can be translated as: I shop, I do shop, I am shopping.

Faccio la spesa. (I) do the (grocery) shopping.
Vado a fare la spesa. (I) go/ am going to do the (grocery) shopping.
   
Faccio spese. (I) do the shopping.
Vado a fare spese. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.
Faccio compere. (I) do the shopping.
Vado a fare compere. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.
Faccio acquisti. (I) go shopping.
Vado a fare acquisti. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.
Faccio shopping. (I) do the shopping.
Vado a fare shopping. (I) go/ am going to do the shopping.

 

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And finally, if you happen to be shopping for some wonderful Italian clothes in a small Italian shop, here are some useful expressions from our Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases book:

Mi può mostrare… Could you show me… (polite)
Mi fa vedere… Could you show me… (polite)
Posso? May I?
Che taglia porta? What size do you wear? (polite)
Porto la taglia…/Porto la… I take the size…/I take the…
Qual’è la taglia italiana per la taglia dieci americana? What is the Italian size for (the) size 10 American?
Mi provo…/Ti provi… I try on (myself)
You try on (yourself)… (familiar)
Mi metto…/Ti metti… I put on (myself)
You put on (yourself)… (familiar)
Mi metto… I am trying on (myself)
I am going to try on (myself)…
Mi sta bene. (It) looks good on me. (lit. stays well)
Ti sta bene. (It) looks good on you. (lit. stays well)
Mi va bene. (It) fits me well.
La/Lo prendo! I’ll take it! (fem./masc. direct object  for the thing you are buying)

 

 

If you can learn to use the verb fare and these shopping expressions,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!


Stay tuned for even more blog posts on this topic!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Learn Italian Cognates—More of Our Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to-read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

******************************

Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -zione, -za, -izziare, -ia

 

The ending –zione in Italian is equivalent to the ending –tion in English. All nouns with this ending are feminine and take the definite article la, which means the. Make the plural as usual, by changing the –e at the end of the noun to an –i and use the definite article le, as in “le lezioni.”

applicazione = application*
attenzione = attention
informazione = information
lezione = lesson
nazione = nation
prenotazione = reservation
situazione = situation

*Note: In order to describe the process of filling out a form to apply for a position, do not use applicazione, which does mean application, but is a “false friend” if used in this way!  Instead, use the phrase “fare una domanda.”  A work application would be “la domanda di lavoro.”      

 

 

 

The ending –za in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ce in English.

eleganza = elegance
importanza = importance
influenza = influence
violenza = violence

 

 

The ending –izzare in Italian is equivalent to the endings –ize or –yze in English.

analizzare = analyze
organizzare = organize
simpatizzare = sympathize

 

 

If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Fare (Part 1): What I Am Doing

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 12th in a series that originated in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “What I am doing…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experiences:
“I do…”, “I make…”, and “I take…”

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

Fare…

What I Am Doing in Italian

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb fare, which is most often translated as “to do” or “to make.” This short, simple verb comes up often in conversation.

In fact, the Italian verb fare has so many uses in Italian, many of which do not translate directly into English, that we must really learn to think in Italian to master the use of this verb. But, once mastered, speaking with these phrases will truly help one to sound like a native!

Because this verb is so important, we will give the full conjugation below. As always, remember that the most important forms will be the first three, singular forms io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, and the noi form for the plural. The stressed syllable has been underlined.

Fare – to do/to make 

io faccio I do/make
tu fai you (familiar) do/make
Lei/lei/lui fa you (polite) she/he does/makes
     
noi facciamo we do/make
voi fate you all do/make
loro fanno they do/make

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Read below for many (but certainly not all) of the phrases that use fare.* These phrases have been put into groups to aid in understanding the different situations in which fare should be used.

First, some common expressions that use fare with the meaning of to do are listed below. Notice the use of the conjunction “da” to signal intention in these phrases.

Ho molto da fare. I am busy. (I have many (things) to do.)
Ho altro da fare. I have other (things) to do.
Non ho niente da fare. I have nothing to do.
Non so cosa fare. I don’t know what (thing) to do.
Facciamo così.  Let’s do (it) like this!
Fai come vuoi. Do it the way you want.
Fallo! Do it! (command)
Che cosa posso fare per Lei?     What can I do for you?
(polite) (salesperson asks customer)
C’è poco da fare. There’s not much one can do about it.
Faccio tutto il possibile. I (will) do everything possible.

******

Below are some expressions where fare is directly translated into English with its alternative meaning of to make. Sometimes, though, when English would not use the verb to make or to do, Italians still use fare. See especially the last two very important expressions for daily life that use fare with English translations that show the differences in thinking between the two languages.

Faccio una telefonata. I make a telephone call.
Posso fare una telefonata? May I make a telephone call?
Mi può fare una telefonata? Could you make a telephone call for me?
Lei fa una bella figura. She makes a good impression. 
Lui fa una brutta figura. He makes a bad impression.
Faccio la dieta. I am on (making) a diet.
Facciamo sport. We are (making) playing sports.
Fallo/falla entrare! Show him/her in! Let him/her in! (command)
(Lit. Make him/her come in!)
Fare qualche domanda. To ask (make) some questions.

Do you remember these phrases from our blog: Everyday Italian Phrases… What I Asked? We revisit these important phrases now that we are discussing fare! 

“Posso fare qualche domanda?” meaning, “May I ask some questions?” 

Or “Gli ho fatto qualche domanda,” meaning, “I asked him some questions.”

(Notice how qualche is always followed by a singular noun.)

******

Many other expressions related to going and doing something use fare, with the translation of to take, as follows. In English, we would sometimes use “I am going to take” in the same sentences. Both meanings are expressed with the same Italian phrase.

You can precede these expressions with “vado a” for “I go to,” if you like, before adding the infinitive form of fare.

Vado a fare un giro in macchina. I go to take a drive in the car.
Faccio un giro in macchina. I take (am going to take) a drive.
Faccio una passeggiata. I take a walk.
Faccio due passi.  I take a short stroll. (lit. I take two steps.)
Faccio un salto da Maria. I drop by (lit. take a hop over to) Maria’s.
Faccio un viaggio. I take a trip.
Faccio la doccia/il bagno. I take a shower/bath.
Facccio il pisolino. I take a nap.
Vorrei fare una pausa. I would like to take a break.

The last group of phrases are helpful for tourists if they want help taking a picture of their favorite location or making a telephone call.

Faccio una foto.* I take a picture.
Posso fare una foto? May I take a picture?
Mi può fare una foto? Could you take a picture of/for me?

*From the Italian la fotografia.

If you can learn to use the verb fare in these expressions,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

*Much of this material has been reprinted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers books.
Stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Learn Italian Cognates—Even More Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how many Italian words are very similar to English. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages. There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

******************************

Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -ista, -ologo(a), -ore, -essa/ice, -ario

Chapter 9 of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Grammar contains examples of the many different types of jobs available today.

Many of the words that describe the professions in Italian and English are cognates—they have a common origin, share a common stem, and have equivalent endings. The Italian ending will be invariable for some professions, as it is in English, but for others, it will change to reflect the gender of the professional

The ending –ista in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ist in English. The –ista ending is invariable, but the definite article (il, la, or l’) will change to reflect the gender. For more than one professional, change the –a ending to the plural –i for men and –e for women and use the plural definite articles (i, gli, or le), of course!

l’artista = artist    
il farmacista = pharmacist = la farmacista
il pianista = pianist = la pianista
il socialista = socialist = la socialista
il turista = tourist = la turista

 

The masculine ending –ologo and the feminine ending –ologa in Italian are also equivalent to the ending –ist in English.

il biologo = biologist = la biologa
il geologo = geologist = la geologa
il psicologo = psychologist = la psicologa
il radiologo = radiologist = la radiologa

 

The ending –ore in Italian is equivalent to the ending –or in English. You will notice that these nouns refer to masculine professions. The corresponding profession in the feminine is either –essa or –ice. 

l’attore = actor = l’attrice
il conduttore = driver/chauffeur = la conduttrice
il dottore = doctor = la dottoressa
il professore = professor = la professoressa

 

The endings –aria and –ario in Italian are equivalent to the ending –ary in English.

il segretario = secretary = la segretaria
il salario = salary    
il vocabolario = vocabulary    

 

If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Father’s Day: St. Joseph’s Day Is La Festa del Papà

Festa del San Giuseppe St. Joseph's Table
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

March is the month for showing thanks to fathers in Italy. “La Festa del Papà” takes place on March 19, the day dedicated to San Giuseppe, or St. Joseph, father of Jesus Christ in the Christian religion.

Many Catholic churches in Italy and America, as well as Italian-American societies, host special ceremonies and parades to give thanks to St. Joseph. In my community in and around Chicago, this is a much-loved holiday that seems to bridge the generations between young and old. I’ve had the honor of celebrating St. Joseph’s Day many times, sometimes with two or three different Italian clubs each year!

The traditional St. Joseph’s Day celebration is completed with an afternoon feast, which is centered on a “St. Joseph’s Table”*—a large, three-tiered table with a statue of St. Joseph in the center surrounded by platter upon platter of special foods. Because it is the Catholic season of Lent, the traditional dishes for the St. Joseph’s Table do not contain meat. But that does not stop the Italians from creating a wonderful feast of pasta, fish, and special pastries to celebrate St. Joseph and all fathers of Italy.

Below is a bit of history about the day that I have found during my research on the topic. And, of course, because much of the focus of this holiday is on the special foods to be made for the feast, a Sicilian recipe for Sfinge—fried dough balls—is found at the end of the blog post.

*Featured image of a St. Joseph’s Table courtesy of azenofmyown.blogspot.com.

      **********************

La Festa di San Giuseppe

Il 19 di Marzo

St. Joseph is honored with a special day by many countries of the world that practice Christianity. In Italy, it is said that the people from Sicily hold St. Joseph in special regard because they believe that their prayers to St. Joseph ended a drought that had caused a severe famine during the Middle Ages.

Legend has it that the drought in Sicily one year was so severe that the only vegetable left growing in the fields was the fava bean. The Sicilian people prayed to St. Joseph and promised they would honor him with a great feast every year if he ended the drought. They survived on fava beans until their prayers were answered and the rains came. From that time on, as promised, Sicilians all over the island have dedicated a feast in honor of Saint Joseph. The tradition has continued to today, and the St. Joseph’s Table, as it is now called, has grown into a feast rich in delicious and symbolic foods.

The St. Joseph’s Table should have three tiers, representing the holy trinity of Catholicism. In the center is a statue of St. Joseph. Fava beans are always included—in a bowl by themselves or as part of a dish. An ancient peasant food thought to have been introduced to Sicily by the Romans called “Maccu” (a soup of dried, crushed fava beans, fennel, and olive oil) was included in the past, as “Maccu di San Giuseppe,” but it is rarely seen today in Italy. Today, many Italian Americans have fava beans blessed at church and carry them for good luck for the rest of the year.

Breadcrumbs are also a popular component of the St. Joseph Day feast, and they are said to represent sawdust. This serves as a reminder that St. Joseph is the patron saint of workers and supported his family by working as a carpenter. Breadcrumbs can be found in many Sicilian dishes, and for St. Joseph’s Day, they are popular in stuffed artichokes or in pasta con sarde.

Treats from the bakery abound on the St. Joseph’s Day table, because St. Joseph is also the patron saint of pastry chefs. Every region has its own special “San Giuseppe” breads and desserts. Breads are made into the shape of a staff or a cross. Fried pastries are very popular. “Sfinci” is a small, fried dough ball (fritter) sprinkled with sugar. Larger puff pastry balls called “zeppole” are piped with custard or cannoli cream and are often topped with a maraschino cherry.

The table is also decorated with many types of citrus fruits. And red is the color to wear for good luck at your Festa di San Giuseppe! When you greet people at the festa, say, “May St. Joseph always smile upon you.”

After the celebration, as part of the tradition, the table is broken down, and all food that is left is wrapped and distributed to various charities, so those less fortunate may also partake.


Traditional Sfinge di Ricotta from Sicily

 

St. Joseph's Day Sfinge
Sfinge, Italian fritters, sprinkled with sugar.

Below is an excerpt from the site Visit Sicily about the wonderful Sicilian treat, Sfinge di Ricotta, which is traditional for La Festa di San Giuseppe. They are simple to make—a puffy, fried dough ball, or fritter, sprinkled with sugar—and delicious!

The recipe of “Sfinci” is one of the oldest, typical Sicilian recipes.  Sicilian people, as all southerner people, go crazy for frying and during Carnival they prepare  thousands of yummy  recipes. These  Sicilian  cookies are small pieces of fried dough enriched with nuggets of raisins or ricotta cheese and then  fried in hot oil.

There are several variants, some of these also add boiled potatoes in the dough. This is the most classic version with a simple mixture of water, sugar, flour and ricotta cheese. Try them, they are delicious, you will not stop eating! 

Ingredienti*: 

  • 500 g (whole milk ricotta cheese [about 15–16 oz.])
  • 200/250 g flour (2–2.5 cups)
  • 2 spoons of sugar (teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions

Place all ingredients together in a bowl (eggs and ricotta in a well in the center of the dry ingredients) and mix them with a mixer or by hand until you get a dough with a solid and firm consistency. (Start with 2 cups of flour, and add the rest as needed).

Let stand for about 20 minutes.

Then take the dough with the tip of a spoon and push it with your finger in a saucepan filled with boiling oil. (A small, deep pot works well for this step. Use only small bits of dough and try to form a small ball as you roll it off the spoon. Test the oil by putting one piece of dough in and watch it cook. Moderate the oil so it does not get too hot, so the center of the dough will have time to cook.) Let them cook until they have a goldish aspect.

(The pieces of dough will form a puffed ball (fritter) as they cook. When one side is finished cooking, the ball will flip by itself to the other side. When the other side has finished cooking, the ball will flip again. Let the fritter cook a few more seconds after the second flip and then remove it with a slotted spoon.)

(Drain fritters on a paper towel and while still hot roll gently in sugar. Then remove them to a serving bowl and sprinkle with more sugar if desired.)

Sprinkle them with sugar and serve.

*Volumes are approximate and additional directions in parenthesis are added to the original recipe by the author.

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What’s Happening?

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 11th in a series that originates from our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases. Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

A “commonly asked question” that will help us talk more easily is
 “What’s happening?”
We will discuss the Italian expressions used to ask this question,
which will lead to some answers such as:
“Everything is fine.” and “I understand.” 

