Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Benvenuto Natale!

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, it is the end of the year, and time for the fall and winter celebrations. Why not celebrate how much Italian you’ve learned this holiday season?

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 the “commonly used phrases”  that we say when attending a holiday gathering, starting, of course with the Italian interjection “Benvenuto(a,i,e)!” or “Welcome!” we will be on our way to conversing in Italian with family and friends for the holidays, just as we do in our native language! 

Of course, we also need to learn the variations of  benvenuto in order to greet each individual or group correctly, just as we have previously how to address those we are talking to with the correct masculine and feminine endings.

And, by remembering common Italian phrases for a holiday gathering, you will automatically have committed to memory the rules for Italian interjections!

This post is the 28th 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” at Italian gatherings

start with the interjection “Benvenuto!”

See below for how this works and for some “Important Phrases”
to use at YOUR next Italian holiday party!

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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How to Use Benvenuto!

and Italian Holiday Party

Conversation

“Benvenuto!”* and its variations (Benvenuti! Benvenuta! and Benvenute!) are frequently used Italian interjections that all mean “Welcome!” Guests (gli ospiti) to an Italian household can expect to hear these words as a warm greeting before crossing the threshold into the home (casa) of the host or  hosts (la padrona di casa/il padrone di casa or gli ospiti).**  

Whether family, friend or acquaintance, every guest will be greeted warmly as a sign of the Italian dedication to hospitality for all. And, of course, the Italian Christmas season, which starts in early December and lasts until early January, brings with it many occasions for get-togethers with family and friends. For those interested in reading more about how the Christmas season is observed in Italy, click on the link to our previous blog Sperare (Part 2) – What I wish for the holidays…

Let’s get started learning some useful conversational expressions for Italian holiday gatherings from the very beginning — by first focusing on how to use the Italian interjection “Benvenuto!” to greet others.

There is only one rule to know regarding interjections: the ending of the interjection must agree with the gender and number of the noun (person, place or thing) that the interjection describes. Therefore, when the speaker addresses another person, the interjection must refer to the gender and number of the person or people who are being addressed. This, in turn, will determine the ending of the interjection!

Sound complicated?  Well, it is… a little bit. By remembering which form of benvenuto to use in four different situations, you will automatically have committed the rules for other Italian interjections to memory!

*Benvenuto can also be used as a noun and adjective as well, in these cases without the exclamation point, but with the same meaning of “welcome.” 

**Notice that the same Italian name is given to both guests and hosts: gli ospiti.
La padrona di casa refers to the woman of the house, or as we say in English, the hostess.
Il padrone di casa refers to the man of the house, or the host.

Interestingly, the English word hostess” means “stewardess” in Italian and has no other meaning in Italian. “L’hostess” means “the stewardess.”  

 

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How to Change Benvenuto

from Singular to Plural 

 

In general, of course:

  • A masculine Italian noun and its adjective will end in -o, and this ending will change to -i in the plural.
  • A feminine Italian noun and its adjective will ends in -a, and this ending will change to -e in the plural.
  • An Italian noun or adjective that ends in -e may be masculine or feminine, and this ending will change to -i in the plural.

If you are interested in learning more about masculine and feminine words in Italian that end in the letter -e, and how to distinguish one from the other, this You Tube Video may be of help: Italian Grammar by Stella Lucente.

 

For our interjection Benvenuto! the following rules apply:

  • The singular masculine form is benvenuto.
    The plural masculine form (for a group of males or a group of males and females) is benvenuti.
  • The singular feminine form is benvenuta.
    The plural feminine form (for a group of females) is benvenute.

 

Therefore, if greeting one male person, you would say, “Benvenuto!” If greeting a group of males or a mixed group of males and females, you would say “Benvenuti!” 

What should you say if one of your female relatives or or a female friend is at your doorway? “Benvenuta!” of course.  And if she brings her female friends or mother, daughter, or female cousin?  Say, Benvenute!”

 

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Changing  the Italian Interjections

Bravo! and Beato! 

 

As a visit to the symphony, ballet, or opera is often a part of the Christmas holiday season in Italy and America, let’s apply what we’ve just learned about the interjection “Benvenuto!” to the frequently used interjection “Bravo!” 

If we follow the rules in the last section for masculine and feminine endings, we should cheer “Bravo!” when one talented male Italian singer steps in front of the stage curtain for applause. And we do hear this word “Bravo!” frequently in America for a performance well done. But, in proper Italian, we should also be cheering “Brava!” for the female diva of the performance, and “Bravi!” for the entire fabulous ensemble.

In general, any person, male or female, who is “good” at something, or has done “a good job” is a “brava persona.”  In this case, the noun persona is feminine and so the adjective that modifies this noun must be feminine as well!

One more example of a commonly used interjection is “Lucky you!”  Has your brother received an unexpected holiday gift from a friend?  If so, and if you would like to express your happiness for him, you could say,“Beato te!”  Your sister? “Beata te!” An acquaintance? Either “Beato Lei!” for a male acquaintance or “Beata Lei!” for a female acquaintance, of course!

If your parents were finally able to retire and plan their dream vacation to Italy, you might comment, “Beati voi!” for “How lucky you all are!  And if your sisters are able to take a vacation together after an unexpected windfall — Beate voi!”

The table below summarizes these three common Italian interjections.  There are many more. How many more can you think of?

Benvenuto! Welcome! (to a male)
Benvenuti! Welcome!
(to a group of males
or a group of males+females)
Benvenuta! Welcome! (to a female)
Benvenute! Welcome! (to a group of females)
Bravo! Well done! (to a male)
Bravi! Well done! (to a group of males
or a group of males+females)
Brava! Well done! (to a female)
Brave! Well done!  (to a group of females)
Beato te! Lucky you!
(to male) (familiar singular you)
Beato Lei! Lucky you!
(to male) (polite singular you)
Beati voi! Lucky you!  (to a group of males
or a group of males+females)
(polite plural you)
Beata te! Lucky you!
(to female) (familiar singular you)
Beata Lei! Lucky you!
(to female) (polite singular you)
Beate voi! Lucky you! (to a group of  females)
(polite plural you)

 

Benvenuto Natale!

Now that we understand how Italian endings change for Italian interjections — that is, that the endings must agree with the gender and number of the person or people who are being addressed — we can continue with some useful phrases for conversation at a holiday party.

In the following table:

  • Some of the phrases will have nouns or adjectives with endings that change depending on whom is speaking or on whom is being addressed.
  • Verb endings will change, as usual, with the choice of  polite or familiar address, and abbreviations pol. and fam. will be given in each case.
  • Command verb forms are often used, as denoted.
  • Subject pronouns will also change, of course, and when attached to the infinitive form of the verb are given in red.
  • When Italian subject pronouns are not given, but must be used in the English translation, they are written with parenthesis in English.

The phrases below have been reproduced from Conversational Italian for Travelers pocket travel book,Just the Important Phrases.” You can use these phrases as a start, and then create your own!

 

Upon entering someone’s home as a guest,  you may hear these phrases and respond accordingly:

Benvenuto!(a)(i,e) Welcome! (to male/female, singular and plural)
Entri!
Entra!
Come in! (pol./fam. command verb)
Si accomodi.
Accomodati!
Make yourself comfortable. (pol./fam. command verb)
Da questa parte, prego. This way, please.
Si sieda.
Siediti!
Sit down. (pol./fam. command verb)
Piacere di conoscerla.
Piacere di conoscerti.
Pleased to meet you. (pol./fam.)
Piacere mio. The pleasure is mine.
Lieto(a) di conoscerla.
Lieto(a) di conoscerti.
Delighted (masc./fem. speaker) to meet you (pol./fam.)
Molto lieto(a)! Delighted! (masc./fem. speaker)
Sono molto contento(a) di vederla.
Sono molto contento(a) di vederti.
(I) am very happy (masc./fem.) to see you. (pol./fam.)
Sono felice di riverderla.
Sono felice di rivederti.
(I) am happy to see you (pol./fam.) again.

