Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Let’s Talk About… Dating in Italian

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting a new blog every month in the series “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” With these blogs, I describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

February is the month we in America celebrate Valentines Day, a holiday that originated in Italy and is still popular there today, as described in last years’ February blog “How to Say… ‘I feel’ on Valentines Day with Sentirsi.” Since the Italian phrases that describe a romantic relationship are not usually listed in textbooks, I’ve focused on Italian novels and movies to learn how Italians talk about falling in love. Once I discover a phrase about dating or romance, I check with my native Italian friends and instructors for authenticity and to verify how the phrase is used today.

I’ve managed to piece together the following information about how Italians talk about dating and romantic relationships in this blog, some of which is reprinted from my blog for advanced students of Italian: Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love.   After reading this introductory blog, you may want to check out the dialogue I have created in Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love, where these phrases are put to use!

If we learn a few phrases to describe dating in Italian, we will be able to talk to others about the person who has become the “special someone” in our life!

This post is the 54th  in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE.

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian describe

  Dating in Italian

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.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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Let’s Talk About… Dating in Italian

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 marriage, a couple can still go out on “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.” For instance, “Marco fa la corte a Maria,” is translated literally as “Mark is courting Maria,” with the connotation that he is “pursing” her or trying to “win” her love.

The verb corteggiare can also be used figuratively, between any two adults, to describe when one is trying to cajole, flatter, or entice another, usually to “convince” them to do something. “Marco corteggia il proprietario alla festa perché vuole un aumento di stipendio.” “Mark flattered the owner at the party because he wanted an increase in his salary.”

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

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In today’s vernacular, if one wants to allude to the fact that they are dating, or “seeing” someone special in the Italian language, the following phrases can be used:

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

It should be noted that ragazzo and ragazza also translate into boyfriend and girlfriend. To let another know you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, simply say, “Ho un ragazzo,” or “Ho una ragazza.” 

Also, you’ll notice that from the above translations that the Italian noun appuntamento does double duty, since it  corresponds to both appointment and date. In English, the word appointment is generally used to refer to a business meeting or a formal meeting in general, often between people who do not know each other well. The noun “date” can be used to describe a general meeting between friends, and is always used when one wants to imply a romantic interest.

Italian can be used to refer to regular romantic “get togethers” before marriage with the phrase “to go out with someone”“uscire con qualcuno.”  “Io esco con Maria ogni sabato sera,” means, “I go out with Mark every Saturday night,” and implies, “I go out on a (romantic) date with Mark every Friday night.” 

The Italian verb “frequentarsi,” which means “to spend time with each other” can also be used to describe a special relationship. Frequentarsi can also be translated as “to see each other” or “to date each other” in the romantic sense or simply to “to hang out with” friends. The non reflexive form, frequentare, means “to frequent” or “to visit” a certain place.

Some examples of how to use the Italian verbs that describe a special relationship are listed in the table below. Remember that ci and si in these examples stand for “each other.” For a refresher on how to use reciprocal reflexive verbs, visit our blog in this series called Italian Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs.

Marco e io ci frenquentiamo. Mark and I are spending time with each other. (romantically)
Mark and I are seeing each other (romantically)
Mark and I are dating each other.
Noi ci frequentiamo il sabato sera. We are seeing each other/dating every Saturday night.
   
Marco e Maria si fequentano. Mark and Maria are dating each other.
Loro si frequentano ogni venderdì sera. Mark and Maria see each other/
going out on a date every Friday night.
Marco frequenta il Ristorante Paolo il sabato. Mark frequents/goes to Ristorante Paolo on Saturday nights.
Marco si frequenta con i suoi amici in piazza quando non ha niente da fare. Mark hangs out with his friends in the piazza when he doesn’t have anything to do.
Marco si fequenta con Maria spesso. Mark often hangs out with Maria. (as friends)
   
Marco e i suoi amici frequentano il Ristorante Paolo. Mark and his friends hang out at Ristorante Paolo.
Loro si frequentano ogni vender sera. They see each other every Friday night. (as friends)

 

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.”

 

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Now that we have learned the Italian needed to talk about dating, let’s review how to say, “I love you” to that special someone on Valentines Day.

“Ti voglio bene” is an old Italian expression that is still used for both platonic and romantic love. The meaning of this phrase is not easily translated into English, but it is used often in Italy to express one’s feeling of  closeness to another. This expression has its origin in the Italian phrasal verb “volere bene (a qualcuno).” “Ti voglio bene” can been translated as, “I care for you” or,”I wish you well,” but really, it is the way Italians tell others that they love them.

The expression “ti voglio bene” can be used between family members and friends, as well as a boyfriend and girlfriend or 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 a couple who are dating, fiancée and fiancé, or wife and husband. Remember the simple expressions with amare in the table below to use with someone special this Valentines Day!

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

If you learn to talk about dating in Italian
and how to use the verb amare 
you will really have learned to think in Italian!

 

Buona Festa del San Valentino!

Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Impersonal Statements and Reflexive Verbs: “Come si dice…?”

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently in 2022?

Now that 2022 is upon us, why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2022? I will try to help you with this goal by posting blogs that describe how Italians use their language on a daily basis and in so doing  help you to “think in Italian.” 

For instance, did you know that Italians still use impersonal constructions? By “impersonal constructions” I mean sentences that describe what “one” is doing, in order to make a general statement.

A common example of an Italian impersonal construction is the phrase, “Come si dice…” This simple Italian phrase is used by every Italian student at one point or another when asking for help with their vocabulary.  The literal translation of “Come si dice…?” is, “How does one say…”  In spoken English, this construction is only rarely used today, and usually in formal situations. Instead, to generalize, English speakers often use the collective “you” — directed both at no one in particular and at everyone at the same time! Especially in an informal conversation, “Come si dice…” would be translated as, “How do you say…?” But in Italian, when one generalizes, he or she cannot replace the “si” for “one” with “tu” for “you” the way we do in English.

If we learn how to use impersonal phrases in Italian, with  Italian reflexive verbs, we will be able to ask general questions, give directions, and even express how mechanical objects work!

This post is the 53rd  in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases”
in Italian are Impersonal Statements
that describe general interactions
and use

  Italian Reflexive Verbs 

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.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

Italian Reflexive Verbs

Knowing how to use Italian reflexive verbs is extremely important for conversation, since Italian reflexive verbs often describe activities and emotions that are encountered every day. Reflexive verbs are recognized by the –si ending of their infinitive form. Let’s review a bit about reflexive verbs before going on to discuss how they are used to make impersonal statements.

Direct reflexive verbs, as their name suggests, are used when an action refers back directly to the speaker in the subject of the sentence. For example, if one wants to describe the everyday act of falling asleep in Italian, they must use the reflexive verb addormentarsi. Italian reflexive verbs are also used to express the English concept of “to get,” as we’ve seen in a prior Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day blog. When one “gets mad,” they must express this concept in Italian with the verb arrabbiarsi. Consider also the every day activity of “getting dressed,” with mettersi, which was the focus of another blog in this series, How We Dress in Italian.

All Italian students are introduced  to a direct reflexive verb of the –arsi type at the very beginning of their studies, when they learn how to introduce themselves with the reflexive verb that means “to be named,” which is chiamarsi.  There are, of course, also reflexive verbs of the –ersi and –irsi types as well, such as mettersi (to put on clothes/to get dressed) and divertirsi (to enjoy oneself).

The necessary component of all reflexive verbs is the reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself,  himself, etc.), which is what actually  corresponds to and refers directly back to the subject.

To review, the reflexive pronouns are:

mimyself
ti – yourself (familiar)
si – yourself (pol.)/ herself, himself, itself, oneself

ciourselves
 vi – yourselves (familiar)
si – themselves

 

To conjugate a reflexive verb, start with the subject pronoun and follow with the corresponding reflexive pronoun. However, remember that for conversational Italian the subject pronoun is usually left out of the sentence and is only sometimes included for emphasis.

Our first table below starts us on our way to the complete conjugation of a reflexive verb by pairing each subject pronoun with its corresponding reflexive pronoun:

io mi I myself
tu ti you (familiar) yourself
Lei

lei/lui

si you (polite)

she/he

yourself

herself, himself,
itself, oneself

       
noi ci we ourselves
voi vi you all yourselves
loro si they yourselves (polite)
themselves

All we need to do now is to add our verb to create the action!  Notice that the English translation adds the reflexive pronoun after the verb, while in Italian the reflexive pronoun comes before the verb (except for familiar commands). This may take a little time to get used to!

Let’s conjugate divertirsito have fun / enjoy oneself — as an example:

io mi diverto I enjoy myself
tu ti diverti you (familiar) enjoy yourself
Lei

lei/lui

si diverte you (polite) enjoy yourself

she/he enjoys herself, himself

       
noi ci divertiamo we enjoy ourselves
voi vi divertite you all enjoy yourselves
loro si divertono they enjoy themselves

How to Make  Impersonal Statements
Italian Reflexive Pronouns

Generalizations in the third person, called impersonal statements, are used sparingly in English but are common in Italian. An Italian impersonal statement is created by using the reflexive pronoun si, along with a verb in the singular or plural third person (either the lei/lui or the loro form).

As noted from the conjugation tables from the first section…

  • when the reflexive pronoun si is used in the singular third person, the reference is to a single, unnamed person, and the subject can be translated as one.”
  • when the reflexive pronoun si is used in the plural third person, the reference is to a group of unnamed people and the subject can be translated as they.”

In both situations, the speaker is referring in general to someone,
without a individual or group of people in mind.
It makes sense, then, that these statements are called  “impersonal statements.”

A common example of an Italian impersonal statement is the phrase, “Come si dice…” This simple Italian phrase is used by every Italian student at one point or another when asking for help with their vocabulary.  The literal translation of “Come si dice…?” is, “How does one say…”  This construction is only rarely used in spoken English today, and usually in formal situations. Instead, when an English speaker wants to generalize, he or she often uses the collective “you” — directed both at no one in particular and at everyone at the same time! Especially in an informal conversation, “Come si dice…” would be translated into English as, “How do you say…?” But in Italian, when one generalizes, he or she cannot replace the “si” for “one” with “tu” for “you” the way we do in English.

Some generalizations that come up frequently in Italian conversation are listed below. The direct Italian translation is given first, with the English phrase more commonly used to express the same idea in the following translation. You may want to remember the first example when asking for help with your Italian!

Come si dice…? How (does) one say…?
How do you say…?
Come si dicono…? How (do) they say…
How (do) you all say...
In Italia, si parla italiano. In Italy, one speaks Italian.
In Italy, Italian is spoken.
In America, si parlano molte lingue. In America, they speak many languages.
In America, many languages
are spoken.
Si può fare? Can one do it?
Can it be done?
Can you do it?
Si sa che… One knows that…
You know that…
Non si sa mai! One never knows!
You never know!

Impersonal statements can also be used to describe a rule and are often found in Italian sayings or proverbs.

Si deve obbedire alla legge. One must obey the law.
You have to obey the law.
Non si paga per parcheggiare la domenica. One doesn’t pay for parking on Sundays.
You don’t pay for parking on Sundays.
Qualche volta, uno si trova a un bivio della propria vita. Sometimes, one finds himself at a crossroads of his life.
Vivendo s’impara. One learns by living.

Use Italian impersonal statements when giving directions, such as when talking a friend through a recipe for a favorite dish. For instance, to describe how to make your family’s Italian tomato sauce, use the common verbs aggiungere (to add) and mettere (to put) in the third person singular with the reflexive pronoun “si” to describe how “one” cooks. For examples, see the first table below. In English, of course, we default to “you” when giving directions to someone in conversation, and this is reflected in the translation. To follow are a few pointers about how to cook pasta to go with that delicious pot of tomato sauce!

Prima, si taglia a pezzi una cipolla e uno spicchio d’aglio. First, one chops an onion and a clove of garlic into small pieces.
First, you chop…
Poi, si mette la verdura in pentola  con l’olio di oliva. Then, one puts the vegetables in a pot with olive oil.
Then, you put…
Li si cuoce, si mescola bene, fino a quando tutti e due sono morbidi. One cooks them, sautéing well, until both are soft.
You cook them…
Si aggiunge la passata di pomodoro, l’acqua, e il basilico. One adds tomato puree, water, and basil.
You add…
Si agguinge un po’ di sale e pepe. One adds a little bit of salt and pepper.
You add…
Si cuoce la salsa per almeno un’ora, e si mescola bene. One cooks the sauce for at least one hour, stirring well.
You cook the sauce… and you mix…
Per la pasta perfetta, si deve seguire questo metodo: For the perfect pasta, one must follow this method:
For the perfect pasta, you must…
Si mette una pentola grande con tanta acqua sui fornelli. One puts a large pot with lots of water on the stovetop.
You put…
Si copre e si riscalda l’aqua fino a bollire. One covers it and heats up the water until it is boiling.
You cover it… you bring the water to boil…
Si aggiunge una manciata di sale, si ricopre la pentola, e si riscalda l’aqua fino a fare bollire di nuovo.  One adds a handful (lots) of salt, one covers the pot, and brings the water to boil again.
You add… you recover the pot… and you bring the water to boil…
Quando l’acqua sta bollendo, scoperchiare la pentola e aggiungere la pasta.
Si deve mescolare bene a questo punto.
When the water is boiling, uncover the pot and add the pasta.
One must mix well at this point.
You must mix well…
Si fa bollire la pasta secondo le istruzioni nella scatola della pasta. One must boil the pasta according to the directions on the pasta box.
You must boil the pasta…
Quando la pasta è al dente, scolare l’acqua e aggiungere la salsa! When the pasta is “al dente,” drain the water and add the sauce!

How to Describe Movement with
Italian Reflexive Verbs

When an inanimate object does something automatically, this idea is rendered in Italian using the third person of a reflexive verb. In many situations, Italian uses a reflexive verb to describe movement when English relays the same idea by combining the verb with a preposition, such as “on” or “up.” Note that in English, the preposition is added only to change the meaning of the verb. In the same way, Italian uses a reflexive verb, with its reflexive pronoun, to change the meaning of a verb.

Let’s take a simple, everyday situation at home for our first example: “Ann turns on the light.”  The verb that means “turn on” in Italian is accendere and the Italian translation is, “Anna accende la luce.” However, electric lights can be programmed to turn on automatically. In English, I can say, “The automatic light turns itself on when I enter the room.” Although the preposition “on” is required in English, the reflexive pronoun “itself” is optional. To convey the same idea, it is mandatory in Italian to use the reflexive verb accendersi: “La luce automatica si accende quando entro la stanza.” 

In short, English sometimes uses a third person reflexive verb to describe an automatic action but often does not, instead relying on the addition of a preposition.  Italian is more consistent, with a reflexive counterpart to most verbs of action that refer to mechanical movement.

Another simple action that requires a reflexive verb in Italian and a verb + preposition combination in English is that of  “rising up” or “going up.” The verb alzare means “to raise” or “to lift” something. “I lifted the box onto the table,” is a simple sentence that translates as, Ho alzato la scatola sul tavolo.” But if a person “gets up” in the morning, the action becomes reflexive and the verb alzarsi is needed. Similarly, a bird or an inanimate object such as a kite can “rise up” or “go up” into the sky and the verb alzarsi once again comes into play.

Below are some examples of how Italians use reflexive verbs to describe movement of inanimate objects. Notice exceptions to what we have just discussed: the verb cominciare (to start) and cadere (to fall) are not reflexive when speaking about an inanimate object. Also, the verb smettere (to stop) is not used in a reflexive way, although fermare, which also means to stop, does have a reflexive counterpart: the verb fermarsi.

La luce automatica si accende quando entro la stanza. The automatic light turns (itself) on when I enter the room.
Le luci della casa si accendono ogni sera. The house lights turn (themselves) on every night.
Le luci della casa si spengono ogni sera. The house lights turn (themselves) off every morning.
L’acensore si apre. The elevator opens.
L’acensore si chiude. The elevator shuts.
Il treno comincia l’itinerario automaticamente. The train starts its route automatically.
Il treno si ferma automaticamente. The train stops automatically.
Il gabbiano si alza e vola via. The sea gull rises up and flies away.
L’aquilone si alza nelle nuvole. The kite rises into the clouds.
Le foglie cadono per terra ogni autunno. The leaves fall to the ground every autumn.

How to Describe Nature and Life with
Italian Reflexive Verbs

We all know the forces of nature well, as they act every day to create the environment in which we live. Since nature is an inanimate being, the actions of the weather are often given with reflexive verbs in Italian. Listen closely to the Italian news and you will hear about how a volcano in Sicily finally stopped erupting, or  how the sea has begun to rise in the Venetian lagoon — all described in the third person with Italian reflexive verbs! Note: This does not include the common phrases that describe what weather “it” is making, such as, “Fa caldo oggi,” “It is hot today,” or “Fa buio,” “It is dark/getting dark.” (For more of these common phrases, visit our blog in this series, “Lets talk about… the weather in Italian!”)

In the same way, it is often necessary to use Italian reflexive verbs when speaking about abstract forces that can “act” on our lives.  Life itself is often spoken of as “moving” slowly or quickly. However, there is no reflexive verb for passare, so time can be seen as “passing by” without the addition of a reflexive pronoun.  (For more ways to use passare, visit our blog in this series, “The Many Uses of Passare.” )

In short, to understand the nuances of how to use reflexive verbs to describe actions of the weather or make generalizations about life, it is helpful to listen to native Italians as much as possible. In this way, it will eventually become natural to use Italian verbs the way Italians do!

The examples discussed above are listed below.

L’eruzione del vulcano in Sicilia si è fermato. The eruption of the volcano in Sicily has stopped.
L’acqua a Venezia si è alzata due metri
e si sta alzando ancora! 
The water in Venice has risen 2 meters and is still rising!
Fa caldo oggi. It is warm today.
Fa buio. It’s dark/becoming dark.
Nella campagna, la vita si muove lentamente. In the country, life moves slowly.
Il tempo passa lentamente quando si aspetta. Time passes slowly for one who waits (when one is waiting for something.)

Listen carefully to Italians when they speak
and I guarantee you will hear
Italian impersonal statements and  Italian reflexive verbs
every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Let’s Talk About… An Italian Christmas Celebration

Photo of two Conversational Italian for Travelers books downloaded on smart phones with smiling snow man next to the books.
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Buon Natale a tutti voi!

Christmastime is a magical time in Italy. The colorful decorations and holiday lights that adorn every Italian town bring with them a feeling of celebration that inspires children and adults alike. Italians of Jewish faith celebrate Chanukah in December as well, with glowing candles that bring their own special beauty to the December evenings. Chanukah was celebrated earlier this month, and if you’d like to learn more about how Chanukah is celebrated in Italy, please visit the blog “Our Italy — Celebrating Chanukah in Italy. 

 

But what really makes the December holidays special,
both in Italy and around the world? For most, it is the gathering of family and friends. 

For 2021, my hope is that all people who celebrate the Christmas holiday (le vacanze di Natale) or another holiday of their faith this December, can gather with their loved ones. As of this writing, there is a good possibility that the new normal will continue to expand to include Christmas parties (le feste di Natale) and gatherings for Chanukah dinners, instead of online meetings where people are together, yet distant. Extended families and friends should be able to celebrate the joy of being in each others’ presence and even have the opportunity to introduce new friends to old ones during the holidays  for 2021.

This post is the 52nd in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE.

Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

are used during the 
Christmas  Holiday Season

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.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

 

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Christmas in Italy

There are several important holidays that Italians celebrate during the Christmas season (periodo di Natale), which begins on December 8th with L’Immacolata and ends on January 6th with L’Epifania. The feast of Santa Lucia on December 13th is also an important holiday in northern Italy and this saint day is celebrated with candles, special pastries, and presents for children who have been good during the year.

 

Young girl with ring of candles on her head celebrating Santa Lucia Day
Young girl celebrating Santa Lucia Day

See the table below for a list of the important celebrations that take place in Italy during the Christmas season and some common phrases that Italians use to wish each other “happy holidays.” We first encountered these phrases in our blog What I wish… for the holidays! 

L’Immacolata Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Catholic holiday that celebrates mother Mary. 
Vigilia di Natale
Natale
Christmas Eve
Christmas
Buon Natale!
Buone Feste!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Auguri di buon Natale! Best wishes for a merry Christmas!
Tanti Auguri! / Auguri! Best wishes!
Il biglietto di auguri Natalizi
Regalo di Natale

 

 

Christmas greeting card
Christmas gift

 

 

L’ultimo dell’anno New Year’s Eve
La notte di San Silvestro December 31st is the feast day of San Silvestro for the Catholic church.
Capodanno New Year’s Day
Buon anno nuovo!
Buon anno!
Happy New Year! (used most often)
Felice anno nuovo! Happy New Year!
L’Epifania Epiphany: Catholic holiday that celebrates when “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus. In Italy, gifts are exchanged on this day.   Italian tradition holds that a friendly witch, La Befana, brings gifts to children on this day, although Santa Claus is also celebrated.

 

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 An Italian Holiday Party Conversation

 

When at a holiday party where Italian is spoken,
one will surely encounter the introductory phrases and  polite responses below.

Introductions:

The most common Italian introduction at a gathering is a familiar phrase — a phrase used when a person introduces one of their friends to another. For example, let’s assume Pietro and Caterina are friends. Pietro wants to introduce Caterina to another of his friends, Paolo. He will do this with the simple sentence, “Caterina, ti presento il mio amico Paolo.” Pietro uses the informal “ti” since he is already friends with Caterina, the person to whom he is speaking. 

In a more formal situation, Pietro may want to introduce someone he does not know well to one of his friends. In this case, if Pietro is addressing a woman, he will need to use “Le” (“polite you” indirect object pronoun). To stay in the polite mode of conversation, Pietro will likely introduce one guest to another using their last names with a polite title, such as il Signor (Mr.), la Signora (Mrs.), or la Signorina (Miss).

Keep in mind that in English we do not use the same sentence structure as in Italian, so the English translation of these phrases will not follow the Italian word for word. We may start out with “Let me” or “I would like to” and then add “introduce you to…” Also, in an informal situation, English speakers in America tend to omit the “Let me introduce you to” altogether! Instead, an English speaker might just say something like, “Kathy, meet my friend Paul.”

Several options to use when making an introduction are listed below. Remember to use the direct article before the title for a formal introduction!

Caterina, ti presento il mio amico Paolo.

Kathy, let me introduce you to my friend Paul.
Kathy, meet my friend Paul.

 

Signor Rossi, Le presento il Signor Manzini.

Mr. Rossi, let me introduce you to Mr. Manzini.

Signora Rossi, Le presento il Signor Manzini.

Mrs. Rossi, let me introduce you to Mr. Manzini.

Signorina Rossi, Le presento il Signor Manzini.

Miss Rossi, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Manzini.

 

Responses:

At first glance at the table below, the responses to an Italian introduction may seem a bit complicated, because they have several variations. The most important key to understanding which of these variations to choose is the formality of the situation. 

In the initial phrases in this table, “Piacere di conoscerla and “Piacere di conoscerti, the difference between the two phrases will depend on whether one is speaking in the polite (pol.) or the familiar (fam.). The polite phrases are given first in our example list, as it is the norm in Italy to use the polite form with a new acquaintance. The familiar form of this phrase is often be used between younger people, who tend to be less formal, and may also be appropriate among older adults of the same age or social status. If you need a refresher on when to use polite and formal Italian phrases, please refer to our blog Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Getting from polite to familiar with “Dare del tu.”

The other reason there are so many variations to learn when introductions are made is the Italian use of masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives.  Every Italian student learns early on that nouns and adjectives must agree in gender and number.*  At first, it may not be obvious that one is using an adjective at the beginning of the sentence, Lieto(a) di conoscerla/ti,” since these phrases are used so often in Italy that the subject and verb of the sentence, “I am…” have been left out! The full sentence, “I am delighted to meet you,” though, makes it clear that the verb essere (to be) is in use, and of course the ending for the adjective lieto(a) for delighted must reflect back to the gender of the speaker to make sense. 

The easiest thing for the Italian student to do, of course, is to pick out the phrase that corresponds to their own situation and memorize the endings. But these phrases provide a good opportunity to learn how to change Italian endings quickly and easily and can provide a pattern for more complicated sentences. For the examples below, the nouns, adverbs, and prepositions are black, the verbs are green, the polite/familiar pronouns red, masculine adjectives blue, and feminine adjectives brown.