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method, and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

What’s Happening?

in Italian

The English verb “to happen” is rendered in Italian with several different verbs: succedere, accadere, and capitare. However, the verb used to convey the idea that something is about to happen, especially to somebody, is succedere. Watch any Italian movie, and you will probably hear this verb at least once when one character asks another character to explain what is going on.

Therefore, for the simple question, “What is happening?” we have our verb of choice—succedere. The conjugation is regular in the present tense, so the third-person singular form that we will need for “it” to happen is succede.

The passato prossimo (past tense) can be used as well, for a one-time event that has just happened in the past. The helping verb will be essere, and the past participle is the irregular successo. So to ask what has happened in the past, we will need to use è successo.

Now,  to complete the question we want to ask, we must also learn the different ways to say “what” in Italian.

Che is commonly used as an interrogative expression meaning “What?” Again, anyone who has watched an Italian movie has no doubt heard all of the different variations on how to say “What?” in Italian. “Che?” “Che cosa?” and “Cosa?” all mean “What?” and are used interchangeably.

In fact, three of the most commonly spoken phrases where che is used in this way are the ones we are working on! Here they are:

Che succede? What’s happening?
Che è successo? What happened?
Che c’è? / Cosa c’è? What’s up? What’s going on?
(informal between friends)

 

Many times, when Italians ask a question, they start the sentence with the verb and leave out che, as in these common phrases:

È successo qualcosa? Did something happen?
È tutto a posto? Is everything all right?

 

********************

 

Whenever someone asks a question in Italian, of course, they will expect to hear an answer! Let’s say you have asked, “What’s happened?” and it turns out everything is OK. You may receive one of the general answers below:

Non preoccuparti! Don’t worry (yourself)!
Non succede niente. Nothing is happening.
Non è successo niente. Nothing happened.
Non lo so. I don’t know.
Niente importante. Nothing important.
È tutto a posto.

Va tutto bene.

Everything is all right.

Everything is going well.
Everything is fine.

Ho sistemato tutto. I’ve put everything in order. (as in “I’ve fixed the problem.”)

 

********************

 

Or, maybe you already know the information someone is talking about.  A relative or a friend, perhaps, has done something that is no surprise to you.  In this case, we can use expressions that include “che c’è” to convey a bit of irony.

Che c’è di nuovo? What else is new?
E che c’è di nuovo? And what else is new?
E allora, che c’è di nuovo? And now, what else is new?

 

 

********************

 

To continue the conversation even further, the verb capire, which means “to understand” is also very helpful. Once someone has conveyed to you what has happened, you will want to let them know that you understand the situation!

Capire is an -ire verb of the -isco type, meaning that the io,tu, lei/lui, and loro forms add -isc before the usual -ire ending. For more on the verb capire and other important -ire verbs with -isco endings, please see Chapter 7 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and Just the Verbs book.

Below are some easy answers you can give to relay the idea that you have understood what is going on. At the end of the list, there are additional questions you can use to ask someone else if they have understood something. Remember that, as usual, we will leave out the “io” (I) and “tu” (you familiar) subject pronouns for these verbs because these verbs are easily understood solely by their endings.

Capisco. I understand.
Ho capito. I understood. / I have understood.
Capisci? Do you understand?
Hai capito? Did you understand? Have you understood?

 

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

 

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Verbs

 

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Festa della Donna and International Women’s Day

Festa Della Donna
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

While researching “La Festa della Donna,” which takes place on International Women’s Day every March 8, I came across a bit of history about the origins of this special day for women. Although the holiday in Italy today is a lovely early springtime celebration, made complete with bright yellow mimosa flowers and a light, airy yellow cake, the origins are a bit more serious. I thought I would share what I have learned about the origins of the day in this blog.

Read on after the short history of International Women’s Day for a brief description of how Festa della Donna is celebrated in Italy today and how to make a mimosa cake for the special women in your family.

                        **********************

Since the turn of the century in the 1900s, a history had already developed of commemorating “the woman” with “women’s days.” On these days, women held special gatherings and marches, usually in an attempt to bring women’s and children’s rights to the forefront.

An excerpt from an article titled “International Women’s Day History” from the University of Chicago describes how these early “days of the woman” turned into a celebration of women around the world, now called “International Women’s Day”:

In 1975… the United Nations (UN) began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. Only two years later, in December 1977 the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a “United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Click on the link that leads to a summary about International Women’s Day History from the University of Chicago if you would like a more detailed description.

 


 

La Festa della Donna

Il 8 di Marzo

In Italy, mimosa flowers are in bloom in central Italy on March 8 and were chosen as the symbol of this holiday by the Italian Women’s Association. Mothers, wives, sisters, and teachers can expect to receive small bouquets of these flowers from the men in their lives. Also, in most Italian cities, the Italian government grants free entrance for women to museums, and galleries may even host special exhibitions about women in history or dedicated to female artists. In the evenings, many restaurants offer special discounts for women, many who dress in yellow for the occasion and go out to celebrate with their families or significant other.

Finally, no celebration is complete in Italy without a special food to enjoy, and in this case, there is a special “mimosa cake”—a light, airy yellow sponge cake with a topping made to look like the small blooms of the mimosa flower. Most of the cakes I have seen are round, but I found a beautiful sheet cake version on YouTube that I’d like to share. It is from the Fatto in casa da Benedetta blog, and Benedetta has a book of recipes that has been available since last year (click on the link if you are interested in the book).

The cake is a bit complicated, and descriptions are in Italian, but the video gives clear directions. The end result is delicious and looks beautiful! I hope you enjoy!

From the cook:

Questa torta è dedicata a tutte le Donne
che ogni giorno rendono il mondo un posto migliore.

TORTA MIMOSA Ricetta Speciale Dedicata alle Donne – Italian Mimosa Cake Recipe

Special Mimosa Cake by Benedetta
Beautiful mimosa cake by Benedetta for La Festa della Donna in Italy. From her blog: Fatto in Casa da Benedetta, February 25, 2017

How to talk about relationships and love… in Italian!

Italian Terms of Endearment
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Valentines Day will be here again soon, and so will the need to say, “I love you,” in Italian! For the last couple of years, I’ve focused on finding important phrases  about dating and relationships in Italian when I read Italian novels or watch Italian movies, since these are phrases that are not usually listed in textbooks. Once I find these phrases, I run them by my Italian friends and instructors to see if and how they are really used.  After all, language is a “living thing,” and I’ve always been fascinated by how people use their language.

I’ve managed to piece together the following information how Italians talk about relationships, which is reprinted from my blog where I post what I have been learning for advanced students of Italian.  Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.

For these advanced blogs, I typically provide a dialogue or story that uses the theme phrases, and then an explanation of the grammar needed to understand what I have written.  Feel free to click on the link to the blog above to read a dialogue about a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship and learn a bit about the subjunctive mood if you like!

Finally, I will leave a few phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and the Just the Important Phrases travel pocket book on  Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.comAmazon.com to help with your Valentine’s celebration!

 

**************************************

Talking About Italian Relationships and Love

 

Today in America, we “date,” “go out on a date,” or refer to two people who are “dating,” from the first romantic encounter until they become married. After they are married, they can still have “date nights.” But be careful when translating American romantic experiences into Italian! The English verb “to date” as used in America today to refer to a romantic relationship does not have a literal translation in Italian.

Of course, to “court” a woman was common in past centuries, and the Italian language still reflects this. When a man tries to show he is interested in a woman, the phrase “fare la corte a…” is used from the verb corteggiare or “to court.”

If a woman wants to refer to dating a man, the following phrases can be used:

“Mi vedo un ragazzo.” “I’m seeing a boy.”
 “Esco con un ragazzo.” “I’m going out with a boy.”
“Il ragazzo con cui ho/avevo appuntamento.” “The boy with whom I have/had an appointment.”

There is another verb still in use in Italy today that refers to a man seducing, or “winning over,” a woman: “conquistare a… ” If a woman lets herself be “won over” or “captivated” by a man, she can use the phrase, “Mi lascio conquestare a…”

The usual Italian phrases used to refer to two people who have become romantically involved and are getting together regularly before marriage are “to go out with someone”“uscire con qualcuno”—or “seeing each other”“frequentarsi.”

Finally, to express a close romantic relationship in Italian, we can use the word “rapporto.” Any relationship in general is considered a “relazione.” But be careful, as an “affair” outside of marriage is also a “relazione,” whereas “affari” refers to more general personal and business “affairs.”

*********************

“Ti voglio bene” is an idiomatic expression in Italian, which translates roughly as, “I wish you well,” or better, “I care for you.”  It originates from the verb volersi, which takes on a different meaning than the verb volere.  The meaning of this verb is not easily translated into English, but is used often in Italy for many different situations.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old expression that is still used for platonic forms of caring and loving among family members and close friends in Italy today. The expression can be used between a boyfriend and a girlfriend and is also used between a husband and a wife. Watch some older Italian movies, and you will hear this expression often!

Mi voui bene? Do you care for/about me?
Ti voglio bene. I care for/about you.

 

The verb amare, which means “to love,” is reserved for romantic love—that one true love held between fiancée and fiancé, wife and husband.

Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo. I love you.
Ti amo per sempre. I will always love you.

 

Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I realized…

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

It’s already been one year since I started posting blogs for the series,“Italian Phrases We Use Every Day!” I hope this series has been helpful to those of you trying to learn Italian, and I plan to continue with new Italian phrases for these blogs for 2018.  So… I guess I have to change my introductory line to…

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 10th  in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Another of our “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily is
 “I realize..”

This will lead into:
“I realized,” “I notice” and “I noticed”

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

Some of this material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books  Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

What I Realized…

in Italian

It seems that almost every day I discover something that I did not know about before.  Often, this leads to a “realization” –  about myself or others, or about how I must change my old way of thinking.  One of the most important aspects about being human is that we are able “to realize” – to discover and learn – and then discuss our realizations with others.  

To realize is rendered in Italian with the reflexive verb phrase  rendersi conto.  In order to say, “I realize,” we must conjugate the verb rendersi, which has a regular -ere conjugation in the present tense, and then add the word conto to finish the phrase.  So, “I realize…” is  “Io mi rendo conto…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Mi rendo conto…”  

To complete the sentence, just add what you realize in the phrase that follows! The following phrase will most commonly be in the present or past tense, but of course, there are times when we may need to use the conditional or future tenses, depending on our realization.

Link what you realize about yourself with the Italian conjugation “di” before adding an infinitive verb.  Note: you don’t always have to use “di” in this case if you are talking about yourself.  But if you do chose to use “di,” the verb in the next phrase must be in the infinitive form.

—-or—-

Link what you realize about yourself, someone or something else with the Italian conjugation “che” before adding a verb conjugated in the appropriate tense. Remember, if the subject is different in the original phrase and the phrase that follows, you MUST use “che” to link the two phrases.

In English, both “di” and “che” are translated as “that.”

Below are example sentences to show how this all works.  These example sentences are true for me.  To think of more examples, and try to describe what you realize about yourself!

Mi rendo conto di avere un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that I have an hour to make dinner.

Mi rendo conto che ho un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that I have an hour to prepare dinner.

Mi rendo conto che hai un’ora per preparare la cena.
I realize that you have an hour to prepare dinner.

Mi rendo conto che desidero sempre imparare di più sulla lingua italiana.
I realize that I will always want to learn more about the Italian language.

********************

Now, let’s say that we recognize something without really understanding what it is about, or what is going on – that is, we notice something.  In this case, we can use the reflexive verb accorgersi.  This verb also has a regular -ere conjugation and will be followed by either di or che,  for the same reasons as we have just described above.  To say, “I notice that,” then, use the phrase, “Mi accorgo di/che…” 

Again, an example from my life, taking from a time when I was when talking a good friend of mine about a certain movie.  Try to think of some examples from your own life!

Mi accorgo che ti piace molto questo film.  Vuoi andare a vederlo con me?
I notice that you really like this film. Do you want to go to see it with me?

********************

How to say, “I realize,” or “I notice,” seems simple enough!  But wait… we most commonly use the past tense to talk about something that we have realized or have noticed.  This, of course, involves conjugating our two verbs in the past tense! 

We will use the passato prossimo forms of these verbs for the one time events of realizing or noticing something, which you will remember is formed for reflexive verbs with essere + the past participle. (If you need a general refresher on how to form the passato prossimo, please refer to our book Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs ).

The past participle for rendersi is the irregular verb reso, and the ending will need to change to reflect the speaker when using the passato prossimo.

The past participle for accorgersi is the irregular verb accorto, and the ending will need to change to reflect the speaker when using the passato prossimo.

So, when I want to talk about what I have realized, I can say, “Mi sono resa conto di/che…” Similarly, a male would say, “Mi sono reso conto di/che…”

And, when I want to mention what I have noticed, I can say, “Mi sono accorta di/che…” Similarly, a male would say, “Mi sono accorto di/che…”

To complete the sentence, just add what you have realized in the phrase that follows!  The following phrase will most commonly be in the present or past tense, but of course, there are times when we may need to use the conditional or future tenses, depending on our realization.

Below is a table to summarize these phrases of realizing and noticing. I’ve made the verbs in the phrase green to differentiate them from the other words in the phrase.  Most Italians use these verb  phrases so frequently, though, that they say them quickly, and the words usually run together in real-time conversation.   Listen carefully for these phrases and then try to use them yourself!

Mi rendo conto di/che… I realize that…
Mi sono reso conto di/che… I realized that... (male speaker)
Mi sono resa conto di/che… I realized that… (female speaker)
Mi accorgo di/che… I notice that...
Mi sono accorto di/che… I noticed that… (male speaker)
Mi sono accorta di/che… I noticed that… (female speaker)

We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  “discussing” what we all realized  during the year 2017 for our talking point this new year.  Below are some example sentences that I’ve made up thinking back to New Year’s Eve of 2018.  (Notice that as a female I have to use resa and accorta.)  How many more examples can you think of?

Ieri sera, a Capodanno, mi sono resa conto di essere molto fortunata.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I realized that I am very lucky.

Ieri sera, a Capodanno, mi sono resa conto che sono molto fortunata.
Last night, on New Year’s Eve, I realized that I am very lucky.

Mi sono resa conto di avere amici molto cari.
I realized that I have many dear friends.