 

Some useful phrases of response during a conversation at a party:

Non mi dica! You (pol.) don’t say! 
(lit. You are not telling me!)
Sono contento(a) per lei.
Sono molto contento
(a) per te.
(I) am happy (masc./fem. speaker) for you .(pol./fam.)
Mi piace molto!
Mi piace tanto!
I love it!/ I like it a lot!
(lit. It is very pleasing to me!)
Mi piace un sacco. I love it! (idiomatic expression)
(lit. It is pleasing to me a sac full.)

 

Upon leaving someone’s home after a gathering, you may express the need to leave and your thanks for a lovely evening using these phrases:

Devo andare via ora. (I) must leave now.
È stato un piacere. (It) has been a pleasure.
È stato divertente. (It) has been enjoyable/fun/a blast/amusing/funny.
Ti sei divertito(a)? (Did) you (fam.) enjoy yourself? (masc./fem.)
Mi sono proprio divertito(a). (I) really enjoyed myself. (masc./fem. speaker).
(I had a great time.)
Grazie di tutto. Thank you for everything.
Grazie per la Sua ospitalità.
Grazie per la tua ospitalità.
Thank you for your (pol./fam.) hospitality.
Grazie per una bella serata. Thank you for a nice/beautiful evening.
La ringrazio.
Ti ringrazio.
(I) thank you. (pol./fam.)

 

There are, of course, many more phrases that are useful to keep in mind for Italian conversations at a get-together or holiday party. 

If you are interested in learning more phrases, and keeping them handy in a pocket or purse for easy reference, consider purchasing Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases,” with its beautiful new cover.

Our book makes a great stocking stuffer for the Italophile you know!

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases,” is a stand-alone book with “all the phrases you need to know” to enjoy your trip to Italy and with tips on how to create your own!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

Remember how to use the interjection Benvenuto! and I guarantee you will be able to easily add many more interjections to your daily Italian conversations!

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Italian Chicken Soup for an Early Winter

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

The chill of winter has settled over Chicagoland this week, bringing with it not one, but two snowstorms before Thanksgiving! In what seems like an instant, jackets and sandals have been swapped out for coats and boots, and the early morning ritual of scraping snow and ice off the car windshield before venturing out for the day has begun.

During these early days of winter, I like to pull out my stock pot and make my first large batch of chicken broth for the season.

The great thing about chicken broth is that is so versatile. Once made, freeze it in smaller batches to be retrieved as needed for warmth and comfort on a blustery day. It is simplicity itself to bring a small pot of chicken broth to the boil and quickly add ingredients like egg or Pastina (pasta) stars, which will surely delight the young children in the house.  Another day, add spinach to the eggs before swirling into chicken broth.  Or, finely chop celery, carrots, and then add some noodles and left over chicken pieces to make classic chicken noodle soup.  Left over rice and chicken makes a warming chicken and rice soup.

My family’s chicken broth recipe is now online, along with the methods to make egg drop and Italian Stracciatella (rags) soup.  But really, the choices of what to add to your homemade chicken broth are endless!

I’ve already shared the recipe with my Conversationalitalian.french followers on Instagram, so if you’d like to see how I make chicken broth, just click on the image below.  As you can see, it’s so easy I have one hand behind my back!

 

View this post on Instagram

Italian chicken broth “brodo” and chicken egg drop soup or chicken soup with pastina. Moms love to make it and kids love to eat it on a chilly day! Broth: 1 stewing chicken, carrots, celery, onion (peeled or not for yellow color), small potato, one tomato quartered. Egg drop soup: 4 cups chicken broth. Add salt to taste. Add slowly just before boiling: 2 eggs lightly beaten with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Stir until cooked through. For Pastina: Boil broth snd add Pastina Pasta. Fresh parsley from garden should still be available if desired as parsley loves the cool weather. Buon appetito! #osnap #italiansoup @niafitalianamerican @chicagolanditalians @sons_of_italy @osia_su #italianfoodblogger #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodbloggers🍷🍕🇮🇹 #chickensoup #chickensouprecipe #chickensouprecipes #brodo #italianbrodo #italianchickensoup #strattiacella #chickeneggdropsoup #eggdropsoup #pastinainbrodo #pastinasoup #pastinasoupforlunch For more #Italianrecipes visit www.Learntravelitalian.com

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

The full method for this recipe was posted on the Learn Italian! blog for my website, www.learntravelitalian.com, where all authentic Italian recipes  for the home cook that I personally use are found.  Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to print off the entire method and enjoy!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

 

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars  

Italian chicken soup starts with a hearty chicken broth, or “brodo.”  Chicken broth is simplicity to make, with just a few ingredients most home cooks have around the house.  My mother would drizzle beaten eggs into her chicken broth to make wispy yellow strands of scrambled eggs, for “Egg Drop Soup” as my family called it,  also known by its more traditional name of  “Stracciatella “ or “Rags Soup.”  And, I think every Italian adult has fond memories  of their lunches at home as a young child, especially when they discovered tiny star-shaped “pastina” pastas  in their chicken broth for “Pastina Soup!”

To make the most flavorful Italian chicken soup, start with a broth made with “stewing” chickens.  Stewing chickens are the older, tougher chickens that will soften but not loose their flavor entirely and make a nice broth after  even just 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking in liquid.  The meat of stewing chickens usually can be removed from the bones and added to the soup if desired. Younger frying or broiling chickens can also be used to make chicken broth, but in this case the cooking time should be increased to 2 or 3 hours and by this time most of the chicken’s flavor will have been given up to the soup, rendering the chicken flavorless.

Italian moms know that adding a small tomato will make the chicken broth sweeter, a small potato will add a little starch for body, and if you leave the outer leaves on the onion the broth will become a golden color.   Try my family’s simple method and I’m sure your children will agree: Italian chicken soup is the quintessential comfort food!  For the full method to make chicken soup, click here.

—Kathryn Occhipinti

 

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers Book Review: “Linguistic Gem”

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases

Grazie mille Fra Noi Magazine, the largest circulation Italian-American Magazine in Chicagoland, for your review of Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases in your magazine!

Read below for a reprint of the November 2019 Fran Noi Magazine review of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases book
right here in this blog.

 

There is also an online version of Fra Noi Magazine, which can be viewed by clicking here: Fra Noi Online Magazine.

Bonus: My language blogs are found here,  with the same click for free!

About Fra Noi Magazine:

In a previous blog,  Fra Noi Magazine — Read and become “a little bit Italian today!” I mentioned that the pages of Fra Noi Magazine are filled with interesting interviews about the Italian-Americans who are making a difference in our world today and informative articles about the community here in Chicagoland and in our Italian homeland.

Along with the timely Italian-American news Fra Noi Magazine provides, the magazine’s reviews of music and movies keep me up-to-date, and their travel section features great travel tips and beautiful photographs of a different region and city each month.

Important  to know: for Italian language students: 

Fra Noi Magazine now features five pages written entirely in Italian!  This is a wonderful opportunity for those learning Italian to increase their knowledge of the Italian spoken today, while at the same time reading timely and entertaining material about Italy.  The Italian articles feature Italian movies, Italian history,  Italian artists, and Italian sports.

Get your copy of Fra Noi Magazine: Just click on the link and subscribe to Fra Noi Magazine here: Order my copy of Fra Noi Magazine today! 

Read below for the November 2019 Fra Noi Magazine review of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases with it’s newly designed cover!

A review article entitled "Linguistic Gem" was reproduced from Fra Noi Magazine for the reader
Fra Noi Magazine review article, November 2019 for “Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases” pocket travel book

 

And remember… Conversational Italian for Travelers books are
Available on   
Amazon.com  and www.LearnTravelItalian.com 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Bello means “It’s nice!”

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, it is nearing the end of the year, and maybe by now you’ve had a chance to try out your Italian on your dream trip to Italy.  Maybe you’ve seen and experienced nice people and beautiful places on during your stay in the “bel paese.” Why not share about these experiences in Italian?

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”  that use bello, the much-used Italian adjective that means “nice,” beautiful,” and so much more in Italian, we will be able to describe so many lovely things—just as we do in our native language! 