Piacere di conoscerla.
Piacere di conoscerti.

Pleased to meet you (pol.).
Please to meet you (fam.).

Piacere mio.

The pleasure is mine.

Lieto di conoscerla.
Lieta di conoscerla.
Lieto di conoscerti.
Lieta di conoscerti.

Delighted (masc. speaker) to meet you (pol.).
Delighted (fem. speaker) to meet you (pol.).
Delighted (masc. speaker) to meet you (fam.).
Delighted (fem. speaker) to meet you (fam.).

Molto lieto!
Molto leita!

Delighted! (masc. speaker)
Delighted! (fem. speaker)

Sono molto contento di vederla.
Sono molto contenta di vederla.
Sono molto contento di vederti.
Sono molto contenta di vederti.

(I) am very happy (masc. speaker) to see you (pol.).
(I) am very happy (fem. speaker) to see you (pol.).
(I) am very happy (masc. speaker) to see you (fam.).
(I) am very happy (fem. speaker) to see you (pol.).

Sono felice di riverderla.
Sono felice di rivederti.

(I) am happy to see you (pol.) again.
(I) am happy to see you (fam.) again.

*Italian nouns are assigned a gender, either masculine or feminine. Italian adjectives, which modify nouns, will change their endings to match the noun modified. In general, Italian nouns will end in -o if masculine and -a if feminine. A noun that ends in -e can be either masculine or feminine. There are, of course, many exceptions to these rules!

 

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Below is an excerpt from the Conversational Italian for Travelers story found on the website www.learntravelitalian.com.  This short dialogue will allow us to put together all we have discussed about what to say when introducing and meeting others at an Italian holiday party. In this dialogue, Pietro introduces his cousin Caterina to his friends Luigi and Paolo. This simple conversation uses phrases that are repeated over and over again at Italian gatherings of every type.

At the end of the dialogue printed here is a common transition phrase that takes Caterina into the familiar form with Pietro’s friends, “Diamoci del tu, per favore!” We have discussed this phrase and others used to make the transition from a polite to a formal situation in a previous blog, “Getting from Polite to Familiar in Italian with ‘Dare del tu!'”  With this simple line, a friendly conversation can truly begin! To listen to the remainder this conversation in its entirety, just click on the link It’s a Party! 

 

Pietro:

Caterina, ti presento il mio amico Paolo.

 

Kathy, (I) introduce to you (fam.) my friend Paul.

   

Caterina:

Piacere di conoscerla.

 

(It is a) pleasure to meet you (fam.).

 

(Caterina uses the polite form for a person she has just met,
even though Paolo is Pietro’s friend.)

   

Pietro:

E questo è il mio amico Luigi.

 

And this is my friend Louis.

   

Caterina:

Piacere.

 

(It is) a pleasure.

 

 

Luigi:

Piacere mio. Io sono professore dell’italiano, come Pietro.

 

Paolo è un medico.

 

(The) pleasure is mine. I am (an) Italian professor, like Peter.

 

Paul is a physician.

 

 

Caterina:

Molto interessante.

 

Very interesting.

   

Paolo:

Io sono di Novara, una città vicino a Milano.

 

Diamoci del tu, per favore!

 

I am from Novara, a town near to Milan.

 

Let’s use the familiar form of you with each other, please!

 

(Paolo officially asks if he can use the familiar,
or “tu” form with Caterina.)

 

 

Caterina:

Va bene. Volentieri!

 

O.K. Gladly!

Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
filled with treasured time
together with family and friends!

Auguri a tutti voi!

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Make it a “Conversational Italian” Christmas! “Just the Phrases” makes a great stocking stuffer. Or Just download the Conversational Italian for Travelers books on your phone for easy reference anywhere you go! Download at www.learntravelitalian.com. Purchase books at Amazon.com

Our Italy — Celebrating Chanukah in Italy

Images of all the things for a traditional Chanukah celebration are presented with "Happy Hanukkah" in the center of the image.
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs called, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, especially since now some of us have started to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

Today I am happy to share a blog of my own about how Italians celebrate Chanukah. Read on for a bit of history about how the Jewish community was established in Rome and the special way they celebrate Chanukah today.

Afterwards, please enjoy a recipe for how to make fried chicken courtesy of the Italian Jewish community in Rome, Pollo Fritto alla Giudia, a delicious main dish that is traditional for Chanukah and can be enjoyed any time of the year.  Watch me make this special fried chicken on a short Instagram video if you like at Conversationalitalian.french!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Chanukah in Italy

The Jewish holiday Chanukah, also known as the festival of lights (le feste delle luci), is celebrated for a period of 8 days, and on today’s calendar falls sometime in the month of December. On the Hebrew calendar, (based on the phases of the moon), Chanukah begins on the evening of the 25th day of the ninth month, which is the month of Kislev.  This holiday is also commonly spelled Hanukkah when translated into English from the Hebrew (l’ebraico) characters.  During Chanukkah, those of Jewish faith set aside eight days to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE. It is said that a miracle occurred at that time, when only a small amount of Holy oil found in the temple, enough for only one day, burned for instead for eight days.

The date of the Chanukah celebration will change each year on the Gregorian calendar we use today (which is based on the sun).  In 2021, Chanukah will begin the evening of November 28 and end on the evening of December 6. It should be no surprise that Chanukah is celebrated in Italy, since the first Jewish settlers arrived in Rome from their homeland in Israel as far back as 160 BCE, after fleeing from the rule of the Syrian King Antiochus. The Jewish settlement in Rome is probably the oldest outside of the Middle East in the world. In 1555, by decree of Pope Paul IV, the Jewish people of Rome (gli ebrei) were enclosed within the walls of  a portion of Rome situated across the Tiber River. This area (quartiere ebraico) came to be called the Jewish ghetto (ghetto) in reference to the poor living conditions at the time, but it was, and still is, the center of Jewish life in Rome today. Other ancient Jewish settlements can be found in Venice, Milan, Florence,  Palermo and in many other cities in Sicily.

 

Images of all the things for a traditional Chanukah celebration are presented with "Happy Hanukkah" in the center of the image.
The Hanukkah or Chanukah celebration includes a religious ceremony with the lighting of Menorah each night, traditional fried foods for dinner and sweet foods for dessert, games played with a dreidel (spinning top) and presents. 

Image by kristyna_pixel from Pixabay

 

To celebrate Chanukah, those of the Jewish faith gather with the family each evening before dinner to say prayers and light a special candelabra with nine arms, called a Menorah (candelabro ebraico a nove bracci).  The ninth candle, from the tallest arm in the center of the Menorah, is lit first and then used to light the other eight. One additional candle is lit each night, until the entire Menorah is glowing on the last night. In Rome, there is a grand, 20 foot tall Menorah in the Jewish section at Piazza Barberini that is lit every year and followed by a street party with dancing. At home, children are typically given one present (un regalo) each evening and play with a Driedel, which is a type of spinning top (una trottola) with Hebrew letters on each side. To wish someone a Happy Chanukah in Italian simply say, “Auguri!” (Best wishes!), “Buon Chanukah!” or Felice Chanukah!” 

 

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The Italian Chanukah Dinner 

As with all holidays celebrated in Italy, there are traditional Italian foods served at  Chanukah dinners each night, with an emphasis on fried foods, including Italian fried chicken (Pollo Fritto). This fried chicken is first marinated in olive oil with garlic and lemon,  then rolled in flour and dipped in beaten egg to create a light coating before  frying. See below for the recipe and a link to conversationalitalian.french to watch a video as I fry up this simple but delicious way to make fried chicken. 

Brisket (la punta di petto) is also popular. Simple accompaniments include applesauce, bread, and dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and sour cream.

Special Italian side dishes (contorni) popular for Chanukah have existed for centuries in the Roman Jewish culinary history and include artichokes and eggplants fried in olive oil and garlic (Carciofi alla Giudia and Melanzane alla Giudia). Unfortunately for those of us who live outside of Italy, the variety of Italian artichoke that is necessary to make Carciofi alla Giudia is not usually available. This particular variety of artichoke is small, and all leaves are tender, so it can be flattened and then fried whole.  

Traditional dishes served throughout the world for Chanukah are also served in Italy, and include latkes, or potato fritters (Frittelle di Patate) and blintzes, or fried crepes filled with cheese. (Crepes al Formaggio Fritte).

A typically Italian Chanukah dessert is a pie with ricotta and cherry or chocolate chip filling (Torta di Rocotta). Other popular Italian desserts include fried donuts, poppy seed cookies shaped like stars, or fried bread shaped like a diamond and flavored with anise and raisins (Fritelle de Chanuka)

 

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Pollo Fritto alla Giudia

(Roman Style Fried Chicken)

Bowl of crispy, golden brown fried chicken made Roman style.
Fried Chicken Roman Style for Chanukah — crispy, golden brown and ready to serve.

Ingredients
(Serves 4)

One frying chicken, cut into serving pieces
Olive oil for frying

For the marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, chopped finely
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

For the coating:

flour to coat the chicken
2  large eggs

 

Method

Rinse the frying chicken and pat dry. (Note: make sure to use a frying chicken, which will have a breast that is small enough to finish cooking at the same time as the rest of the chicken pieces.)

Cut the frying chicken into serving pieces as follows: (1) separate the legs from the thighs, (2) Cut each breast along the breast bone lengthwise and then in half crosswise to make 4 pieces of breast meat total, (3) cut the tips off the wings and discard the tips. 

Make the marinade by combining all ingredients and pour over the chicken pieces. Roll each piece of chicken so it is coated with the marinade and then let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken, rinse off the marinade and pat dry.

Set two shallow dishes next to each other, one with flour and the second with 2 eggs. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork. 

Heat oil halfway up a large (10-12″), deep frying pan. (A deep fryer works as well, of course, if you have one.) Check that the oil is hot enough for frying by sprinkling with a tiny drop of water. When the water fizzles, the oil is ready. Do not over heat the oil or it will start to smoke.

Salt and pepper the chicken lightly. Then dredge in flour. Shake off excess flour and then roll in egg mixture.

Immediately put into the hot oil and fry, turning every 5 – 10 minutes to make sure the chicken cooks evenly. 

Cooking time will vary between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oil and piece of meat. Generally, wings will cook the most quickly, then drumsticks, thighs, and breasts. I always pierce thicker pieces with a thin knife to make sure juices run clear and are safe to eat. 

Cook until chicken coating is a dark, golden brown. 

Remove from heat, pat with  paper towels and then  drain on more paper towels or on a baking rack if you have one.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt if desired.

Serve your fried chicken while hot with applesauce and potatoes of your choice!

 

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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.

Thanksgiving Appetizers for an Italian-American Dinner

Still life with pumpkins and a basket and Black Eyed Susans in a vase
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Thanksgiving appetizers — a few bites to nibble on while the main meal is being prepared — are great for guests and keep up a cook’s energy in the kitchen as well!

The Italian method of topping a slice of crusty Italian bread with a savory treat works well for Thanksgiving. Below are two recipes for crostini toppings that can be prepared ahead of time. The first is a white bean puree and prosciutto with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The second crostini topping is my version of a liver appetizer that I had once during lunch at a farmhouse in Tuscany, using turkey liver and caramelized onions.

If you have a chance during this busy time, leave a note and let me know what your Italian-American Thanksgiving will be like this year. Does your family make pasta along with the turkey? Or even skip the turkey entirely?

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

Buona Festa del Ringraziamento!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving Appetizers


Crostini with turkey liver and caramelized onions

 

Bake the crostini:

Slice the bread thinly and brush with olive oil.
Rub a piece of garlic on the bread or brush a very little bit of garlic in the jar on the bread.
Bake in the oven at 400° until the edges brown.

Caramelize the onions:

For 1 medium onion: Cut the onion into thin, small crescents as follows:
Cut the onion crosswise. Put cut side down and cut in half lengthwise. Continue to cut slivers of onion lengthwise to form small, thin crescents of onion.
Put the onion slices into a frying pan with 1 Tb butter, 1 Tb olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
Cook on low heat, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes, until onions have completely softened and lightly browned.

Cook the turkey liver:

Rinse the turkey liver and put it into a small frying pan with 1 Tb butter and 1 Tb olive oil.
Add a small clove of garlic that has been crushed.
Heat the liver and garlic over medium high heat, turning to brown the liver and then reduce heat to medium/medium low in order to cook through.
Remove garlic.
When the liver is just cooked through (cut in half to check), add 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or Marsala wine and turn the liver in the vinegar.
Let cool. Break up the liver with a fork into small crumbles.

Assemble the crostini:

For each piece of garlic toast: Put onions and then cover with liver crumbles.

Crostini with turkey liver and caramelized onions

Bake the crostini as in the first recipe

Prepare the beans:

Put the following into a small saucepan:
1 (15 oz.) can of white beans, 4 fresh sage leaves, 1 clove of garlic, smashed (skin off)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt/white pepper
A little water, and more water as needed for cooking.
Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
Cook about 30 minutes or more so flavors can blend.
Cook off most of water by the end so puree won’t be too thin.
Off heat, remove garlic. Puree beans.
Adjust salt/pepper and swirl in 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil.

Assemble the crostini:

For each piece of garlic toast:
Put white bean puree on bottom of toast and then top with prosciutto curled up.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

Buona Festa del Ringraziamento!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

 

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! — The many uses of the Italian verb “Tenere”

Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
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 2021? 

Many Italian verbs have a similar use to those in English, which simplifies translation from one language to the other. However, many times the meaning of an Italian verb will vary  from the usual English connotation.  And in many situations, the same verb can have several different meanings in both languages, depending on the context. Tenere (along with its reflexive form tenersi, and the pronominal verb tenerci) is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “keep in mind” if one wants to use it correctly.

As I’ve said before, 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 use the Italian verb tenere, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

This post is the 51st in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

use the Italian verb
tenere.

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.

The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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Let’s Talk About…

The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

Tenere

The Italian verb tenere has a wide range of meanings and its use lends a bit of sophistication to one’s Italian. It is important to “keep in mind” the nuances of the verb tenere to create sentences as we would in our native language.

The Italian verb tenere is most often translated into English as “to hold” or “to keep.”  It can be used in a simple way, to describe holding an object or holding another’s hand. As in English, the verb tenere can also mean “to hold,” with reference to capacity, as in how many objects or people can occupy or be contained in a certain space or place. The word “hold” in English can also take on the connotation of “to support” something (as a column holds up a roof) or someone (as a fan supports his team). So it is with tenere, which can mean “to support.”

Tenere is an important verb to use when dining at an Italian restaurant to tell someone to “keep the change.” 

When the verb tenere is combined with the phrase “conto di,”  it takes on different shades of meaning. [Tenere + conto di] is used to describe the concepts of keeping something in mind, keeping track of something, or being aware of something. The phrase can also have the connotation of considering or taking to heart important issues.

Combining the verb tenere with conto che,as in [tenere + conto che],  adds yet another nuance to the original ideas of “to keep” or “to hold,” and is used to convey the idea of to consider. [Tenere in conto + noun] means to consider something.

Tenersi, the reflexive form of tenere, is also often used in the important everyday phrase “keep/stay in contact” and is a nice way to end a conversation or an email with a friend. Tenersi is often used when giving another instructions to hang/hold onto something or abide by/follow certain rules and regulations. If your emotions get the best of you and you can’t keep from laughing or crying, then use [tenersi + da] to get this point across!

There are many common Italian expressions that combine tenere with the preposition “a.” A few of these expressions will be listed in example sentences below.

When the verb tenere is combined with the preposition “a” and an adverb or adjective, as in [tenere +a +molto] the meaning changes once again. [Tenere + a] means to care about someone or something. You might think of using tenere in this way as being similar to the English phrase “to hold someone dear.” Consider also that the adjective tenero(a) is used to describe the following characteristics: tender, sensitive, or warm. For full emphasis, the pronominal verb tenerci followed by “a” [tenerci + a] can be used to stress the importance of something. A description of pronominal verbs and their uses is beyond the scope of this blog, but rest assured, if you add the pronoun “ci” before “tengo a,” you are telling someone that something is important to you!

Finally, in some important Italian phrases, tenere can be used interchangeably with the verb avere, and take on the meaning of “to have.”* Using tenere in this manner is a subtle way to emphasize that you are “keeping” or “holding close” the thing that you have.

 


Let’s talk about how to conjugate tenere in the present, past, and future tenses before using it in some example sentences. 

Present tense: tenere is an irregular -ere verb in the present tense, since it has an irregular stem in all forms but the noi and voi forms. The present tense conjugation is below. The irregular stem is in brown:

io

tengo

tu

tieni

Lei,lei,lui

tiene

noi

teniamo

voi

 tenete

loro

tengono

Past tense: When used in the passato prossimo to describe a single event, avere is the helping verb and the past participle is tenuto

Tenere is regular in the imperfetto past tense (tenevo, tenevi, teneva, tenevamo, tenevate, tenevano).

 

Future tense: Tenere is irregular in the future tense due to it’s irregular stem. 

io

terrò

tu

terrai

Lei,lei,lui

terrà

noi

terremo

voi

 terrete

loro

terranno


 

1. Use tenere to describe the simple act of holding something or holding someone’s hand.

  • Tenere can also be used to refer to the capacity of something, or “how much” a certain thing or a place can hold.
  • Tenere can mean “to support” something or somebody.
Tieni stretto questo biglietto; tienilo in mano; non lasciarlo!
Hold this ticket tightly; hold it in your hand; don’t lose it!
 
Mi piace tenere la mano del mio fidanzato quando camminiamo in piazza.
I like to hold my fiance’s hand when we take a walk in the piazza.

     

    L’Allianz Stadium a Torino tiene 41,507 spettatori.*
    The Allianz Stadium in Turin holds 41,507 spectators.
     
    Ho raccolto tutti i fiori che posso tenere in una mano!
    I have collected all the flowers that I can hold in one hand!

     

    Vengo da Turino. Tengo per la Juve / Tifo per la Juve. **
    I am from Turin. I support/root for the Juventus soccer team.
     
    Le mure sono molto vecchie. Grazie di Dio le colanne tiene il tetto!
    The walls are very old. Thank goodness the columns support the roof!

    * Regarding the use of tenere with  the meaning of “to have/to own/to possess”: the verb tenere is used mostly in the south of Italy, while in the north they would simply use the verb avere (example: Lo stadio ha 41,507 spettatori.).

    **Regarding the use of tenere to describe support for a sports team: “tengo per” is used in the south of Italy. “Tifo per” is used in the north.

     

    2. Use tenere to mean “to keep” — the simple act of keeping something in a place. 

    • In a restaurant, a common phrase spoken by the customer to the waiter in both English and Italian is, “Keep the change!” In Italian, the polite command (subjunctive) form of tenere is used for this phrase, often with the addition of the Italian word pure which serves to encourage the server to keep the tip. Use of the subjunctive is beyond the scope of this blog. Just memorize this simple phrase, which should come up often!
      Tengo gli attrezzi per cucinare di là.
      I keep the cooking utensils over there.
       
      Tenga pure il resto!
      Keep the change, please!

       

      3. Use [tenere + conto di] with the figurative meanings listed below. 

      • to keep something in mind
        • [tenere a mente] also means “to keep something in mind”
      • to keep track of something
      • to consider (See also #4, listed below)
        • [tenere in conto + noun] and [tenere conto che] also mean “to consider”
        • “non tenere in sufficiente considerazione a…”  means
          not to give sufficient consideration to…
      • to take to heart
      Ho dovuto tenere conto di tutte le regole che tu mi hai detto al lavoro.
      I have to keep in mind all the rules you told me at work. 
       
      Tieni conto dei clienti e dagli quello che vogliono!
      Keep track of the clients and give them what they want!

       

      Terrò conto del fatto che il gruppo ha lavorato molto quando gli darò gli incentivi.

       I will consider that the group has worked hard when I give them the bonuses.

      Mi raccomando, tieni conto di quello che io ho detto!
      I insist/demand/ (that you) take to heart what I have said!
       
      Ho tenuto conto di tutto che tu hai detto. E sono d’accordo!
      I’ve considered all that you have said. And I agree!

       

       

      4. Use [tenere + conto che] or  [tenere in conto + noun]

      for “to consider.”

      • “non tenere in sufficiente considerazione a…”  means
        not to give sufficient consideration to
      • [tenere conto di] can also mean “to consider” (See #3).
      Devo tenere conto che ci sono molte opinioni in questo gruppo prima di prendere una decisione.
      I have to consider that there are many opinions in this group before making a decision.
       
      Devo tenere in conto anche le altre regole.
      I must also consider the other rules.

       

       

      5. Use the reflexive verb tenersi to ask someone to “keep/stay” in touch or give a command to “follow/abide by” a rule.

      •  Other translations of tenersi include “hang onto” and “hold onto”.
      • [Tenersi + da] can also be used to express the phrase “to keep from…” doing something, such as laughing or crying. In this case, tenere is often combined with the verb riuscire, which means “to manage to,” and further emphasizes the effort one has put into trying to “keep from” doing something.  To learn more about how to use the verb riuscire, visit another blog in this series: “The Many Uses of the Italian Verb “Ruscire.”
      Teniamoci in contatto!
      Let’s keep in touch (with each other)!
       
      Ragazzi, tenetevi al regolamento o non vincerete la partita!
      Boys, follow the rules or you all will not win the game!

       

       

      Tieniti il tuo cappello; è molto ventoso oggi!
      Hang onto your hat; it’s very windy today!
       
      Tieniti alla ringhiera bambini!
      Hold onto the handrail, children!

       

      Questo film è molto triste. Non riesco a tenermi dal piangere.
      This film is very sad. I can’t manage to keep from crying.
       
      Quello attore era molto divertente. Non riuscivo a tenermi dal ridere.
      That actor was very funny. I couldn’t keep from laughing.

       

       

      6. Common Italian phrases with [tenere + a] 

      Tenere a bada              =  Tieni a bada i tuoi animali domestici.
      To keep under control =  Keep your pets under control.
       
      Tenere a cavezza                                  = Marco tiene a cavezza i suoi figli.      
      To keep someone under one’s thumb =Mark keeps his children under his thumb.

       

       

      Tenere a freno              =  La famiglia di Anna tiene a freno tutte le ragazze.
      To keep a tight rein on = Ann’s family keeps a tight rein on all the girls.
      To hold back          
       
      Tenere a battesimo                       = Anna teneva a battesimo la sua nipote.
                                                                                                                                
      To sponsor a child at baptism       = Ann sponsored her niece at the baptism.                                               
      To be a godfather or godmother     Ann became her niece’s godmother.

       

       

      Tenere a distanza       =  Maria tiene a distanza da Marco perché non le piace.
      To keep at a distance =  Maria stays away from Mark because she doesn’t like him.
      Tenere a balia                           = Marco teneva a balia questo lavoro
                                                            perché lui è pagato a ore.                                                                      
      To drag out                               = Mark dragged out this job                                              
      To take longer than necessary     because he was paid by the hour.

       

       

      Tenere a pane e acqua                =Marco tiene a pane e acqua Maria oggi.
      To punish somebody                   =Marco punished Maria today.
      (lit. to keep somebody on bread and water)
       
      Tenere a pigione          = Caterina tiene a pigione la sua casa in campagna ai suoi cugini.      
      To have as tenants       =Kathy is renting her house in the country to her cousins.
      To rent 

       

       

      Tenere aggiornata                         = Marco tiene aggiornato Maria sulle notizie ogni giorno.
      To keep somebody updated         =Marco keeps Maria updated on the news every day.
      To keep somebody posted/in the loop about something
       
      Tenere all’oscuro di                                                 = Marco teneva all’oscuro Anna dalla notizia.   
      To keep somebody in the dark about something  =Mark kept Ann in the dark about the news.

       

      Tenere alto il morale                                      = Marco ha tenuto alto il morale della sua squadra anche
                                                                                 se stavano perdendo
      To lift up someone’s spirits                            = Mark lifted up the spirits of his team even when they were losing.
       