Mi sono resa conto che ho molti cari amici.
I realized that I have many dear friends.

Mi sono resa conto di avere imparato tante cose importanti dalla mia famiglia.
I realized that I have learned so many important things from my family.

Mi sono resa conto che ho imparato tante cose importanti dalla mia famiglia.
I realized that I have learned so many important things from my family.

Mi sono accorta che era molto freddo a Capodanno.
I noticed that it was very cold on New Year’s Eve.

Remember these verb phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italy Travel Tip: Italian in My Pocket

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Grazie mille Victoria De Maio from for this review of my pocket travel book, Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases on your blog, PostcardZ from Victoria!

Available on   Amazon.com
and www.LearnTravelItalian.com

Also, I am honored to be one of expert contributors featured in your new book, “Victoria’s Travel TipZ Italian Style – MORE Ways to Enjoy Italian Ways on Your Trip to Italy”!

 

From Victoria De Maio:

Even though I grew up in an Italian family, for the most part that generation didn’t teach Italian to their children. Therefore I’m not, unfortunately, anywhere near fluent. I’ve shared before that I’ve probably taken Italian 101, well, 101 times! But I try and I hobble along and maintain a desire to improve. And I always recommend learning, at least, basic words and phrases…

That is exactly why Kathryn’s handy pocket size book is a perfect companion. Less than 4’x6″, you can carry it in your pocket or purse and learn useful expressions almost anywhere and anytime!

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti)

Even if learning Italian isn’t on your new year’s resolutions, I always suggest that you learn a few useful phrases before you land and then, learn and practice along the way. But why wait for your next trip…study a little every day!

With this handy phrase book you can easily find the topic you need (starting with the basics and offering exactly what you need when you need it (e.g., Travel, Transportation, At the Restaurant, At the Hotel, etc.). Worst case, if you can’t pronounce it, just point and smile!

Grazie, Kathryn, for this practical, handy way to refresh, learn and be conversational on my Italy travels.

♦ ♦ ♦

Take “Conversational Italian for Travelers” and

“Victoria’s Travel TipZ Italian Style” with you to Italy!

 

Piacere: How Italians Say “I Liked It!”

Rome's via dei Fori Imperiali
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As we noted in our first blog post on this topic in December 2016, “piacere” is a very important verb for the Italian traveler to know. There are so many people, places, and things “to like” in Italy that we will use this verb often when we are there! 

We have been focusing on the verb piacere again for the new year 2018 in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook. This time, we have been creating sentences in the past tense, so when we come back from Italy, we will be able to tell our family and friends what we “liked”—speaking in Italian!

At first glance, it may seem difficult for English speakers to use the verb piacere, which literally means “to be pleasing to” when translated into English. But this verb is actually the way Italians express the idea that they like something. Once we tap into the Italian way of thinking and learn a few simple examples, it becomes easy to express how much we have liked things in Italian! Read below to see how this works.  

How many more ways can you think of to use the verb piacere? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference book, Just the Verbs on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Liked It!”

First, let’s review some general information about the verb piacere. Then, we will focus on how to use this verb in the past tense.

As we’ve already mentioned in our first blog post on this topic, the irregular verb piacere literally means to like, as in “to be pleasing to.” Italians use this verb when they want to express the idea that they like something. In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

But in Italian, the indirect object is used instead of the direct object, to describe by whom the thing is liked or to whom it is pleasing. If we wanted to change this same English phrase into the Italian way of thinking, we could say, “The car is pleasing to me.” You will hopefully find the mixed Italianized-English phrase “is pleasing to” to be very helpful to understand how piacere really works!

The tricky thing about this type of phrase in Italian is that the conjugation of piacere will have to agree with the number of things that are being liked.

So, if one thing is liked, or an infinitive verb follows, piace is used for the present tense. 

For the past tense, we can use the passato prossimo third person singular forms “è piacuto” and “è piaciuta” for the one-time event when we liked something. The ending of the past participle piaciuto changes, as always for the passato prossimo form, and in this case will depend on whether the thing that is liked is masculine or feminine. If the thing that is liked is masculine, piacuto will keep its “o” ending;  if feminine, then the ending will be changed to an “a” ending to make piaciuta. 

If many things are liked, the third person plural forms “sono piaciuti” for the masculine plural and “sono piaciute” for the feminine plural are used.

Italians then put an indirect object pronoun (mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or gli) before the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing was pleasing.

 

É piaciuto(a)was pleasing to
Use these phrases if one thing was liked before the infinitive verb.

 

Mi è piaciuto il vestito. The dress was pleasing to me. I liked the dress.
Ti è piaciuto il libro. The book was pleasing to you. (fam.) You liked the book.
Le è piaciuta la collana.

Gli/le è piaciuto l’automobile.

The necklace was pleasing to you. (pol.)

The car was pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklace.

He/she liked the car.

     
Ci è piaciuto il vestito. The dress was pleasing to us. We liked the dress.
Vi è piaciuto i libri. The book was pleasing to you all. You all liked the book.
Gli è piaciuta la collana. The necklace was pleasing to them. They liked the necklace.

 

Sono piaciuti(e)was pleasing to
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing was liked.

 

Mi sono piaciuti i vestiti. The dresses were pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti sono piaciuti i libri. The books were pleasing to you. (fam.) You liked the books.
Le sono piaciute le collane.

Gli/le sono piaciuti gli automobili.

The necklaces were pleasing to you. (pol.)

The cars were pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklaces.

He/she liked the cars.

     
Ci sono piaciuti i vestiti. The dresses were pleasing to us. We liked the dresses.
Vi sono piaciuti i libri. The books were pleasing to you all. You all liked the books.
Gli sono piaciute le collane. The necklaces were pleasing to them. They liked the necklaces.

For more practice using piacere in the past tense, you might want to try listening to the Conversational Italian for Travelers Chapter 17 interactive audio dialogue “Dinner at the Restaurant.” In our Conversational Italian for Travelers story line, which runs through the 18 chapters of the textbook, the Italian-American girl Caterina goes to visit her Italian family in Italy. They end their time together in Chapters 16–18 with a family dinner at a wonderful restaurant, where they describe to the waiter all the dishes that they have liked.

As always, the more we read, listen, and try to speak about what we have liked, the easier it will be to remember these phrases automatically. Buon divertimento!

 

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Verbs

 

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

Learn Italian Cognates—More Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how similar to English many Italian words are. This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans. These words are called cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language. But beware! Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages.  There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, your vocabulary will greatly increase with very little effort.

For words that are similar in Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar.

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

Adjectives Ending in -ale, -ico, -etto, -atto

 

 

Here are more examples of cognates—words that have a common origin and a similar meaning in Italian and English. Recognizing these words should greatly increase one’s vocabulary with very little effort!

 

The ending –ale in Italian is equivalent to the ending –al in English. 

originale = original
personale = personal
speciale = special
tradizionale = traditional

 

 

The ending –ico in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ical in English.

classico = classical
fisiologico  = physiological
politico  = political
tecnico = technical
tipico = typical
turistico = touristy

 

The ending –etto in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ect in English. 

corretto = correct
dialetto = dialect
diretto = direct
perfetto = perfect

 

The ending –atto in Italian is equivalent to the ending –act in English.

contatto  = contact (to touch)
   = to know someone (in a business)
contratto = contract
fatto = fact
tratto = tract of land/pamphlet
tratto digestivo = digestive tract

 

 


If you can think of another cognate to add to these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Grammar

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Buon Anno Nuovo 2018!

Florence Italy's Ponte Vecchio

To all my friends… May all your Italian dreams come true in 2018!

Auguri di un Felice e Prosperoso

Anno Nuovo!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Il Primo di Gennaio

Florence, Italy Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Veccchio, or “Old Bridge,” in Florence, Italy
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I hope you have enjoyed my blog as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing about the Italian language and Italian traditions. Please visit me at this blog in 2018, and invite your friends to join in for more Italian language tips, Italian sayings, and Italian cultural notes.
And remember, this blog is part of our open Facebook page, Conversational Italian!, which is a great place to share about all things Italian. Practice your Italian on this page, ask questions, and share pictures from your trips to Italy.   I’d love to hear from you!
—Kathryn Occhipinti 
It’s never too late to learn Italian or too early to plan your trip to Italy!
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For advanced Italian language materials, Italian cultural notes, and Italian recipes, visit our sister blog at Learn Italian!
Visit our website www.LearnTravelItalian.com, which has FREE Online Interactive Italian Dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers. Follow Caterina on her trip through Italy! Listen to all you need to know about transportation in Italy, making friends, and of course, how to read those Italian menus!
All blogs and Internet materials courtesy of the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books, available on Amazon.com.
Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook

Buon Natale! Merry Christmas in Italian!

Presepio - Italian Nativity Scene

To all my friends who love all things Italian… Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday!

Buon Natale!

Merry Christmas!

Il 24 di Dicembre

Meaning of Christmas in Italian
The true meaning of Christmas in Italian and English

This special Italian saying for the December holidays was originally posted by Rita from our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Special thanks to E. L. Word for the Italian photo and Italian language.

We would love to hear what you have to say about your experiences learning Italian and visiting or living in Italy. Join our open Facebook group and share about all things Italian! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Christmas Season – Sounds and Scents

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Christmas-time is still my favorite time of the year. I have to admit that, even as an adult, I still marvel at the sparkle that Christmas lights bring  to my neighborhood in the early evening darkness.  Excitement builds at my home in the beginning of December with the familiar sounds of decorations being hauled out of storage and fixed to their usual places on the fireplace and the stairway.  We listen to our favorite music as we trim the Christmas tree (and try not to argue too much about where each ornament should go). 

And, of course, every Sunday from Thanksgiving until the New Year, smells of the traditional Italian cookies that my mother, children, and I prepare as Christmas treats permeate the household.

So, for this month, I asked the Conversational Italian! Facebook group to describe the sounds and scents of the Christmas season in their households. We will use these examples for our last blog on “commonly used phrases” for this year in order to understand how to use the Italian verb “sentire.”

By the way, we are approaching the end of 2017.  Did you set a goal to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

As I’ve stressed this year, I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 9th  in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Two more of our “commonly used phrases” are
 “I hear…” and “I smell…”
 We will discuss the Italian expressions for Christmas season experiences,

leading into
“What I heard…” and “Scents of Christmas…” 

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books  Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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What I hear… and… What I heard

this Christmas – in Italian

The present tense form for “I hear…” is rendered in Italian with the verb  sentire,  and is, “Io sento…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Sento…” 

(You will notice the similarity of sentire to the verb sentirsi, which means “to feel,” as we’ve discussed in our last two blogs in this series.  But remember, Italian verbs and their reflexive counterparts will have different meanings, despite appearing to have the same stem!)

To complete the phrase, just add what you sound you are listening to after the verb!  This part of the phrase can be a bit tricky, though, because different Italian words are used to describe the various the sounds that we may hear.

For instance, a telephone ring is often described as “uno squillo”  or “lo squillo,” and the verb to use when a telephone is ringing is squillare. 

To describe how a doorbell rings, use the same word that describes how a church bell rings, which is “un suono” or “il suono.” The verb to use is suonare.  Use suonare to describe the act of “playing” an instrument as well. To sing is cantare.

There are several words to describe the concept of noise, but the most common is “rumore.” A loud noise is, of course, “un gran rumore” and noisy is rumoroso.

If we want to ask someone if they can hear the same thing we do, we can simply say, “Puoi sentire?” for  “Can you hear?” More often, though this question is asked and answered in the past tense.  Below are some examples of how to form questions and answers with sentire in the present and the past tense.

(Io) sento… I hear…
(Tu) senti…? Do you hear…?
Puoi sentire? Can you hear?
Hai sentito…? Have you heard…?
Si, ho sentito… Yes, I have heard…
Yes, I heard…
No, non ho sentito… No, I have not heard…
No, I haven’t heard…

Before going on, we should also now revisit an earlier post in this series, Italian Phrases We Use EVERY day! What I saw… and build upon the phrases we learned in that post to make new phrases about what I heard.

Just like a common reply to “What did you see?” is,  “I saw him/her/it,” a common reply to “What did you hear?” is, “I heard him/her/it.” So, we can just substitute the past tense ho sentito(a,i,e) for the past tense in our previous examples about what we saw.

We have built upon what we already know and have easily added more phrases we can use in Italian conversation!

(If you need a grammar refresher on how to describe “it” in Italian, please visit our previous blog or, for even more detail, our Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Grammar reference book.)  

 

Ho sentito… I heard/I have heard…  
Hai sentito…? Did you hear/Have you heard…?  
     
L’ho sentito. I heard him. I heard it.
L’ha sentita. I heard her. I heard it.
Li ho sentiti. I heard them. (all male or male+female group)  
Le ho sentite. I heard them. (all female group)  

 

Finally, it is difficult to talk about what we hear without mentioning that we are also listening.  After all, it is very important to listen to what we hear!   In order to describe that we are listening in Italian, we must use the verb ascoltare. 

The present tense endings in the first and second person that we are focusing on will be the same as for sentire, and the past tense will also use either ho or hai with the past participle ascoltato.  See the summary chart below for how this works.

(Io) ascolto… I listen…
(Tu) ascolti…? Do you listen…?
Puoi ascoltare? Can you listen?
Hai ascoltato…? Have you listened…?
Si, ho ascoltato… Yes, I have listened…
Yes, I listened…
No, non ho ascoltato… No, I have not ascoltato…
No, I haven’t listened…

 

Now, let’s put  together all of our knowledge of the Italian verbs and phrases that it takes to experience the sounds in our world. We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  describing some of the sounds of Christmas.  Below are some examples.  I’ve included both present and past tense phrases. How many more can you think of?

Sento lo squillo del telefono. È nonnna, che vuole invitarci a casa sua.
I hear the telephone ring. It is Grandma, who wants to invite us to her house.
Lo sento.
I hear it.
Sento il suono della campanella d’ingresso quando gli ospiti arrivano.
I hear the doorbell ring when the guests arrive.
La sento.
I hear it.
Sento il suono delle campanelle della chiesa.
I hear the church bells ring.
Le sento.
I hear them.
Sento le canzoni di Natale.
I hear the songs of Christmas.
Le sento.
I hear them.
Hai sentito il rumore in piazza dal presipe vivente?
Have you heard the noise in the piazza from the living nativity scene?
Ho sentito il rumore.
I heard the noise.
L’ho sentito.
I heard it.
Ho ascoltato mio fratello suonare il violino per la festa di Natale.
I listened to my brother play the violin for the Christmas party.
L’ho ascoltato.
I listened to him.
Ho ascoltato la mia sorella cantare le canzoni natalizie per la vigilia di Natale.
I listened to my sister sing Christmas carols for Christmas Eve.
L’ho ascoltata.
I listened to her.