Of course, we also need to learn the variations of  bello in order to describe all the people and places that we will encounter that are beautiful in Italy!

And, by remembering common Italian phrases that describe what you will encounter in Italy, you will automatically have committed to memory the rules for the adjective bello! 

This post is the 27th 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 things that are “nice” or “beautiful”
with the adjective 
bello

and its variations – bel, bella, bei, belle, bell’

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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How to Use Bello

with Singular Nouns

 

Bello is an Italian adjective that one will use often when visiting the “bel paese”—so many people are and places are beautiful, nice, and lovely in Italy!  But, the form of this adjective will change according to the masculine or feminine form of the noun (person, place or thing) it modifies, the number of “things” that are beautiful, and also according to where this adjective is placed in the sentence.

When referring to a person, bello/bella are used to mean handsome and beautiful, as well as nice, or lovely.  Places or things can be beautiful, and also nice or lovely.  The context of the conversation will determine which meaning the word bello carries, although in many cases the meanings overlap. 

Note here: the adjective buono, which was the topic of our last blog in this series, is usually used when referring to food, which is always “good” in Italy!

Sound complicated?  Well, it is… a little bit. But by remembering some common phrases that use the adjective bello, you will automatically have committed the rules for this adjective to memory!

 

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We will start our discussion of bello with how to modify singular masculine nouns.  For masculine nouns, bello is placed either directly after the noun, or at the end of the sentence, after the verb è for is (from the verb essere). In the second case, the adjective bello will be separated from the noun it modifies, but both the noun and adjective will agree in gender and number. See the first two examples in our table below.

(You may notice that the rules for how and when to change the ending  for bello are identical to those for buono!)

A common Italian exclamation is, “Che bello!” which simply means, “How beautiful!” or “How wonderful!” This expression can also be used when an English speaker might say, “Cool!” to refer to something good. Another common expression one might hear in Italy is, “Che fai di bello?” for “What are you up to?” or “What’re you doing?” 

Il giorno è bello. The day is beautiful.
il giorno bello the beautiful day
Che bello! How beautiful!
How wonderful!
Che fai di bello? What are you up to?
What’re you doing?

 

But, when the adjective bello is placed before a masculine noun, the last letter -o is dropped from bello (along with the extra “l” when writing the word) to make bel, as in, “Che bel giorno!” for “What a beautiful day!”

You will remember that the Italian masculine nouns that begin with the letters s+consonant, z, ps, or gn are often treated differently in Italian from other masculine nouns that begin with a consonant.  For instance, the definite article lo must be used before these nouns, rather than the usual definite article il.

The two most important masculine nouns to remember in this category are studente (student) and zio (uncle).  When using these words in conversational Italian, bello usually follows these nouns, so we will not need to change the ending. 

Che bel giorno! What a beautiful day!
il bel uomo / il bel bambino the handsome man / the beautiful baby
lo studente bello / lo zio bello the handsome student
the handsome uncle

 

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For a feminine noun (person, place or thing), there is only one rule to remember—the adjective bella is used to describe something beautiful, nice or lovely, whether placed before or after the noun this adjective modifies.

La donna è bella. The woman is beautiful.
la donna bella the beautiful woman
la bella donna the beautiful woman
   
La città è bella. The city is beautiful.
la bella città the beautiful city
la città bella the beautiful city

 

But, of course, there is one exception to use of bella for feminine nouns: if bella is placed before a feminine noun that begins with the letter –a, simply drop the last letter from bella and add an apostrophe to make bell’ for smoother conversation.  Since our focus is on conversational Italian, just remember to bring the two words together when speaking, without repeating the -a ending, and don’t worry about the spelling!

A common Italian phrase is “Bella idea!” for  “Wonderful idea!” or “Great idea!”  Notice that there is no need to drop the -a from bella with this phrase!

la bell’amica the nice friend 
la amica bella the beautiful friend
Bella idea! Great idea!

 

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How to Use Bello

with Plural Nouns

The adjective bello follows the usual Italian rules for changing singular adjectives to plural adjectives when placed after the noun.

In general, of course:

A masculine Italian noun and its adjective will end in -o, and this ending will change to -i in the plural.

A feminine Italian noun and its adjective will ends in -a, and this ending will change to -e in the plural.

An Italian noun or adjective that ends in -e may be masculine or feminine, and this ending will change to -i in the plural.

If you are interested in learning more about masculine and feminine words in Italian that end in the letter -e, and how to distinguish one from the other, this You Tube Video may be of help: Italian Grammar by Stella Lucente, LLC.

 

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 Plural Bello/Bella after a noun

For the adjective bello, when placed after a noun, he plural will be belli.

For the adjective bella, when placed after a noun, he plural will be belle.

 

 Plural Bello/Bella after a noun

bello o goes to i belli
bella a goes to e belle

 

Now we are ready for some examples of noun/adjective combinations using bello to describe the beautiful people and places you will find in Italy!

il giorno bello the good day becomes
the good days
i giorni belli
la città bella the nice city becomes
the nice cities
le città belle*
la donna bella the beautiful
woman
becomes
the beautiful
women
le donne belle

*Notice that the  ending for città does not change in the plural, since it is invariable by definition, but the definite article and the adjective that modifies it do. If you really want to know if an Italian noun is masculine or feminine, just look to it’s definite article and the adjectives that modify it!

 

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 Plural Bello/Bella before a noun

When the adjective bello and bella are placed before a noun, changing the singular to the plural form is a little bit more difficult.  The endings actually follow the same pattern as the plural definite article (i, gli, and le), as described in the table below.

Don’t get too bogged down trying to memorize these endings right now, though, as most times it is perfectly fine to place bello after the noun and the regular endings can be used! 

 

Plural Bello/Bella before a noun

bel (masc. before consonant) goes to definite art.
 i
bei
bell’ (masc. before vowel) goes to definite art.
gli
begli
bella (fem. before consonant) goes to definite art. 
le
belle
bell’ (fem. before vowel) goes to definite art.
le
belle

 

 

il bel giorno the beautiful day becomes i bei giorni
il bell’albero the beautiful tree becomes i begli alberi
la bella settimana the nice week becomes le belle settimane
la bella donna the beautiful woman becomes le belle donne
la bell’europea the beautiful European becomes le belle euoropee

 

There are, of course, many more occasions to use the Italian adjective bello than those I have just listed.  How many more an you think of?

 

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

Remember how to use the adjective bello and I guarantee you will want to say something  “nice” or “beautiful” about Italy every day!

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Your Italian Travel Tips – Visit Ragusa, Sicily, and Experience Centuries of Culture

Sicily Ragusa Ibla
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! For October, I would like to share details of my recent visit to the ancestral hometown of my Occhipinti family,  which is called Ragusa, and is located high in the mountains of the southeastern tip of Sicily.

If you’ve been following my activities through my Instagram posts on Conversationalitalian.french,  or through my Facebook group,  Conversational Italian! you know that I was thrilled to spend 7 full days in Ragusa just last month.

About once a month, I have been re-blogging a post about lesser-known sites or places to visit in Italy under the title “Your Italian Travel Tips.” I’ve been featuring travel bloggers in this series, but this month I will use this feature to show a bit of what I’ve just experienced in Ragusa in “travel blogger style,” with my own emphasis on language and history.

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


 

Learning Italian
with
Commissario Montalbano

 

Before starting our virtual blogging tour of Ragusa, it should be mentioned that, due to the popularity of the BBC series Detective Montalbano (Commissario Montalbano), based on the detective novels of the brilliant Andrea Camilleri, who the world lost this past July 17, 2019,

the ancient Baroque towns of Ragusa and nearby Scicli and Modica, along with many places along the coast of Southern Sicily, have come into the forefront once again.

Yes, it is true. I am a HUGE fan of the Detective Montalbano series! Over the years,  this BBC series has helped me to gain an understanding of how people really use common Italian expressions (most of which, of course are not found in textbooks, and which I try to focus on in my own books and blogs).