      Tenere alta la bandiera                                  = Teniamo alta la bandiera della nostra città.
      To honor your homeland or city              =      We honor/bring honor to our city.
      (lit. to hang the flag high)            

       

       

      7. Use [tenere + a + adverb/adjective] or [tenerci + a] to describe caring about something very much 

      • Remember another way to talk about platonic love and caring among family members and friends is to use the verb volerci, with the phrase, “Ti voglio bene.” For a review of the many ways to express one’s feelings of love, visit our blog in this series: “How to Talk About Relationships and Love in Italian.”
      • [Tenerci + a] can also be used in an introductory phrase when the speaker wants to emphasize the importance of what they will talk about or what they have done. Therefore, this phrase is often followed by the verb dire or fare.
      La mamma tiene molto ai suoi bambini.
      The mother cares very much for her children.
       
      La mamma ci tiene a loro.
      The mother cares very much for them.

       

       

      Ci tieni a me?
      Do you care about me?
       
      Si! Ci tengo a te! 
      Yes! I care about you! 

       

       

      Ci tengo a dire che studiare la cultura è l’unico modo di capire un altra lingua.
      It’s important to me to say that studying the culture is the only way to understand another language.
       
      Ci tengo a fare la cosa giusta. 
      It’s important to me to do the right thing.

       

       

      8. Use the tenere in place of avere for certain expressions. 

       

      Avere famiglia / tenere famiglia    = Ho/Tengo una famiglia con tre figli a Roma.
      To have a family                              =I have a family with three children in Rome.
       
      Avere sotto il braccio / tenere sotto il bracchio  =Ho/Tengo il pane sotto il braccio e cammino a casa.
      To carry underarm                                                 =I carry the bread underarm and walk home.

       

      Avere in serbo / tenere in serbo    =Ho/Tengo una speciale bottiglia di vino per te.
      To set something aside                  =I have set aside a special bottle of wine for you.
       
      Avere in serbo / Tenere in serbo                                 =Ho/Tengo una sorpresa per te!
      To have something in store for someone (figurative) =I have a surpise for you!

       

       


      Remember how to use the Italian verbs tenere, tenersi, and tenerci in conversation 
      and I guarantee you will use these verbs every day!

       

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

       

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

       

      Our Italy – How to Celebrate “The Day of the Dead” in Sicily, by Ettore Grillo

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

      Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, especially since now some of us have started to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

      Today I am happy to share a guest blog entitled: Bones of the Dead, Typical Sicilian Cookies by Ettore Grillo. Learn a bit about how “The Day of the Dead” is celebrated in Sicily on November 2 in his blog and about how bakeries make the special holiday cookies that are shared when remembering loved ones. Grillo even explains this holiday in more detail in his book, which you can find on Amazon.                       

      Ettore Grillo's Blog

      November 2 is drawing near and in all bakeries in Sicily it is possible to buy the typical cookies for this day, “the bones of the dead.” They look like human bones, are hollow and hard to eat.

      Today, after buying some, I asked the baker to tell me the secret to making them so hard and hollow. He said that he leavens dough for two days on a canvas to make it lose its moisture, and then he bakes them at a low temperature, about 140 degrees. During the process, they lose sugar and become hollow.

      On November 2, children receive gifts from the dead. Obviously, this is a fiction, for parents actually buy the gifts and pretend that the dead brought them. This way, children are taught to respect and love the souls of those who are no longer with us.

      November 2nd is a day of celebration…

      View original post 71 more words

      Let’s talk about… Soccer in Italian!

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
      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 2021? 

      Why not try to learn a few words about a sport that is an integral part of Italian society?  Of course I am referring to soccer, or calcio as the Italians call the popular sport, derived from the verb calciare, which means “to kick.”

      After Italy’s thrilling victory at the UEFA EURO 2020 this past July, I decided to revisit a couple of blogs I’ve written about Italians and their passion for soccer.  I’ll expand on these blogs today to give a brief history of the sport, talk about Italy’s most popular soccer team and the Italian victories at the FIFA and UEFA competitions, all while focusing on basic Italian words and phrases about the game. 

      As I’ve said before, 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 talk about soccer in Italian, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      Were you able to watch EURO 2020 this past summer? Was it your first introduction to Italian soccer or were you already a lifelong fan? If you are in a soccer league here in the United States or just like to watch soccer at home, knowing a few Italian words and phrases will certainly add to the excitement of being involved in this truly Italian sport!

      This post is the 50th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

      Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

      are used to talk about
      Italian Football, or Calcio.

      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.

      The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

      Let’s Talk About…

      Soccer in Italian

      Italy’s thrilling victory over England at the UEFA EURO 2020 soccer championship this past July sparked a week-long, country-wide celebration.  Why not try to learn a few words about a sport that is an Italian passion? Calcio, as the Italians call this popular sport, is derived from the verb calciare, which means “to kick.” If you are in a soccer league here in the US or just like to watch soccer at home, knowing a few Italian words and phrases will certainly add to the excitement of being involved in this Italian passion!

       

      Soccer — a brief history of the game 

      The basic idea behind soccer — a game of skill that involves kicking a ball — is said to date back as far as 2500 B.C., as a form of the game we know today was played by the Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese. The Roman game of Harpastum and the ancient Greek game of Episkyros were ball games that involved two teams kicking a ball but also allowed the use of hands or sticks, similar to today’s rugby. 

      According to the blog “The Origin, History, and Invention of Soccer”:

      “The most relevant of these ancient games to our modern day “Association Football” is the Chinese game of Tsu’Chu (Tsu-Chu or Cuju, meaning “kicking the ball”). Records of the game began during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) and it may have been a training exercise for soldiers. 

      Tsu’Chu involved kicking a small leather ball into a net strung between two bamboo poles. The use of hands was not permitted, but a player could use his feet and other parts of his body. The main difference between Tsu’Chu and soccer was the height of the goal, which hung about 30 feet from the ground.

      From the introduction of Tsu’Chu onwards, soccer-like games spread throughout the world. Many cultures had activities that centered on the use of their feet, including Japan’s Kemari, which is still played today. The Native Americans had Pahsaherman, the Indigenous Australians played Marn Grook, and the Moari’s had Ki-o-rahi, to name a few.”           

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

       

      “Soccer began to evolve in modern Europe from the medieval period onwards. Various forms of what is now known as “folk football” were played (in England). The codification of soccer began in the public schools of Britain at the beginning of the 19th century. The word soccer was derived from an abbreviation from the word association. The -er suffix was popular slang at the Rugby School and Oxford University and used for all sorts of nouns the young men shortened. The association came from the formation of the Football Association (FA) on October 26, 1863.

      Over the years, more clubs joined the FA until the number reached 128 by 1887. (England) finally had a nearly uniform rule structure in place.

       

      Italian Soccer Victories

      The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) was formed in Paris in 1904 with seven members. This included Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Germany announced its intention to join the same day. 

      In 1930, the first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay. There were 41 members of FIFA at the time and it has remained the pinnacle of the soccer world ever since. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.”

       

      Statistics about Italian Soccer Victories from “Wikipedia: Italy at the FIFA World Cup”

      Italy is one of the most successful national teams in the history of the FIFA World Cup,
      having won four titles (1934193819822006), just one fewer than Brazil. 

      The UEFA, or the Union of European Football Associations dates back to 1927, when the French Football Federation’s administrator Henri Delaunay first proposed a pan-European football tournament. The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations and holds annual competitions. 

       

      Statistics about Italian Soccer Victories from “Sports Adda”:

      Prior to their championship win of the EURO 200  in 2021,
      the Italy national football team had reached the European Championship final in 1968, 2000 and 2012.
      And Italy’s (last) title win in the UEFA Euros came in 1968,
      when the Blues had beaten Yugoslavia over two matches (in Rome).

       

       

      What do Italians call the different games of foot ball played around the world?

       

      Football (UK)

      il calcio

      Soccer (US)

      il calcio

      To play soccer

      giocare a calcio

      To enjoy playing soccer

      divertirsi  giocando a calcio

      Football (AU)    

      football australiano

      Football (US)

      il football americano

      College football ( US)

      il football universiatrio

      Rugby

      la palla ovale

       

       

      Juventus – the most well-known soccer team in Italy

      Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
      Allianz Arena in Turin, Italy. Home of the Juventus soccer team.

      From a previous Conversational Italian! blog entitled “Italian Soccer, anyone?”

      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 Juventus 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 both “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 that season.

       

       

      The Italian Soccer Team and Soccer Match

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

       

      For those who are new to the game of soccer, below is some Italian vocabulary and an explanation of the basic rules.

      A soccer tournament is called un torneo di calcio. A soccer commentator is called un critico di calcio or un/un’ opinionista di calcio.

      A soccer match, or partita di calcio, is played by two teams. Each soccer team, or soccer club, is called una squadra di calcio.

      When playing a soccer game, 11 players can be on the field at any one time, one of whom is a goalkeeper. A soccer match lasts 90 minutes. There is a halftime break, called l’intervallo, after 45 minutes. If the score is tied, the game may go into overtime — as happened just this summer at the exciting conclusion of the EURO 2020.

      The object of soccer is for a player to get the ball into the other team’s goal by using
      any part of the body except the player’s hands and arms — and then only while he is
      located in his own penalty area. 

      The referee, or l’arbitro, is in charge of the soccer game. The calls the referee makes may be a bit confusing to the new soccer fan. Some penalties are more severe than others.  Yellow and red cards are given to players who violate certain basic rules. This will determine the type of penalty imposed for a given infraction. For further explanation of these rules, I suggest the blog “The 17 Basic Rules of Soccer.” 

       

      A typical soccer field, or campo da calcio, from “The 17 Basic Rules of Soccer”: 

      soccer_rules_1 soccer field labeled

       

      The art of the game:

      la palla / il pallone
      calciare
      soccer ball
      to kick

      calcio d’inizio
      calcio d’angolo
      calcio di rigore
      calcio di punizione
      deviare la palla

       

      kick off
      corner kick
      penalty kick
      free kick
      deflect the ball

       

      la rete

      gol
      fare gol
      segnare
      marcare

      net used for the goal

      the goal
      to make a goal/to score
      to score

      to score

      l’allenatore soccer coach
      il giocatore soccer player
      il calciatore soccer player
      il portiere goal keeper/goalie
      l’arbitro referee/umpire
      la gara competition
      il fallo di mano foul for using one’s hands
      il fallo di reazione retaliatory foul
      il fallo da ultimo uomo last man foul
      il 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

       

       

       

      The Italian Soccer Fan

      The Italian phrases that describe an Italian soccer fan echo the passion that they feel for the sport: appasionato di calcio, fanatico del calcio, and fan del calcio/tifoso di calcio.

      A popular exhortation to encourage a team to score is “Rete!”  “Score!” / “Into the net!”

      When at a Juventus soccer game, the popular chant is Forza Azzuri!, which is a reference to the team’s blue uniforms. The word forza literally means strength but is also used in this case as an exhortation, to mean , “Come on!” The Italians also wear blue uniforms during international competition, so this chant is appropriate at FIFA and European matches as well. (By the way, Italians do not chant “Forza Italia!” as this phrase has been usurped by an Italian political party, which took the name “Forza Italia” when led by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.)

      Another popular chant includes the name of a team player:

      Solo noi, solo noi, (name of player) ce l’abbiamo solo noi!
      Only us, only us, (name of player) only we have him!

       

       

       

       

      Have fun playing soccer!

      For anyone inspired to play soccer by Italy’s recent win at the EURO 2020, below are a few Italian terms to urge on your teammates! 

       

      I’ve got him!

      Mio! Quello è mio!

      One on one

      uno contro uno

         

      I’m marking that man (I have him)

      Ce l’ho!

      Try to avoid the marking of an opponent

       Smarcati! /Liberati!

         

      Go on wing

      Vai sulla fasica! / Allargati!

      Pass the ball to the wingman right/left

      apri a destra/sinestra

         

      From one side of the field to the other

      da porta a porta

      Pass it through the defenders!

      In mezzo!

         

      Corner!

      Calcio d’angolo

      Leave it!

      Lasciala!

       

      If you are a fan of Italian soccer, leave a comment about your favorite Italian team
      or the most exciting game you’ve watched.
      I’d love to hear from you! 

       

       

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books

       

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone

      Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

       

      Your Italian-American Gardening Tips – Growing Tomatoes and Making Caprese and Panzanella Salads

      Large bowl of just-picked tomatoes of various sizes and colors in the shade.
      Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

      All Italian gardeners I know spend the summer diligently watering and weeding in eager anticipation of their favorite crop — the tomato. For most of us, the tomato is the reason we create a garden at all. Yes, it is wonderful to grow eggplants, zucchini, and peppers so that these vegetables are a short walk from our kitchen when we need them.  But for those who love fresh tomatoes, there is nothing like a warm, juicy tomato pulled fresh from the vine after ripening in the sun. Tomatoes are a fruit, and those left to ripen to their full potential will have a complex balance of acidity and sweetness. Each variety will have its own subtle variation in flavor.  It is impossible to describe the feeling eating such a delicious fruit brings to one who has only eaten commercially grown store-bought tomatoes, except to say that for many of us it is close to heaven.  

      Since I live around the corner from a family-run nursery, I am lucky to find over 20 varieties of tomato plants every spring that are ready to plant. Each of these is listed as determinate (the tomato plant will stop growing after it reaches a certain size) and indeterminate (the tomato plant will not stop growing and will need side stems, a.k.a. “suckers” pruned).  In a previous blog, Your Italian-American Gardening Tips (with Recipes) – Tomatoes, Zucchini… I discussed how to grow tomatoes and gave several tips about what to do if you should run into difficulties.  In a You-Tube Video, I posted about how to prune suckers from an indeterminate tomato plant. Growing Tomato Plants: Pinching off side stems.

      Let’s talk a bit more about tomatoes for the end of the summer season this year!

       

      “What is the purpose of growing different types of tomatoes?” you may ask. In one of my Instagram posts, I share a picture of the tomatoes I grew this year and list the uses for each.

      Four bowls that contain various types of tomatoes and peppers
      Recent harvest of different varieties of tomatoes, including plum, pear, and cherry tomatoes. Italian peppers also included in the photo.

      In short, we all know that medium to large tomatoes, the largest of which are called “Beefsteak” are great for cutting into slices or wedges and eating on sandwiches, in salads, or just by themselves. Some people like to add a sprinkle of salt or a drizzle of olive oil to their plate of tomato wedges to create the perfect summertime snack. Dried oregano can be added to wedges of tomatoes along with olive oil for a “tomato salad,” with or without red onion.  These tomatoes come in many shades of red, as well as pink, yellow, and even “zebra” yellow and green. The different colored varieties add visual interest to a salad and those other than the bright red tend to have less acidity.

      Plum tomatoes are fleshier than other tomatoes and have less juice. These are the tomatoes that undergo processing to create tomato paste. San Marzano plum tomatoes from the region around Naples are the most sought-after plum tomatoes.

      Cherry tomatoes are a favorite of mine because they ripen early and produce tomatoes all through the summer and into the fall. They are a great snack for eating out of hand and are wonderful to add to lettuce salads as they are already bite-size and will not loose their juices and soften the lettuce. Grape tomatoes are slightly larger than cherry tomatoes.  This year I had cherry tomato plants that produced red, yellow and brown tomatoes. All were delicious!

       

       For tips on how to create an authentic Caprese Salad with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, visit Your Italian-American Gardening Tips with Recipes: Basil (Basilico).  Be creative! 

       

      Caprese salad in a large serving bowl made with alternating red and yellow tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
      Caprese salad in a large serving bowl made with alternating red and yellow sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

       

      Caprese salad made with alternating red and yellow tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
      Caprese salad made with alternating red and yellow cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      What about Panzanella salad?” you may ask.
      Isn’t this another wonderful Italian tomato salad I can create with my fresh tomatoes?

      I have also blogged about making Panzanella salad before, and included tomatoes in this salad, in the blog for my learn Travel Italian website entitled, Caprese and Panzanella Salads with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil.   Here is an image from that blog of my initial idea of what this salad should be like:

      Bowl of Panzanella salad with bread, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
      Bowl of Panzanella salad with bread, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

      I recently updated that blog to include a little known fact (at least to me). The original Panzanella salad did not include tomatoes!  Here is a photo I posted on Instagram of the Panzanella salad I made after I learned of a recipe from the great writer of the Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, from the 1300s.

      Plate of cucumbers, red onions, reconstituted bread and basil for Panzanella salad
      Panzanella Salad made in the 1300s according to Giovanni Boccaccio: Stale bread (softened), cucumber, red onion, basil and mixed greens.

      My family did not make Panzanella salad when I was growing up.  As an adult, I had tried this salad in in restaurants and thought it a nice change from the usual Caprese salad, so I added it to my post.  Caprese and Panzanella salads, I thought, were the two important Italian tomato dishes.  Recently, I learned from a blog by Emiko Davies titled  “Bronzino’s Panzanella,” that Panzanella salad is indeed a popular and traditional Italian salad in Tuscany, mentioned by the writer Bronzino himself in a poem, prior to the appearance of tomatoes in Italy. 

      We can assume that Panzanella salad started out as a way to use up old bread, as stale Tuscan bread lends itself well to being softened with a sprinkle of water. A little red onion, perhaps some basil, and olive oil and red wine vinegar might have been all an Italian housewife had available to lend some flavor her bread salad.  According to the recipe provided by Bronzino, cucumbers and even some arugula could be added to magically turn the bounty of summer into a crunchy and refreshing summer treat.

      Serendipitously, I had been growing Armenian cucumbers in my garden for the very first time this year, when I came across Davies’ blog. When I read about Bronzino’s version of Panzanella salad, I made it myself and posted the result on Instagram on Conversationalitalian.french.   

      Panzanella salad made Bronzino’s way, with cucumbers, was truly a revelation. The seeds of the Armenian cucumber were easy to remove from the center of the vegetable, and without the skin this variety of cucumber was light, crunchy, and flavorful. There are no real proportions to this salad; use as much reconstituted bread as you like and as much cucumber and other ingredients as you have on hand.  Now THAT’s Italian!

      Below is my method for making Panzanella salad with cucumbers, originally posted on Instagram on  Conversationalitalian.french.   and the method for making Panzanella salad with tomatoes, originally posted on blog.learntravelitalian.com. 

      Try Panzanella salad both ways.  I ‘m sure you won’t be disappointed!


       

      Today’s Panzanella Salad with Tomatoes

      Tomato and bread Panzanella salad
      Italian Panzanella salad with halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh torn basil and bread

      Ingredients
      (Serves 1-4)

       

      Dry Italian bread, cubed, or large croutons
      Sprinkle the dried Italian bread with water to soften
      (see comments about the proper bread to use below*)

      1-2 large, vine-ripened tomato, cut into small wedges
      or several cherry tomatoes, halved
      sprinkle lightly with sea salt

      1/2 red onion, sliced thinly into crescents

      Extra-virgin Italian olive oil
      Italian red wine vinegar

      Large, freshly picked basil leaves, hand torn

      Mozzarella, preferably soft, cubed or small bocconcini (optional)

      Method

       

      In a large dish, combine small wedges of fresh tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes and dry Italian bread (as pre-processed as above) and red onions.

      Drizzle on extra virgin Italian olive oil and red wine vinegar and combine.  Make sure the bread has softened enough to be edible. If not, you may want to let the ingredients sit for a bit before finishing the salad.

      Then add the optional mozzarella and torn basil leaves.

      Mix gently.

      Taste and drizzle with extra olive oil and vinegar if needed.

      Mix again gently to combine all and enjoy!

      *About the bread for any Panzanella salad: be sure to use a crusty loaf of  good* Italian bread that is at least two days old and has dried out and hardened. Bread that has become stale naturally will need to be sprinkled with water to soften a bit prior to making this salad. Place the bread in a small bowl and sprinkle it with water the morning before you are planning to make the salad. The end result should not leave the bread mushy; the bread should spring back to life after the water is added if you are truly working with real Italian bread. If the crust is still too hard, it can be removed. Remember that the bread will continue to soften when it is combined with the vinegar and tomato juice when you make the salad.

      If you want to make Panzanella salad with fresh Italian bread, you can always cut it into slices and dry it out in the oven just enough to be crunchy, or even add a bit of olive oil and brown it a bit to make croutons.

       

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

       

      Traditional Cucumber Panzanella Salad

       

      Plate of cucumbers, red onions, reconstituted bread and basil for Panzanella salad
      Panzanella Salad made in the 1300s according to Giovanni Boccaccio: Stale bread (softened), cucumber, red onion, basil and mixed greens.

       

       

       

      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.

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to Say, “I miss you…” with Mancare

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
      Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
      1Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

      Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021? 

      Then one verb you will need to learn how to use is mancare (to miss). This is the verb Italians use when they have not been able to visit a loved one. Of course it is important to be able to tell those we care about that we miss them!

      In this blog, we will discuss how to use the verb Italian mancare, which part of a group of Italian verbs that always take an indirect object pronoun and therefore “work” differently from your typical Italian verb.  

      Previously, we have spoken about piacere (to like), the prototype for this unique group of Italian verbs in our blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day: Piacere, How Italians Say, “I like it!.” We have also covered another verb of this type, servire (to need) in our blog “How to Say, “I need…” in Italian: Mi serve…”

      After this blog, we can add mancare to our list of important Italian verbs discussed that only take indirect object pronouns. Piacere, servire, and mancare all work in the same way, but we will go over once again how to conjugate and translate a verb of this type.

      Note: in our very last blog, we made a list of verbs of communication and giving that take an indirect object pronoun when referring to a person. These verbs are in a different group than piacere, servire, and mancare, since they take a direct object pronoun when referring to things, but are a very important group to understand as well!

      As I’ve said before, 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 use the Italian verb mancare, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      This post is the 49th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

      Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

      use the Italian verb
      Mancare

      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.

      The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

      Overview of Italian Verbs

      that take

      Indirect Object Pronouns

      A short review of Italian verbs that take indirect object pronouns:

      In our very last blog, we made a list of verbs of communication and giving that take indirect object pronouns when referring to a person.

      Previously, we have spoken about piacere (to like), the prototype for verbs that always take indirect object pronouns, in our blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day: Piacere, How Italians Say, “I like it!”  We have also talked about another Italian verb that uses only indirect object pronouns, the verb servire (to need), in our blog “How to Say, “I need…” in Italian: Mi serve…”

      After this blog, we can add mancare to our list of important verbs that only take indirect object pronouns. All three of these verbs work in the same way, but we will go over once again how to conjugate and translate a verb of this type with mancare. Full disclosure: there are other Italian verbs that only take indefinite articles, along with the three already mentioned! Below is a short list of the most important Italian verbs that only take indefinite articles.

      Piacere

      to like

      Servire

      to need

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      Mancare

      to miss

      A short review of the Italian indirect object pronouns and their meanings:*

      mi

      to me

      ti

      to you (familiar)

      Le

      to you (polite)

      le

      to her

      gli

      to him

         

      ci

      to us

      vi

      to you all

      gli

      to them

      *Of course, mi, ti, ci, and vi do double duty as direct object pronouns. Also, with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself, etc.

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

      How to Say, “I miss you!”

      with Mancare

      The Italian verb mancare has many meanings: to miss/to lose/to lack/to be lacking/to omit/to fail. Perhaps the most common way mancare is used is to convey the idea of “to miss someone,” so it is important to learn the conjugation and sentence structure for this verb for everyday conversation.

      To start off, you should know that the sentence structure used for mancare is the same as for the verb piacere, the prototype for Italian verbs that only take an indirect object pronoun. You should also realize that this group of Italian verbs works differently from its English counterparts. Therefore, the English translation will not match the Italian word for word. The idea will remain the same, however.

      In English, we say the subject of the sentence misses someone using the person who is missed as a direct object. Example: I (subject) miss (verb) John (direct object).

      In Italian,  however, there are two significant differences from the English way of thinking.  Below are English and Italian sentence structures with examples that have identical meanings. We will change the Italian sentences into the most commonly used Italian structure with an indirect object pronoun step by step, in order to aid in understanding how both languages can say the same thing in a different way. For these examples, the English translation is given in the Italian way of thinking, and is in parentheses. Notice the color coding that follows throughout the examples: subject in brown, verb in green, direct object pronoun in blue, and indirect and stressed object pronouns in red.

      First, let’s look at the English way of thinking. The subject is the person talking and the direct object is who they miss:  

      English: [subject: person missing someone+ mancare conjugated to reflect subject + direct object: person missed]

                    I         +     miss      +      John.

      Now, let’s turn this English idea around to make an Italian sentence. To Italians, the person who is being missed is the subject of the sentence.  With this logic in mind, the person missing someone must be expressed by a stressed object pronoun or an indirect object pronoun. The sentence with a stressed object pronoun:

      Italian:  [subject: person missed +  mancare conjugated to reflect subject + stressed object pronoun: person missing someone]

                  Giovanni   +    manca    +    a me.
                  