 

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What I smell… and… The scents of

this Christmas – in Italian

The present tense form for “I smell…” is rendered in Italian with the phrase  sentire l’odore di,  and is, “Io sento l’odore di…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Sento l’odore di…” 

If food cooking on the stove smells good, we can say it has, “Un bel profumo,” or “A good smell/aroma.” The word profumo also means scent and the fragrance, and can refer to the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree or the perfume someone is wearing.

If we want to talk about a lovely scent that we smell, we can use the phrase, “Sento il profumo di…” for “I smell the scent of…” 

To complete the phrases above, just add what it is you smell after the phrase!  Remember to combine di with one of the definite articles that is used to describe the thing you smell.  You will remember that il, lo, i, gli, l’ are our masculine definite articles and la, le, l’ are our feminine definite articles, and all of these Italian words mean “the.”

(If you need a grammar refresher on how to di is combined with the definite articles in Italian, please visit our Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Grammar reference book.)  

If we want to ask someone if they can smell the same thing we do, we can simply say, “Puoi sentire l’odore di…?” for “Can you smell…?” More often, though this question is asked and answered in the past tense.  Below are some examples of how to form questions and answers with sentire odore di in the present and the past tense.

(Io) sento l’odore di…
(Io) sento il profumo di…
I smell…
(Tu) senti l’odore di…? Do you smell…?
Puoi sentire l’odore di? Can you smell?
Hai sentito l’odore di…? Have you smelled…?
Si, ho sentito l’odore di… Yes, I have smelled…
Yes, I smelled…
No, non ho sentito l’odore di… No, I have not smelled… 
No, I haven’t smelled…

 

Now, let’s put all our knowledge of the phrase it takes to describe what we can smell together! We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  describing some of the scents of Christmas.  Below are some examples. How many more can you think of?

I biscotti fatti in casa hanno un bel profumo.  Fa molto Natale!
The homemade cookies have a wonderful smell.  It is very Christmassy!
Sento il profumo dell’albero di Natale.
I smell the fragrance of the Christmas tree.
Ho sentito il profumo meraviglioso della cena di Natale a casa di mia nonna.
I have smelled the wonderful scent of Christmas dinner at my Grandmother’s house.
L’ho sentito!
I’ve smelled it!

Remember these phrases, and have fun using them during Christmastime!
Auguri di buon Natale!

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Cuccidati – My Family’s Christmas Cookie

Sicilian Christmas Cookie Cuccidati
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Last December, I attended an event called La Festa dei Cuccidati for lovers of the Sicilian Christmas cookies called “cuccidati.”   It was organized by Salvatore Sciacca, director of the Chicagoland Italian American Professionals,

The event took place at Casa Italia in Stone Park,  the cultural center and central meeting place for Italian-Americans in the Chicagoland area for many decades.  There was a wonderful turnout that day for this event, and there were many, many varieties of cuccidati, all beautifully presented and available to taste.

We had dozens and dozens of cuccidati to sample – all donated for benefit of Casa Italia – from local bakeries and also from individual families.  The family recipes had, of course, been handed down through the generations, and many recipes were proudly displayed along with their cookies. There were more than 20  different varieties!  There was a contest for the best bakery cookie and also the best homemade cookie.  There was a demonstration as well.

All this is to say that I was really looking forward to this event, and it did not disappoint in the number and variety of cuccidati available.  Making this cookie with my mother, aunts, and now my children, has always been a highlight of the Christmas season for me.  I was looking forward to sharing this tradition with members of the community that I have come to know in Chicagoland, and so excited that they, too, shared special memories of the same Christmas treats that I loved.

Although, a funny thing happened.  I found out that the cookies that my family makes and calls “cuccidati,” are not exactly what were made that day.  In fact, all of the varieties that day used a fig filling, while my family recipe uses a combination of raisins, almonds, and citrus.  So, I did a bit of research, and although I have not found the exact recipe for my family’s cookie online, I have found many similar recipes.  I have an idea that it is just one of many similar “types” of Sicilian Christmas cookies that have developed over the years.

Visit the recent Learn Italian!blog post from December 1, 2017, to read about my family’s cuccidati method if you like.  An excerpt is below.

I’d love to hear from anyone who makes a cookie with similar shapes or a similar filling!  And, whatever your family traditions this holiday season, I wish everyone, ” Auguri di buone feste natalizie!”

 

Cuccidati: Traditional Sicilian Christmas Cookies 

Italian Christmas traditions are unique to each region of the Italy and have been lovingly handed down within families through the generations. Cuccidati – a version of Christmas cookie that probably originated after the Arabs introduced oranges and almonds to Sicily centuries ago – play an important part in the Christmas celebration in Sicily even today.

All Sicilian cuccidati, or any Italian cookie for that matter, are unlike what Americans think of when they think of cookies. Most Italian cookies are made from dough that cooks up drier than American cookies and there is much more variation in the presentation.  Sicilian cookies come in a multitude of different shapes and sizes and fruit fillings are often enclosed in the cookies as a special treat.

The recipe given below is for a Sicilian Christmas cookie—my family calls them “cuccidati,” although they are not identical to most of the cookies found online under this name.  The cookies in this recipe start out as the “typical” cuccidati: one long “tube” of sweet, Italian pie-crust-like dough, which contains a dried fruit and nut center. (No figs in our version, by the way.) But, instead of then cutting the tube into bite-sized pieces that are finished with icing, my family cuts larger pieces, which are then formed into different shapes, and finishes the cuccidati with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  Whatever the name, this is just one version out of many dried, fruit-filed cookies still made in Sicilian bakeries today to celebrate the Christmas season.

When I was a child, my family always gathered the weekend before Christmas to share our creativity while we formed our cuccidati into wreaths, ribbons, or candy cane-like forms.  They could be completely covered in dough, which would allow for a creative, fringe-like covering, or left open.  The sides could be pinched for decoration if like, similar to how Americans form a pie crust along the rim of their pies. If you would like to see how the various shapes of these cookies are made, visit the Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest site.

The ingredients for the cuccidati filling are considered easy to come by today, but remember that dried fruit, including raisins and oranges and spices like cinnamon were considered special when the cookies originated.  These filling ingredients were only found only in well-off households. Since the filling ingredients are difficult to chop and mix together, in some Sicilian towns “back in the day,” people would bring their filling to the butcher to mix together for them in his meat grinder, which had been newly cleaned for the season for this purpose.

Despite the few ingredients in traditional cuccidati, and the difficulty of making the filling with them, the dried fruit has a rich sweetness, the roasted almonds a robust flavor, and the cinnamon, orange, and citron add a complexity of flavor that goes beyond its simple ingredients. Try our recipe this Christmas season for a taste of Sicilian tradition!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Click here for the recipe and method to make cuccidati.

Visit www.learntravelitalian.com for more of my Italian and Italian-American recipes, cultural notes and  advanced Italian language blog posts updated monthly. Click on the link “our blog” in the upper right hand corner to reach blog.Learn Travel Italian.com.

Learn Italian Cognates – Italian/English Best Friends!

Italian Cognates on via Dante, Milan
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Anyone who has studied Italian for even a short time has probably noticed how similar to English many Italian words are.  This is because both languages have words with origins that date back to the Latin language spoken by the Romans.  These words are called cognateswords that have a common origin and a similar meaning.

English/Italian cognates can be the best friend of one who is trying to learn either language.  But beware!  Not all words that sound alike have the same meaning in both languages.  There is a pattern, though, and if you can recognize the different groups of cognates, this will greatly increase your vocabulary with very little effort.

For words that are similar in both Italian and English, the stem of the word will provide a clue to the actual meaning, and the ending will also follow a common pattern.

See how this works below with an excerpt reprinted from the grammar section of our Conversational Italian for Travelers  textbook, courtesy of publisher Stella Lucente, LLC.

For an easy-to read reference book on grammar, the same section is found in the  reference book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar.”

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

Italian Nouns Ending in -tà

Some Italian -ire Verbs

 

The ending –tà in Italian is equivalent to the ending –ty in English.

All of the nouns in the group listed in this group are feminine and invariable; therefore, these words will take the definite article la for the singular form and le for the plural form, although the ending of these nouns remains –à.  For instance, one city is la città and many cities is le città.

città = city
communità = community
elettricità  = electricity
facoltà = faculty, department course of study
ability/power
festività  = religious holiday
identità  =  identity
località  =  locality/place/small town
nazionalità = nationality
ospitalità = hospitality
società = society
company (business)
specialità  = speciality
unità = unity
università  = university

For some –ire verbs, the –ire ending will be equivalent to the ending –ish in English.  

finire  = to finish
punire  = to punish

 If you can think of another cognate to add to either of these lists, please join our Conversational Italian! Facebook group and leave a post, or leave a message below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Buon Fine Settimana con Proverbio!

Italian Proverb 

Il 18 di Novembre 2017

 

Buon fine settimana con proverbio! from our Facebook group, Conversational Italian!

Isn’t it interesting the way the Italian proverb has an English equivalent, but the exact phrasing is a little bit different?  I guess we all think about the same things, but in a slightly different way, depending on where we are from!

I’d love to hear more Italian phrases or English phrases similar to this one!  Please write if you know of others.   -Kathryn

Proverb in Italian meaning "it's not as good as it seems"
This proverb is the Italian way of saying that things may not be as good as they seem to the outsider.

Italian Phrases We May Have to Use SOME Days! I don’t feel well…

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 8th in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on in this blog for everyone to try! 

Another of our “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily is
 “I don’t feel well..”
This will lead us to discuss how to describe what is making us feel unwell, 
using the verbs avere, essere and fare

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books  Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

I don’t feel well …

in Italian

We learned in our last blog that the present tense form for “I feel…” is rendered in Italian with the reflexive verb  sentirsi,  and is, “Io mi sento…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Mi sento…”

To complete the phrase, just add how you are feeling after the verb!  The most common way to use this verb in conversation is to say, “Mi sento bene!” which means, “I feel well!” (Notice Italians do not say, “I feel good,” which is actually grammatically incorrect, although we say this in English all of the time.)  

Unfortunately, sometimes we may not be feeling well when someone asks, “Come ti senti?” or “Come si sente?” which both mean, “How are you feeling?” (the first in the familiar form and the second in the polite form).

Then, we can simply add the negative to the phrase we have just learned, and say, “Non mi sento bene, ” for, “I don’t feel well.”

Or, we can say, “Mi sento male,” which means, “I feel badly/sick.” 

To ask someone if they are feeling unwell, you can say, “Ti senti male?” “Do you feel badly/sick?”  “Si sente male?” “Does she/he feel badly/sick?”

 

(Io) Mi sento bene. I feel well.
(Io) Non mi sento bene. I don’t feel well.
(Io) Mi sento male. I feel badly/sick.
Come ti senti?
(Tu) Ti senti male?
How do you feel? (familiar)
Do you feel badly/sick? (familiar)
Come si sente?

(Lei/Lui) Si sente male?

How do you feel? (polite)
Do you feel badly/sick? (polite)
Does she/he feel badly/sick?

Alternatively, you can simply say you have an illness with the following two phrases:

Io sono malato(a). I am sick.
Io ho una malattia. I have an illness.

A male who is sick is “un malato” and a female who is sick is “una malata.”

The word malattia can also be used to indicate a craze,  habit, or addiction.

 

********************

If a friend hears that you are not feeling well, the next question in the conversation will likely be something like, “Perché?”  for “Why? or “Che succede?”/“Che è successo?” for “What is happening?”/“What happened?”

The phrases I hear in response to this question the most in Italian movies are:

Ho un febbre. I have a fever.
Ho 38 di febbre. I’ve got a 100 degree fever.
Ho un raffreddore. I have a cold.

 

In order to more completely describe what the problem is when we are not feeling well, we can use the verb  fare and follow the simple sentence structure described below.

In order to describe a headache, for instance, the phrase to use would be, “ (Io) Mi fa male la testa.”  The literal translation is, “To me, the head is hurting,” but the correct English would be, “I have a headache.” Notice that in this case “mi” is now a direct object pronoun, rather than part of a reflexive verb.  Once again, leave out the subject pronoun “io,” for our final phrase, “Mi fa male la testa.”

Sound confusing?  Well, if we think in Italian, we find that describing what part of the body hurts us is actually quite easy.  In the examples below we use the same phrase, “Mi fa male,” over and over again, substituting the different parts of the body that are hurting in each case, of course!  Just remember that if more than one part of the body is hurting (like both feet, for instance) to change the verb to the plural fanno.

Mi fa male la testa. My head hurts.
Mi fa male la gola. My throat hurts.
Mi fa male lo stomaco. My stomach hurts.
Mi fa male la schiena. My back hurts.
Mi fanno male i piedi. My feet hurt/ache.

 

********************

The verb avere can also be used to describe discomfort or the feeling of sickness when combined with the phrase, “il mal di.”  The definite article il is used in the phrase for emphasis, rather than the equivalent of the English “a.”  Examples follow, but hopefully you will be able to enjoy your trip to Italy without having to use any of these phrases! 

Ho il mal di testa.  I have a headache.
Ho il mal di gola. I have a sore throat.
Ho il mal di stomaco. I have a stomach ache.
Ho il mal di schiena. I have a backache.
Ho il mal di mare. I have seasickness/feel seasick.

 

Remember these phrases you may (unfortunately) have to use on some days!

Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

 Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How I Feel…

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 7th in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try! 

Another of our “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily is
 “How I feel..”
We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experiences and how they make us feel, leading into
“How you feel…” and “How she/he feels…” 

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books  Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

How I Feel …

in Italian

The present tense form for “I feel…” is rendered in Italian with the reflexive verb  sentirsi,  and is, “Io mi sento…” But, of course, we always leave out the Italian subject pronoun, so the phrase that Italians use is conversation is just, “Mi sento…”

To complete the phrase, just add how you are feeling after the verb!  The most common way to use this verb in conversation is to say, “Mi sento bene!” which means, “I feel well!” (Notice Italians do not say, “I feel good,” which is actually grammatically incorrect, although we say this in English all of the time.)