Anyone who has attended even one of my Italian lessons has heard my recommendation for using the Detective Montalbano series as an aid to learning Italian. Listen to the characters as they interact, pick out the phrases you understand and focus on how these phrases are used.  Some characters will be easier to understand than others, just like people in real life.  One caveat—don’t try to understand the character Catarella, who speaks his own version of Sicilian/Italian that even the other characters often mention they do not understand!

Actually, it is amazing that I waited until this late in the blog to mention that I visited many of the locations where the Detective Montalbano series is filmed!

If anyone else is a fan of the Detective Montalbano series, you should know that the entire set of the Montelusa police station is now on permanent exhibition in the city of Scicli and that the Montalbano character’s villa at Punta Secca is now a tourist attraction, along with the restaurant Enzo da Mare a little further down on the beach. There are even “Detective Montalbano” tours on the internet.  If you’d like to create your own tour, simply download the sites of interest from the Ragusa Turismo Site on the internet.  

You will need a car to visit the sites outside of Ragusa, though, as the train is not very efficient in Sicily (or so I am told).

 


 

Particulars of Visiting Ragusa

Transportation (or lack of it) to your hotel:

Ragusa Ibla, or the historic, older section of Ragusa, is an ancient city, carved into the side of a mountain, with narrow, winding cobblestone streets that are interconnected by many steep and just as winding stairways.  As such, most of the city is protected by a limited traffic zone. Tour buses and city buses, along with a train station, are located in lots at the base of this mountain city. So, practically speaking, the first thing to do once you have booked your hotel is to contact the hotel before you arrive (either over the phone or through the Internet), the best way to get from those lots to the hotel front door!  Many hotels will send a porter to help with luggage, and many drivers know also that it will be necessary for them to get out of the car and to walk with luggage to get their guests to their hotel door.  It is always better to arrange this beforehand to eliminate confusion and any hidden fees.

Sicily Ragusa Ibla
Ragusa Ibla (old Ragusa) as viewed from the boarder with Ragusa Superiore (new Ragusa). Maiolica roofed bell tower of Santa Maria dell’Itria and Chiesa Anime Sante del Purgatorio are in the foreground.  The dome of the Baroque cathedral of San Giorgio is in the background.

 

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Where I’ve stayed:

Given the size and age of Ragusa Ibla, it should be noted that accommodations are provided mainly through bed and breakfast style hotels.

The exception is the San Giorgio Hotel, which is literally built into the side of the southern part of the mountainside of Ragusa Ibla. I did stay at this hotel in 2016, and found the staff so pleasant and accommodating (the  concierge actually took it upon himself to help me find the location of my great grandfather’s home) that I would recommend this hotel for those who want a more formal stay. Some of the rooms do not have windows, though, given the location, so I would ask about this if it is a concern. Otherwise, the hotel furnishing were modern, the hotel itself was clean, breakfast was lovely, and as I’ve mentioned the staff were wonderful, and even overly concerned that I enjoy my stay, some even mentioning their cousins with the Occhipinti name.

I have to admit that I chose the bed and breakfast I stayed at just recently for my 7 day trip based mostly on photos of the breakfast selection I found on the internet!  After several evenings of searching, I came upon the breakfast room of the lovely Hotel Sabbinirica, and chose to stay in the guesthouse around the back of the main hotel.  The guest house was spacious and clean, with a small courtyard, although it did not offer a view of the city.  And the breakfast did not disappoint! Every day the owners were on sight to make fresh espresso drinks to order and the breakfast table was laden with fruit, many varieties of Sicilian pastries (with new ones to try each day), Sicilian cheeses, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, toast and cold cuts. Juices, as usual throughout Italy, were freshly squeezed.  And the breakfast room was charming, a mixture of the old and new, built into the side of the mountain.

Sicilian Pastries from Hotel Sabbinirica Ragusa Sicily
Sicilian Pastries from Hotel Sabbinirica in Ragusa Ibla

 

Sicilian Pastries from Hotel Sabbinirica

 

Breakfast room at Hotel Sabbinirica, Ragusa, Sicily
Breakfast room at Hotel Sabbinirica, Ragusa, Sicily

 

The owners came to pick us up from the parking at the foot of the mountain in a motorized golf cart and drove us to the entrance of the bed and breakfast, showed us our room, and very kindly gave us directions on how to reach the main piazza (which was not far away) with the restaurants for dinner. At the reception were pamphlets that held suggestions for tours, both group and private and notice of a bus schedule to the surrounding town. To the side of the reception area was a small boutique filled with handcrafted Sicilian pottery and embroidery.

After our check-in, it was a long walk up the stairs each evening to reach the Hotel Sabbinirica from the taxi station at the Piazza Repubblica, or an even longer climb from the parking lot below. But, once reached, the hotel is on the same level as the lively main piazza that is lined with most of the shops and restaurants in town and hosts the largest church, San Giorgio at its far end. In the morning and evening, the hotel entrance boasted spectacular views of Ragusa Superior, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at this hotel. 

Stairway to Hotel Sabbinirica, Ragusa Sicily
Stairway to Hotel Sabbinirica, Ragusa Sicily
Walking to the Piazza San Giorgio, Ragusa Ibla
Walking to the Piazza San Giorgio, Ragusa Ibla

 

There are many charming bed and breakfasts in Ragusa Ibla.  If you have a favorite, please share your experience!

 


Where to eat for a special night:

There are many restaurants in Ragusa that offer local specialties, from pizza to formal dining with all courses (antipasto, primo of pasta, secondo of fish or meat, and dolce). When traveling, I usually choose the restaurant where I have dinner on the spur of the moment, based on the location I end up at after I finish exploring for the day (side street not main piazza), the menu (no pictures, local specialties) and the clientele (locals).

While I was not in Ragusa every evening, so I cannot give an exhaustive list of restaurant recommendations, I did dine at MareDentro twice for dinner, and loved their fresh seafood and preparation of traditional Sicilian dishes.

I also had one special dinner with my traveling companion at the Duomo restaurant of Chef Ciccio Sultano.  The webiste Great Italian Chefs  says: “One of Sicily’s best-loved chefs, Ciccio Sultano has traveled as far as New York to hone his craft. Now back home, Ciccio’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant Duomo is the standard bearer for Sicilian haute cuisine, attracting diners from far and wide to the city of Ragusa.”

My experience truly lived up to the hype. Despite the fact that we had only ordered a primo and secondo course, we were offered so many “special” treats that the chef “would be so pleased for us to try” that I was truly dazzled. Not only by the number of offerings abut also by the style of the chef. I don’t usually take photos of the food while I am out dining, so I guess we will just have to go with this description of my meal from the Great Italian Chefs website:” It only takes a cursory glance at Ciccio’s food to see that these dishes are unmistakably his. His playful, artistic flair is always on display, and his plates are a unique combination of his avant garde character and his love and respect for the food of his home.”

Then I found this description of the restaurants in Ragusa from The Thinking Traveler:

“The restaurant “Duomo”, in Via Capitano Bocchierei, 31, is double Michelin-starred and considered one of the very best restaurants in Italy, while La Locanda di Don Serafino and La Fenice both have 1 Michelin Star… Is Ragusa the gourmet capital of Sicily?”

 


Oh, and by the way… gelato:

This is an easy one. Both gelato shops on the main piazza in Ragusa were fantastic, with unusual flavors I have not seen in other parts of Italy.

Ragusa Gelato flavors
Gelato in Ragusa, Sicily

 


 

Short Historical Tour of Ragusa

Before the city of Ragusa was called Ragusa, it was founded by the indigenous people of Sicily and known in the world of ancient Greece as Hybla Heraea.  The Greeks colonized much of southeastern Sicily and flourished, especially in Agrigento along the southern coast and Siracusa along the eastern coast.  Southern Sicily in antiquity was considered a center of learning, with Archimedes (the philosopher and mathematician who discovered that 3.14… is pie), one of its most brilliant minds. Ragusa, however, remained independent from the Greeks, only to be overtaken by the Romans in the middle of the third century B.C. After this conquest, the city fell under the rule of many different peoples, but was finally given the name “Ragus” when under Arab rule. After the Norman conquest in 1060, the name was changed to Ragusa, which the city has carried to this day.  In 1860, Garibaldi added Ragusa to the newly united Kindgom of Italy.