      (John           is missing          to me.)

      Although our Italian example above is grammatically correct, those conversing in Italian most commonly use an indirect object pronoun instead of the stressed pronoun,* and place the indirect object pronoun pronoun before the verb.

      Italian:  [indirect object pronoun: person missing someone mancare conjugated to reflect subject + subject: person missed]

                  Mi        +         manca      +    Giovanni.
                  
      (To me             is missing           John).

      To make matters more confusing to the English speaker, the subject of the sentence — which in this case is Giovanni — can be left out entirely as long as the person who is being discussed is known from the context. But, in most cases the subject is then added to the end of the sentence for clarification.

      *The stressed pronoun is handy to use for emphasis, as its name suggests.

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

      Below is the present tense conjugation of mancare. Notice that the tu and noi forms have irregular spelling to keep the hard “c” sound that we hear when we pronounce the infinitive verb. These are marked with an asterisk.

      Mancare = To Be Missing (To)

      io

      manco

      I am missing (to…)

      tu

      manchi*

      you (fam.) are missing (to…)

      Lei

      lei/lui

      manca

      you (polite) are missing (to…)

      she/he/it is missing (to…)

       

       

       

      noi

      manchiamo*

      we are missing (to…)

      voi

      mancate

      you all are missing (to…)

      loro

      mancano

      they are missing (to…)

      The sentences below give some common examples of how to use the verb mancare in the present tense. To aid the English speaker in understanding this Italian way of thinking, the Italian subject pronouns are included in parentheses. But remember that Italian subject pronouns are usually left out of a sentence, unless needed for clarification. Also, the word-for-word Italian to English translation is given in parentheses, with the correct English translation in the third column in bold black.

      If the idea behind how to use mancare seems too complicated at first, just memorize the first four examples, as you will likely use these the most!

      Example Sentences with Mancare 

      (Tu) Mi manchi.

      (You are missing to me.)

      I miss you.

      (Lei/Lui) Mi manca.

      (She/he is missing to me.)

      I miss her/him.

       

      (Io) Ti manco?

      (Am I missing to you?)

      (Do you) miss me?

      (Lei/Lui) Ti manca?

      (Is she/he missing to you?)

      (Do you) miss her/him?

       

      (Io) Gli manco.

      (I am missing to him.)

      He misses me.

      (Io) Le manco.

      (I am missing to her.)

      She misses me.

      (Tu) Gli manchi.

      (You are missing to him.)

      He misses you.

      (Tu) Le manchi.

      (You are missing to her.)

      She misses you.

      Gli manca (Maria).

      (Maria is missing to him.)

      He misses Maria.

      Le manca (Maria).

      (Maria is missing to her.)

      She misses Maria.

      Gli manca (Paolo).

      (Paul is missing to him.)

      He misses Paul.

      Le manca (Paolo).

      (Paul is missing to her.)

      She misses Paul.

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

      Mancare is often used in the past tense. Consider the phrase “I missed you!” This implies that a definite period of absence has passed, and now the individuals are finally together and are able to talk about their feelings. The past tense of mancare is regular in the passato prossimo and takes essere. This is the past tense form for mancare that is most commonly used during conversation.

      See below for the passato prossimo conjugation of mancare:

      Singular forms: sono sei, è, + mancato(a)

      Plural forms: siamo, siete sono + mancati(e)

      The imperfetto form of mancare is regular as well, and is used most often for narration. Remember when telling a story about something that has happened without mentioning a specific period of time to use the imperfetto past tense.  If you need a refresher on when to use the passato prossimo and imperfetto, refer to our previous blogs about the Italian past tense.  In the case of mancare, the reference is often to a nonspecific amount of time that people missed each other in the past. 

      See below for the imperfetto conjugation of mancare:

      Singular forms: mancavo, mancavi, mancava

      Plural forms: mancavamo, mancavate, mancavano

      Find four common examples below of how to use the verb mancare, in past tense, with the passato prossimo. As in the examples for the present tense, the subject pronouns are included in parentheses, but remember that they are usually often left out of a sentence unless needed for clarification. Also, the direct Italian to English translation is given in parentheses, with the correct English translation in the third column in bold black. How many more examples can you think of?

       

      (Tu) Mi sei mancato(a).

      (You were missing to me.)

      I missed you.

      (Lei/Lui) Mi è mancato(a).

      (She/he was missing to me.)

      I missed her/him.

       

      (Io) Ti sono mancto(a)?

      (Was I missing to you?)

      (Did you) miss me?

      (Lei/Lui) Ti è mancato(a)?

      (Was she/he missing to her/him?)

      (Did you) miss her/him?

      Remember how to use the Italian verb
      mancare in Italian
      when missing someone dear to you!


      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
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      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – “He Said/She Said” and Object Pronouns

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front

      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 2021? 

      Two of the most popular every day phrases are, “He said to me… ” or  “She said to me…” In fact, the equivalent phrase in Italian, “Mi ha detto.”  is used so often that it usually comes out in quickly, in one breath! 

      In this blog, we will discuss the popular phrase “Mi ha detto,” and use it as a springboard into a discussion of indirect object pronouns that can be used with the verb dire and many other Italian verbs as well.

      As I’ve said before, 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 use the Italian verb dire, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      This post is the 48th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

      Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

      use the Italian past tense verb + indirect object pronoun
      Mi ha detto…

      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.

      The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

      What He Said… What She Said…

      in Italian with Object Pronouns

      Let’s begin by looking at the verb dire — to say — in our important phrases “he said” and “she said” for discussion in this blog. The past tense for “he said” and “she said” in Italian, a one-time event, uses the passato prossimo, and is “ lui/lei ha detto.” This Italian past tense verb also translates into the less commonly used English past tense, “he has said” and “she has said.” 

      Since the subject pronoun is generally left out of an Italian sentence, we are left with “ha detto” to describe both what he said and what she said. The subject pronouns lui (he) or lei (she) may be added before the verb for emphasis in this case, but generally those having a conversation know who they are talking about.

      Because the phrases “he said” and “she said” are used frequently in everyday conversation, we should commit the Italian passato prossimo verb “ha detto” to memory. 

      To make a complete sentence using the verb dire to describe what was said, use either “di” or “che  to link the subject  and verb to the topic that was discussed. Di is used as the conjunction in the examples in the table below to answer a question in the affirmative or negative. Of course, even though our focus in this blog is on how to use the verb ha detto, it should be noted that one usually answers “yes,” or “no,” for themselves with ho detto, although they can also relay someone else’s answer using a different conjugation of dire, such as ha detto, abbiamo detto, etc. In all situations, when answering “yes” or “no” in Italian, the conjunction di is required.  

      Ho detto di si.

      I said yes.

      Ho detto di no.

      I said no.

         

      Ha detto di si.

      He/She said no.

      Ha detto di no.

      He/She said no.

       

       

      Abbiamo detto di si.

      He/She said yes.

      Abbiamo detto di no.

      He/She said no.

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

      Adding an indirect object pronoun before the verbs ho detto, abbiamo detto, or ha detto will allow the speaker to describe to whom something was said.  For this section, though, our discussion will focus only on “ha detto” and  Italian indefinite articles.

      Why focus on “ha detto? One of the most popular every day phrases is, “He/She said to me,” which is, “Mi ha detto”  in Italian. In fact, the phrase “mi ha detto” is  used so often that it usually said in one breath! We can build on this simple, easy to remember phrase to describe more complex situations.  For instance, we can substitute other indirect object pronouns for mi (to me), such as ti (to you), gli (to him), or le (to her).  

      In English, when we use the indirect object pronouns “to me,” “to you,” “to him/her,” they are placed after the verb, while in Italian, they are placed before the verb.  This may take some time to get used to. In the summary table below, the indirect object pronouns are in red.

      Ha detto

      He said / She said

      Mi ha detto

      He said / She said to me

      Ti ha detto

      He said/ She said to you

      Gli ha detto

      He said / she said to him

      Le ha detto

      He said / She said to her

      The next table uses our verb ha detto and indirect object pronouns in example sentences.  For these examples (and for  all other instances in Italian except those given in the table in the previous section regarding a “yes” or “no” answer), “che is used as the conjunction.

      The subject pronoun is included in some of the examples in the table below for clarity. Again, the Italian and English indirect object pronouns are in red. In all cases except the first, when the subject is directly quoting what someone else has said to them, English uses a direct object pronoun, and this is given in green. Notice how many permutations of the same sentence are possible with only the singular indirect object pronouns! 

      Lui ha detto che il film era bello.
      Lei ha detto che il film era bello.

      Mi ha detto: “Il film era bello.”   

      He said that the film was good.
      She said that the film was good.

      He/She said to me: “The film was good.”

      Mi ha detto che il film era bello.

      He/She told me that the film was good.

      Ti ha detto che il film era bello?

      Has he/she told you that the film was good?

       

       

      Giovanni gli ha detto che il film era bello.

      John told him that the film was good.

      Anna gli ha detto che il flim era bello.

      Ann told him that the film was good.

       

       

      Giovanni le ha detto che il film era bello.

      John told her that the film was good.

      Anna le ha detto che il film era bello.

      Ann told her that the film was good.

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

      Our example sentence, Mi ha detto che il film era bello,” and its translation, “He/She told me that the film was good,” brings up an important difference between Italian and English verbs and object pronouns; not all Italian verbs that take indirect object pronouns do so in English!

      We have just seen the the Italian verb dire takes an indirect object pronoun that goes before the verb, whereas its English counterpart “to say,” in general conversation usually takes a direct object pronoun that goes after the verb. We would not say, “He told to me that the film was good,” although this is correct in Italian!

      This adds to the difficulty in choosing when to use an Italian indirect object pronoun, since the correct English translation will not always reflect the indirect object pronoun choice in Italian. 

      The difference in the Italian and English [object pronoun-verb] combination may not be immediately apparent in the phrase “mi ha detto,” since the Italian pronoun mi plays double duty as both an indirect and direct object pronoun! The Italian pronoun mi can be translated as both “me” (direct object pronoun) and “to/for me” (indirect object pronoun).*

      The same goes for the Italian pronoun ti, which is translated as “you”(direct object pronoun) as well as “to you (indirect object pronoun).

      Choosing between an indirect and direct Italian object pronoun when conversing about others in Italian becomes important in the masculine third person, as one must decide between lo (him) and gli (to him). For females, the choice is between la (her) and le (to her).

      So how does an English speaker know when to choose an indirect object pronoun in Italian?

       Italian verbs of communication and giving
      take indirect object pronouns
      when referring to a person.

      The table below is a short list of the verbs of communication that take Italian indirect object pronouns when referring to other people in conversation. You will recognize the example verb in this blog, dire, at the top of the list.

      Note that if one of these verbs is followed by a person’s name, the Italian pattern to follow is [verb + a + name].  The Italian indirect object pronoun can be though of as substituting for the a placed before a person’s name. 

      In some cases, both Italian and English verbs take an indirect object pronoun but in other cases the English translation uses a direct object pronoun, as we’ve already mentioned. Unfortunately, there is no rule that connects the Italian way of speaking to the English way, so the Italian verbs that take [a + name] or indirect object pronouns just need to be memorized. In short, in order to speak Italian, we must think in Italian!

      *And, of course with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself.” 

      Some Italian verbs of communication that take indirect object pronouns:

      Dire

      to say

      Parlare

      to talk

      Telefonare

      to call

      Scrivere

      to write

         

      Domandare

      to ask

      Chiedere

      to ask

         

      Insegnare

      to teach

      Spiegare

      to explain

      Consigliare

      to give advice

      Examples that use Italian verbs of communication with indirect object pronouns are given below. The indirect object pronouns are in red, the direct object pronouns are in green, and the person to whom the object pronoun refers to is underlined. Of course, there are a infinite number of combinations! Try to create your own sentences, taking situations from your own life!

      Ho detto a Maria che…                  I told Maria that…
      Le ho detto che…                           I told her that…

      Ho domandato a Franco se…            I asked Frank if…
      Gli ho domandato se…                      I asked him if…

      La Signora Rossi ha spiegato a me che…   Mrs. Rossi explained to me that…
      La Signora Rossi mi ha spiegato che…       Mrs. Rossi explained to me that…

      Some Italian verbs of giving that take indirect object pronouns:

      Dare

      to give

      Offrire

      to offer

      Regalare

      to gift

      Mandare

      to send

      Portare

      to bring/deliver

      Examples that use Italian verbs of giving with indirect object pronouns are given below. The indirect object pronouns are in red, the direct object pronouns are in green, and the person to whom the object pronoun refers to is underlined. Of course, there are a infinite number of combinations! Try to create your own sentences, taking situations from your own life!

      Ho dato a Maria il vino.                 I gave Maria the wine.
      Le ho dato il vino.                          I gave her the wine.

      Ho offerto a Franco un lavoro.      I offered Frank a job.
      Gli ho offerto un lavoro.                I offered him a job.

      La Signora Rossi ha mandato a me…  Mrs. Rossi gave me…
      La Signora Rossi mi ha mandato…      Mrs. Rossi gave me…

      *And, of course with reflexive verbs mi stands for “myself” and ti stands for “yourself.” 

      Remember how to use the phrase
      “mi ha detto” in Italian and I guarantee
      you will use this phrase every day!

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

      Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves – #Languages – Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) by Kathryn Occhipinti

      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone

      A great big GRAZIE MILLE to SALLY from the Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore for her review of my Conversational Italian for Travelers series reprinted below!

      Delighted to welcome Kathryn Occipinti to the Cafe and Bookstore with her language books in Italian and French. Very useful now that the world is opening up again.

      About Conversational Italian for Travelers

      Your traveling companion in Italy! Truly different from other phrase books – this book is friendly, humorous, and also provides a method to understand and remember important Italian phrases. There are many tips for the reader on how to create their own phrases and how to ask questions to get around Italy comfortably. Includes sections not found in other phrase books so the traveler can really fit into the culture of Italy. Light weight book of phrases slips easily into a pocket or purse. Keep handy simple phrases of greeting, how to change money, or how to take the train. Learn about how to communicate politely in any situation. And, of course, learn how to read those Italian menus and order at an Italian restaurant! This book is contains excerpts from the larger work, Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook. All the phrases you need to know with tips on how to create your own!

      One of the reviews for the book
      P. Zoro4.0 out of 5 stars Effective learning guide Reviewed in the United Kingdom

      Travelling to a foreign country can be a terrible experience if you don’t know how to communicate. Kathryn thus solved this potential problem for all foreign visitors to Italy with her book picking on just the important phrases.

      To start with, the book is both exciting and humorous. The reader discovers the Italian alphabethas 21 letters and borrows some additions from Latin. There are surprising differences from English, like z becomes zeta and is pronounced zeh-tah. I spent some time translating my name and found the result amusing. Learning to pronounce the words correctly was an enjoyable experiment in which I found myself closer and closer to sounding very foreign and learned.

      I discovered “buongiorno” is all I need to say from morning to early evening, and if I am not yet in my hotel then “buonasera” will do until bedtime. For hi and bye to friends there is just one word to learn – “ciao”, but there are so many ways to say goodbye you really have to take your time to learn them. “Millie Gracie” means thanks a lot (a thousand) though I expected it to be “thanks a million”.

      The writer takes the reader through the basic everyday conversational Italian in an interesting manner. You learn to be polite and formal and at the same time to be friendly and appreciative of any assistance. You also learn how to form important phrases, how to ask for the important things and making friends. The book teaches you to get comfortable at the hotel, at a restaurant and when sightseeing. It is indeed a comprehensive guide I would recommend to anyone travelling to Italy who does not speak Italian.

      As for me if someone says “Parla italiano?” (Do you speak Italian?), I will just say “Si, un po’” (Yes, a little) even though sono di Zimbabwe (I am from Zimbabwe).
      Si, I loved this book.  

      Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK  – Electronic copies: Learn Travel Italian

      Also by Kathryn Occhipinti

      Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – Websites:  French and Italian: StellaLucente.com – Blogs: Beginning Italian: Conversational Italian! – Twitter: StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and @travelfrench1

      About Dr. Kathyrn Occhipinti

      Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience.

      Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the “Conversational Italian for Travelers” series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language.

      Nada Sneige Fuleihan is a native French speaker and translator who now resides in the Chicago area.

      The two writers have teamed up to create the pocket travel book, “Conversational French for Travelers, Just the Important Phrases,” using the same method and format as found in the Italian pocket book for travelers “Conversational Italian for Travelers,” originally created by Kathryn Occhipinti.

      You can connect to Kathryn on her websites, blogs and social media at these links

      Facebook group: Conversational Italian!
      Facebook pages: Stella Lucente Italian and Stella Lucente French             
      Instagram: Conversationalitalian.French
      YouTube Channel: Learn Conversational Italian
      Pinterest: StellaLucenteItalian and StellaLucenteFrench

      Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Kathryn’s books on your own network.. thanks Sally.

      Your Italian-American Gardening Tips – Growing Basil and Making Pesto alla Genovese

      Pesto alla Genovese with gnocchi in a bowl lined with prosciutto slices, held by blogger Kathryn Occhipinti, from Conversationalitalian.french Instagram post 2021.
      Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

      This summer I have had the usual bumper crop of fresh basil leaves from the basil plants in large pots that I keep in a sunny position in my garden and provide with an abundance of water.  The plants started to go to seed — make the green and white column of flowers at the end of each stalk — by mid June. So, I dutifully cut back my basil: at first just the flowers, then the stalks with the flowers, and then in mid July did a hard cut-back, taking both stalks and leaves, leaving about 50% of each plant. This will enable the basil plants in the pots to keep growing new stalks with new basil leaves, hopefully into August.

      I’ve posted about growing basil before, of course, since basil  is such a wonderful Italian herb to have in the home garden, and is easily grown in pots and harvested throughout the summer. For a post on how to grow basil, visit Planting a lettuce patch and starting tomato and basil from seeds.  For tips on how to grow basil and an authentic Caprese Salad method, visit Your Italian-American Gardening Tips with Recipes: Basil (Basilico).

      I have also blogged about making pesto before, which I love to do at least 2-3 times each summer when I have an abundance of fresh basil leaves.

      There is truly nothing like the fresh aroma of newly crushed basil over a warm bowl of pasta. And best of all, my children love it!

      If you are really curious about what pesto is and how it is made, read the reprinted blog below to learn “everything you always wanted to know” about making pesto from my blog Learn Italian!, where I post tips on how to learn advanced Italian and also share authentic Italian recipes. In this blog Pesto alla Genovese with Gnocchi: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Making Pesto! ,  I give a short history about my experiences trying to make basil,  the best  basil plant to use and the theory behind the method. I have included a video in the original blog about  how to use a marble mortar and wooden pestle — essential equipment — no food processors, please!

      Finally, at the end of this blog I have reprinted the recipe with the proportion of basil, garlic and cheeses that I like. Try my method and modify the ratio of ingredients for your family! 

      If you would like to see me making pesto live, watch this 1 minute video from my Instagram post on Conversationalitalian.french:

       
       
       
       
       
      View this post on Instagram
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

      A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french)

      //www.instagram.com/embed.js


      Pesto alla Genovese with Gnocchi: Everything You Always Wanted to Know!

      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 I found in a grocery store in Peoria, Illinois. The jar had been labeled “pesto” by an Italian company. Back then, I was trying to learn to cook true Italian “regional” cooking and specifically to expand my sauce-making techniques beyond the ubiquitous and well-loved southern Italian red tomato sauce.  Read the full post here: Pasta alla Genovese.

       

       

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

      Italian Recipe: Kathryn’s Pesto alla Genovese
      con Gnocchi

      Ingredients and tools needed for making Pesto alla Genovese: Mortar and pestle as it is being used, olive oil, cheese, basil leaves
      Pesto alla Genovese: Ingredients needed are shown as they are slowly ground together in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle.

      Ingredients for Italian Recipe
      Kathryn’s Pesto alla Genovese
      (Serves 4)

      Small leaves from 1 small sweet basil plant (Genovese basil is best!)
      (about 3 cups of lightly packed leaves, rinsed, patted dry, stems removed)
      1 to 2 small garlic cloves, peeled, halved lengthwise
      (and bitter green center removed if present)
      2 tablespoons Italian pine nuts
      2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
      1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
      1/4 tsp salt
      3/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil, from Liguria, if possible

      If desired: Prosciutto to line the bowl of gnocchi and pesto dressing for serving.

      Method for the Pesto 

      Note: Before starting, set a large pot of well-salted water on the stove to boil, and cook your pasta  or gnocchi to “al dente” tenderness (“to the tooth). Time the pasta so it finishes cooking just before the pesto is complete. Keep in mind that fresh pasta and gnocchi will take far less time to cook than dried pasta.

      1. Put the garlic cloves into the mortar with a few grains of salt and begin to crush. Add the pine nuts and continue to crush into a smooth paste.
      2. Remove the garlic/pine nut mixture from the mortar to a small bowl.
      3. Put a few of the basil leaves and a few grains of salt into the mortar and begin to crush, using the method shown in the link to the video in this blog post.
      4. As the basil leaves become crushed and release their essential oils, add a few more. Continue to crush the leaves, adding a few at a time, until all are crushed fairly uniformly.
      5. Add whatever salt is left to the crushed basil leaves, the garlic/pine nut mixture, and then drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Combine.
      6. Add the cheeses and a bit more olive oil. Combine.
      7. Drizzle in the rest of the olive oil while continuously stirring the garlic/pine nut/ crushed basil/cheese mixture until a creamy dressing has formed.
      8. Reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons of pasta water and mix into the pesto to warm.
      9. Quickly drain the pasta and put the warm pasta into a large serving bowl.
      10. Dress with your pesto, mix to coat, and serve immediately!

       

      • If desired, as in the Instagram video above, line a large bowl with prosciutto and carefully added your pesto dressed gnocchi. Allow gnocchi to warm the prosciutto a bit, and then serve. This idea from John Coletta’, chef of Quartino Restaurant in Chicago, in his cook book titled: “250 True Italian Pasta Dishes.”

       

      A large bowl lined with prosciutto slices and filled with gnocchi that have been tossed to coat with pesto dressing.
      A large bowl lined with prosciutto slices and filled with gnocchi that have been tossed to coat with pesto dressing. This presentation is courtesy of John Coletta, chef of Quartino Restaurant in Chicago.

       

      • If you would like to preserve your pesto rather than use it right away, it can be frozen in small plastic containers. Top off with a small amount of olive oil. Leave a small amount of room in the container for the liquid to expand and then cover.

       

      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.

      Occhipinti Author Interview, by Dawn Mattera for Modern Italian Network.org

      Collage with photo of Kathryn Occhipinti, author, and images of the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
      Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

      As an independently published author, I am always thrilled when asked to give a video interview, since this is such a personal way for me to connect with my readers. And I do I love to talk about my reasons for venturing into the realm of Italian language learning as much as I love to write about the Italian language and culture!

      So I was very excited when Dawn Mattera, a professional speaker and an author herself who writes about Italian culture, interviewed me last week. Dawn and I have become friends through an internet community focused on the Italian culture called The Modern Italian Network (m.i.o).  There is no charge to join the m.i.o online community of Italians and Italophiles and receive daily updates on all things Italian.  From their homepage:

       

      Why mi.o?

      mi.o is a community for people who wish to share their passion for Italy with others, learn about all aspects of Italian culture including the Italian language, and find the best ways to experience Italy and Italian culture both in Italy and around the world.

       

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

       

      I’d also like to include a few words about Dawn Mattera, who kindly took time out of her day to interview me about my Conversational Italian for Travelers books, my tips to learn Italian, and my travels to Italy.

      Dawn Mattera is an author and speaker who has helped people for over 25 years achieve personal success and overcome challenges. She has written articles and newsletters for international organizations, hosted and spoken at packed seminars and virtual events, and starred in monthly TV spots. Dawn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, a Diploma for the Italian Language, and is a Microsoft Office Master (but, would rather be a Jedi master). She is also a Certified Unhackable® Coach, Speaker and Trainer. 

       

      Dawn Mattera’s latest book on Amazon is The Italian Art of Living: Your Passport to Hope, Happiness and Your Personal Renaissance. 