If we remember how to use our reflexive verbs, we know that if we want to ask someone how they are feeling, we can simply say, “Ti senti bene?”  “Are you feeling well?”

To have a conversation with one person about another person’s health, we can use the same phrase to relay a fact or to ask a question: “Si sente bene.”  “He/she is feeling well.” “Si sente bene?”“Is he/she feeling well?” 

(Io) Mi sento bene. I feel well.
(Tu) Ti senti bene. Do you feel well?
(Lei/Lui) Si sente bene. She/he feels well.
(Lei/Lui) Si sente bene. Does she/he feel well?

We  had fun in our Conversational Italian! group  “discussing” how we all felt after I posted our talking point one week in September.  Below is a list of adjectives you can use to describe how you are feeling.  Remember that male speakers must use the “o” ending and female speakers the “a” ending for these adjectives.  If the adjective ends in an “e,” the ending does not need to be changed, of course.

bene well
contento(a) / felice happy 
male badly, unwell
nervoso(a) nervous
triste sad

Notice, also, that both “contento(a)” and “felice” mean “happy” in Italian.  But when an Italian wants to describe a happy feeling they have, the word chosen is usually “contento(a).”  Contento also translates into the English word, “content.” The phrase, “Contento lui!” translates as, “Whatever makes him happy!” 

Even when wishing someone “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy New Year,” (two holidays that are right around the corner once again, it seems) felice is again not the word of choice.  In these cases the English words “merry” and “happy” are replaced with the word “buon.”  Italians wish each other “Buon Natale!” and “Buon anno nuovo!” in conversation, but usually reserve, “Felice anno nuovo!” for a written greeting.

********************

Speaking about feelings… we commonly talk about a person’s state of mind or personality traits. “Lei è… /Lui è… “  means, “He is…/She is… “

Of course, we can also describe our own state of mind with, “(Io) sono… for  “I am…” or directly tell someone how we think they are with “Tu sei…”  for “You are…”

Below are two lists of adjectives that describe some good personality traits, and other personality traits that are considered… not as good.

Adjectives of Personality – Postive

bravo(a) upright/talented intelligente intelligent/smart
buono(a) good saggio(a) wise
bello

bella

good-looking
handsome
pretty
beautiful
raffinato(a) refined
felice happy dolce sweet
allegro(a) cheerful carino(a) pretty/cute
gentile nice/kind/polite  diverso(a) different
piacevole agreeable  speciale special
simpatico(a) likeable/friendly
onesto(a) honest  emotionato(a)  excited
sincero(a) sincere  emotivo(a)
emozionale
 emotional

I find it interesting that here in America, we are always “excited” about things – what we are about to do, an event we will attend – while in Italy, the word that translates into, “excited or thrilled” is “emotionato(a).”  These types of words, which sound like they should have similar meanings in each language, but do not, are often called, “false friends.” Although the Italian word emotionato sounds to the English speaker like “emotional,” the Italian adjectives for emotional are actually, “emotivo(a),” or “emozionale.”  

 

Adjectives of Personality – Negative

cattivo(a) bad/mean stupido(a) stupid
triste sad sciocco(a) silly
arrabiato(a) angry pazzo(a) crazy
scortese rude matto(a) crazy
crudele cruel brutto(a) ugly
antipatico(a) disagreeable/nasty noioso(a) boring
falso(a) dishonest/fake seccante annoying
pigro(a) lazy fastidioso annoying
bugiardo(a) liar vigliacco(a) coward

 

Finally, the word “bravo” is worth a few words of explanation.  The word “bravo” has many connotations, which include, “upright/good, talented, kind, well-behaved, brave, or courageous.”  When one wants to recognize another for a special talent, competency, or a job “well-done“bravo(a)” is the word to choose. To say that a person is a “brava persona” is to give a compliment to another of the highest sort.  (Remember, persona is always a feminine noun, so this phrase applies to both men and women.)

And, remember that bravo must be changed to match the gender of whom you are complimenting.  For instance, anyone who attends the opera will no doubt hear “Bravo!” above the applause at the conclusion of the show as a way to show appreciation for the performance.  Keep in mind, though, that “Bravo!” refers only to a single male performer!  To compliment a female performer, one would yell, “Brava!”  For the entire ensemble, “Bravi!” is appropriate.

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

 

"Just the Verbs" from Conversational Italian for Travelers books
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

 

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Discovering Pesto alla Genovese

Metropolitan Farms grows Genovese basil.
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Last May, I attended an event organized by Catherine Lambrecht, director of the Chicago Foodways Roundtable . The event was called Metropolitan Farm Tour: Explore an Urban Ag Destination. Metropolitan Farms uses a relatively new technique called aquaponics to create a closed-loop greenhouse system that can produce hydroponically grown herbs and lettuce and fish for local sale year round.

As part of their crop, Metropolitan Farms grows high-quality Genovese basil from seed, year round, as is done in the region of its origin, Liguria, in Italy. Most of their basil is sold wholesale. They also make their own pesto (several varieties) for local sale.

Walking through the Metropolitan Farms greenhouse, I could almost smell the fragrant pesto that would come from this ingenious system.

Visit the recent Learn Italian! blog post from October 11, 2017, to read all about my experiences trying to create an authentic pesto for my family. Learn (probably) more than you’ve ever wanted to know about pesto history, making pesto, and growing basil! Below is an excerpt:

 

Pesto alla Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago

Pesto alla Genovese is the famous bright green “pasta sauce” from the northern Italian region of Liguria, whose capital is the city of Genoa. My introduction to pesto, which was not a part of my southern Italian upbringing, was from one of those little glass jars labeled “pesto” by an Italian company that I found in a grocery store in Peoria, Illinois. Back then, I was trying to learn true Italian “regional” cooking and specifically trying to expand my sauce-making techniques beyond the ubiquitous and well-loved southern Italian red tomato sauce.

Diary of my first experiences making pesto…

So, on the day of my first foray into northern Italian sauces, I put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil, added some spaghetti, and dusted off my jar of Italian-labeled pesto that had probably been sitting on the grocery shelf for many, many months before I had purchased it. I opened the jar and saw that olive oil was floating on top, separate from the basil that makes up the major component of the sauce. I mixed the basil and olive oil together, not knowing if this was the correct thing to do. (It was. The olive oil layer on top helps to preserve the pesto.)

When the spaghetti was ready, I drained it and poured some of the thick, dull green pesto from the jar over my hot spaghetti and mixed it to coat. Was I supposed to use the entire jar? I wasn’t sure. I tasted it. It wasn’t too bad, but really, it wasn’t very good either, and I wasn’t really sure why. After all, pesto is a famous dressing for pasta. Millions of people love it!

Not one to give up easily, a few weeks later, I tried to make a pesto sauce for my pasta again. The second time, I emptied the contents of my jar of pesto into a small pan to warm the sauce. Even worse! Now, I know that pesto is a “cold emulsion” type of “dressing” for pasta and should never be cooked! But, as I said, back when I was first introduced to pesto, I really had no experience about how it should be prepared or how it should taste.

Pesto success at last?

Finally, one year when I had an overabundance of fresh basil in my garden one late summer, I remembered pesto alla Genovese. Perhaps fresh basil was the secret. I turned to my favorite Italian cookbook, Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni. I had purchased this cookbook in 1992 while in training in San Francisco and credit it with sparking my interest in discovering true Italian cuisine for the home cook. Each region is beautifully introduced with photographs of beautiful platters of food set in the Italian countryside. Translated from the Italian, and beautifully compiled with all regional specialties included, detailed notes on each specialty, and clear directions, Italian Regional Cooking is my “bible” of Italian cooking, even today. Unfortunately, when it comes to the recipe for making pesto alla Genovese, the directions are a bit vague. Read more…

Visit www.learntravelitalian.com for more of my Italian and Italian-American recipes, cultural notes and  advanced Italian language blog posts updated monthly. Click on the link “our blog” in the upper right hand corner to reach blog.Learn Travel Italian.com.

When in Rome… Your Italian Travel Tips

Rome Colosseum
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! There are so many great blogs with unique travel tips out now that I thought I would share my favorites with you.

About once a month, I will reblog a post about little-known sites or places to visit in Italy under the title “Your Italian Travel Tips.” We start with my favorite city—Rome. Enjoy our first post in this series from the blog “Revealed Rome” by Amanda Ruggeri. Her updated book, Revealed Rome Handbook, is now available if you’d like even more information.

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, light-weight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

 

Sometimes, I get a call from a client who needs help planning their second, third, even fourth trip to Rome. The issue isn’t that they need to know how to use Rome’s public transport, or where to eat, or whether to book the Vatican Museums in advance. What they want to know is if there’s…

via What To Do in Rome When You’ve Done… Everything — Revealed Rome

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I Know…

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the 6th in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.

Another of our “commonly used phrases,” that will help us talk more easily is
 “What I know..”


leading into
“Do you / Does he/she know?”

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material was adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books  Just the Important Phrases and Just the Grammar  

                       found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

What I Know …

in Italian

If you remember from our last blog, “Italians Know – ‘Sapere’ and ‘Conoscere’, “there are two verbs that translate into English as “I know.”  When an Italian wants to describe a fact or the knowledge of how to do something, he/she uses the verb sapere, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

********************

Sapere:  So, Sai, Sa

The present tense form for “I know…” from sapere is “Io so…” but of course, we leave out the subject pronoun, so the word that Italians use is conversation is just, “So…”

For the phrase, “Do you know…?” use the conjugated verb, ” (tu) Sai…?” for someone you are familiar with, or, “Lei sa…?” for someone you have just met, using the pronoun Lei in this case to be polite.

“Does she or he know?” is,(lei, lui) Sa…?In order to emphasize the masculine or feminine subject, the subject pronouns lei or lui can also be used to start the sentence in this case, but this is usually not necessary in a conversation if both speakers know who they are talking about.

Remember, there is no need to use the word “do” when asking a question in Italian.  Just these three simple, short Italian words, “so,” “sai” or “sa,” will suffice.  Use these short words to tell someone what you know or to ask what someone else knows!

“Lei sa dov’è…” which means, “Do you (polite) know where is the…?” (Or in correct English: where the… is?”) is an important phrase to know when traveling, as it is used to ask for directions.  In this case, it is customary to precede the question with the polite, “Mi scusi,” for “Excuse me.”

Here are some examples of  travel phrases that we can make with the verb sapere.           

Mi scusi, Excuse me,
…Lei sa dov’è… …(do) you (pol.) know where is…

…(do) you know where the… is?

…l’albergo? …the hotel?
…il ristorante? …the restaurant?
…la metro/metropolitana? …the subway?
…la fermata dell’autobus? …the bus stop?
…la stazione dei treni? …the train station?
…la banca? …the bank?
…l’ufficio postale? …the post office?
…il museo? …the museum?

If the answer to these questions involves a particular street, the answer you will hear will use the phrase in… via, for the English on… street.

La banca è in via Verde.           The bank is on Green Street.     

Use a similar format to ask questions about schedules using sapere when traveling.

Mi scusi, Excuse me,
…Lei sa quando… …(do) you (pol.) know when…
…arriva il treno? …the train arrives (lit. arrives the train)?
…arriva l’autobus? …the bus arrives?
…parte il treno? …the train leaves (lit. leaves the train)?
…parte l’autobus? …the bus leaves?
…apre il museo? …the museum opens (lit. opens the museum)?
…chiude il museo? …the museum closes?

Finally, here are some commonly used, everyday phrases using the verb sapere. 

Note the use of the subjunctive mode conjugation “sappia” and the imperfetto conjugation “sapevo” in our last two examples.  Commit these phrases to memory, even if you haven’t fully mastered all of the verb forms, as I am sure they will come up often in conversation.  Knowing these two verbs will also impress your Italian friends!

So (qualcosa) a memoria. I know (something) by heart.
Chi si sa?
Non si sa mai!
Who knows?
One never knows!
Come ben sai. As you well know.
Si sa che… Everyone knows that…
Non ne sa niente. He/she knows nothing about it.
Lo so. I know (it).
Non lo so. I don’t know (it).
Che io sappia.
Che lei/lui sappia?
As far as I know.
What does he/she know?
Lo sapevo! I knew it!

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

ISBN 9780990383420-9-99-frontflap,backflap,spine.jpg

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italians Know – “Sapere” vs. “Conoscere”

Rome's via dei Fori Imperiali
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

To be “in the know” about how the Italian language works, we must know how to use the verb sapere and be acquainted with the verb consoscere.  As summer comes to a close and the new school season begins here in America, we had a request to spend a little time focusing on the verbs sapere and conscere  in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook.

Once we tap into the Italian way of thinking and learn a few simple examples, it becomes easy to express what we know in Italian! Read below to see how this works.  The excerpt is adapted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books
Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar. To listen to these Italian verbs in action, go to the audio tab for Chapter 5 on our website LearnTravelItalian.com.

How many ways can you think of to use the verbs sapere and conoscere? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the
Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books,
Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar
found on

Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

************************************************

To Know in Italian – 

Sapere vs. Conoscere

 

Sapere is an irregular verb that ends in -ere.  It means to know.  Think about how many times each day we say, “I know,” or, “you know,” or, “Do you know?”  In Italy, these expressions are also used frequently.  Since sapere is irregular, the root will be different from the infinitive verb for all forms except the voi form.  Interestingly, the root for the noi form differs by only a single letter from the regular root – with the addition of a second letter p.  As usual, try to remember the most commonly used io, tu and noi forms.

Sapereto know (a fact)

io so I know
tu sai you (familiar) know
Lei

lei/lui

sa you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
noi sappiamo we know
voi sapete you all know
loro sanno they know

 

********************

Conoscere is a regular -ere verb.  This verb also means to know, but is used differently, more along the lines of to become acquainted with a person or a place.  The regular conjugation will be given here for completeness.  Notice that the pronunciation of the ending changes, with a “hard c” sound for the io and loro forms due to the endings of sco/–scono, and the “sh” sound for the forms that have the –sci and –sce combination.