Here is a short synopsis of how the Ragusa the visitor sees today came to be from The thinking Travaeler:

“Essentially Baroque, the Ragusa you will see today dates almost entirely from 1693. Indeed, it was in this year that Ragusa, along with its neighbours, NotoModica, Scicli and Catania, was razed to the ground by a terrible earthquake that hit most of the eastern side of Sicily.”

“Public opinion on where to rebuild the town was divided, and so a compromise was made. The wealthier, more aristocratic citizens built a new town in a different site, now Ragusa “Superiore”, while the other half of the population decided to rebuild on the original site, on a ridge at the bottom of a gorge, now Ragusa Ibla. The two towns remained separated until 1926 when they were merged to become the chief town of the province, taking the place of Modica.”

The town Ragusa Ibla is part of the Val di Noto UNESCO Heritage site and 18 of its buildings are protected by UNESCO patronage.

 


 

 Short Walking Tour of Ragusa

A visit to the Commune Ragusa website yields a list of churches and buildings for a UNESCO walking tour of Ragusa, and in particular a tour of Baroque architecture, or the Barocco tour.  There is a trolley that will take you on a tour as well, circling around the outer perimeter of the mountain to reach many of these sites.

Baroque architecture is said to have originated in Italy in Rome in the early 17th Century, and then to have spread into other parts of the Italian peninsula and Europe. By the mid-17th century, this highly decorative style was used to create churches with frescoes covering every inch of their walls and ceilings, which were held up by colorful, spiraled columns. The exteriors of government buildings and private homes were decorated with ornate, heavy balconies supported by heavy, statuesque corbels and framed by undulating ironwork to show wealth and power.

Baroque balcony in Ragusa Ibla, Sicily
Baroque balcony in Ragusa Ibla, Sicily

 

Ragusa is just one town in a group of nine towns of medieval origin located in the Val di Noto, or southeastern Sicily that were rebuilt in splendor in the new Baroque style after the earthquake of 1693 devastated this region. The other towns are: Caltagirone, Militello, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ispica and Scicli.

On the first day of our stay in Ragusa, we visited the cathedral of San Giorgio and the  Later, we decided to follow the large, brown street signs from our hotel on the border of Ragusa Ibla to Ragusa Superiore.  Below are some images from our tours of Ragusa to enjoy.

Baroque cathedral San Giorgio in Ragusa, Sicily
Baroque cathedral Basilica di San Giorgio, completed in 1775

 

Portale San Giorgio, Ragusa Sicily
The door of the original San Giorgio church in Ragusa, the only surviving portion of the church built before the earthquake of 1693.

 

Giardino Ibleo, a public garden in Ragusa Ibla
Giardino Ibleo, a public garden in Ragusa Ibla

 

Entry to the main piazza in Ragusa
Entry to the main piazza in Ragusa

 

Walking toward Ragusa Superiore
Walking toward Ragusa Superiore

 

Walking to Piazza Repubblica
Walking to Piazza Repubblica

 

Map of a walking tour of Ragusa at the info center
Map of a walking tour of Ragusa on a wall at the info center

 

Via Scale steps from Ragusa Ibla to Ragusa Superiore
Start of via Scale staircase to cross from Ragusa Ibla to Ragusa Superiore

 

Looking back on Ragusa Ibla while crossing to Ragusa Superiore
Looking back on Ragusa Ibla while crossing to Ragusa Superiore

 

Ragusa Ibla from Ragusa Superiore
Ragusa Ibla from Ragusa Superiore

 


 

Sites of Interest

in and around

Ragusa

Church of Santa Maria delle Scale: location offers spectacular views of Ragusa Ibla. and is the oldest church in Ragusa. Occasional site of filming to use Ragusa Ibla as the backdrop for scenes in the Detective Montalbano series.

Palazzo Casentini—late 1700’s Baroque style

Palazzo Bertini—late 1700’s Baroque style

Church of San Giuseppe—Baroque church that houses many Baroque works of art; San Giuseppe is the patron saint of Ragusa, while San Giorgio is the patron saint of Ragusa Iba

Hyblean Archeological Museum—along the outskirts of Ragusa. Can’t believe I missed it this time around!

Shopping in Ragusa Superiore—My favorite shop for women’s fashion, Louisa Spagnoli is in Ragusa Superiore along the main shopping boulevard.  More casual styles than the Louisa Spagnoli shop by Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Castello di Donnafugata (means “source of health” in Arabic; when translated into Sicililan sounds similar to the Italian “donnafugata”, but does not mean “the woman who fled”)—large estate with villa with origins in the 14th century, but current style in each room preserved as a museum is from the 19th century. Occasional site of filming for Detective Montalbano series.

Marina di Ragusa—Loved walking on the boardwalk along the beach at Marina di Ragusa one evening. This is where the Italians vacation with their families and after dinner is the time to “fare una passegiatta” (take a leisurely stroll). If you like people watching, this is the place, as everyone is dressed in the latest summer styles to “fare una buona figura” (make a good appearance). There is a large boulevard along the boardwalk and across the street are many apartments for rent for a week or more, a few hotels, and many restaurants large and small catering to Italian tourists. Maybe for my next trip?

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Buono means “It’s good!”

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, now it is nearing the end of the year, and I’m sure you would like to share all your “good” experiences with friends. Why not do this in Italian?

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”  that use buono, the Italian adjective that means “good” in Italian, we will be able to describe all the wonderful things we are sure to find when we visit Italy — just as we would in our native language!

Of course, we also need to learn the variations of  buono in order to say “hello,” “good day” or “good evening;”  phrases we will certainly use every day with family and friends, as well as with acquaintances in Italy.

This post is the 26th 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 Italian phrases
and
many Italian greetings

describe things that are “good” with the adjective buono

and its variations 

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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How to Use Buono

with Singular Nouns

 

Buono is an Italian adjective that will come up quite often when one starts to learn Italian, and will use often while traveling — so many things are good in Italy!  But, the form of this adjective will change according to the masculine or feminine form of the noun (person, place or thing) it modifies, the number of “things” that are good, and also according to where this adjective is placed in the sentence.

Sound complicated?  Well, it is… a little bit.  But luckily, there are many “commonly used phrases” spoken every day in Italy that use the word buono. 

And, by remembering these common Italian phrases, you will automatically have committed the rules for how to use the adjective buono to memory!

 

We will start by explaining how to use buono with singular masculine nouns.

For masculine nouns, buono is placed either directly after the noun, or at the end of a sentence that uses the Italian verb è for is. In the second case, the adjective buono will be separated from the noun it modifies, but both the noun and adjective will agree in gender and number.

So, in our example below, we see that there are two ways to express the idea that you are having a good day. In both cases, the adjective buono is placed after the singular masculine noun giorno. 

Il giorno è buono. The day is good.
il giorno buono the good day

 

When the adjective buono is placed before a masculine noun,  however, the last letter -o is dropped from buono to make buon, as in, “Buon giorno!”

Buon giorno! Good day!
buon uomo  good man
buon bambino
buon ragazzo
good baby (boy)
good boy

 

The masculine buon is also an important word to remember when one wants to express good wishes to another, such as with the phrase, “Happy Birthday!”  In Italian, these phrases can start with, ” Auguri di…” meaning, “Best wishes for…” But, more often than not, Italians use shorter phrases to wish others well, and these phrases often start with “Buon…”

 

Check out the table below for some common phrases of best wishes.
Buon divertimento! I hope you have a good time!

Auguri di buon compleanno! Best wishes for a happy birthday!
Buon compleanno! Happy birthday!
Buon anniversario! Happy anniversary!
Buon viaggio! Have a good trip!
Buon divertimento! Have fun!
Have a good time!
Buon Natale! Merry Christmas!
Buon anno! Happy New Year!
Felice anno nuovo! Happy New Year!
(less commonly used)

 

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Now let’s talk about how to use buono with singular feminine nouns.