       

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

       

       

      Finally, if you would like to hear me — Kathryn Occhipinti — talk about why I wrote the Conversational Italian for Travelers books, listen to my tips on how to learn Italian, and learn why knowing even a few Italian words will greatly enrich your trip to Italy, just click on the link below! 

      If you are interested in my Conversational Italian for Travelers books and the FREE material to learn Italian that I talk about in the video, click on the link below for my website, www.learntravelitalian.com.

      For the Interactive Audio Dialogues that tell the story of Caterina, the Italian-American girl who travels to Italy and at the same time teach us “everything we need to know to enjoy our trip to Italy, click here.

      To “look inside” my Conversational Italian for Travelers books and to purchase a book for delivery –or– to purchase the right to download a book in PDF format onto two electronic devices, go to the website purchase page at www.learntravelitalian.com.

      Buon divertimento! 

      Above all, enjoy your adventure learning Italian!

      Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com
      The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
      Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

      Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! The many uses of the Italian verb “Riuscire”

      Colorful homes on a block in Burano with a garden and a park bench out front
      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 2021? 

      Many Italian verbs have a similar use to those in English, which simplifies translation from one language to the other. However, many times the use of an Italian verb will vary  from the usual English connotation.  And in many situations, the same verb can have many different meanings in both languages, depending on the context. Riuscire, the  Italian verb that is commonly followed by “a” to mean “to be able to do something” is one of those verbs that is used in many ways in Italian and is important to “manage to learn” if one wants to use it correctly.

      As I’ve said before, 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 use the Italian verb riuscire, we will be able to communicate just as we do in our native language!

      This post is the 47th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

      Many “commonly used phrases” in conversation

      use the Italian verb
      riuscire.

      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.

      The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

      Let’s Talk About…

      The Many Uses of the  Italian Verb

      Riuscire

      The Italian verb riuscire has a wide range of meanings and its use lends a bit of sophistication to one’s Italian phrases. It is important to “manage to learn” the nuances of the verb riuscire in order to create sentences as we would in our native language.

      The Italian verb riuscire, when linked by the conjunction a to another verb, is translated into English as “to be able to” or “to manage to.”  The meaning is similar to potere, with an important exception: riuscire lends an undertone of personal effort on the speaker’s part. Hence the translation into English as “to manage to.”  In the negative sense, the use of riuscire a  implies that despite maximal work beforehand, it was not possible to make something happen.

      In short, the use of  riuscire is in a way more sophisticated than the use of poterePotere is used to make a simple statement about whether something is possible, without stating if the issue is under one’s control or not. There is no reason given or backstory implied with the verb potere. Specifically, with potere, there is no reference as to the ability of a person to make something happen.  Riuscire is commonly used in Italy, even by children, when they want to include a personal emphasis in their statement.

      Riuscire a can also mean “to turn out” or “to come out.”  When something has turned out well, the veb riuscire is commonly followed by the phrase “alla perfezione.” 

      When riuscire is conjugated and followed by [bene + verb], riuscire takes on the meaning of  “to be good at” something. Riuscire can also be used when describing that one is successful at something.

      In two situations, when riuscire is followed by the adjectives simpatico/antipatico or difficile/facile, the meaning changes again, to: “to seem” or “to come across as.” This is a colloquial use of riuscire.

      Finally, riuscire can be used to mean “to succeed” and also as [ri + uscire] to mean “to go out again.”


      Let’s talk about how to conjugate riuscire in the present, past, and future tenses before using it in some example sentences. 

      Present tense: riuscire is an irregular -isco verb in the present tense. The present tense conjugation is below:

      io

      riesco

      tu

       riesci

      Lei,lei,lui

      riesce

      noi

      riusciamo

      voi

       riuscite

      loro

      riescono

      Past tense: When used in the passato prossimo to describe a single event, essere is the helping verb and the past participle is riuscito. And, of course, remember our usual rule for past participles: if you are female, or your subject is a group of people, make sure to change the past participle riuscito to riuscita, riusciti, or riuscite!

      Riuscire is regular in the imperfetto past tense (riuscivo, riuscivi, riusciva, riuscivamo, riuscivate, riuscivano).

      Future tense: Riuscire is regular in the future tense (riuscirò, riuscirai, riuscirà, riusciremo, riuscirete, riusciranno).

      Finally, an important grammar rule: use indirect object pronouns (le = to her /gli = to him/ gli = to them) with riuscire. 


      1. Use [riuscire a + action verb] to describe “being able to do” something

      • Notice that when linking the verb riuscire with a action verb, the preposition ais required.
      • Common daily phrases link riuscire a with trovare, prendere, or fare to describe if one has been able to find, get, or do something.
      • Note that a substitute verb for riuscire a would be potere, which also means “to be able to,” although riuscire a  is often used to emphasize one’s efforts beforehand (as described above). Potere, on the other hand, is used to make a simple statements regarding whether something is or is not possible, without taking into account if a situation is under one’s control or not.
      “Ho guardato in tutta la casa. Ma non riesco a trovare il mio telefonino da nessuna parte!”
      “I’ve looked all over the house. But I can’t find my telephone anywhere!” 
       
      “Sei riuscito a prendere un appuntamento con il dottore?”
      “Have you been able to get an appointment with the doctor?”

         

        2.  Use [riuscire a + action verb] to describe “managing to do” something

        • Use riuscire a with the meaning of “to manage to do” something, often in the past tense. As in our examples in #1, the use of riuscire emphasizes that the speaker has been struggling beforehand, and is the verb used to communicate that one has or has not “managed to” get something done.
        • Riuscire a can also be used with the future tense to emphasize one’s willingness to “manage to” get something done.
        • Riuscire a can be used in place of farcela, which means, “to make it,” but can also mean “to manage to” or “to succeed.”
        “Sono riuscito a trovare i documenti necessario per la riunione di domani.”
        “I managed to find the necessary documents for the meeting tomorrow.” 
         
        “Sono riuscito a fare la spesa per la cena stasera dopo il lavoro.”
        “I managed to go grocery shopping for dinner tonight after work.”

        “Non sono riuscito a parlare con Maria alla festa ieri; lei era molto occupata.”
        “I didn’t manage to talk with Maria at the party yesterday; she was very busy.”
         
        “Sei riuscito a finire ancora il progetto? È passato già un mese!”
        “You haven’t managed to finish the project yet? It’s been a month already!”

         

        “Ho molto da fare la settimana prossima, ma riuscirò a venire a trovarti!”
        “I have a lot to do next week, but I will manage to visit you!”
         
        “Nostro figlio riuscirà a risparmiare i soldi per una macchina nuova.
        Anzi, dovrà riuscire; non gli diamo una lira!”
        “Our son will manage to save money for a new car.
        Actually, he will have to manage; we will not give him a cent!”

         

        “Marco sta male stamattina. Non ce la farà ad andare a scuola oggi.”
        “Mark is not feeling well this morning. He will not make it to school today.” 
         
        “Marco sta male stamatina. Non riesce ad andare a scuola oggi.
        “Mark does not feel well this morning. He cannot manage to go to school today.”

         

        3. Use riuscire to describe how something has “turned out.”

        “A mia nonna riesce alla perfezione la pasta al forno ogni volta.”
        “My grandmother turns out perfect baked pasta every time.” 
         
        “Molte persone sono riuscite a venire alla la festa ieri sera.”
        “Many people turned out for the party last night.”

         

         

        4. Use [riuscire + bene] to describe if someone is “good at” something

        • The verb riuscire is followed directly by bene when using the verb to describe what someone is “good at.” An alternative method would be to use bravo(a) + a to describe that a person is very talented or knowledgeable in their field.
        • When using riuscire,  the verb that describes exactly what a person’s special talent is can be placed at the end of the sentence in it’s infinitive form.
        • Or, the action verb describing what someone is “good at” can start the sentence and riuscire can be placed at the end. With this sentence structure, “a” should be placed before a name, to signify “to + name.” An indirect object pronoun should be placed before the verb risucire if an individuals’ name is not mentioned.
        “Maria riesce bene a cucinare.  Ma lei non riesce bene a far cuocere il pane.”
        “Maria is good at cooking. But she is not good at baking bread.”
         
        “Cucinare a Maria riesce bene.  Ma cuocere il pane non le riesce bene.”
        “Maria is good at cooking. But she is not good at baking bread.”

         

        5. Use riuscire to describe being successful at something.

        “La mia mostra è riuscita. Ho venduto dieci dipinti!”
        “My show was a success. I sold ten paintings!”
         
        “Giovanni è un bravo atleta; lui riesce in ogni sport che prova.”
        “John is a talented athlete; he is successful at every sport he tries.”

         

        6. Use riuscire with the adjectives simpatico/antipatico or difficile/facile colloquially to describe how someone or something “seems” or “comes across.”

         

        “Maria mi è riuscito simpatico.”  / “Giorgio mi è riuscito antipatico.”
        “Mary seems nice to me.”           / “George comes across as nasty to me.”
         
        “Mi riesce facile immaginare di vivere in Italia.”  /  “Mi riesce difficile immaginare di vivere senza te.”
        “It seems easy for me to imagine living in Italy.” / “It seems difficult for me to imagine living without you.”

        7. Use the riuscire to describe “going out” again. 

        • There are many Italian verbs that begin with “ri” to signify repetition of an action. Of note: ripetere  means to repeat
        • Ri + uscire can mean “to go out again.” Therefore, the words “di nuovo” or “ancora” are not necessary.
        • Riuscire is not used in the sense of “going out” on a date, which instead in Italian is simply, “Ho un appuntamento con…” for “I have an appointment/date with…”
        “Devo riuscire di casa per sprigare commissioni.”
        “I have to go out of the house again to run errands.”
         
        “Sono appena tornato da fare la spesa ma ho dimenticato il vino per cena stasera.
        Devo risucire e comprarlo subito!”
        “I just returned from grocery shopping but forgot the wine for dinner tonight.
        I have to go out again and buy it right away!”


        Remember how to use the Italian verb riuscire in conversation 
        and I guarantee you will use this verb 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 Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Getting from polite to familiar in Italian with “Dare del tu!”

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

        Ciao a tutti! We are on our way to speaking Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021!

        When visiting another country, it is important to understand how to be polite. If one wants to “fare una bella figura” in Italy, that is, “make a good impression,” it is important to know a few polite words in Italian. For those staying in Italy for an extended visit or settling in Italy permanently, it is equally as important to know how to express one’s feelings friendship.

        Italian has a special way to bridge the gap linguistically from between two people who start out as acquaintances and become friends. A simple phrase is relayed from one person to the other: “Dare del tu.” If accepted, is a true sign of friendship!

        As I’ve said before, 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 build on the “commonly used phrase”  “Dare del tu,” which is Italian for, “Let’s be friends and use the familiar form with each other,” we will be able to communicate the closeness we feel with a friend, just as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 45th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

        The “commonly used phrase” in Italian

        Dare del tu?
        is used to ask,
        Let’s be friends and use the familiar form with each other!

        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.

        The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

        Let’s Talk About…

        Getting from Polite to Familiar in Italian with
        Dare del Tu

        Italian has three subject pronouns with three different verb conjugations in the present tense for conversing with  acquaintances and friends.  Reflexive verbs include a reflexive pronoun as well. This is less complicated than it may seem at first.

        Let’s look at the conjugation table for chiamarsi, the reflexive verb that means “to be named,” or “to call oneself.” This verb is one of the first verbs an Italian student learns to conjugate and contains all the elements to understand polite and familiar verb tenses. A refresher, from our Conversational Italian for Travelers book, “Just the Important Phrases” is given in the section below. 

         

        How do we conjugate an Italian verb into the polite or familiar form?

        First, let’s conjugate chiamarsi the way we would any other –are  verb. Chiamarsi (to call oneself/to be named) will have the same stem and endings as chiamare (to call someone — directly, or on the phone).  The stem for both chiamare and chiamarsi is chiam. Add the -are endings to the stem chiam to form the new verbs below.  The stress will fall on the second syllable for our first three forms and the loro form. The stressed syllable has been underlined in the table.

        Chiamare – to call someone

        io

        chiamo

        I call

        tu

        chiami

        you (familiar) call

        Lei

        lei/lui

        chiama

        you (polite) call

        she/he calls

         

         

         

        noi

        chiamiamo

        we call

        voi

        chiamate

        you all call

        loro

        chiamano

        they call

        To complete the conjugation of chiamarsi, add a reflexive pronoun before each conjugated verb.  Notice that in English the reflexive pronoun goes after the verb, so this may take a little getting used to.

         

        Chiamarsi to be called, as in a name/to name oneself 

        io

        mi

        chiamo

        I call myself

        tu

        ti

        chiami

        you (familiar) call yourself

        Lei/lei/lui

        si

        chiama

        you (polite)/she/he calls
        yourself, herself, himself, itself

         

         

         

         

        noi

        ci

        chiamiamo

        we call ourselves

        voi

        vi

        chiamate

        you all call yourselves

        loro

        si

        chiamano

        they call themselves


         

        How do we use an Italian verb in the polite form?

        From the translations in both tables in the last section, we see the the “Lei” form is called the polite form of the verb; this means one addresses someone they have not met before as “you” with “Lei” and the polite verb conjugation. In the case of chiamarsi, one would ask, “Come si chiama?” “What is your name?” in a polite way during introductions.

        As with all social conventions, there are rules to follow regarding when one should be polite to another.

         

        The polite form Lei is used between adults when they first meet
        and to show respect for others.

        Using the Lei form of Italian shows that one is a educated person who follows proper social norms.

        Lei is especially important to show respect when addressing someone who is older than the speaker or who is in an important  social position, such as a boss at work, a professional such as a teacher, doctor, or lawyer, or a government official. When professionals and government officials who are not friends speak with each other, Lei is also required. 

        The easiest way to train your ear to listen to the polite form is to watch an Italian TV series where the characters are shown in their place of work. In the popular series “Commissario Montalbano” or  “Detective Montalbano” the detective always replies to his superior, the “Questore,” or “Chief of Police,” with the Lei form and usually speaks calmly, with a measured tone. But when the same detective is talking to the policemen that work for him, he uses the tu form and colors his sentences with any number of colloquial exclamations.

        An important note about being polite in Italy: remember that children are never addressed with Lei! Even a child that you meet for the first time.

        The question comes up, then, when one is “adult” enough to be addressed with the Lei form. This, of course, will vary, but the other person should have attained at least the age of the speaker. Also, keep in mind that in Italy children are called bambini, which we translate into English as “babies” until about 12 years of age and then are ragazzi, or “girls and boys,” until long after the teenage years! 

        If both speakers have reached the age of 21, is probably safe to start using the Lei, although, in this case the situation should also be considered.

        Younger people tend to be informal with each other in social gatherings, and sometimes even at work! While I was visiting Italy, my older Italian friend once politely reprimanded a 20-something shopkeeper for using the tu form with customers by asking the shopkeeper to revert back to using Lei. (See the last section of this blog for how this is done.)

        Keeping all of the above in mind, when entering a shop, it is polite to say, “Buon giorno,” and most shopkeepers will politely greet those entering with a “Buon giorno,” in return and continue the conversation by speaking to the customer with the Lei form. Therefore, it is useful for the Italian student to recognize the polite verb endings for the present tense -are, -ere, and -ire verbs that will be used, which are: (-a, -e, -e).

        It will be appreciated if the traveler also speaks to the shopkeeper in the Lei form, but understood if the traveler replies in the tu, or familiar form, given the difficulty of this concept for the non-native speaker. The tu form for all present tense verbs has a single ending, of course, which is “-i.”

        A common polite line the shopkeeper may ask the customer after the usual greeting is, “Posso aiutarla?” for “How may I help you?” If you as a customer don’t need anything in particular, but would like to “just look around,” you can answer politely with “No, grazie, Sto solo dando un’occhiata.”

        To learn more about shopping in Italy, visit our blog “Quanto costa?” For more phrases you need to know when conversing at an Italian shop, check out our pocket travel book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” or download Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” into your phone at www.learntravelitalian.com.

         


         

        How do we use an Italian verb in the familiar form?

        From the translations in both tables in the first section, we see the the “tu” form is called the familiar form of the verb; this means that one addresses people they know well, such as family members or friends with the tu form. As we mentioned in the last section, children are always addressed with tu.

        Someone the speaker has just met, who is the same age as the speaker and they feel a friendly connection with can also be addressed as  “you” with “tu” and the familiar verb conjugation.  In the case of chiamarsi, one would ask, “Come ti chiami?” “What is your name?” in a familiar way during introductions.

        As with all social conventions, there are rules as to when one should be familiar with another.

         

        The familiar form tu is used between family members, friends,
        and anyone the speaker has met who is their same age or younger
        to whom they feel a friendly connection.

        Using the tu form of Italian shows a warmth for an individual the speaker feels close to.

        So, in what situation would someone use chiamarsi to ask another’s name in the tu form? This statement seems like a contradiction; if I am using the tu form, I must already know this person, right? So, then why would I be asking their name? As  mentioned before, the tu form is always used with children, even if you’ve just met a child. So to ask a child’s name, use, “Come ti chiami?” If you ask the child’s name with the formal Lei, you will seem overly polite and may elicit a chuckle from the parent or even the child themself! 

        The expression “Come ti chiami?” is also helpful between adults. In the adult world, we may meet someone superficially as part of a group on a routine basis, such as in a required business meeting or in the classroom. So when two people know each other superficially, but have not been formally introduced, one may ask another directly, “Come ti chiami?” This assumes, of course, that the two individuals have the same position in the group and are of similar age and feel a connection due to their shared experience.

        According to Italian convention, to use the familiar tu with someone you have not officially met is a sign that you feel yourself better than them or that you simply don’t care about being polite. The movie, “The Nights of Caibiria,” by Federico Fellini, is a study in this type of personality. In the beginning of the film, a “famous movie star” character consistently addresses others with the tu form when he is out for the evening visiting night clubs in Rome. After he uses the tu form, others respond with the Lei.  When interacting on a personal level with a women he meets that night, he uses the familiar tu form from their first conversation; she knows that he is famous and does not reprimand him. The self-centered, “famous actor” drives this woman to another night club in Rome before he brings her to his home, and, after several hours finally asks her, “Come ti chiami?” 

        However, the traveler who is not Italian and has limited knowledge of the Italian language, any attempt to speak Italian is usually appreciated. It is not normally taken as a sign of disrespect if the traveler replies in the more easily remembered tu familiar form.

         


         

        Are there other ways to be polite and familiar in Italian?

        Also important to remember are the polite and familiar ways to say “hello” and ” good bye” in Italian. For instance, the Italian word “Ciao!” is now commonly used in America with acquaintances. But Italians only use this expression among close friends, and it is good to remember this social convention when one is a visitor to Italy.

        The correct translation of “ciao” is “hi” or “bye,” and not “hello” or “good bye.” This translation shows how informal this Italian expression really is! So when entering a shop keeper’s store, it is proper to say a polite, “Buon giorno!” for “Good day!” and when leaving, “Arrivederci!”  for “Good bye!” and not simply, “Ciao!” When Detective Montalbano speaks with the chief of police on the telephone, and the conversation ends, he uses the ultra formal, “Arrivederla.”

        Below is a table reproduced from the book Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases,” with the many (but not all) expressions of meeting and greeting that are used in Italy today. 

        Buon giorno.*             Good morning.  (lit. Good day.)         used all day into evening

        Buona sera.*               Good evening.                                     early night–time greeting

        Buona notte.*             Good night.                                         used when leaving/bedtime

        Buona giornata.          (Have a) good day.                             to wish someone a nice (entire) day

        Ciao!                          Hi!/Bye!                                                 informal greeting family/friends

        Salve.                         Hello._________________________________both familiar and polite

        Ci vediamo!                (Until) we see each other (again)!      for family or for a friend you

                                                                                                       hope to see again soon

        Arrivederci.                 Good bye.                                           familiar polite

        Arriverla.                     Good bye.                                           polite, with respect

        ArrivederLa.                Good bye.                                           formal written form

         

        Come va?                    How (is it) go(ing)?                             a slang greeting used often

        Ciao bella!/Ciao bello! Hey, beautiful girl!/Hey handsome!   for someone you know (well)

        A dopo!                       (See you) later!                                   good-bye between friends

        A più tardi!                 (See you) later!                                   good-bye between friends

        A presto!                    (See you) soon!                                   good-bye between friends

         

        *Can be written as one word: buongiorno, buonasera, buonanotte.


         

        How do I change from the polite to the familiar in Italian?

        Since Italian has created a situation where two people can be polite (to show respect for each other) or familiar (to show caring between family and friends), there is also a need for phrases that will take people from a polite relationship to a familiar one.

        The verb dare, which means “to give,” is used in important expressions that allow the change to be made from a formal conversation, using the polite verb form for “you” (the Lei form), to a familiar conversation, using the familiar verb form of “you” (the tu form).

        Imagine, for instance, that a conversation starts up at a gathering between two people who are of the same age and have just met.  At some point in the conversation, one will say to the other, “Diamoci del tu,” which does not have a good literal translation, but roughly means, “Let’s use the familiar form of you (the tu form) with each other and address each other familiarly.” The reflexive pronoun ci is added to the end of the verb diamo in order to refer to each other.  This is a familiar way to ask the question, and assumes a level of comfort that the feeling of familiarity will be reciprocated. 

        An even more familiar way to ask the same question is to use the command familiar form of this phrase, which is, “Dammi del tu!” for “Give me the tu!”  The use of this phrase emphasizes the closeness that the speaker already feels toward the other individual just in the way the question is asked, as familiar command phrases are normally only used between family and close friends.

        There are other ways to make this request.  If the person making the request wants to continue in the polite way of speaking when the request is being made, and switch only after consent is given, he or she could use the verb potere and the very useful phrase of politeness we have come across many times before in the Conversational Italian for Travelers books: “Mi può…”  In this case, the phrase would be, “Mi può dare del tu,” for You can use the familiar form of “you” with me.”

        Or, perhaps one is speaking to an older individual and is not sure the feeling of familiarity will be reciprocated.  They can use the same phrase in a question form, as in, “Le posso dare del tu?” which means, “Can I use the familiar form of ‘you’ with you?” Or, alternatively, “Possiamo darci del tu?” for “Can we use the familiar form with each other?”

        Finally, as noted earlier in this blog, Italians use the polite form of “you” in conversation as a way of showing respect to older individuals, professionals, or those in government.  Between Italians, then, a situation may arise where someone of importance might feel another individual is not showing proper respect or has become too familiar with them by their use of the familiar tu in conversation.  In this case, a conversation may start in the familiar, but revert to the polite at the request of a superior with the polite command, “Mi dia del Lei!” which means, “Use the polite form of “you” with me!

        The many ways to ask someone to have a friendly conversation with you are summarized below.

        “Diamoci del tu.” ___________________________________________ informal request 

        “Dammi del tu!”____________________________________________ informal command

        “Mi può dare del tu.” _______________________________________ polite request

        “Le posso dare del tu?” ____________________________________ polite question

        “Possiamo darci del tu?” ___________________________________polite question

         

        If you feel that someone is being too friendly or acting familiar in a formal situation, you can say:

        “Mi dia del Lei!” ____________________________________________ polite command

         

        If you’ve tried to switch from polite to familiar with friends you’ve made
        in Italy, leave a comment describing your
        method and let us know how it worked! 


        Remember how ask, “Can we speak in the familiar with each other?” in Italian with 
        “Dare del tu?” and I guarantee
        you will use this phrase every day!

         

        Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books: Available on  amazon.com  and Learn Travel Italian.com

         

        The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book downloaded onto a cell phone from www.learntravelitalian.com

         

        Your Italian American Gardening Tips: Spring Greens – Healthy and Delicious Recipes for the Season

        Joshua McFadden Cavolo Nero Salad; cavolo nero greens topped with large bread crumbs and Peccorino-Romano cheese in the middle of a ceramic plate rimmed by flowers.
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

        Ciao a tutti! A lot has happened in my garden since my last “Your Italian-American Gardening Tips” blog in early April. I’ve been posting photos periodically on my Instagram ConversationalItalian.French to demonstrate the progression of fresh vegetables available during the springtime in Chicagoland. I also post videos on Instagram of seasonal Italian and French dishes using with what’s available in the kitchen garden.  For our blog today, it’s time for a recap of cool weather vegetables and for a report on which warm weather-loving Italian vegetables I’ve planted this year for summertime harvest.