 

Conoscereto know (be acquainted with)

io conosco I know
tu conosci you (familiar) know
Lei

lei/lui

conosce you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
noi conosciamo we know
voi conoscete you all know
loro conoscono they know

 

As an aside:  Later, in Chapter 7, we will learn how to conjugate the –ire verb capire, which means to understand (capisco, capisci, capisce, capiamo, capite, capiscono). Back in the 70’s, a common phrase among Italian-Americans in New York used between family members and friends was, “Capisci?” (“ka-peesh” in New Yorkese) meaning, “Do you get it?”  Don’t confuse the different forms of capire with the conjugations of conoscere!

 

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Technically, both sapere and conoscere can be translated as to know, although they are used in different situations.  To follow are some examples of how each verb is used.

 

  1. Sapere is used to indicate knowledge of something, such as a fact. For instance, if we tell someone that we know a language very well we are stating a fact and use sapere. Notice how the definite article (the) (l’) is used after the verb sapere to describe the Italian language in this case.
Io so l’italiano molto bene.
I know (the) Italian language very well.

 

  1. Sapere is used to describe knowlege of something tangible that we can see or feel. In our dialogue for Chapter 5 of Conversational Italian for Travelers, Caterina and Susanna describe what they do (and do not) know about the corn that they can see growing in northern Italy using the verb sapere. In order to say specifically, “I know that,” in Italian, Caterina includes che, which means that, in her sentence.  The word che cannot be omitted in these types of sentences, as we often do in English.  Here are two examples that use sapere to describe something that we can see.
“Ma ora so che anche voi avete il granturco in Italia.”
“But now (I) know that you all have (the) corn in Italy.”
 
Io so che il cielo è blu.
I know that the sky is blue.

By the way, if  you don’t know something, you must say,
“Non lo so.”“I don’t know it.” 

  1. Sapere is used to describe the ability to do something. Notice in the translations below that the English phrase how to” is not necessary in Italian. Instead, and an infinitive verb follows directly after “io so.”

 

Io so guidare la macchina.
I know (how to) drive a car.

 

  1. Sapere is also used when asking questions. If asking directions from a stranger, it is customary to begin with, “Mi scusi,” or just, “Scusi,” for the polite (command) form of “Excuse me.” Then follow with the polite, “Lei sa…”.

 

Mi scusi; Lei sa quando arriva il treno?
Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know when arrives the train?
Do you know when the train arrives?
 
Mi scusi; Lei sa dov’è il binario tre?
Excuse me; (do) (you pol.) know where is (the) track three?
Do you know where track three is?                

 

  1. Conoscere means to know, as in to be acquainted with a person or a place. In our dialogue from Chapter 5 in Conversational Italian for Travelers, when Susanna asks Caterina if she knows any people other than her cousin in Italy, they both use the verb conoscere.

 

Susanna:        Tu conosci altre persone a Milano?
(Do) you know (any) other people in Milan?
Caterina:        Si, io conosco mio zio Salvatore e mia zia Rosa.
                        Yes, I know my Uncle Salvatore and my Aunt Rose.

 

Here are some additional examples of when to use conoscere:

 

Io conosco Julia, la nonna di Paolo.
I know Julia, Paul’s grandmother. (lit. the grandmother of Paul)
 
Io conosco Milano molto bene.
I know Milan very well.

 

  1. Conoscere is also used in reference to meeting/getting to know someone for the first time.

 

Caterina vuole conoscere suo cugino Pietro in Italia.
Kathy wants to meet/get to know her cousin Peter in Italy.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

Italian Soccer, Anyone?

Juventus plays at Allianz Arena in Turin, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian football—what we call “soccer” here in the states—seems to be such an integral part of Italian life that I’ve made attempts to understand this world on and off for many years. In the last few months, as the 2016–2017 soccer season has come to a close, I’ve been posting trivia questions about Italian football for the Conversational Italian! Facebook group.

We’ve had lots of fun talking about the most famous and one of the oldest Italian soccer teams—Juventus, from Turin, Italy. We also have at least one Roma fan in the group! I’m hoping to hear from many more soccer club fans as the news continues to unfold when the new season starts in August of this year. 

Because our recent discussion has centered on Juventus, here are a few fun facts about this team:

Juventus was founded in 1897 by a group of male students from an elite school in the city of Turin, the Liceo Classico Massimo d’Azeglio. The Latin word for “youth” is “iuvenis,” and is where the name of this team comes from. For years, I wondered why the letter J starts the name of this famous Italian team when “J” doesn’t exist in the Italian language. It turns out that the name was translated from Latin into the dialect spoken in the Piedmont region of northern Italy at the time, which does use the letter J.

Over the years, the team has been called by many nicknames. Perhaps the most famous is “Vecchia Signora,” which means “Old Lady” in Italian. I’ve heard many explanations for this, but the most plausible seems to be that it is a reference to the history and greatness of the team—the team is like royalty over in Italy, and “signora” means “Mrs.” and “royal lady.” Of course, this name can also be taken ironically because the team includes young men.

Juventus, the most successful Italian soccer team of all time, plays in the top Italian football league, which is the Serie A League. The winner of this league is awarded the Scudetto (“little shield” or “coat of arms” of the Italian tricolors worn on the uniform the next season) and the title Campioni d’Italia (Champions of Italy), along with a trophy called the Coppa Campioni d’Italia. In the 2016–2017 season, Juventus made history with their sixth consecutive Scudetto. They went on to play in the European Champions Cup but did not win a European title this past season.

For a summary of the 2016–2017 Serie A soccer season and the players who made it all happen, see the Football Italia website.

Serie A games will start up again on August 20. A week-by-week schedule of games to be played is also found on the Football Italia website.

Below is a short list of some important Italian words to know if you want to start following Italian soccer.  

How many more nicknames for the different Italian soccer teams do you know? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

If you need a travel companion to Italy, remember my Conversational Italian for Travelers pocket phrase book, “Just the Important Phrases,” on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Soccer players at Allianz Stadium
Juventus soccer players at Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy

Calcio = Soccer or Italian Football

la palla soccer ball
il pallone soccer ball
la rete net used for the goal
l’allenatore coach
il giocatore soccer/football player
il calciatore soccer/football player
il portiere goal keeper/goalie
l’arbitro referee/umpire
la gara competition
fallo di mano foul for using one’s hands
fallo di reazione retaliatory foul
fallo da ultimo uomo last man foul
fallo a gamba tesa studs-up tackle
la scorrettezza foul play/rudeness
scorretto(a) improper/rude
l’insulto insult
il cartellino giallo yellow “caution” card is given for improper play, hand foul, or unsportsmanlike or rude behavior
l’espulsione expulsion from a soccer game occurs if a player receives two yellow cards
il cartellino rosso red “expulsion” card occurs for a serious foul using violence, a retaliatory foul, a last man foul, insults, or when two yellow cards have been received

8 Hot Weather Treats Italians Love—from Our Friends at Timeless Italy

Sicilian granita and brioche

I’ve often wondered how Italian mammas could endure boiling pots of pasta in their kitchens during those incredibly hot summer days. Surely they had an escape plan guaranteed to bring smiles to the faces of their families at the dinner table. So what did they prepare? How did they escape the heat of their summertime […]

via 8 Hot Weather Treats Italians Love — Timeless Italy

Learn Italian Expressions: Allora?

Italy, Stresa Promenade on Lago Maggiore

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.comMany of my friends in our Conversational Italian! group on Facebook have been lucky enough to travel to Italy already this summer, and I know more will soon follow. Some have also moved to Italy this year, and it is so nice to see their lovely photos and hear all about their experiences.

The news from Italy made me think about my past trips to Italy and the fun my children and I had learning the many Italian expressions we encountered for the first time. I distinctly remember my daughter, who knows only a little bit of Italian, asking me in an exasperated way one day, “So, Mom, what is this ‘allora’ I keep hearing all the time?!!!”

I’ve put together a quick list of some common, short Italian expressions that have meanings that seem to defy explanation to the English speaker at first. Many of these expressions also change their meaning depending on the context, which also makes them confusing! But just watch the expressions on people’s faces and, of course, the hand gestures that are an important part of the Italian language, and before you know it, you will be using these expressions yourself. Ma dai!

How many more Italian expressions can you think of that were difficult or funny to understand when you encountered them? Please reply. I’d love to hear! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

If you need a travel companion to Italy, remember my Conversational Italian for Travelers pocket phrase book, “Just the Important Phrases,”  on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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(A Few) Italian Expressions for Fun and Travel 

Allora… Well, Well then, So, In that case…
Ebbene… So, Well
Figurati! (in response to thanks received for performing a favor):
No problem, You’re welcome, It was my pleasure
Magari! If only! I wish!
Magari fosse vero! If only it were true!
Ma dai! (persuading tone) Come on!
(encouraging tone) Come on!
(exasperated tone) Come on!
Ma quando mai? When did I ever? Since when?  
(meaning: I never!)
Ma va! But really? You don’t say?
Ma và! (incredulous) Go away! Go on!

 

Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

 

Everyday Italian Phrases: What I Saw, What I See, What I Am Looking At…

Burano in Venice, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2017?

I believe that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express ourselves more easily and quickly. We will be on our way to building complex sentences and speaking more like we do in our native language!

This post is the fifth in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.

Another of our “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily is
“What I saw…”
 which reminds us of phrases that describe

“What I see…” and “What I am looking at…”

 See below for how this works.

As we all master these phrases, so will you. Try my method and let me know how it works. What sentences will you create with these phrases?

Please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

This material and more on this topic are available in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference book Just the Grammar on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be obtained at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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What I Saw… What I See… What I Am Looking At…

in Italian

First, to review from our last blog post,“What I Saw…” in Italian.

The past tense for “I saw,” a one-time event, uses the passato prossimo past tense form, which is “ho visto.” This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English form “I have seen.”  

A very common question/answer situation arises around “who” we “have seen.” How many times in a family situation does one ask, Did you see/Have you seen…?” The subject in the question is now the familiar “you,” so the Italian phrase will change to “Hai visto…?”

Let’s summarize the phrases used most often to describe what or who I saw… 

I’m also sneaking in a phrase here to describe what or who we have never seen. We start the negative phrase with “non” as usual, then insert the word “mai,” for “never,” between the two past tense verbs.

Ho visto… I saw…
I have seen…
 
Hai visto…? Did you see…?
Have you seen…?
 
Non ho mai visto…  I have never seen…  
L’ho visto. I saw him. I saw it.
(masculine thing)
L’ha vista. I saw her. I saw it.
(feminine thing)
Li ho visti. I saw them. (all male or male+female group)  
Le ho viste. I saw them. (all female group)

Of course, we can also discuss “seeing” things or people in the present or future, not just the past. In fact, the following expressions come up so often that it is helpful to commit them to memory.

Vado vedere. I’ll go see.
Faccio vedere… I’ll show you…
(literally: I’ll make you see…)
Vedrai… You’ll see…
Vedremo… We’ll see…

Now, let’s get to some important expressions that use the verb vedere, which of course means “to see.” The first two can be translated literally, but the others cannot and are what we can call “idiomatic.” This means that we must think of the expression in its entirety to understand the meaning, rather than string together a word-by-word translation.

A prima vista At first glance
Mai visto prima Never seen before
Non vedo l’ora di… I can’t wait to…
Non vedo l’ora di vederti! I can’t wait to see you!
Che piacere di vederti! What a pleasure to see you!
Mi ha fatto piacere vederti! It has been a pleasure to see you!
Mi ha fatto piacere conoscerti! It has been a pleasure to meet you!

Sometimes in America when we are recounting a story or an event, we may end with the phrase, “…and that was that!” There is an idiomatic expression in Italian for this phrase that also uses visto:  “…chi s’è visto s’è visto!”  

Finally, if we want to say we are “looking at” something, we can use the verb guardare, which means “to look at” or “to watch.” Notice that the preposition “at” is included with this verb!

Remember, we can “look,” or use our eyes, but not really “see” or understand! Italians use these two verbs the same way that we use them in English!

Use guardare to point out something to someone else, usually when it is in plain sight. In this case, we will often use the command form of the verb, which is signaled by an exclamation point when we write. The direct object pronouns that mean him, her, and it have been written in red and are attached directly to the verb for the command forms used as follows.

Here are some expressions to get you started.

Guarda! Look!
Guardalo!  Look at him! Look at it!
(masculine thing)
Guardala! Look at her! Look at it!
(feminine thing)
Guardo il televisione. I am looking at/watching the television. 

Remember these phrases, and I guarantee that you will use at least one of them every day!

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3): Important Phrases to Remember

Conversational Italian for Travelers Books, 2015

This blog post about the Italian subjunctive mode, or il congiuntivo, is the third in a series on this topic that I’ve created for advanced students and teachers of Italian. Each blog post focuses on real-life situations and gives examples of when the subjunctive mode should be used.

Reprinted from the original blog post below is an explanation of why the subjunctive mode is important in Italian, as well as a list of Italian words and phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode. This is the full list of phrases that were discussed in the series. I hope you find this list useful!

Visit the Learn Italian! blog post from July 17, 2016, to read the entire article and get started learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3)

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mode that is used to express doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

The subjunctive mode is said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mode, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mode in the phrase to follow.

In our first blog post about the Italian subjunctive mode, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Group 1  through Group 5.

In our second blog post about the Italian subjunctive mode, we discussed Groups 6 and 7.

These groups are again listed for review.

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with “It is…” such as “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…”
  6. Phrases that use the verbs volere and desiderare when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  7. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  8. Phrases that express feelings and use the pattern: [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb  +  di + infinitive verb]. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to [avere, essere, or augurarsi verb + che + subjunctive verb].
  9. Sentences that begin with words that end in –ché, or complex conjunctions that end with che: affinché, perché (so as, so that, in order that), purché (as long as, provided that), a meno che (unless), può darsi che (it may be possible that, possibly, maybe), prima che (before that). Also the many words that mean although/though, one of which ends in -che: benché  (also sebenne, malgrado, nonostante).
  10. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place, or thing: qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere).
  11. Sentences that begin with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of nothing or only  in a description of a person, place, or thing: niente che, nulla che (nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico, il solo, a che (the only one that).
  12. Phrases that begin with se (if) or come se (as if) in certain situations.

Click on the link to the original Learn Italian! blog post (Part 3) about the Italian subjunctive mode for an explanation of Groups 8 through 11. Group 12 will be the topic of a later series of blog posts on hypothetical phrases but is included here for completeness.