For a feminine noun, the adjective buona is used to describe something good, whether placed before or after the noun this adjective modifies. Again, one of our “meeting and greeting” phrases, “Buona sera,” will help us to remember this rule.*

Also, if you want to express the wish that someone has a good day for the entire day, you can use the adjective buona with the phrase “Buona giornata!”  The same applies for the entire evening with the phrase “Buona serata!”

 

Check out the table below for some common phrases that use buona.
Buona fortuna! Good luck!

La frutta è buona oggi.
la buona frutta
The fruit is good today.
the good fruit
Buona sera! Good evening!
Buona giornata! Have a good day!
(wish for the entire day to be good)
Buona serata! Have a good evening!
(wish for the entire evening to be good)
Buona idea! Good idea!
Buona fortuna! Good luck!

 

There is only one exception to the rule above: if buona is placed before a feminine noun that begins with the letter –a, simply drop the last letter from buona and add an apostrophe to make buon’ for smoother conversation.  Since our focus is on conversational Italian, just remember to bring the two words together when speaking, without repeating the -a ending, and don’t worry for now about the spelling!

So, if you want tell someone your friend—who is a girl—is a “good friend” to you,  you could say, “la buon’amica mia,”  for “my good friend.”  

 

*Some of these phrases can also be written as one word, as in: buongiorno, buonasera, and buonanotte.

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How to Use Buono

with Plural Nouns

The adjective buono follows the usual Italian rules for changing singular adjectives to plural adjectives.

In general, of course:

  • A masculine Italian noun and its adjective will end in -o, and this ending will change to -i in the plural.
  • A feminine Italian noun and its adjective will ends in -a, and this ending will change to -e in the plural.
  • An Italian noun or adjective that ends in -e may be masculine or feminine, and this ending will change to -i in the plural.

If you are interested in learning more about masculine and feminine words in Italian that end in the letter -e, and how to distinguish one from the other, this You Tube Video may be of help: Italian Grammar by Stella Lucente, LLC.

 

For our adjective buono, the following rules apply:

  • For the  masculine forms of the adjective buono, the plural is always buoni.
  • For the  feminine forms of the adjective buona, the plural is always buone.

 

 With these simple rules, we are ready to create some common noun/adjective combinations using buono and buona!

il giorno buono the good day becomes
the good days
i giorni buoni
il buon giorno the good day becomes
the good days
i buoni giorni
la buona notizia the good news
(one piece of news)
becomes
the good news
le buone notizie

 

There are, of course, many more occasions to use the Italian adjective buono than those I have just listed.  How many more an you think of?

Remember common expressions with the adjective buono
and I guarantee you will use then every day!

 

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

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Your Italian Travel Tips – It’s Ferragosto! Let’s Party Like the Romans

Ferragosto on the beach from "Take Me Home Italy" blog
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! For August I would like to share a blog from “Take Me Home Italy,” written by Marilyn Ricci, a friend who has recently moved to Italy and has been sharing her experiences with us through her writing.

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

And, what better way to explore Italy and provide travel tips than to live there?  Marilyn has been able to experience first hand the important August celebration of Ferragosto.  To Italians, Ferragosto is a very important family and religious celebration, with roots that date back to Roman times.  Over the years,  the meaning  of Ferragosto has changed, but its importance has not diminished, and to Italians, it is still a very special holiday family get-together and summer fun, which brings the same excitement as the Christmas season later in the winter months.

Marilyn writes:

Have you heard of Ferragosto? Ferragosto is officially a holiday on 15 August. Yet, for Italians, it is typically more than one day of celebration.

What IS Ferragosto? Where did it come from and why is it such a huge national holiday?

Back when Augustus was the Roman Emperor, in the year 18 B.C.E., he instituted the Feriai Augusti, a day of rest for the Emperor and his people. The day was dedicated to the Roman god of fertility and of the harvest. It was a time to celebrate and be fruitful as only the Romans could do.

Click on this link to read the full blog: It’s Ferragosto! Let’s Party Like the Romans

 

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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – Italian Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, now more than half the year has passed, and I’m sure you have made a few Italian friends and would like to talk about your relationships with “each other.”

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 say “each other” in Italian, a “commonly used phrase” in English that is expressed with  Italian reciprocal reflexive verbs, we will be able to talk about common feelings and experiences — just as we do in our native language!

With a little Italian reciprocal reflexive verb  practice, soon we will be able to say “each other” in Italian in order to fully interact with our friends and describe what is happening around us.

This post is the 25th 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”
that describe our interactions with “each other”
use

  Italian reciprocal 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.

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How to Say “Each Other”

Italian Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs

 

Reciprocal reflexive verbs are used in the special situation when two or more people perform the same action together; this will make all people involved the subject of the action.

To express this type of situation in English we simply add the phrase “each other” after the verb that describes the action. Italians employ the -si ending, as with regular reflexive verbs that describe actions that revert back to the speaker.

Listed below are verbs that commonly use the reciprocal reflexive form:

abbracciarsi to hug each other
aiutarsi to help each other
amarsi to love each other
baciarsi to kiss each other
chiamarsi to call each other
conoscersi to get to know each other
fidanzarsi to become engaged
guardarsi to look at each other
incontrarsi to meet each other
(planned meeting)
odiarsi to hate each other
parlarsi to speak to each other
salutarsi to greet each other
scriversi to write each other
sposarsi to marry each other
telefonarsi to call each other
trovarsi to meet each other
vedersi to see each other

A quick glance at this list reveals two things: (1) many of these reflexive verbs have non-reflexive forms with similar meanings, such as amare (to love), parlare (to talk), scrivere (to write), and vedere (to see); (2) many of these reflexive verbs are also used as simple reflexive verbs, such as fidanzarsi (to get married), and sposarsi (to get married).

The verb chiamare and its reflexive form chiamarsi are also interesting. Chiamare alone means “to call,” as in to yell over to someone (or to make a telephone call, now that technology allows us to do this) but chiamarsi in its simple reflexive form has a different meaning: “to call oneself a name.” Of course, every Italian student quickly learns the first conjugation of the verb chiamarsi as part of their initiation into the Italian language with the phrase,Mi chiamo…” for the English phrase “My name is…”  So chiamarsi does  “double duty” as a simple and a reciprocal reflexive verb, with different meanings depending on the context.

In short, reflexive verbs add shades of meaning to the Italian language in a simple, yet brilliant way.

 

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How do we actually use Italian reciprocal reflexive verbs in conversation?

Let’s give this a try with the two most commonly used persons in spoken Italian, the first person plural noi and the third person plural loro forms.

If the speaker is involved in the action with someone else—we are doing the action—conjugate the verb in the sentence using the first person plural noi form and put its reflexive pronoun ci before the  conjugated verb.

If the speaker is talking about a group of other people—they are doing the action—conjugate the verb in the sentence using the third person plural loro form and put its reflexive pronoun si before the conjugated verb.

As we have learned in our previous blogs, the subject pronouns are almost always omitted  when conversing in Italian, and this “rule” applies to sentences that use reciprocal reflexive verbs.  But the subject pronouns have been included in parentheses in our Italian examples in the table below, just to make it immediately clear who is the subject. With time, we should not need this hint, at least for the noi form, with its easily recognizable -iamo verb ending, which is the same for all verbs in the present tense!

Also, notice that in Italian the immediate future is expressed by the present tense, while in English, we tend to use the future tense for every future activity.  It is easy in English to speak in the future tense, since all we have to do is place the word “will” in front of the verb. Since the word “will” is not actually included in the Italian sentences given as examples, and we are not conjugating in the Italian future tense, the word “will” is given in parentheses in our English translations in the table below.

 

If we try to think a little bit in Italian, and translate the Italian ideas into the English we would ordinarily use, we will find that it is really not that difficult to understand Italian reciprocal reflexive verbs!

 

Io e Francesca ci vogliamo bene. Frances and I care for each other very much.
   
(Noi) Ci sposiamo oggi. We (will) marry each other today.
(Noi) Ci scriviamo ogni giorno. We write each other every day.
(Noi) Ci vediamo al teatro. We (will) see each other at the theater.
(Noi) Ci vogliamo bene. We love each other very much.