        Recap: the seeds I planted in early spring have really taken off and the harvest of cool spring greens has been going on for about 2 weeks now! The cool weather in Chicago lasted throughout April and into the very last week of May, which is wonderful for the Italian lettuces, spinach, cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) and broccoli rabe (Italian: rapini)  that I am growing. Hearty greens don’t mind a bit of frost, and even though we had several nights of frost May they were not stunted by the bit of extra cold. And by May 15, the arugula and broccoli rabe had matured and were ready for harvest. See below for how to prepare broccoli rabe the Italian way as a side dish for dinner.

        My overwintered leeks have picked up growing where they left off last fall and now are grocery-store size. I harvested several to make “pot-au-feu” (see below) and planted new sets I bought from the garden store in their place. I should have an almost continuous harvest of these fragrant oniony vegetables available throughout the year. All other members of the onion family are growing nicely with the cool weather, including my overwintered chives (now flowering), and newly planted green onions and shallots.

        The potatoes I planted in the first days of spring struggled a bit with frost-bite, but their leaves seemed to have recovered. Those planted later were saved this difficulty as they are just now starting to show their first leaves.  I’m hoping “new” potatoes will be available for harvest by mid June and for weeks after.

        The strawberries in the raised garden between the potato beds are going strong, covering almost every inch of their box and flowering nicely, also getting ready for a June harvest.

        As I have mentioned in my  Your Italian-American Gardening Tips blogs, for the last two years, my focus has been on how to grow Italian vegetables in the suburbs, even in a small space.

        My hope is that you will enjoy the tips I’ve learned about gardening through many years of experience and be encouraged to start an Italian garden yourself — be it large or small, in a yard or on your porch, or even indoors in pots near a sunny window — after reading the blogs in this series “Your Italian Gardening Tips.”  

        Check out my Instagram account, ConversationalItalian.French to see photos of my garden as it progresses.

        In this blog I’ll describe when to harvest springtime greens that love the cool weather, and provide some ideas for how to use them in simple dishes you can make at home.

        And remember the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you want an easy, step-by-step way to learn the Italian of today. Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

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        Another Recipe with Leeks!

        Pot-au-feu: Classic French Dinner

         

        In my April post, I provided some tips about growing and cooking leeks, and provided an Instagram post of a salmon, leek and cream dish that I think is the perfect combination of flavors.  With my leeks now grocery-store size and available to harvest by mid May, I made a classic French dish called “Pot-au-feu,” which means “Pot on the fire,” that pairs veal shank with fragrant leeks, fennel bulbs, carrots and parsnips.

        The veal broth created by cooking the veal shank with spring vegetables makes a traditional and  flavorful starter for this spring-time meal. Vermicelli noodles are often cut into shorter pieces, cooked, and then added to the soup for a bit of texture. 

        The leeks, fennel, carrots, and parsnips are cooked in the broth after the veal is done to until just tender and make a wonderful accompaniment for the veal as the main course. Most Italians love a fragrant broth, as well as fennel, and I was glad I gave this simple dish a try. Watch me make Pot-au-feu on Instagram below by clicking on the image and then try your own. Your family will love the flavorful broth created while cooking the veal and this perfect springtime meal. (Ingredients listed on Instagram.)

         

         
         
         
         
         
        View this post on Instagram
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

        A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french)

        //www.instagram.com/embed.js

         

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        Italian Lettuces and Greens Growing Strong

         

        What a difference a few weeks makes! Check out the image of my raised garden bed below on May 15, where I planted spinach and lettuces from Seeds from Italy early last April. (“Seeds from Italy” is the name of an American distributor of seeds from authentic Italian producers. Check out their website!) 

        Arugula: Both common and “wild” varieties of arugula were ready to harvest by May 15, and other lettuces and spinach followed shortly after. I enjoyed the “wild arugula” leaves that I planted for the first time this year. The wild arugula variety has leaves that are smaller and more tender then the common variety, so they are easier to mix into a salad. Both Italian varieties of arugula have the same peppery flavor.

        Cavolo Nero: The cavolo nero (a Tuscan kale, called “black cabbage” in Italian) seeds I planted in their own row just outside the garden bed are growing nicely and I’ve already thinned them out a bit, which created the opportunity for a kale and citrus salad. See the link to my Instagram post below.

        Broccoli rabe: As mentioned earlier, the broccoli rabe seeds I planted from Seeds of Italy took off and grew nicely all spring, and were ready to harvest by May 15. Broccoli rabe is actually a type of turnip that is grown for the greens rather than the root. Turnips and broccoli are in the same family, called the Brassicaceae family, so it is not surprising they can look similar.

        Broccoli rabe (cime di rapa or rapini in Italian) looks like a leafy green with several small ” broccoli-like clusters at the tip of their stalks.  Broccoli rabe should be harvested when the center stalk with the cluster of broccoli-like clusters becomes taller than the leafy portion of the plant. After this stalk elongates, it can take only a day or two for the plant to “go to seed” by forming small yellow flowers from the green clusters. I sewed a second set of seeds, in late May when I had harvested about half of my broccoli rabe, although these may not germinate or reach full maturity before the heat of summer sets in.

        Below is an Instagram post of how to cook broccoli rabe. It is usually sautéed in a large pan with olive oil, garlic, and 1 or 2 hot peppers, and with or without a bit of sausage. A large bunch will cook down significantly, just like spinach. I like to trim the stems off, although they are edible. Orecchiette pasta can be added for a classic pasta dish.

        Romanesco broccoli: The romanesco broccoli I planted started to perk up by the end of May, as did my Swiss Chard. 

        Onions: Shallot sets and green onion sets from the garden shop in my neighborhood complete my lettuce beds this year. As I’ve mentioned, it is easy to grow  all relatives of the onion family in Chicagoland. My chives came up again in their own pot nearby, as expected early in spring, as they have been doing for over 10 years!

         

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

         

        See below for an image of my garden beds with the greens and onions this year just after planting and in mid May.  Between the garden beds are lavender that I planted last year as part of my herb garden. A row of sedum was planted by the previous owners of my house, and comes up reliably every year, so I have kept it in place as a border. 

        Leeks growing in the center of a raised garden bed; in the distance another raised garden bed and additional land for leafy greens. Seeds have just been planted.
        Italian garden beds for lettuce, onions, and leafy greens, after seeds were planted. The leeks overwintered from last summer.

         

         

         

         

        Raised garden bed with rows of spinach, arugula, leeks in the foreground and lettuces and onion sets in the back. Broccoli rabe growing in the ground behind the beds.
        Raised bed in the foreground, left to right: 2 rows of spinach, 1 row of common arugula, 1 row of wild arugula, leeks. Raised bed in the back: mixed lettuces and onion sets. Semicircle plot: broccoli rabe to the right.

         

         

         

         

        Broccoli rabe growing in the semicircular plot behind the raised garden beds, ready to start harvesting. Large, saw-tooth type leaves are growing in a cluster.
        Broccoli rabe growing in the semicircular plot behind the raised garden beds, ready to start harvesting.

         

         

         

         

        Broccoli rabe close up, ready to harvest before the yellow flowers develop and the plant goes to seed.
        Broccoli rabe close up, ready to harvest before the yellow flowers develop and the plant goes to seed.

         

         

         

         

         

         

        Broccoli rabe gone to seed; the stalk has elongated and the leaves are shriveled and small. Small bright yellow flowers sit atop the stalk.
        Broccoli rabe gone to seed.

        Just one week later, the temperatures reached 90° and this lasted for 3 days in a row. All broccoli rabe went to seed. The delicious leaves seem to shrink and most of the plant is just a long stem with yellow flowers on top.  The season was fairly long, but ended suddenly. 

         

         

         

         

         

        Salads, Salads, and More Salads

         

        Last year, I provided a method for how to create salads with the lettuces I grew in my garden and described how to make a classic vinaigrette in my blog  Four Salads for Summer Days.  I also showed methods for making herbed and garlic croutons. Check out this blog for the following salads: 

        1. Mixed baby greens, chive flowers and radishes (with Bree cheese and crackers) — a great salad for spring, using what’s available in the kitchen garden!

             2. Insalata mista (Typical Italian salad of mixed lettuces, carrots, tomatoes and radishes) with garlic croutons 

             3. Mixed greens, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, and raspberries

             4. Spinach salad with goat cheese and strawberries — spinach and strawberries are usually available at about the               time in early summer.

         

        Even with all the varieties of greens I had planted in my garden this year, I decided in early spring to follow the advice of my grandmother on how to make a nutritious salad and harvest dandelions freely growing around my property.  Dandelions are called “dente di leone” in Italian, and their saw-toothed leaves and bright yellow flowers are unmistakable. They come up on their own reliably in early spring every year (to the chagrin of those in the American suburbs who like a tidy lawn) and are a good source of Vitamins A, C, K and even minerals like iron and calcium. The stems always grow out from one central root, so be careful to watch for this root if harvesting ( especially before they flower), in order to make sure you are picking the correct weed! The smaller dandelion leaves are the most tender; when using the larger leaves, remove the thick rib along the back. Inspect both sides of the leaves for dirt and rinse very well and leave in the refrigerator; rinse again before using. 

         

        Dandelion ready to flower. Dente di leone in Italian. The image shows all stalks growing toward a central root.
        Dandelion ready to flower. “Dente di leone” in Italian. All stalks grow from a central root.

        Italians love dandelion greens with a simple dressing of red wine vinegar, pinches of salt and pepper and finely chopped garlic. The garlic is an important ingredient, as it counters the bitterness of the dandelion. The finely chopped garlic sold in the grocery store in jars and kept in the refrigerator is best for this type of salad dressing, as it is softer and less sharp than freshly chopped garlic. Chives and parsley are also available at the same time as dandelions in spring and can be freshly chopped and added to the salad dressing at the end. The ratio: 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar to 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  See below.

         

        Dandelion salad with a simple red wine and chive vinaigrette arranged on a plate in a starburst pattern like a composed salad, served with a breadstick.
        Dandelion salad with a simple red wine and chive vinaigrette served with a breadstick.

        A warm bacon dressing can also be used on dandelion greens, just as with spinach or frisèe. A thick slice of pancetta cut into rectangles and cooked slowly over medium heat makes delicious lardoons, as pictured below.  For a traditional vinaigrette that goes on this type of salad, sauté a chopped shallot in the rendered fat from the pancetta until it softens. Remove the shallot and 1 Tbsp. of rendered fat into a bowl and add 2 Tbsps of red wine vinegar and a pinch of mustard, salt and pepper.

        Dandelion salad Lyonnaise style with pancetta lardons; poached egg in center of greens with bacon bits and croutons in the periphery
        Dandelion salad Lyonnaise style with pancetta lardons

        For a salad made with fresh baby cavolo nero greens, check out my Instagram post below. The dressing I used was taken from the cook book “Six Seasons,” by Joshua McFadden, the chef who trained in Italy and started the kale craze from his Brooklyn restaurant.  He writes in his cook book “This is the kale salad that started it all.” Make your own large breadcrumbs with a good loaf of bread dried out in the oven at 200 or 250 degrees for about 20 – 30 min to sop up the delicious dressing. It is worth it! 

        For the Joshua McFadden dressing: 1/2 garlic clove, smashed, 1/4 cup finely grated Peccorino-Romano cheese, 1/8 tsp hot dried chile peppers, pinches of salt and coarsely grated pepper, “large glug” (2-3 Tbsp) olive oil and juice from one lemon. Whisk all together all ingredients.

        Chiffonade (roll up and cut into thin strips) cavolo nero, toss in dressing, and top with more grated cheese and breadcrumbs. 

         

         
         
         
         
         
        View this post on Instagram
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

        A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french)

        //www.instagram.com/embed.js

         

        Joshua McFadden Cavolo Nero Salad; cavolo nero greens topped with large bread crumbs and Peccorino-Romano cheese in the middle of a ceramic plate rimmed by flowers.
        Joshua McFadden Cavolo Nero Salad

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

         

        Cooking Broccoli Rabe the Italian Way

        Broccoli rabe traditionally needs only a quick sauté in olive oil, garlic and small red chile peppers. The olive oil and garlic work counter the bitterness of the broccoli rabe and the chile peppers add an extra bit of zest, but can be omitted for those who cannot tolerate spicy-hot food. Red bell peppers cut into small pieces are a good substitute, although not traditional.

        I created a video while I was cooking up some broccoli rabe as a side dish to show how much of the vegetable you need for just 2 people. Quite a bit, really! The broccoli rabe really cooks down.  I added a bit of Italian sausage and could have also added Orecchiette pasta at the end for a traditional pasta dish and a satisfying meal. In fact, my children ask me to make broccoli rabe in the spring time and all summer long! 

         

         
         
         
         
         
        View this post on Instagram
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

        A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french)

        //www.instagram.com/embed.js

         

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

         

        Strawberries and Asparagus have come to life!

         

        Check out the difference in last year’s strawberry bed after the first fertilization in early spring and the second fertilization in mid May below. The strawberry crowns I planted earlier this year have struggled a bit, as there was not much rain this spring to help their roots grow, but are coming into their own slowly in the same raised beds as the asparagus.  Too bad I will have to wait at least another year to harvest my asparagus! 

         

        Raised garden bed with overwintered strawberries, now with green leaves
        Strawberries spring 2021, overwintered with both green and brown leaves. The small plant with new red stalks and green leaves peeking out in the center is overwintered rhubarb.
        Strawberry bed from 2020 with rhubarb growing in the center. The strawberry plants have taken over the bed.
        Strawberry bed from 2020 with rhubarb growing in the center. 

         

        Second year asparagus with first year strawberries in the perimeter
        Second year asparagus with first year strawberries in the perimeter.

         

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

         

        This Year’s Peas and Then…

        Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant

         

        Peas did not come up as quickly as I would have liked this year. I think this was due to the lack of rain. We had the driest April and May months on record in Chicagoland. But luckily, I have plenty of space in my raised garden beds this year, so they are free to grow as long as they like. I reserved the far bed (#4) for my late  tomatoes with large fruits and tall stalks and my cherry tomatoes, both of which take up a lot of space.  Plumb tomatoes and early tomatoes are in the next two beds over (#2 and #3), along with eggplant, arranged in spots where peas did not come up. Not ideal, but they are adequately spaced.  Hot and sweet peppers are in bed #1.   

         

        Four new raised garden beds planted with peas
        Four new raised garden beds planted with peas
        Four raised garden beds with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers from background to foreground. Peas growing in the beds in the foreground.
        Four raised garden beds with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers from background to foreground. Peas growing in the beds in the foreground.

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

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

         

        Please write and let me know what you are planting in your garden this year.
        I’d love to hear how your garden grows!
        Until the next blog, follow my Instagram account, Conversationalitalian.french
        for recipe ideas from my garden to yours!

        Our Italy — Tropea, Calabria: Italy’s Most Beautiful Village, by Karen Haid

        A white castle in the city of Tropea, Calabria, sits atop a sheer cliff of white stone. There is a small park behind the castle and at the foot of the cliff a beach with people enjoying the sun and sea.

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

        Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, knowing that one day we will all be able to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

        Today I am happy to share a guest blog entitled: Tropea, Calabria: Italy’s Most Beautiful Village — It’s Official! from the blog “Calabria: The Other Italy,” written by author, blogger and tour guide Karen Haid.

        Karen Haid is a multifaceted person, who was raised by parents who had lived in Italy for 5 years after their marriage and returned to the United States as Itaophiles. They transferred their love of Italian cuisine and culture to their children. Karen’s primary focus was the world of classical music prior to her immersion in Italian language when she visited Italy as an adult. Karen remained in Italy, where, on her way to becoming fluent in Italian, she has earned the Dante Alighieri Society’s certification of mother-tongue equivalency and a diploma in the teaching of Italian language and culture.

        Several years ago, Karen’s primary focus became the regions of Basilicata and Calabria. Karen lived in Calabria and so she was able to experience the Italian culture in that region firsthand. Given her advanced level of Italian, when she now returns to Calabria as a tour guide, she is able to have many meaningful and wonderful conversations with locals, in which nothing gets lost in translation. Karen now promotes and has written about Calabria in her blog and book of the same name, Calabria: The Other Italy. The explanation for Karen’s fascination with Calabria, from her blog:

        …from the moment she set foot on Calabrian soil, the author was intrigued by the characteristic determination of the Calabrese people, the wealth of its history and art, the beauty and variety of its landscape, and its rich culture, most often celebrated in terms of extraordinary culinary offerings. Calabria: The Other Italy grew out of her four-year immersion, observing, interacting and absorbing the wonders of the people and the place.

        Recently, the rest of Italy has recognized Calabria’s beauty as well. From Karen’s blog:

        Tropea, Calabria has just been voted the Borgo dei Borghi, the Village of the Villages, in a contest that asked Italians to choose the most beautiful amongst the Borghi più belli d’Italia, or Italy’s most beautiful villages. A difficult choice, to be sure, but Tropea isn’t called la Perla del Mediterraneo for nothing. Let’s have a look at this Pearl of the Mediterranean!

        Click on the link below to read more about Tropea and view photos of one this picturesque village, built into sheer cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea: Tropea, Calabria: Italy’s Most Beautiful Village — It’s Official!

        The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book is now available to download on your cell phone. No APP needed!  Purchase the rights today from our website at: www.learntravelitalian.com.

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day – “As Far as I know” with Sapere in the Subjunctive Mood

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

        Buon giorno a tutti! Today we will discuss how to use sapere in the common subjunctive mood form “sappia” for those uncertain times in our lives. 

        As I’ve said before in this blog series, 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 talk about what we may know in Italian with the verb  sappia, the singular subjunctive mood of  sapere, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 44th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE.

        Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

        start with “As far as I know…” 

        and use the subjunctive form of the verb sapere,
        which is s
        appia  

        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 this verb?

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

        The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

        Sappia — Subjunctive Mood of Sapere 

        As we’ve seen in a previous blog about the verb sapere,it is important to understand how to conjugate sapere in the present tense if one wants to describe what he or she knows. Sapere in the present tense is a verb of certainty; when one uses the Italian verb sapere, they do so to describe a fact or something they believe to be true.  

        But there are times when one may not be certain he or she is talking about a fact. In order to convey different shades of meaning, Italian uses the subjunctive mood. And to convey uncertainty about what one knows in the present, it is necessary to use the present subjunctive (presente congiuntivo) of sapere.

        Sapere is an irregular verb. However, the presente congiuntivo is easier to conjugate than the present tense, as the first three persons of the presente congiuntivo are identical — all three are the commonly used form sappia.”

        Also, to make remembering the presente congiuntivo easy, note that the noi form is “sappiamo,” which is the same as the present tense!

        In English,  the translation for the presente congiuntivo of sapere is the same as the simple present tense. Today’s spoken and written English uses the subjunctive mood sparingly, most often for hypothetical phrases — statements we make when we wish for something that we know cannot be. Therefore, when Italian requires the presente congiuntivo, English defaults to the simple present tense. See the table below for the full conjugation of sapere. 

        SaperePresente Congiuntivo

        io

        sappia

        I know

        tu

        sappia

        you (familiar) know

        Lei 

         

        lei/lui

        sappia

        you (polite) know

         

        she/he knows

         

         

         

        noi

        sappiamo

        we know

        voi

        sappiate

        you all know

        loro

        sappiano

        they know

         

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

        Let’s start our discussion of how to use the verb sapere with some common conversational phrases in the present and past tenses. Then we can go on to describe some situations in which it is necessary to use the sapere in the Italian subjunctive mood.

        Some common phrases that use sapere in the present and past tenses:

        So…/Sai…

        I know…/You know…

        Come sai…/Come sa…

        As you know… (familiar/polite)

        Come sapete…

        As you all know…

        Non si sa mai!

        One never knows!

        Non lo so.

        I don’t know.

        Non lo sapevo.

        I didn’t know.


        It is clear from the above phrases that a fact is being relayed; one either knows or does not know something. With the  phrases that need to be completed, like, “So…,” “Sai…,” “Come sai..,”  or “Come sa..,” since there is no uncertainty involved, a verb in the simple present or past tense can be used to complete the sentence. 

        An example of one friend talking to another is given below, with an introductory phrase that uses sapere in the present tense, and a fact relayed in the following phrase:

        • Come sai, Francesca è partita per Roma ieri.
          As you know, Frances left for Rome yesterday.

        Now, let’s imagine that someone has asked our speaker if they know whether Frances has departed for Rome. And in this case, the speaker does not know if Frances has left prior to their conversation. An Italian in this situation could answer, “Non lo so,” for a simple, “I don’t know.”  But to be a bit more dramatic, there is also the option of answering this question with an exclamation, “Chi lo sa!which means, “Who knows?” 

        To really sound Italian, one can say, “Chissà!” which is a commonly used Italian exclamation that also means, “Who knows?” and  likely evolved from the simple sentence above using sapere.

        Here is our first example again, except this time let’s answer our question about Francesca with our exclamations that use sapere in the present tense.

        • Francesca è partita per Roma ieri?   Chi lo sa!
          Frances left for Rome yesterday?   Who knows?
        • Francesca è partita per Roma ieri?   Chissà!
          Frances left for Rome yesterday?   Who knows?

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

         

        So, when does the subjunctive mood come into play? Going back to our original question about whether Frances has left for Rome: in some cases, this question might not have a simple “yes or no” answer. And this is when it is necessary to use the subjunctive mood!

        For instance, when answering the question, “Has Frances left for Rome?” the speaker may be fairly certain that Frances has already left. But maybe some detail is bothering him or her. Perhaps the speaker hasn’t seen Frances leave, but knows that Frances always keeps her appointments. The phrases “per quanto ne so” and “per quanto ne sappia,” both mean “as far as I know,” or “to my knowledge,” and are useful if one is feeling a bit unsure of themselves or the situation under discussion. 

        When to use each phrase?  In many English translations, “per quanto ne so” and “per quanto ne sappia,” are interchangeable; but in Italian these two phrases do have different shades of meaning.

        “Per quanto ne so” implies some certainty in one’s knowledge, similar to the  English phrase, “I’m pretty sure.” 

        “Per quanto ne sappia” leans more toward uncertainty, such as, “I’m not really sure, but I think so.”

        Below is our example again, with the subjunctive verb sappia used in the response to the original question asking whether Frances has left for Rome.

        • Francesca è partita per Roma?   
          Has Frances left for Rome?   
        • Per quanto ne sappia, Francesca è gia partita per Roma.
          As far as I know — I’m not really sure, but I think so — Frances has already left for Rome.

        The phrase “per quanto ne sappia” can be shortened to: “che io sappia,” which also means, “as far as I know.” In fact, this shortened phrase is the most common form used in conversation.

        • Che io sappia, Francesca è gia partita per Roma.
          As far as I know, Frances has already left for Rome.

        Other phrases along with “per quanto ne sappia” that mean “as far as” or “for what” or “to what” are: a quanto, per quel che, and a quel che. These introductory phrases are used in the same manner as per quanto, although per quanto is the most common phrase of this group used in conversational Italian.

        But… be careful! “A quanto pare” means “apparently” and does not use the subjunctive mood! Because, in this case, the introductory phrase implies certainty, it should be followed with a verb in the simple present or past tense.

        • Francesca è partita per Roma? 
          Has Frances left for Rome? 
        • Le sue valigie non sono più qui. A quanto pare, Francesca è gia partita per Roma stamattina.
          Her suitcases are no longer here. Apparently, Frances has already left for Rome this morning.

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

         

        Another useful phrase for when one is feeling uncertain about something is “non che io sappia,” which means “not that I know” or “not that I am aware of,” and is usually followed by the conjunctions “ma” or “pero,” which both mean “but.” So, in effect, this introductory phrase when connected by “but” is a bit of a contradiction; it is a signal that one probably does know something about the situation after all!

        • Francesca è partita per Roma? 
          Has Frances left for Rome? 
        • Non che io sappia con certezza, ma le sue valigie non sono più qui.
          Not that I know for certain, but her suitcases are no longer here.

        Remember how to use sappia, the Italian subjunctive mood of sapere in conversation 
        and I guarantee you will use this verb every day!

         

        Cell phone with the cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Grammar" downloaded
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books are now available to download on your cell phone. No APP needed! Purchase the rights today from our website at: http://www.learntravelitalian.com.

        Books available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Let’s Talk About… How Much Does it Cost? Quanto Costa?