—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

All About Italian Movies and… Love

Italy, the town of Stresa
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As the title suggests… this blog post is about how to speak in Italian about two of everyone’s favorite topics—movies and love! The idea for this post came to me after I finally watched an old Italian DVD that I’ve had in my collection for some time. I realized that this movie has many phrases about love and relationships that we don’t usually learn in textbooks, spoken in clear and (fairly) slow Italian.

The movie is called Violent Summer because it takes place at the end of World War II, but it is really a love story. The actors were famous at the time, and the movie has a lovely, lyrical feel to it. If you want to watch it, I have a spoiler alert—there is really not any violence in this movie because it is mostly about the privileged few who were able to escape the violence of war… until the end.

Visit the Learn Italian! blog post from April 18, 2017, to read the entire dialogue and get started with learning how to talk about movies… and love! Following is an excerpt:

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

In the dialogue to follow,  we listen in on a telephone call between two good Italian friends who are sharing thoughts about a famous Italian movie. The movie is about a love story that takes place during World War II. Common idiomatic expressions used when talking with a friend, vocabulary related to the movies, and phrases about love have been underlined.

Listening to foreign films is a wonderful way to learn another language. The movie described contains short sentences spoken in clear Italian and is a good place to start to build a vocabulary about relationships and love. Spoiler alert: The only real violence is at the very end of the movie, although its title is Violent Summer.

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

Una sera, il telefono di Maria ha squillato. Era Francesca, la migliore amica di Maria.
One evening, Maria’s telephone rang. It was Francesca, Maria’s best friend.

 

“Maria! Sono io! Come stai? Puoi parlare per un attimo?”
“Maria! It’s me! How are you? Can you talk for a bit?”

 

“Ma, certo Maria. Che è successo?”
“But of course, Maria. What happened?”    Read more…

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

Shopping for Italian Fashion!

Italian dresses for sale
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

“Saldi” means “sale” in Italian! When visiting Italy, one encounters wonderful shops that sell everything imaginable. In most cities, beautiful, stylish clothing made by well-known designers hangs in the shop windows of the grand boulevards and larger piazzas. Think Via Monte Napoleone in Milan or the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Now that the fall season is upon us, the cooler weather will bring with it the exciting new Italian fashions of the season.

But one must be prepared to shop Italian. Sizes in Italy are different from those in the United States and from those in other European countries. How does one know what size clothing to bring to the dressing room? Also, when talking about Italian style, it should be mentioned that there are still dedicated craftsmen who make high-quality leather goods. There is such a dazzling variety of shoes in the shop windows that it is always tempting to buy a pair to bring home. But what size to tell the shopkeeper to get?

If you are like me and can’t resist shopping when you visit Italy, click on the Learn Italian! link for Italian size charts and for some important shopping tips. I’ve reprinted shoe sizes here again because this is a priority for me—I can’t resist bringing at least one or two pairs home every trip!

This blog post was originally published on September 27, 2016, on Learn Italian! for Stella Lucente, LLC, and www.learntravelitalian.com.

Leave a comment and share about YOUR favorite Italian city or place to go shopping! 

 

The tables that follow list European and Italian sizes and how they (roughly) correspond to the sizes in the United States.

Please note that this is only a general guide, and it is best to always try on any item of clothing before making a purchase!

Women’s and Men’s Shoe Sizes*

American Shoe Sizes (inches) 5 ½ 6 6 ½ 7 7 ½ 8 8 ½ 9 9 ½ 10 10 ½
European/Italian Women’s Shoe Sizes 35 ½ 36 36 ½ 37 37 ½ 38 38 ½ 39
European/Italian Men’s Shoe Sizes 37 37 ½ 38 38 ½ 39 40 41 41 ½ 42 42 ½ 43

*Hint: Subtract 30 from European shoe sizes to get the equivalent of the American size for women’s shoe sizes 5 to 9.

Reading Italian Menus: Il Secondo (cont’d)

Roman restaurant
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

As I mentioned in the last blog post on this topic, when I first traveled to Italy as a college student, I had difficulty at first when I tried to read and order at an Italian restaurant. I thought back to how many lessons I had had in Italian through high school and college and then realized that the reason was simple: Italian courses in school did not focus on the vocabulary I needed as a traveler.

Years later, when members of the Italian-American Society of Peoria asked me if I could help them with Italian before a trip to Italy they had planned—for vacation or to visit long-lost Italian relatives—I remembered my own difficulties, and I created the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books. These books focus on the vocabulary and phrases we all need to know to enjoy our trip to Italy!

Along these lines, members of the Conversational Italian! Facebook group have been discussing their favorite main course dishes and, of course, these include fish dishes. The Italians know many wonderful ways to prepare fish—as you would expect, because they are surrounded by the sea and fresh fish are in abundance. They also import fish from their Scandinavian neighbors.

Fish is also important as an appetizer in Italy. One of my favorites is called “fritto misto,” fresh fish and shellfish fried in a light batter and presented beautifully on a large platter for all to share.

I’d love to hear about more Italian favorites! Continue the conversation on this blog, and join us on our Facebook group if you like!

Read the list below of common fish and shellfish that are served as a delicious main course or appetizer in Italy, taken from Chapter 17 of Conversational Italian for Travelers. See if this list reminds you of one of your favorite Italian dishes!

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Fish and Shellfish in Italian

 

la sogliola filet of sole
la trota trout
il merluzzo cod
il baccalà cod (dried)
 il pesce spada swordfish
il branzino sea bass
il tonno tuna
il salmone salmon
i calamari squid
la seppia cuttlefish (like squid)
i gamberi shrimp
gli scampi large, shrimp-like crustacean from the
Mediterranean Sea
le capesante scallops
l’aragosta lobster
le cozze mussels 
le vongole clams
le ostriche oysters
le acciughe anchovies
le sardine sardines
l’anguilla eel
i granchi clams
le lumache snails
il polpo octopus
l’aringa affumicata smoked herring

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

The Italian Subjunctive Mode Part 2: Easy to Conjugate but Tricky to Use!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Book Display

This blog about the Italian subjunctive mode, or il congiuntivo, is the second in a series on this topic that I’ve created for advanced students and teachers of Italian. Each blog post will focus on real-life situations and give examples of when the Italian subjunctive mode should be used. Below is an excerpt from the original post.

Visit the Learn Italian! blog post from June 5, 2016, to read the entire article and get started with learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode:  Easy to Conjugate but Tricky to Use!

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mode that is used to express doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

The subjunctive mode is said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic.

Certain phrases are commonly used to start a sentence in order to introduce the subjunctive mode, and these initial phrases will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mode in the phrase to follow.

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Points to remember about the subjunctive mode:

 In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mode, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mode is otherwise commonly used.

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In each blog post in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mode in the present and past tenses. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the subjunctive mode will be presented. Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian, and try out the subjunctive mode in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the second blog post in this series: Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2): Speak Italian!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material is adapted from our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, found on www.learntravelitalian.com. Special thanks to Italian instructors Simona Giuggioli and Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

Speaking with the Waiter in Italy

Italian Restaurant at the Grand Hotel Isles des Borromees, Italy

Two summers ago, I had the pleasure of staying at the lovely hotel pictured here on Lago Maggiore, Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees, in the town of Stresa, in the lake region just north of Milan. I’ll never forget how wonderfully relaxing dining “al fresco” every morning in the hotel’s beautiful restaurant was.

In this photograph, the waiter is in the background, waiting for the lunch service to begin. Enjoying daily meals here made me think of how knowing just a few Italian phrases really helps interactions flow smoothly when dining in Italy. The waiters appreciate it, and it makes the meal that much more memorable.

This blog with useful Italian phrases to speak to the waiter was just posted on May 31, 2016, on the Learn Italian! blog for Stella Lucente, LLC, and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to read the entire blog post if you like.

If you like what you are reading, our pocket book, Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrasesis available to take with you overseas on your next Italian vacation!    

After Caterina arrives in Italy, she stays with her Italian cousin Pietro and his family in Milan for a while and adapts to Italian life and the Italian language. Then, in the last unit of the book, they all go on a summer vacation together. Caterina and the family stay at a typical northern Italian lake resort in the town of Stresa on Lago Maggiore.

For those travelers who are adventurous enough to try out their Italian on their own visit to Italy, read on for some phrases that will come in handy when ordering at an Italian restaurant. Get started by speaking with the waiter. A delicious meal is soon to follow!

To listen to the dialogue from Chapter 16, when Caterina and her Italian family arrive at an Italian restaurant and begin their wonderful meal together, go to the interactive audio dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.
—Kathryn Occhipinti

Reading Italian Menus: Il Secondo

Roman restaurant
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

When I first traveled to Italy as a college student, I had difficulty at first when I tried to read and order at an Italian restaurant. I thought back to how many lessons I had had in Italian through high school and college and then realized that the reason was simple: Italian courses in school did not focus on the vocabulary I needed as a traveler.

Years later, when members of the Italian-American Society of Peoria would ask me if I could help them with Italian before a trip to Italy they had planned—for vacation or to visit long-lost Italian relatives—I remembered my own difficulties, and I created the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books. These books focus on the vocabulary and phrases we all need to know to enjoy our trip to Italy!

Along these lines, last week, I asked the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, “What is your favorite Italian dish for Il Secondo, or the second course?” I posted about one of my favorite dishes my mother would make when I was growing up as a child, called braciole, and the family tomato sauce recipe she would cook this rolled-up meat in.

I’d love to hear about more Italian favorites! Continue the conversation on this blog, and join us on our Facebook group if you like!

Read the list below of cooking methods and types of meats found on menus in Italian restaurants, taken from Chapter 17 of Conversational Italian for Travelers and see if it reminds you of your favorite Italian dish!

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Cooking Methods in Italian

fritto fried
bollito boiled
arrostito roasted
brasato/stufato braised/stewed
affumicato smoked
farcito(a)/ripieno(a) stuffed
al forno baked (lit. from the oven)
alla brace broiled
alla griglia/ai ferri grilled
alla cacciatora stewed in a pot (as a hunter would make)

 

Meat Dishes in Italian

 

la cotoletta cutlet (meat without bone)
la scaloppina very thin cutlet
la costoletta chop/rib (bone in meat)
l’arrosto the roast (to be sliced)
la bistecca* steak*
bistecca alla fiorentina steak florentine style
al sangue rare meat
ben cotto well-done meat
cotto a puntino cooked just right
il sugo di carne gravy
le polpette meatballs
il vitello veal
il pollo chicken
il petto di pollo chicken breast fillet
il tacchino turkey
l’anatra duck
la quaglia quail
il fagiano pheasant
il coniglio rabbit
il maiale pork
la pancetta bacon
il guanciale bacon from pig cheeks
l’agnello lamb
l’abbacchio young lamb
la capra/il capretto goat/kid
il fegato liver

*When ordering a steak in Italy (wonderful grilled steaks, called bistecca alla fiorentina, can be found in Tuscany, for example), it is not really possible to order how the steak should be cooked. Instead, it is usually left for the chef to decide, based on the cut of meat and the style of the dish.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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Conversational Italian Numbers Tips!

Italy, Florence's Piazza Signoria photo by Conversational Italian for Travelers
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

For the last few weeks on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to count in Italian. Most people are familiar with how to count from 1 to 10.

With a simple tip, even the larger Italian numbers are easy to master! The following blog post contains material from the “Numbers” sections at the ends of Chapters 1 and 2 in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook.

Here is how it works: When counting from 20 to 99 in Italian, simply take your tens number—venti, trenta, and so on, and add on your number from 1 to 9, as in English!

But remember this simple rule: “For ones and eights, take away a! This just means that the last letter of each tens word must be removed before adding on “uno” for “one” or “otto” for “eight.”

Flash cards that children use when learning addition or multiplication can be an entertaining way to practice numbers in a group. Each student can take turns picking a card, any card, out of the pile, and saying the number in Italian! Happy counting! Join us on our open Conversational Italian! Facebook group for more tips if you like!

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Counting from 1 to 10

zero (Note: The Italian word zero will change to the plural zeri when describing more than one of this number [i.e., 100 has two zeros, or due zeri].)

1 uno  2 due  3 tre  4 quattro  5 cinque
6 sei  7 sette  8 otto  9 nove  10 dieci

 

Counting by Tens

20

venti

30

trenta

40

quaranta

50

cinquanta

60

sessanta

70

settanta

80 ottanta
90

novanta

                             

Here are the 20s and 30s in full:

20 – venti 30 – trenta
21 – ventuno 31 – trentuno
22 – ventidue 32 – trentadue
23 – ventitre 33 – trentatre
24 – ventiquattro 34 – trentaquattro
25 – venticinque 35 – trentacinque
26 – ventisei 36 – trentasei
27 – ventisette 37 – trentasette
28 – ventotto 38 – trentotto
29 – ventinove 39 – trentanove

***For our readers: To purchase the right to download the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook onto one computer and one electronic device OR to get a discounted price on the loose-leaf binder sheets, visit our website at www.Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Italian Language… Read All About “Ema”

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Interesting fact I found out recently: Italian words that end in “ema” like “problema” are masculine even though they end in the letter “a” and therefore should be feminine in Italian. The reason is because they originally come from the Greek language.

So today I have solved un problema”! The “un” I used is the masculine word for “a” and needs to precede all of these feminine-looking but actually masculine Italian words.

Remember to use “il,” which is the masculine word for “the” before masculine words that begin with a consonant and “l” for those that begin with a vowel.

Last week, I asked the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, “How many more commonly used Italian words that end in “ema” can everyone think of?” Below are some replies. I’d love to hear more! Continue the conversation on this blog, and join us on our Facebook group if you like!

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Italian Words That End in “EMA”

“You can say, “Ho un problema.” (I have a problem.) or “Ho dei problemi.” (I have some problems.) 😉 (wink emoticon) Now you have no more problems! =D (grin emoticon)”
C’è un dilemma.   
This is a dilemma/predicament.
“Un po’ di crema se si screma non crea patema e non c’è problema, cara Kathryn!”
A little bit of cream if you skim it doesn’t create worries, and there is no problem, dear Kathryn!
Non c’è problema!  
There is no problem!

 

 

 il tema  the subject, topic, theme
il sistema the system
l’anatema the anathema
il teorema  the theorem, theory, hypothesis
il cinema the film, films, movies, movie theater, film industry
il schema the tactic, method, strategy, outline
il poema the epic, epic poem
il clima the climate
il fantasma  the ghost

 

Italian Appetizers, Anyone?