 

Caterina e zia Rosa si salutano. Kathy and Aunt Rose greet each other.
Michele e Francesca si vogliono bene. Michael and Frances care for each other very much.
   
(Loro) Si vogliono bene. They care for each other very much.
(Loro) Si incontrano. They meet each other.
(Loro) Si chiamano ogni giorno. They call (telephone) each other every day.

 

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Let’s try this in the past tense. Remember, of course, that all reflexive verbs take essere in the passato prossimo past tense, and that the past participle ending must change in gender and number when using essere as a helping verb.

 

Io e Francesca ci siamo voluti bene. Frances and I cared for each other very much.
   
(Noi) Ci siamo sposati oggi. We married each other today.
(Noi) Ci siamo scritti ogni giorno. We wrote each other every day.
(Noi) Ci siamo visti al teatro. We saw each other at the theater.
(Noi) Ci siamo voluti bene. We loved each other very much.

 

Caterina e zia Rosa si sono salutate. Kathy and Aunt Rose greeted each other.
Michele e Francesca si sono voluti bene. Michael and Frances cared for each other very much.
(Loro) Si sono voluti bene. They cared for each other very much.
(Loro) Si sono incontrati. They met each other.
(Loro) Si sono chiamati ogni giorno. They  called each other (on the telephone) every day.

 

There are, of course, many more occasions for the use of reciprocal reflexive verbs than those I have just listed.  How many more an you think of?

 

Remember how to the Italian reciprocal reflexive verbs and I guarantee you will use then every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Your Italian-American Gardening Tips (with Recipes) – Oregano (Origano) and Zucchini (Zucchina)

Italian-American Gardening tips - herb oregano
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! This week I will share about how to grow the herb oregano and it’s perfect Italian companion zucchini for one of my favorite Italian side-dishes, a simple “stew” of zucchini and tomatoes with onions and oregano.  Even children who don’t like summer squash will love this dish! 

As I’ve mentioned before, this summer I’ve had to start a new garden from scratch now that I have moved to the Chicago suburbs from Peoria. So I thought I would take a few photos and share some of what I’ve come to know about gardening with this series “Your Italian Gardening Tips.” 

For as long as I can remember, both sides of my Italian family have established summer vegetable gardens here in America.  My grandfather was a master gardener, and used knowledge he brought over from Sicily to create his perfect garden in a very small patch of land in Brooklyn, New York.

Meanwhile, my grandmother was busy in the kitchen cooking our favorite meals with the fresh fruits and vegetables that my grandfather grew. She passed down the simple but delicious method for stewing zucchini with tomatoes and oregano to our family here in America.  After reading about how to grow oregano and zucchini,  you can watch me it in action as I cook the dish by clicking the Instagram link if you want!

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

Below are my insights on growing oregano and zucchini.  Please leave a comment if you want. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about gardening!  

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip to Italy! 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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Italian Herb Oregano – Origano

 

Italian-American Gardening tips - herb oregano
Oregano – just getting started growing in my garden

Oregano is a perennial, bush-like plant that is commonly used in tomato salads or combined with zucchini and tomatoes for a vegetable side dish (contorno). In the United States, oregano became popular after World War II, when it was brought back from Italy by American soldiers and became a common addition to tomato sauces in Italian-American households.

Oregano will come up each spring if planted directly in the garden, usually growing a bit larger each year.  Oregano likes sun, but can also grow in partial shade. Trim frequently with kitchen scissors and dry or keep the leaves fresh in the refrigerator on the stalk. Significant amounts of oregano can be harvested early in summer and the plant will regrow. Allow to flower late in the summer.  The plant is cold hardy and can survive a fall or spring frost, but will die back in the winter.  Remove any remaining dead branches in the spring and the plant will grow for another season.

To harvest oregano, cut off the stem with its leaves.  Then, use a small knife or your fingers to run down the length of the stem and remove the small leaves. Discard the stem. To dry,, bundle and hang from the stems upside down.  When dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store in an air-tight container away from heat.

 

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 Italian Summer Squash – Zucchina e Cucuzza

Zucchina is one zucchini in Italian
Two zucchini plants growing side by side in the garden.

Zucchini in English, or zucchina/zucchine in Italian is a summer squash, also known as a marrow.  The immature form of a marrow is called a courgette. The smaller courgettes, which have more flesh and less seeds than the mature summer squash, are used widely in Italian cooking. Zucchini is popular fried, stewed, and even hollowed out and stuffed, and usually served as an appetizer or a side dish.  The zucchini flowers are edible and are often stuffed and fried as an appetizer.

Zucchini can be planted after the last threat of frost is over. Zucchini like well-manured, moist soil and can even grow on a compost heap (from personal experience)! Create a mound of soil and plant 4-6 seeds around the mound so the plants will grow next to one another.  This will encourage pollination by bees, who can easily fly from one flower to the next.

Male zucchini plant
Male zucchini flower on a long stalk from my garden

Zucchini plants come in male and female varieties, although they look identical and have almost identical flowers. However, only the female plant will produce a zucchini, which grows from the base of the female flower itself.  Male flowers will grow on a long, slender stalk.  When the pollen is transferred from the male to the female flower, the zucchini at the base of the female flower will enlarge as the flower slowly becomes smaller and finally dies off.  Some gardeners transfer the pollen from the male to the female flower on the tip of a Q-tip, hoping to ensure a large crop of zucchini fruit, but usually this is not necessary if enough seeds are planted.

For the most flavorful zucchini, harvest when 5-6″ long by cutting them off at the stem. Refrigerate with the short stem intact until ready to use. Be careful to check daily, or a giant zucchini may appear unexpectedly in the garden and most of the flesh will be replaced by seeds! Frequent harvesting will also encourage more female flowers to emerge and in turn this will produce more fruit.

Zucchini leaves are susceptible to fungus, and may turn brownish, but the plant should continue to produce fruit. Slugs and other insects may bore into the stem and cause the leaves to wilt and die. Sprinkling crushed egg shells on the soil may discourage slugs, who don’t like to slide over the shells. Planting zucchini in a different location each year will help to avoid the spread of these diseases to your crop next year.

To cook zucchini, simply cut off the stem and the opposite end and then cut the entire vegetable cross-wise into rounds or lengthwise into sticks or strips.

 

Cucuzza 

Image from www.specialtyproduce.com

A famous long, thin, light green squash that is harvested in the summer from southern Italy and Sicily is known as “cucuzza.”  Cucuzza (pronounced “goo-gooz” in  Sicilian dialect) typically grows from 1 to 3 feet. Unlike a true summer squash, the skin from this squash must be peeled before cooking.  There is a well-known Sicilian proverb that states, “Cucinala come vuoi, sempre cucuzza è!” meaning, “However you cook it, it’s still just squash!” 

Cucuzza is also used as an endearing term for a young girl in a 1950’s Italian novelty song sung by Louis Prima called, “My Cucuzza.”  He sings about the vegetable, Cucuza grows in Italy down on the farm.  It’s something like zucchini flavored with Italian charm… I call my girl cucuzza because she’s as sweet as can be.”  To hear the song sung by Louis Prima in it’s entirety, click this My Cucuzza link.

 

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Zucchini with Tomatoes and Oregano

Stewed zucchini, tomatoes and oregano
Stewed zucchini and tomatoes with fresh oregano and a slice of crusty Italian bread.