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

        Ciao a tutti! We are on our way to speaking Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2021!

        When visiting another country (and I am sure travelers will one day be able to visit Italy again), it is important to understand the ins and outs of making a purchase. Whether you are dining at a restaurant, visiting an important historical site, or purchasing a souvenir of your trip, knowing a few  words in Italian is always helpful to understand the cost. And if you like to barter, you can pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

        As I’ve said before, 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 build on the “commonly used phrase”  “Quanto costa,” which is Italian for “How much does it cost?” we will be able to communicate what we want to purchase, just as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 43rd in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

        Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

        are used to ask
        Quanto costa?
        How much does it cost?

        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.

        The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

        Let’s Talk About…

        How Much Does it Cost?
        Quanto Costa?

        When visiting another country (and I am sure travelers will one day be able to visit Italy again), it is important to understand the ins and outs of making a purchase. Whether you are dining at a restaurant, visiting an important historical site, or purchasing a souvenir of your trip, knowing a few  words in Italian is always helpful to understand the cost. And if you like to barter, you can pepper your English with a few friendly Italian phrases to help the deal go through!

        How do I use the verb costare?

        In order to ask how much something costs in Italian, we will first need to conjugate the verb costare, which sounds very much like its English counterpart “to cost.” Costare is a regular -are verb, so the verb conjugation  should be easy to remember. When making purchases, the third person singular “it costs,” which is “costa,” and the third person plural “they cost,” which is “costano,” are the two forms of this verb necessary to know.

        Since we leave out the word “it” in conversational Italian, we simply need to put the word for “how much,” which is “quanto,” before costa or costano. This gives us the short sentences, “Quanto costa?” and “Quanto costano?” Remember that there is no need to insert the words “do” or “does” into your phrase when asking a question in Italian, although these words are necessary in English.

        Let’s see how this works.

        First off, it is polite to say, “Buon giorno!” to the shopkeeper when entering a shop in Italy. The shopkeeper will most likely be standing behind a counter near the doorway, and you will receive a polite “Buon giorno!” in return. Also, most shops in Italy have an unspoken rule — or sometimes an actual sign by the merchandise that says, “Non toccare, per favore” — requesting that customers do not handle fragile items themselves.

        If you would like to have a closer look at an item, you can start by asking the shopkeeper, “Posso?” for “May I…” and point to the item you would like to pick up.

        If you are in a shop in Florence, and see a lovely handmade wallet in a display case, if want to know the price, you can simply say, “Quanto costa?” for “How much does it cost?” 

        And if you want to purchase several silk scarves to bring home to your friends, you can ask,  “Quanto costano?” for “How much do they cost?”  

        Quanto costa?

        How much (does) (it) cost?

        Quanto costano?

        How much (do) (they) cost?

        When asking a shopkeeper in Italy how much something costs, the easiest thing to do is to point to the item or items and use the simple sentences above. Most Italian shops are small and the salespeople are usually helpful and accommodating, regardless of one’s knowledge of Italian. But it is also easy to add the Italian word for the item you are interested in at the end of these sentences. Notice the verbs costa and costano are highlighted in green to emphasize how the verb costare will change depending on the  number of items under consideration.

        Quanto costa il portafoglio?

        How much (does) the wallet cost?

        Quanto costano le sciarpe?

        How much (do) the scarves cost?

        As a substitute for the name of the item, you can also point and use the adjective “this” for one item near you or “that” for another item further away. The adjectives “these/those” are used for more than one item. Remember to change the endings of “questo” (this) and quello” (that) to reflect the gender of the item you want to purchase!

        In the table below that the adjectives questo and quello are in blue, with their endings highlighted in red to match the endings of the nouns each corresponds to. If you need a more in-depth explanation of how to use the adjectives questo and quello, you will find this in the Conversational Italian for Travelers book “Just the Grammar.”

        Quanto costa questo? (portafoglio)

        How much (does) this cost?

        Quanto costa questa? (sciarpa)

        How much does this cost?

        Quanto costano questi? (portafogli)

        How much do these (wallets) cost?

        Quanto costano queste? (sciarpe)

        How much (do) these (scarves) cost?

         

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

        How do I spot a sale in Italy?

        Leather goods Florence

        If you visit Italy at the end of June, and certainly in July and August, shops that sell clothing and accessories will be preparing for the fall season by putting their current items on sale. Large signs appear in shop windows, that say, “In Saldo” or “Saldi” and often list the percentage reduction, such as 25%, 50% or even 75%.  Some additional words and phrases you may see in shop windows are given in the table below. 

        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

         

        Italian dresses for sale
        Shop window in Rome with Italian dresses for sale up to 50% off.

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

        How do I barter in Italian?

        The price of most smaller purchases in Italian shops is not negotiable, especially when the owner is not on site. But, many of the owners of the leather and jewelry shops in Florence actually expect you to barter with them! Bartering is also expected by many artisans that sell their work in the piazzas of Italy.  Learn some of the phrases below. It may be fun to try out your bartering skills when Italy opens its doors to the world again!

        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!)

        And here we go with bartering… 

        Quanto costa? How much (does it) cost?
        Venti euro. (It costs) 20 euro.
        Troppo caro! Facciamo quindici euro! (That is) too expensive! Let’s make it 15 euros!
        Non è in saldo… ma, diciannove va bene. (It) is not on sale… but 19 is good.
        No, è costoso! Può andar bene 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!)
        Va bene! Very well!/Agreed.

        If you’ve tried bartering in Italy, leave a comment describing your method and let us know how it worked! 


        Remember how ask, How much does it cost?” in Italian with 
        “Quanto costa?” and I guarantee
        you will use this phrase every day!

        Conversational Italian for Travelers books are shown side by side, standing up with "Just the Verbs" on the left and "Just the Grammar" on the right
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” and “Just the Verbs” books

           Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

        Your Italian-American Gardening Tips: Leeks come back! Planting Strawberries, Asparagus, Spinach and Peas in the Springtime

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

        Ciao a tutti! It’s been so nice to be out in the garden again this spring! It seems like ages have passed since my last gardening blog in December of 2020.

        January was temperate in Chicagoland.  It finally started to snow in earnest in February, and then seemed like it would never stop.  By the end of the month, my yard was blanketed in 4 feet of snow!  But once the snow cleared, I was excited to see the tiny, bright yellow, sun-like faces of my winter buttercups, followed by daffodils, tulips and hyacinths in the early spring. Check out my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french  to follow my flower beds  more closely if you like.

        I have great expectations for the vegetable garden this year, since I hired a landscape crew to build 4 new raised beds! These beds are on the top of a hill, in the sunniest location in my yard, and I know this will be wonderful for the Italian summer vegetables my family loves. 

        As I have mentioned in my  Your Italian-American Gardening Tips blogs, for the last two years, my focus has been on how to grow Italian vegetables in the suburbs, even in a small space.

        My hope is that you will enjoy the tips I’ve learned about gardening through many years of experience and be encouraged to start an Italian garden yourself — be it large or small, in a yard or on your porch, or even indoors in pots near a sunny window — after reading the blogs in this series “Your Italian Gardening Tips.”  

        Check out my Instagram account, ConversationalItalian.French to see photos of my garden as it progresses.

        In this blog I’ll describe how to get started in the springtime with vegetables and greens that love the cool weather, and set out my garden plan for 2011. 

        And remember the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you want an easy, step-by-step way to learn the Italian of today. Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

         

        Watching Leeks Spring Back to Life

         

        In my December post, I mentioned my first attempt at growing leeks last year. In short, I had found leek sets in the garden shop and  planted them in two rows in the center of my lettuce bed by the house. Although I did not realize it at the time, they were planted in a good location for over-wintering; that particular bed is sheltered by a large tree on one side and the house and patio wall on the other two sides. The leeks provided greenery in the center of that bed all winter, their long so I knew they were alive. By early spring, when the ground thawed I was able to pull two fragrant leeks to make with my salmon for Friday night during lent.  

        A few tips about cooking with leeks:

        Whether store bought or homegrown, remember to continuously clean the leeks of the bits of dirt that hide in between the layers.

        The long, white “bulb” portion of the leek (called the “shank”) is used for cooking, along with the tender green portion of the bulb at the border with the white.  The long green leaves are normally discarded into the compost bin. Although, I did find an article from La Cucina Italiana that mentions boiling the tough green leaves and rolling each to make individual serving “rounds,” with a filling or to use them for soups or stews. Interesting ideas!

        The “white part” of the leek is usually cut crosswise, is tender when cooked, and has a delicate, oniony flavor and  floral scent.  This portion of the leek alone can flavor an entire dish. So when I paired leeks with salmon for the Instagram post shared below, I did not use the usual Italian technique of a preliminary sauté in olive oil to soften them, and I did not include garlic in the dish. But the pasta in this dish is cooked and then added in the “typical” Italian way.

        My salmon, leek, and cream with pasta dish is so simple to make. It takes only one large pan and I think the flavors meld beautifully. Check out how I did this on my Instagram video below and then try it yourself and see if you agree!

         

         

         

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

         

        Planting Seeds for Spinach

        and Italian Greens

         

        This year I wasted no time ordering seeds. As soon as the catalogues appeared in my mailbox in January, I sent out my order. The first item on my list was spinach, as it is one of my favorite leafy green vegetables. It is said that Catherine de Medici from Renaissance Florence loved spinach so much that when she was queen of France she asked it be served at every meal! Perhaps this is why dishes that feature spinach are called “Florentine.”

        Spinach grows easily from seed in the cool spring of Chicago, and homegrown spinach has a fresh taste that the supermarket spinach lacks. I especially love young spinach leaves and it is wonderful to have them available right in my backyard for an afternoon lunch. This year I planted two varieties of spinach, both of which were advertised as being resistant to going to seed and dying out in the warm weather. Fingers crossed, because it typically turns from a cool spring into a hot summer very quickly in Chicagoland.

        Other than spinach, I like to plant greens that are not commonly found in the grocery stores here in the US. My favorite company to order from is Seeds from Italy. They are an American distributor of seeds from authentic Italian producers.  As a result, I was able to find two varieties of arugula, lamb’s lettuce, and several types of Italian leafy romaine that love cool weather but are also supposed to be resistant to going to seed when it turns warmer. 

        Another of my favorite Italian greens that can be planted in the springtime is cavolo nero.  The name means “black cabbage,” but it is really a kale. This leafy green has become popular lately, but I’ve grown it in my garden for years. Cavolo nero grows easily from seed and will last all summer into the late fall. Cavolo nero is an attractive, tall leafy green and needs a lot of space, so I planted the seeds in their own row just outside the garden bed. 

        Just north of the cavolo nero is my bed of Swiss chard. One valiant plant came up again on its own this year. I’ve planted more seeds in the perimeter of the old bed since Swiss chard needs cool weather to germinate. The package recommended soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting for best germination. And in the center of this garden bed, I trying to grow some new vegetables from seed: broccoli rabe and romanesco broccoli from Seeds of Italy.  

        Shallot sets and green onion sets from the garden shop in my neighborhood complete my lettuce beds this year. My chives came up again in their own pot nearby, as expected early in spring, as they have been for over 10 years!

        Of course, before planting this year, I added more soil to my garden beds and amended the soil with cow manure and some garden compost. In my experience, lettuce will grow well without any other additions to the soil. 

        See below for an image of my garden beds with the greens and onions this year.  Between the garden beds are lavender that I planted last year as part of my herb garden. A row of sedum was planted by the previous owners of my house, and comes up reliably every year, so I have kept it in place as a border. The leeks are in the center of the southern raised garden bed. Otherwise, not much to look at right now, but I know from experience that it will not be long before the seedlings pop their heads out of the ground!

        Leeks growing in the center of a raised garden bed; in the distance another raised garden bed and additional land for leafy greens. Seeds have just been planted.
        Italian garden beds for lettuce, onions, and leafy greens, after seeds were planted. The leeks overwintered from last summer.

         

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

         

        Last Year’s Overwintered Strawberry Plants


        and Planting New Bare Root Strawberries

         

        Last year’s strawberry plants have greened up again. At this point, with many of the leaves now green and functioning again, I’ve read it’s important to cover the plants with a old sheet if the temperature dips below freezing at night. I’ve sometimes followed this advice and sometimes not. Either way, my strawberry plants seem to survive. They do need fertilizer for berries early in the spring and then in mid spring (about 30-45 days later)  when they get ready to flower.

         

        Raised garden bed with overwintered strawberries, now with green leaves
        Strawberries spring 2021, overwintered with green leaves. Two small plants showing new red stalks and green leaves, peeking out in the center are overwintered rhubarb.

        I’ve also planted more strawberries in the periphery of my asparagus beds at the top of my hill. Strawberries love the dappled shade that asparagus provides and are a nice border plant. I’ve always found the two to grow well together.

        This year I was able to get down to Peoria (where I lived for about 18 years and learned to garden) and bought bare root strawberries from Kelly’s Seed in Peoria, Illinois.  A family run business since 1905, Kelly’s seed only sells plants that will grow well in central Illinois. All of their staff today are knowledgeable about when and how to plant the seeds and root stock they sell, which is a huge added benefit. Plus is is always fun for me to share stories with them about my garden and they always listen and are helpful!

        Check out your area for a  local gardening store instead of the big box stores. If you are lucky enough to have a garden store in your area, and can buy bare root strawberries, just click on the link I’ve found to a post that will walk you through each step for planting strawberries:  How to Plant Bare Root Strawberries.

        Below are my morning’s adventure. Only 1 1/2 hours and 18 strawberry plants planted in each box! For that little work, hopefully I will be enjoying strawberries for years to come.

         

        Bare root strawberries as they are sold on the left, demonstrating their long roots and a second image of the roots trimmed and ready to plant.
          Bare root strawberries as they are sold on the left, and trimmed and ready to plant on the the right. Roots were soaked about 4 hours.

               

        Newly planted strawberry crowns peeking out of the soil
        Strawberry crowns, newly planted

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

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

         

        Last Year’s Asparagus Plants

         

        I planted asparagus crowns in the spring of last year,  and after they came up posted about how to get them ready for winter. 

        Since it is now spring again, here are some tips about planting asparagus. First: check your location and see if asparagus will grow. Asparagus likes cool weather. The best way to plant asparagus is by buying “crowns” or the roots of the asparagus plant. I found an excellent post about how to plant asparagus that will take you through each step, with lots of pictures. The details about how to plant the crown are in the middle of the post. I would skip there as the home gardener would find it difficult to plant asparagus from seeds (as mentioned in the article).  I have only grown asparagus from crowns. How to Plant Asparagus.

        Asparagus that has overwintered needs a covering of cow manure compost in the spring and fall and with this little care the plants should continue to produce asparagus each spring for about 10 years and even up to 25 years. Since I live in hardiness zone 5 (temperature falls to -20 degrees for part of the winter) I cannot cut my asparagus for the first three years or the plant will die. Extra root power is needed to survive the cold Illinois winters! So no posts on fresh asparagus will appear until the year after next! 

        I plan on planting potatoes in the beds next to the strawberry patch along the west side of the house, and moving the tomatoes that were in these beds last year to the new beds when it gets warmer this spring. But for now, I have other plans for the new beds…

         

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

         

        This Year’s Peas and Then…

        Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant

         

        And in my four new raised garden beds? I’ve planted peas! My family and I love fresh peas and this year I hope to have enough peas to enjoy all spring. A second planting in two to three weeks will help to prolong the season as long as it does not become hot too quickly.

        Peas are also a good vegetable to start with in a new garden bed because they accumulate nitrogen gained from a symbiotic relationship between their roots and the bacteria in the soil. The bacteria are able to obtain nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the pea plant. After harvesting the peas, the remaining plants can then be turned into the soil to increase the nitrogen available to the next set of plants to be grown in the bed. Which in this case will be the Italian favorites — tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

        Here is an image of the raised beds. Nothing to look at for now. I just need to keep them watered and my fingers crossed they will germinate. A tip: Soak peas overnight in cold water and they will germinate more quickly.

         

        Four new raised garden beds planted with peas
        Four new raised garden beds planted with peas

         

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

         

         My Grand Plan for 2021

        Below is a map of my garden plan for this year. A map always helps me to plan what I need to do for each part of the spring and summer. You may notice the blackberries, raspberries and cherry trees… hopefully we will have fruit from these new plants in a few years also!

         

        Italian garden plan for Spring 2021
        IItalian gardening plan for Spring 2021
         

         

         

        Please write and let me know what you are planting in your garden this spring.
        I’d love to hear how your garden grows!
        Until the next blog, follow my Instagram account, Conversationalitalian.french
        for recipe ideas from my garden to yours!

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day – “To be about to” with “Stare per”

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

        Buon giorno a tutti! Today we are “about to” learn two more ways to use the verb stare that you can use every day! 

        As I’ve said before in this blog series, 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 talk about what we are about to do in Italian with the verb  stare and the preposition per, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

        And when we are actually in the process of performing an action, we can use the verb stare again as a helping verb to emphasize that we are doing something right now.

        This post is the 42nd in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

        Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

        start with “I am about to” 

        and use the verb + preposition combination

        Stare + per 

        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 this verb?

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

        The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

        Stare per — to be about to

        As we’ve seen in a previous blog about the verb stare, although the direct translation of stare is “to stay,” over the centuries stare has also taken on the meaning of “to be” with respect to one’s general health. The verb stare is often used in other ways as well. For instance, with the addition of the preposition per, the stare  per” combination conveys the meaning “to be about to.”

        Stare is an –are verb that has an irregular root in the tu and loro forms. In the table below, the regular conjugations of stare are given in green and the irregular forms in brown, in order to make them easier to recognize. The stare conjugation table has been modified from our first blog on this topic to reflect the different meaning with the addition of the preposition per after the verb.

        Stare perto be about to 

        io

        sto
        per
        I am about to
        tu stai
        per
        you (familiar) are about to
        Lei

         

        lei/lui

        sta
        per
        you (polite) are about to

         

        she/he is about to

             
        noi stiamo per we are about to
        voi state
        per
        you all are about to
        loro stanno
        per

        they are about to

         

        Once we have stare conjugated to reflect the speaker, the rest is easy! Simply follow the conjugated form of stare with per and then the infinitive form of the verb that describes what you are “about to” do.

        What are some things we may be “about to” do during the course of the day?  The actions of going to or returning from a place are very common.  For instance, if I were “about to” go to the store to pick up some wine for dinner, and want to inform a family member, the line may go something like this:

        Sto per andare a comprare una bottiglia di vino. Preferisci rosso o bianco?
        I am about to go to buy a bottle of wine. Do you prefer red or white?

        Or, maybe your friend is putting on his coat, as if he were about to leave a gathering. Instead, you would like him to stay. You may say something like this (using the familiar command form of restare):

        Stai per partire? È troppo presto! Resta qui un ora di più con me!
        Are you about to leave?  It’s very early! Stay here an hour longer with me!

        We can continue in this manner with the other verbs of “coming and going”  like arrivare (to arrive), venire (to come), entrare (to enter), tornare (to return), or rientrare (to come back).

        There are many other daily activities that come to mind where stare per may be useful.  We are often “about to” say (dire) something important, or “about to” answer (rispondere) a question. We may be “about to”  write (scrivere), send (mandare), or read (leggere) an important text or email.  

        After hearing sad news, we may be about to cry (stare per mettersi a piangere).

        Several commonly used verb combinations given above have been listed in the table below. How many more can you think of?

        Stare per andare

        About to go

        Stare per partire

        About to leave

        Stare per arrivare

        About to arrive

        Stare per venire

        About to come

        Stare per entrare

        About to enter

        Stare per tornare

        About to return

        Stare per rientrare

        About to come back

        Stare per dire

        About to say

        Stare per rispondere

        About to answer

        Stare per scivere

        About to write

        Stare per mandare

        About to send

        Stare per leggere

        About to read

        Stare per mettersi a piangere

        About to cry

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

        Now that we know how to say what we are about to do in the present tense, let’s go one a step further and talk about the past tense. In fact, many of the phrases listed in the last section are more commonly used in the past tense during a normal conversation.

        For instance, the phrase, “I was about to say…” is often used when one speaker has interrupted another. “I was about to answer…!” might be used if one feels pressured into saying something too quickly. Or, is one is telling a story about an unfortunate event that has happened to a friend, this story might involve the sentence, “He/she was about to cry…”

        In these cases, we have to conjugate stare in the past tense.  The imperfetto conjugation is given below. The rest of the sentence structure remains the same!

        Stare imperfetto per was about to

        io

        stavo
        per
        I was about to
        tu stavi
        per
        you (familiar) were about to
        Lei

         

        lei/lui

        stava
        per
        you (polite) were about to

         

        she/he was about to

             
        noi stavamo per we were about to
        voi stavate per you all were about to
        loro stavano per

        they were about to

        Stavo per dire la stessa cosa!
        I was about to say the same thing!

        Stavo per rispondere, ma non mi hai dato il tempo!
        I was about to answer, but you didn’t give me time!

        Stava per mettersi a piangere quando le ho detto che nonna è in ospitale.
        She was about to cry when I told her that grandma is in the hospital.

         

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

        Another important use for the verb stare is to convey the idea that one is doing something right now.  Stare plus the gerund of an action verb creates the present progressive form. In English, the present progressive is the “ing” form of a verb  —  I am going, coming, doing, etc.

        In Italian, the present progressive tense is used sparingly; it is reserved for a happening that is going on at the exact same time as the conversation. In short, where in English we commonly say “I am going,” to mean we will leave anywhere from one minute later to sometime in the near future,  in Italian, a simple, “Io vado,” will suffice. To stress that he or she is leaving momentarily, an Italian might instead use stare say, “Sto andando,”** but either tense is correct.

        To form the present progressive tense, simply conjugate stare to reflect the speaker. Then add the gerund of the action verb that is to follow.

        It is fairly simple to create a gerund to create the present progressive tense in Italian. Drop the -are, -ere, and -ire verb endings to create the stem. Then add ando to the stem of the -are verbs and -endo to the stem of the -ere and -ire verbs. Most gerunds are regular, which generally makes for easy conjugation, although, of course, there are some exceptions! For more information on this verb type, check out our reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs.”  

        Let’s take  a few of our example sentences one step further, from being “about to” do something, to actually doing it “right away.” Notice how the different use of stare changes the meaning of each sentence!

        Sto andando a comprare una bottiglia di vino. 
        I am going (right now) to buy a bottle of wine. 

        Il treno per Roma sta partendo!
        The train for Rome is leaving (right now)!

        Stavo dicendo la stessa cosa!
        I was (just) saying the same thing!

        Stavo rispondendo, ma mi hai interrotto!
        I was answering, but you interrupted me!

         

        A couple more points…

        *Another common way to convey you are leaving right away is with the phrase, “Me ne vado,” from the verb andarsene, but this is a topic for another blog!

        *Instead of saying, “Sto arrivando,” for “I’m coming right now,” Italians commonly say, “Arrivo!” 

         

        Remember how to use the Italian verb combination stare per in conversation 
        and I guarantee you will use this verb 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

         

         

        Our Italy — Tuscany’s Wine Windows blog from Italofile, by Melanie Renzulli

        Print Wine doors of Florence Robbin Ghessling 2019 and 2020

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

        Ciao a tutti! Since 2020, I have been posting the series of blogs, “Our Italy.” In this series, I share bloggers’ experiences of Italy, a country whose culture has captivated the world for thousands of years. I think now is the time to share these memories, knowing that one day we will all be able to return, inspired anew by the Italian people and their land.

        Today I am happy to share a guest blog entitled: “Tuscany’s Wine Windows – An Architectural Curiosity Makes a Comeback,” from the Italofile blog written by former Italian resident, author and Italian travel blogger Melanie Renzulli. Prior to 2020, these small stone windows scattered among various buildings in Tuscany had largely been overlooked by residents and tourists alike. If anything, they were only a momentary curiosity to residents out for a stroll through Florence, and easily passed by by the throngs of tourists on their way to see the many other treasures Florence holds.  But, as it turns out, these now ornamental windows had an important function during the years of the plague in Tuscany and have now been receiving a bit of attention.

        According to Melanie Renzulli, “The Wine Windows Association has discovered more than 250 wine windows throughout Tuscany, most of which are located in the historic center of Florence (149) and outside its walls (24). There are 93 documented wine windows in the rest of Tuscany, from Arezzo to Siena, Pistoia to Pisa.” Click on the link to read about this architectural curiosity from Melanie’s blog, “Tuscany’s Wine Windows – An Architectural Curiosity Makes a Comeback.