Antipasto Misto
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Last week on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we talked about what appetizers, or “antipasto” we like to serve for Easter and other holidays.

Antipasto simply means “before the meal” in Italian and refers to small dishes served before “Il Primo” or “the first course” of pasta, an Italian rice dish of risotto, or  Italian potato dumplings called gnocchi.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, which lists our favorite “antipasti” served in Italy.

Notice, by the way, the pronunciation of a very common Italian appetizer served here in America— bruschetta slices of toasted bread with various toppings, most commonly tomato and basil. The Italians pronounce it very differently than most Americans! What is your family’s favorite antipasto dish? Write and let us know!

If you want to read more about this topic, the textbook is available for delivery from Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com. The rights to purchase the book in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be purchased at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Antipasto

il pane bread
una fetta
di pane
slice of bread
la bruschetta toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic; can be topped with chopped tomatoes or chopped liver, and so on. (It’s pronounced br/oo/ske/ta because “che” is pronounced like the English word “key.”)
l’olio (d’oliva) olive oil
l’aceto vinegar (balsamic; aged vinegar from Modena/red wine vinegar)
l’antipasto misto assorted appetizers
l’insalata verde/mista mixed lettuce greens and vegetables
i calamari fritti fried squid
la panzanella tomato and bread salad, usually made with leftover bread cubes
la caprese  fresh tomato slices, basil, and mozzarella sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil (from Capri)
le olive olives
le verdure (sottaceto) assorted vegetables (pickled)
i peperoni (sottaceto) peppers (pickled)
i funghi (sottaceto) mushrooms (pickled)
i carciofi (sott’olio) artichoke hearts (preserved in olive oil)
la caponata Sicilian eggplant and olive appetizer, cooked and then served cold
le acciughe anchovies
la bagna cauda warm olive oil, garlic, and anchovy dip for fresh or boiled vegetables, from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy
le sardine sardines
la mortadella  special type of bologna, from the city of Bologna
il salame
i salumi
salami—a variety of dried/smoke-cured meats that vary by region
il fritto misto assorted batter-fried vegetables, assorted fish and seafood, or a combination of both vegetables and seafood
il prosciutto special air-dried/cured ham from the city of Parma
prosciutto
e melone
special cured ham served on top of a cantaloupe slice, often drizzled with balsamic vinegar
lo speck special smoked ham from the region of Tyrol in Austria
il formaggio cheese—made from cow, sheep, or goat milk in Italy (See Chapter 18 of Conversational Italian for Travelers for a chart of the most common Italian cheeses and their region of origin.)

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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Conversational Italian for Travelers: Book Review

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn for Learntravelitalian.com

Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases Thank you, Margie, for a wonderful review on your blog, MargeinItaly!

Available on   Amazon.com
and http://www.LearnTravelItalian.com

 

margieinitaly

Photoby Kathy Occhipinti

Occasionally I like to introduce an author or  feature a book about Italy or anything Italian. Today I am honored to recommend a book I recently discovered, and I think you’ll like it too.

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrasesby Kathryn Occhipinti is the perfect travel companion for your trip to Italy. Concise and well organized, only 4 inches by 6 inches, this pocket-sized Italian language book can travel with you wherever you go in Italy. Beginning with pronunciation of the Italian alphabet this book is full of practical information about every aspect of travel in Italy.

Conversational Italian is what you need in Italy and you can learn it so quickly here  with the author’s focus on “just the important phrases.”

From meeting people to transportation, to renting a car, to shopping, to ordering food in a restaurant,  to money, all topics of importance are…

View original post 188 more words

Learn Italian: “How much does it cost?”

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Last week on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we learned how to ask, “How much does it cost?” in Italian.

Do you like to barter? Did you know that the merchants in the piazzas of Italy (and some stores) actually expect you to barter with them? Don’t pay full price for your Italian treasure if you don’t have to! And the sellers always appreciate it if you pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, on the topic of how to barter in Italy. If you want to read more about this topic, the textbook is available for delivery from Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com. The rights to purchase the book in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be purchased at Learn Travel Italian.com.

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Quanto Costa?

When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much one thing costs, you can point to the item and ask:

Quanto costa? =  How much does (it ) cost?

When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much more than one thing costs, you can point to the items and ask:

Quanto costano? = How much do these things cost?

*************************************

Start a conversation with a shopkeeper by asking:

Quanto costa… How much is…
(literally: How much costs…)

 

Of course, the listed price will be:

troppo caro too expensive
costoso  expensive, costly
proprio costoso  really expensive
Costa un occhio della testa! Costs an arm and a leg!
(lit. Costs an eye out of the head!)

 

Unless the article happens to be:

in vendita/in saldo, saldi on sale/on sale for a reduced price
in svendita  in a closeout sale
sconto/scontato  discount/discounted
a prezzo basso at low/lowered price

 

And here we go with bartering… If you’ve tried this in Italy, leave a comment describing your method and let us know how it worked! 

Quanto costa? How much (does it) cost?
Venti euro. (It costs) 20 euro.
Troppo caro! Quindici euro, invece! (That is) too expensive! 15 euros instead!
Non è in saldo… ma, diciannove va bene. (It) is not on sale… but 19 is good.
No, è costoso! Forse diciassette? No, (it) is expensive! Perhaps 17?
Diciotto. Non posso fare più sconto! 18. (I) can’t discount it any more! (lit. I can’t make it (any) more discounted!)
D’accordo. Agreed.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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Italian style… Let’s talk about it!

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

For the last week on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to talk about what we are wearing. With so many shops that carry beautiful clothing in Italy, you will probably want to talk about what you are wearing in Italian! It seems tricky at first, but just follow our method, and you will have it down in no time!

Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Important Phrases” section in Chapter 10 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC,  available on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

Here are some important verbs to know and how to use them when talking about Italian clothing. Look for the shop signs that say saldi for “sale” and get started buying some fabulous clothes in Italy!

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How to Wear Italian Clothes

Vestirsi = to get dressed. Notice that getting dressed is reflexive in Italian. Remember that with reflexive verbs, we drop the subject pronoun (io, tu, lei, lui, noi, voi, loro) and understand who is getting dressed from the reflexive pronoun and verb ending.

Mi vesto.  (I) get dressed.
Ti vesti. (You) get dressed.
Si veste. (She/He) gets dressed.

Don’t confuse the verb vestirsi with the noun vestito, which means dress!

 

Mettersi = to put on. Notice the many English phrases that are simply spoken with short Italian phrases using mettersi.

Mi metto il vestito. (I) put on the dress.
(I) put the dress on.
(I) put on my dress.
Ti metti l’anello. (You) put on the ring.
Si mette le scarpe. (She/He) puts on the shoes.

 

If you want to say “I am wearing…” or “I take the size…” use the regularly conjugated verb portare, which in other situations means “to bring” or “to carry.”

Porto il mio vestito preferito.     (I) am wearing my favorite dress.

Porto la taglia quarantotto.        (I) take size 48.

 

If you really want to be a part of Italian culture, use this idiomatic expression, which refers to shoes and means something fits perfectly. It is the equivalent of the English saying, “It fits me like a glove,” or, “It fits me to a T”!

Mi calza a pennello!      It fits me perfectly!… Like a glove! …To a “T”!

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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Parla italiano?

The Old Market, Rome, Italy
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

For the last week on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to answer the question, “Parla italiano?” “Do you speak Italian?” Of course, this will be an important phrase to know how to answer when in Italy! Have an answer handy that works for you. Even more importantly, learn the phrases listed below just in case you have difficulty following the Italian spoken to you once you start up your Italian conversation!

Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Important Phrases” section of Chapter 2 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, now available on  Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

*********************************************

Do You Speak Italian?

If you are asked:
Parla italiano?                     (Do) you (polite) speak Italian?

You may reply:

Si, un po’. Yes, a little.
Si, molto bene. Yes, very well.
No, mi dispiace!  No, I am sorry!
 Parla inglese? (Do) you (polite) speak English?

 

An Italian may say:
No, parlo soltanto italiano.      No, (I) only speak Italian.

You may want to ask:
Dov’è un interprete?                 Where is an interpreter?

 

If you are having difficulty understanding fluent Italian, you may want to say:

Che cosa? What?
Non capisco. (I) don’t understand.
Non capisco che cosa ha detto. (I) didn’t understand what you (polite) said.
Non ho sentito. (I) didn’t hear (you).
Lei parla troppo veloce (per me)! You (polite) speak too fast (for me)!

 

To ask for help you could try:

Per favore, può… Please, could you (polite)…
…parlare più lentamente …speak more slowly?
…parlare più piano?  …speak more slowly?
…parlare più forte? …speak more loudly?
…parlare in inglese? …speak in English?
Non parlare troppo veloce. Don’t speak too quickly.
Può ripetere? Could you (polite) repeat (that)?

 

Come si dice…?  How (do) you (polite) say…?
(literally: How does one say?)
Come si dice in italiano? How (do) you (polite) say (it) in Italian?
Cosa significa?  What does (it) mean?
Come si chiama in italiano? What is it called in Italian?

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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How to ask and answer the question, “Where are you from?” in Italian

The Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco

 

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

For the last couple of weeks on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to ask and answer the question, “Where are you from?” in Italian. It is a bit complicated, but what I always recommend is just to remember how the question will be asked and the answer in Italian as it applies to you!

Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Grammar Note” in Chapter 2 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers ©2012,  found on Amazon.com and www.Learn Travel Italian.com

*********************************

 Describing Where You Are From

One of the questions most frequently asked of travelers during polite conversation is, “Where are you from?” Two phrases can be used to ask this question in Italian. There are subtle differences in the meaning of these two questions, and in the reply for each.

The first phrase uses the combination:

di + dove + essere = from + where + to be

This phrase is most often used to inquire about an individual’s place of birth. In Italian, when the verb to be (essere) is used, the idea of “from” is expressed with di, as in, “From where are you?” In proper English, of course, we would say, “Where are you from?” The answer in Italian will also use di and will be followed by the town of one’s birth. Notice that the subject pronoun io (I) is usually left out of the answer, as it is understood from the ending of the verb.

Di dov’è Lei? Where are you (polite) from?
Di dove sei? Where are you (familiar) from?
Sono di Chicago. (I) am from Chicago.

 

 

The second phrase uses the combination:

Da + dove + venire = from + where + to come

This phrase uses the action verb venire and is usually used in conversation when someone is visiting or has moved to a new place. The reply will use the io form of venire, which is vengo, and da for “from,” followed by a city, town, region/state, or country.

Also, remember that when speaking of a region, state, or country, the Italian definite article (il, lo, la, l’, gli) must be used. The preposition da is then combined with the definite article to make dal, dallo, dall’, dalla, or dagli, which means “from the.”

For now, don’t worry about these rules. Just look up and remember the correct way to say where you are living in case you are asked!

Da dove viene?

Da dove vieni?

Where do you come from? (polite)

Where do you come from? (familiar)

Vengo dall’America. (I) come from America./I am from America.
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti.  (I) come from the United States.
Vengo dall’Illinois.  (I) come from Illinois.
Vengo dalla California. (I) come from California.
Vengo dal New Jersey. (I) come from New Jersey.
Vengo da Chicago. (I) come from Chicago.

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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“Prego” is Italian for “You’re welcome” and so much more!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Most everyone who is familiar enough with Italian culture to want to visit Italy will know a few basic Italian words, like grazie” for “thank you,” for instance. But what is the proper reply?  Why, it is the word “prego,” of course! Anyone who visits Italy, even for a short time, will certainly hear the Italian word prego, and in more situations than they might expect at first!

Here is a summary, adapted from our pocket book Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases © 2014, of the many ways the word prego is used in Italian,  which was shared with our Conversational Italian! Facebook group this month.

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How to Use “Prego”

Prego is the direct response to grazie and means, “You’re welcome.” It is derived from the verb of politeness pregare, which has several meanings.

Pregare can be translated as “to pray,” which lends itself to the connotation of asking or requesting something. English phrases like, “I pray of you,” “I beg of you,” or “Pray tell,” carry the same idea, although these are no longer commonly used.

In a similar way, a simple, “Prego…” can also be used, usually with a gesture,* to address someone when on line in a crowded place, as in, “Go ahead of me, I beg you, if you please…”

“Sono pregati di” is a polite expression derived from pregare that may also be heard when someone in charge, such as a flight attendant or tour guide, for instance, is directing a group of people.

Finally, if an Italian waiter comes to your table at a restaurant with a wonderful dish for you to try, he may put it in front of you with a flourish and say, “Prego!” as in “There you go!”

Below is a summary of all the uses of that short, simple Italian word with many uses: “Prego!”

Prego. You’re welcome.
Prego…  If (you) please…
Sono pregati di…  Are requested/asked/begged to…
Prego! There you go!

*To really learn Italian, one must also learn the gestures that are a part of the language!

Just the Important Phrases from Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)

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Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Italian chocolate hazelnut tart
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

As I write this blog, the weather has turned warmer with a hint of a cool breeze, and it seems that the sunshine of spring has finally arrived to my part of the world.  What better way is there to celebrate this lovely change of the seasons than with… chocolate!  And what better combination is there than chocolate and hazelnuts for an Italian chocolate-hazelnut tart?

When I discovered that Italians make tarts, I used a basic Italian pasta frolla (sweet pastry) method and added chocolate to it.  Best of all, the filling does not need to be baked, so it is “quick and easy” – just stir together filling ingredients and pour for a candy-like soft chocolate filling.

This recipe was originally posted on April 25, 2018 on the Learn Italian! blog for Stella Lucente, LLC  and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the entire method!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

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Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

This Italian chocolate hazelnut tart (crostata) blends two classic Italian ingredients that go perfectly with one another to create a delicious, sweet end to any meal. I think you will agree that a slice of this chocolate tart for dessert will add something special to any get-together or special celebration.  And it is very simple to make!

A basic, pre-baked pie crust and a no-bake filling of chocolate ganache, hazelnut spread, and real hazelnuts will turn into something special when combined. The filling is candy-like, similar to the flavored chocolate fillings found in truffle candies, so even a thin slice is very rich! Also included is an easy method for homemade whipped cream.

Try a slice of our chocolate hazelnut tart topped with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream and see for yourself! —Kathryn Occhipinti   read more of this blog…