        Banner photo: Print – Wine doors of Florence by Robbin Gheesling 2019 and 2020. To purchase the print featured in the banner photo, click here.

        The cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers "Just the Important Phrases" book is viewed on a smartphone
        Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” book is now available to download on your cell phone. No APP needed!  Purchase the rights today from our website at: www.learntravelitalian.com.

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to say, “I feel…” on Valentines Day with “Sentirsi”

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

        Buon giorno a tutti! How do you feel about Valentines Day?  Is Valentines Day an important holiday for you? Does the thought of Valentines Day bring the same feelings as it did when you were younger?

        If you want to express your feelings in Italian this Valentines Day, the verb sentirsi is essential!  This verb is a part of many commonly used phrases in Italian. 

        As I’ve said before in this blog series, 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 talk about how we feel in Italian with the verb sentirsi, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 41st in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

        Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

        start with “I feel” 

        and use the verb

        Sentirsi 

        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 this verb?

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

        The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

        Sentirsi — to feel

        The verb sentirsi means “to feel” in Italian and therefore sentirsi is the verb Italians use to describe their deepest emotions. You will immediately notice from the -si ending that sentirsi is a reflexive verb. English, on the other hand, does not consider “feeling” a reflexive activity; so when we English speakers put our emotions into words, we do not use a reflexive verb. Because of this important difference, we will really have to learn how to think in Italian to express our feelings with sentirsi!  

        Learning how to use the verb sentirsi is really not all that tricky, though, once you understand the general idea of how to conjugate a reflexive verb.  Just remember to add one of the reflexive pronouns (mi, ti, si, ci, vi, si) before the conjugated form of sentirsi. Then finish the sentence by saying how you feel, just as you would in English. 

        Sentirsi has been conjugated in full in the table below. Sentirsi is a regular -ire verb, so its conjugations are presented in green.  The reflexive pronouns that go with each conjugation are in blue. Since we do not use reflexive pronouns with the equivalent verb “to feel” in English, the Italian reflexive pronouns will not appear in the translation.

        Sentirsi to feel

        io

         mi sento

        I feel

        tu

        ti senti

        you (familiar) feel

        Lei
        lei/lui

        si sente

        you (polite) feel
        she/he feels

         

         

         

        noi

        ci sentiamo

        we feel

        voi

        vi sentite

        you all feel

        loro

        si sentono

        they feel

         

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

        Sentirsi vs. Stare

        People across the globe commonly talk about how they are feeling. and Italians are no different! Let’s try  to use our newly conjugated Italian verb sentirsi by creating some simple sentences  to describe how we may feel.

        From the table above, we can see that the common statement, “I feel…” 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! 

        One way to use the verb sentirsi 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?” (By the way, if you need a review of Italian reflexive verbs, please see previous blogs on this topic or our Conversational Italian for Travelers book, “Just the Important Verbs.”)

        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.

        (Io) Non mi sento bene.
        (Io) Mi sento male.

        I feel well.

        I don’t feel well.
        I don’t 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?

        You will remember from our last blog about the Italian verb stare that  stare is also used to talk about general well-being, either “good” or “bad,” similar to the sentences above.” Since both stare and sentirsi are used to describe how we feel, the difference in meaning between these two verbs can seem insignificant. But, by convention, stare is always the verb used when greeting someone. And, although sentirsi can be used to make generalizations, the use of sentirsi is more often a specific referral about how we feel, either to a health issue or actual feelings of happiness, sadness, etc.

         

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

        Adjectives to Use with Sentirsi

        The table below is a list of adjectives that you can use to describe how you are feeling.  Just add one of these adjectives after the words, “I feel…” in Italian, just as you would in English. Remember that male speakers must use the “o” ending and female speakers the “a” ending for these adjectives that refer back to the subject.  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)
        emotionato(a)
        nervous
        excited/thrilled
        triste sad

        Some simple example sentences:

        Mi sento conteno.

        I am happy. (male speaker)

        Mi sento contenta.

        I am happy. (female speaker)

        Mi sento triste.

        I feel sad. (male or female speaker)

        Notice, that both “contento(a)” and “felice” mean “happy” in Italian.  But when an Italian wants to describe an internal feeling of happiness, the word chosen is usually “contento(a).”  Contento also translates into the English word, “content,” meaning to feel comfortable with or about something. The phrase, “Contento lui!” translates as, “Whatever makes him happy!” 

        Also, a note about feeling “excited” about things.  In America, a very common phrase is, “I am excited…” about what I am about to do, or perhaps an event I will attend. In Italy, the word for “excited” or “thrilled” is “emotionato(a).”

        Although the Italian word emotionato sounds to the English speaker like “emotional,the Italian adjectives for emotional are actually, “emotivo(a),” or “emozionale.” Be careful! The Italian adjectives emotivo(a) and emozionale are most commonly used to mean “excited” with a negative connotation.

         

        The words emotionato and emotional, which sound like they should have similar meanings in each language, but do not, are often called, “false friends.” 

         

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

        Valentines Day Sayings with Sentirsi

        Now that we know how to make sentences with the verb sentirsi, let’s see how we can tell others how we feel on Valentines Day, or La Festa Degli Innamorati, as the Italians call this day. One of the legends surrounding Saint Valentines Day is that San Valentino, a priest in the Christian church who was jailed by the Romans, wrote the girl he loved a farewell love letter and signed it ‘Your Valentine.”  He knew that this lettera d’amore, would be the last he would write to her before his execution as a Christian.

        What do you imagine he could have written in this letter?

        The Italian phrase for “I love you,” — when talking about love in a romantic way — is easy. It takes just two short words to relay your special feelings for someone: “Ti amo.”  But after that, what do you say? How do you tell someone how wonderful they make you feel when you are with them?

         

        Below are a few expressions that one can use on Valentines day,
        some of  which use the verb sentirsi.

        Quando ti vedo
        …mi sento contento(a).

        When I see you
        …I am happy.

        …mi sento un uomo fortunato.

        I feel like a lucky man.

        …mi sento una donna fortunata.

        I feel like a lucky woman.

        …sento che la mia vita è appena cominciata.*

        I feel like my life has just begun.

        … sento che il mondo è tutto mio.*

        I feel like the world is all mine.

        *You will notice from two of our examples above that the verb sentire was chosen for the Italian verb that means “to feel,” rather than the reflexive sentirsi. In these two cases, sentire is used in order to make a general comparison about how one’s feeling relates to something else, rather than to state one’s exact feeling. This type of comparison is called a simile and is used to make an idea more vivid — or in our examples,  more “flowery” and romantic. It is easy to spot a comparison in Italian, because “che” will be used to link one’s feeling to the descriptive phrase.  In English we can translate che into “like.” 

         

        Sentire is used in the following to phrases in our table below as well, but for a different reason.  These two examples use the sentence structure, “You make me feel…” which requires sentire to be used in it’s infinitive form.

        Mi fai sentire molto contento(a).

        You make me feel very happy.

        Mi fai sentire che tutto è possibile.

        You make me feel that everything is possible.

        If the time “feels right” for you and your Italian love to “officially” declare your  feelings for each other,  you may want to try the important phrases listed here.

         

        Vuoi essere la mia fidanzata?

        Do you want to be my girlfriend?

        Vuoi essere il mio fidanzato?

        Do you want to be my boyfriend?

        Vuoi stare insieme a me per sempre?

        Do you want to stay together forever?

        Vuoi fidanzarti con me?

        Do you want to get engaged (engage yourself to me)?

        Vuoi fidanzarti con me?

        Will you be my fiancée/finance?

        Vuoi sposarti con me?

        Do you want to get married (marry yourself to me)?

        Vuoi sposarti con me?

        Will you marry me?

         

        How would you use sentirsi to tell your love how you feel?
        Please leave some examples. I’d love to hear from you!

         

        One last note…

        Italians do not use the words contenta or felice, to wish each other a “Happy Valentines Day,”  but instead use “buon/buono/buona,” as for other holiday expressions, as in: Buona Festa degli Innamorati!

        Click on this blog from expoloreitalianculture.com if you are interested in learning more about the traditions of Valentines Day in Italy.

        Buon Festa degli Innamorati a tutti voi!

         

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

        Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How to say “I feel…” in Italian with “Stare”

        Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

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

        Buon anno a tutti! How do you feel now that 2021 is upon us? For me, anticipation of the year ahead always brings with it a sense of hope. Hope that old problems can be solved. Hope that new  achievements can be realized.

        I believe that the hope most people feel with each new year springs from the opportunity to make a fresh start and to set new goals. And setting a goal is, of course, the first step one must take on the road to any destination.

        Why not set a goal to learn Italian, starting today, for the year 2021? 

        Of course, a goal to learn Italian may not be as life-changing as a goal to find a lasting relationship or a fulfilling job.  But, it has been shown in many studies that learning a new language can help us to set an intellectual and emotional foundation that will boost the enjoyment of our other endeavors.  And Italian is one of the most commonly studied languages in the world, perhaps because the rewards of delving into the rich Italian language and culture are so great!

        But I started this blog asking how you, the reader feel now.  If you want to express your feelings in Italian, the verb stare is essential!  This verb is a part of many commonly used phrases in Italian. 

        As I’ve said before in this blog series, 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 talk about how we feel in Italian with the verb stare, we will be able to communicate with the same complexity as we do in our native language!

        This post is the 40th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!” just click HERE

        Many “commonly used phrases” in Italian

        start with “I feel” 

        and use the verb

        Stare

        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 this verb?

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

        The basics of the Italian language are introduced 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.

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

        Stare — to stay (to be)

        The verb stare has an interesting history. Although the direct translation of stare is “to stay,” over the centuries stare has also taken on the meaning of “to be” with respect to one’s general health.

        Stare is an–are verb that has an irregular root in the tu and loro forms. In the table below, the regular conjugations of stare are given in green and the irregular forms in brown,  in order to make them easier to recognize.  Stare is a verb that will truly be used every day, so each conjugation should be committed to memory.

        Stareto stay (to be) 

        io

        sto I stay/(am)
        tu stai you (familiar) stay/(are)
        Lei

        lei/lui

        sta you (polite) stay/(are)

        she/he stays/is

             
        noi stiamo we stay/(are)
        voi state you all stay/(are)
        loro stanno

        they stay/(are)

         

        As most of us learn early on in our Italian studies, the familiar greeting, “How are you?” originates with the verb stare.

        “Come stai?” is used with family and friends and “Come sta?” with acquaintances, and both mean, “How are you?”

        In order to answer this common meeting and greeting question, let’s use our conjugations in the table above and describe in general if we are feeling well (bene) or badly/sick (male).  

        Stare bene to feel well

        io sto bene I am well
        tu stai bene you (familiar) are well
        Lei

        lei/lui

        sta bene you (polite) are well

        she/he is well

             
        noi stiamo bene we are well
        voi state bene you all are well
        loro stanno bene they are well

         

         Stare maleto feel badly/sick

        io sto male I feel badly I am sick
        tu stai male you (familiar) feel badly you (familiar) are sick
        Lei

        lei/lui

        sta male you (polite) feel badly

        she/he feels badly

        you (polite) are sick

        she/he is sick

               
        noi stiamo male we feel badly we are sick
        voi state male you all feel badly you all are sick
        loro stanno male they feel badly they are sick

         

        If you would like to change-up your answer a bit, and be more descriptive about how you feel, of course there are many other options than simply “well” or “badly.” The phrases listed in the table below describe general feelings, from the best to the worst.

        Note that not all of the replies to “Come stai?” or “Come sta?” use stare.

        If you really want to speak like a native Italian, choose one of the “-issimo” endings for your reply, which are very common in spoken Italian today. Or, choose “non c’è male,” which many superstitious members of my family use so as not to be too happy about things and bring on bad luck!

        Also, it should be mentioned that in informal situations, it is very common to substitute “Come va?” or “How’s it going?” for “Come stai?”  In this case, a simple answer would be,“Va bene,” for “It’s going well/fine.” 

        Come stai?
        Come sta?
        How are you? Familiar/Polite
        Sto benissimo! I am feeling great!
        I am really well!
        The best ever!
        Sto molto bene. I am very well.
        Sto bene. I am well/fine.
        Così, così. So, so.
        Non c’è male. Not so badly.
        Sto male. I am feeling badly/sick.
        Sto molto male. I am feeling very badly.
        I am very sick.
        Sto malissimo! I am very feeling very badly.
        I am really sick!
        I am feeling the worst ever!
        Come va? How’s it going?
        Va bene. It’s going well/fine/good/OK.

        To take this one step further, there is an important a part of the ritual of Italian greetings that should be followed. After stating how you feel,  you should add a quick thanks and an inquiry into the the health of another.

        For instance, “Sto bene, grazie. E tu?” or “E Lei?” for “I am well, thank you. And you?  How are you?”

        Or, if you know an individual’s family, it is considered polite to ask about them: “E la famiglia, come sta?” “And how is the family?

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

        We can also use stare in  many common expressions to tell someone else how we would like them to feel or even how to behave. In Italian, when we direct someone to do something, we must use the command form of a verb. For our purposes here, we will only discuss the familiar command forms of stare, which will be the same as the present tense tu and voi forms we have just reviewed. A negative command is given in the infinitive form in both English and Italian.

        We can use stare to ask someone to remain calm (calmo),  to be still (fermo), to be careful (attento), or to be silent (zitto). Remember to  change the ending of each adjective to reflect the gender of the person who is being addressed.

        A command is usually clear from the tone of voice when any language is spoken. In written English and Italian, a command is generally followed by an exclamation point.

        Stare calmo(a)(i,e)! to be calm/to remain calm
        Stare fermo(a)(i,e)! to stay still/to keep still
        Stare zitto(a)(i,e)! to be silent/to be quiet
        Stare attento(a)(i,e)! to be careful/watchful/pay attention

        Some example sentences are given below.  How many more can you think of from your daily life?
        If you’d like, leave some examples in the comment section.

        Annina, stai calma! Non piangere più!
        Little Ann, calm down!  Don’t cry any more.

        Non muoverti! Stai fermo, Giovanni!
        Don’t move (yourself)! Stay still, John!

        Sono le undici di sera. Stai zitto! I miei genitori stanno dormendo.
        It is 11 o’clock at night. Be quiet! My parents are sleeping.

        State attenti quando scendete dal treno!
        Be careful when you all get off the train!

        By the way…

        In order to ask someone to keep quiet in a rude way, or as we would say in English, “Shut up!” you can use the Italian expression,“Chiudi il becco!”

        And if you want to use the expression “shut up” to mean, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” or “You don’t say!” there are several interjections to choose from in Italian: “Ma dai!” “Non mi dire!” or “Ma non mi dire!”

        Remember how to use stare to describe
        how you feel in Italian.

         I guarantee
        you will use this verb 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.

        “Tu Scendi dalle Stelle” — A Special Italian Christmas Carol

        Close up of the statues in the Trevi fountain at night with water glistening
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

        Buon Natale a tutti voi!

        Visiting Italy during Christmastime has been on my bucket list for many years.  I always travel to Italy during the spring or summer. And yet, from the photos I’ve seen, Italy is just as magical — or maybe even more so — during the Christmas season, when the towns sparkle with lights radiating from the shops and churches that are decked out in their special holiday displays. 

        This year, visiting Italy during Christmastime will have to wait. But I would like to share an Italian Christmas carol that makes me feel close to the people in this special country. This Christmas carol is called “Tu Scendi dalle Stelle.” Although not well-known in America, it is said to be the most well-loved Christmas carol in Italy.

        The music and lyrics for “Tu Scendi dalle Stelle” were written in 1732, by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who was a Neapolitan priest. Liguori originally gave the song the title, “Little song to Child Jesus,” but the song has since become known by its first line, “From Starry Skies Descending,” or in modern English, “You Came Down from the Stars.”

        Liguori most likely took inspiration for this Christmas carol from a Neapolitan song called “Quanno Nascette Ninno” (“When the child was born”) which is also called “Canzone d’i Zampognari” (“The Carol of the Bagpipers”).

        I hope you enjoy reading the first two stanzas of the lyrics to this song. The traditional translation uses antiquated English. There are many versions recorded on You Tube. If you like, click on the link for my favorite, from the You Tube channel lorpre87.

        “Tu Scendi dalle Stelle” with English Translation

          

        Tu scendi dalle stelle

        From starry skies descending,

        O Re del Cielo

        Thou comest, glorious King,

        e vieni in una grotto

        A manger low Thy bed,

        al freddo e al gelo.

        In winter’s icy sting.

        O Bambino mio Divino

        O my dearest Child most holy,

        Io ti vedo qui a tremar,

        Shudd’ring, trembling in the cold

        O Dio Beato Great God,

        Thou lovest me!

        Ahi, quanto ti costò

        What suff’ring Thou didst bear,

        l’avermi amato!

        That I near Thee might be!

           

        A te, che sei del mondo

        Thou art the world’s Creator,

        il Creatore,

        God’s own and true Word,

        mancano panni e fuoco;

        Yet here no robe, no fire

        O mio Signore!

        For Thee, Divine Lord.

        Caro eletto Pargoletto,

        Dearest, fairest, sweetest Infant

        Quanto questa povertà

        Dire this state of poverty

        più mi innamora!

        The more I care for Thee,

        Giacché ti fece amor

        Since Thou, O Love Divine

        povero ancora!

        Will’st now so poor to be.

        Buon Natale a tutti voi!

        Your Italian-American Gardening Tips – Fall Clean Up, An Autumn Soup, and Planting for Spring

        oval plot of swiss chard plants growing after zucchini have been removed
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
        Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

        Ciao a tutti! I can’t believe that my last gardening blog was so many months ago in August! Actually, there hasn’t been much to report about maintaining the garden in the early fall,  and I have mainly spent these last few months harvesting, cooking with fresh tomatoes, and posting what I’ve cooked on Instagram. In short, maintaining a garden in early fall is relatively easy in northern Illinois. Simply harvest what you can and clear away the plants that have given their all or die off with the oncoming frosts.

        Speaking of freezing temperatures,  I did post on my Conversationalitalian.french Instagam when it was time to take in my herb pots.  Was it really as early as October 5 this year?

        Anyway, little by little, I have been clearing out my garden beds of the annual vegetables of summer. For my cold-hardy leeks and leafy greens, like Swiss Chard and cavolo nero (Italian “black” kale), I have been weeding (this job never seems to end) and harvesting sparingly so they will continue to grow.

        I have also taken the opportunity this fall to plant an essential Italian ingredient — garlic — which came up faithfully every year in my old garden when I was living in Peoria. I always look forward to garlic scapes (green shoots) in springtime, and of course, harvesting the bulbs later in the season.  I also love shallots, and have planted these bulbs as well this year, so hopefully they will be ready to harvest in the summer. The enjoyable part of my fall garden duties this year has involved planting  for next spring!

        As I have mentioned in my previous Your Italian-American Gardening Tips blogs, this year I have been focusing on my raised gardens, and all the wonderful Italian vegetables that can be grown in the suburbs, even in a small space.

        My hope is that you will enjoy the tips I’ve learned about gardening through many years of experience and be encouraged to start an Italian garden yourself — be it large or small, in a yard or on your porch, or even indoors in pots near a sunny window — after reading the blogs in this series “Your Italian Gardening Tips.”  

        Check out my Instagram account, ConversationalItalian.French to see photos of my garden as it progresses.

        Below are my insights on how to clean up and prepare your garden beds for fall, caring for herbs over the winter, and what to plant for next spring.  

        And remember the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you want an easy, step-by-step way to learn the Italian of today. Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

         

        Putting Garden Beds to Rest,
        Harvesting Leeks and Planting Garlic

        Fall 2020

        As I mentioned in the introduction to my blog, during these past fall months, I did manage to complete the boring and labor intensive but necessary part of gardening —  putting my garden beds to rest. Little by little, when a sunny day would appear, I took the opportunity to pull out my old and spent tomato and bean plants. I also finally cleared out my lettuce patch.

        The soil in the raised beds that grew these annual vegetables all summer was then amended with compost and mulched leaves. I also added crushed egg shells to provide calcium for the tomato plants next year. I planted garlic bulbs in the perimeter of the beds where I will grow tomatoes next year. Some gardeners believe that garlic planted by tomatoes is beneficial and although I am not sure this is true, the particular location  in my garden works for both plants for me and I will be able to harvest the garlic in mid summer before the tomato plants become too large and take over .

        To plant garlic, simply separate the cloves and plant as you would any bulb, with the pointy side up. I like the Italian hard neck garlic best, of course. Homegrown garlic is said to be more flavorful, and I do love the garlic shoots (scapes) in the springtime.

        Finally, I covered the garden beds that I don’t expect to produce until I plant again in spring with black landscape fabric, which I hope will keep weeds from growing in the meantime.

        I had a small fall harvest of leeks from my garden beds as well. In the center of the lettuce bed, leeks had grown up nicely during the cool weather, just in time for me to harvest two for my family’s favorite “Thanksgiving Leek and Potato Soup.”  I have not mentioned that I have been growing leeks up until now, as this year was my first attempt, and I wasn’t sure how things would go. Actually, although the initial planting was a bit difficult (the young seedlings I bought were grown together in one pot), after each seedling separated and placed in the soil, my leeks grew pest-free and virtually weed-free. The only  activity required was to mound up the soil around each plant periodically as it grew.  Here is how my gardens looked in the early fall and today, with the leeks still happily growing in the center of my mulched plot in early December.

        Two rows of leek plants growing in a raised garden bed
        Young leeks growing in early fall 2020
        December leeks are growing in the middle of a plot with leaf mulch
        December leeks 2020. Self-seeded borage growing to the left of the raised bed.

         

         

         

         

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

        Thanksgiving Leek and Potato Soup

        Leek and potato soup is simplicity itself.  Just two ingredients boiled together in a little salted water and then puréed, with a bit of cream added, yield a light, delightfully complex oniony flavored soup.  Leek and onion soup is the most requested soup for Thanksgiving that I make, over mushroom and butternut squash. Below is my Instagram post from this year’s version.

        My leeks were smaller than the grocery store leeks, but so flavorful that just two worked perfectly.  Whether store bought or homegrown, the only trick is to remember to continuously clean the leeks of the bits of dirt that hide in between the layers. The white, long “bulb” part of the leek is used in cooking, along with the tender green portion of the bulb at its top.  The long green leaves can be discarded into the compost bin.

         

         

         

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

        How to Overwinter Herbs

        Overwintering herbs is one of the most tricky things about gardening.  One has to know which herbs will survive the particular winter climate where they are gardening. Herbs that are said to be perennial (come up on their own each year) in one region may have to be grown as annuals in a another, colder region. Here is a short run-down of what I have found to work in northern Illinois.

         

        Since I find fresh herbs essential to good cooking
        I’d love to hear more helpful tips on how to overwinter,
        so please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this blog!

         

        Rosemary and Bay leaf: Each year I plant rosemary and bay leaf in pots so I can take them indoors to overwinter.  Although their woody stems and tough leaves make it seem like they should be cold hardy, both plants will die with the first frost, so it is essential that they be moved indoors early. Rosemary and bay leaf are an important ingredient in Italian winter roasts and stews, so I find it wonderful to have easy access to these herbs in a sunny corner of my kitchen. The fresh bay leaf in particular has so much more flavor than the dried supermarket bay leaves that I will only use fresh bay leaves from my own plant, or those that I have dried myself the year before.

        This is the second overwinter for my bay plant, and this year has been responding will to the blue spectrum of my new grow light, making many new leaves since I have brought it indoors. It is also the second year for my rosemary plant, which is particularly finicky, and needs  good, cool air circulation and therefore to be kept away from any heating vents. Both plants will die if given too much water, so it is best to keep the soil dry.

        Parsley: Parsley is a biennial, which means that it will grow into a plant every other year (setting seed in the year in between). Parsley does not always grow easily from seed easily in Illinois, so I take a large pot of parsley indoors every year and keep it as long as it will last. I will obtain new plants in spring from the gardening store.

        Basil: Basil, of course, will flower and die back right afterward, and needs to be cut back several times over the summer.  My mother and grandmother always clipped a few bunches of basil that would happily grow roots in water glasses on the window sill.

        Marjoram and Oregano: Marjoram, which is also called “summer oregano”  (and I think far mo