Watch the method in time elapse photography as I cook this dish on my Instagram channel by clicking here:

View this post on Instagram

That’s Italian! Zucchini and with tomatoes and fresh oregano (origano) from your garden – an easy-to-make and delicious vegetable side dish for summer. Even your kids will love this! Just sauté onions (don’t let brown) and zucchini with a pinch of salt a little olive oil. Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Delizioso! Delicious! #osnap #chicagogarden #chicagogardener #chicagoland #italyinamerica #italiangardens #italiangardenstyle #oregano #oreganoplant #summersquash ##origano🍃 #origanofresco🌿 #origanofresco #zucchinirecipes #zucchinis #zucchina #zucchiniplant #summersquash #howtocook #howtocookzucchini #italianfood @italynearme #howtocookvegetables #howtocookvegetablestew

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

 

Ingredients: 

olive oil, 1 onion, 3 medium-size Zucchini, 6 plum tomatoes, fresh oregano, salt

Method: 

  1. Coarsely chop the onion, zucchini and tomatoes. (See the video for the method to chop these vegetables.)
  2. Pour olive oil into a large frying pan with high sides or a pot large enough to accommodate all the vegetables, heat briefly, and then add the onions and a pinch of salt.
  3. When the onions have softened, and turned clear, add the zucchini. Cover and let zucchini cook on medium heat to soften, stirring occasionally. Do not let zucchini or onions brown.
  4. When zucchini ha softened, add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste with a few grinds of pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat. If needed, add a little water.
  5. When the tomatoes have softened, add the oregano and cook until the herb has softened.
  6. When all vegetables have softened, but are not mushy, they are done!  The finished vegetable dish should have a little bit of “juice” and can be served in a separate small bowl if wanted.
  7. Serve with Italian bread to “sop up” the juices.

Buon appetito!

 

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How We Dress in Italian

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, now more than half the year has passed, and I’m sure you are trying to talk about your every day activities with family and friends!  One of the most common topics of conversation in any language is about clothes and how we dress.

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 speak Italian, we will be able to tell others how we dress and make “small talk” about how well others are dressed — part of “fare la bella figura” (looking fabulous) in Italian — just as we do in our native language!

In Italian we need to learn how to use three important verbs and we are all set to talk about what we are wearing—vestirsi, mettersi, and indossare. 

This post is the 24th 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” that describe what we are doing

are about
  “Putting on clothing…” or  “What we are wearing…”

 If I want to describe what we are wearing in Italian,

we must learn how to use the Italian verbs
Vestirsi, Mettersi, and Indossare

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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What We Are Wearing in Italian


Vestirsi, Mettersi, Portare and Indossare

In Italian we need to learn how to use three important verbs and we are all set to talk about what we are wearing—vestirsi, mettersi, and indossare.  If we learn how to use these verbs properly, we will be able to tell others how we dress and make “small talk” about how well others are dressed — part of “fare la bella figura” ( looking good or making a good impression) in Italian — just as we do in our native language!

Vestirsi

Let’s start with the Italian verb “vestirsi,” which carries the general meaning of “to get dressed.” To use this verb, just conjugate it as you would any other reflexive verb to make a simple sentence.

We need to remember that for reflexive verbs, the subject pronoun of the sentence, (io, tu, Lei/lei/lui, noi, voi, loro), must be in the same person as the reflexive pronouns (mi, ti, si, ci, vi, si).

This sounds simple enough.  But, we also have to remember that the sentence structure in conversational Italian does not generally include the subject pronoun; the subject pronoun is understood from the verb ending, which will be unique for each speaker in the present tense.  So, for conversational Italian—even for reflexive verbs— the subject pronoun is left out of the sentence.  In our example table using reflexive verbs, the Italian subject pronoun will be given in parentheses for teaching purposes only.

In English, we do not convey this idea with a reflexive pronoun.  So the reflexive pronoun included in the Italian sentence will be given in parentheses in the English translation.

 

(Io) Mi vesto. I get (myself) dressed.
(Tu) Ti vesti. You get (yourself) dressed.
(Lei/Lui) Si veste. You (polite) get (yourself)…
She/He gets (herself, himself)… dressed.

 

(Noi) Ci vestiamo. We get (ourselves) dressed.
(Voi) Vi vestite. You all get (yourselves) dressed.
(Loro) Si vestono. They get (themselves) dressed.

 

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Mettersi 

When talking about putting on a particular article of clothing, such as a dress or suit (vestito)* for instance,  we must learn to use yet another Italian reflexive verb— mettersi, which means to put on oneself. 

Here is how it works:

Mettersi can be used to convey three different types of English sentences: I put on the dress,” “I put on my dress,” and “I put my dress on.” The reflexive pronoun mi (myself) is placed before the conjugated form of mettersi, as usual, and the article of clothing to be put on is then placed after the verb. The subject pronoun is omitted, as usual. So the final translation for “I put on the/my dress” is, “Mi metto il vestito.” 

If this all sounds complicated, just remember the simple phrase “mi metto” and replace il vestito with the article of clothing of your choice and you will be able to describe getting dressed with any article of clothing!

To describe action in the tu (you) form, just conjugate mettersi normally and then add the article of clothing, as in “ti metti.” For the lei/lui (she/he) form, use “si mette,” and so on.

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

*A note: Don’t confuse the verb vestire with the noun vestito, which means dress and also suit (pants and jacket or skirt and jacket).  These words are similar but have different meanings!  Also,  it should be mentioned that the plural noun, vestiti, means clothing.(Other words for suit that can be used for both sexes are abito and completo.)

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Portare

In order to say I am wearing…”  or I take the size…”  the verb portare, which is not reflexive, is usually used in the  simple present tense. You no doubt remember that portare is also commonly used to mean to bring”  or to carry.” 

Porto il mio vestito preferito. I am wearing my favorite dress.
Porto la (taglia) quarantotto. I take size 48.

 

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Past Tense Verb Choices

When speaking in the past tense, portare can also be used to say, I wore…” But perhaps because portare is used so commonly with its other meaning of to bring”  in the present tense, in order to describe what they have worn in the past, most Italians prefer to revert to mettersi and use its (irregular) past participle messo

Remember to use the helping verb essere for the passato prossimo past tense form with the reflexive verb mettersi.  And, of course the last vowel of the past participle must agree in gender with the person wearing the clothing (see the red vowels), since we are using essere as the helping verb. The table below shows how this all works:

(Io) Mi sono messo un completo.
(Io) Mi sono messa una gonna.
I wore a suit. (masculine)
I wore a skirt. (feminine)
Ho portato una gonna. I wore a skirt.

 

 

Another way to describe how someone was dressed is to use the imperfetto past tense of essere  with the descriptive past participle vestito(a,i,e).   This type of phrase can be used to make generalizations, as well as to refer to a specific article of clothing.  When being specific, the preposition con (with) is used in these phrases, as in the examples below.

Era vestito con un abito grigio. He was dressed in a gray suit.
Era vestita con una gonna blu. She was dressed in a blue skirt.
Eravamo vestiti tutti in rosso per la festa. We were dressed all in red for the party.

 

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Indossare

The verb indossare also means “to wear” and “to put on.”  This verb is used in exactly the same way as portare or mettersi.  To the Italian ear, however, the verb indossare is said to have a more elegant sound than portare or mettersi, and perhaps this is why indossare is more common in written Italian than in conversation.

Just like the other two verbs that have the same meaning, indossare must always be followed by the article of clothing that the person is wearing.

Caterina indossa un abito rosso. Kathryn is wearing a red dress.
La signora indossava un cappotto molto elegante. The lady was wearing a very elegant coat.

 

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Finally, when something fits perfectly on you or another, to really fit into Italian society, use the common expression calzare a pennello.”  Calzature refers to the art of making shoes, or “footwear,” so this Italian saying is the equivalent of  the English saying, It fits you like a glove” or It fits you to a T.”

 

Mi calza a pennello! It fits me perfectly!
Ti calza a pennello! It fits you perfectly!
Gli/Le calza a pennello! It fits (on) him/her perfectly!

 

Remember how to the Italian verbs vestirsi, mettersi, portare and indossare when talking about clothing and I guarantee you will use the every day!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Your Italian Travel Tips – Matera: European Capital of Culture 2019

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

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

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

The post for June 2019 was written by Orna O’Reilly, in her blog “Travelling Italy.”  O’Reilly is a former interior designer from Ireland, who also worked for many years in South Africa and Mozambique. Now living in Puglia in the south of Italy, Orna is writing full time and her award winning blog covers all things Italian.  Orna regularly writes for popular Italy Magazine and for glossy Irish magazine Anthology. Word on the street is that Orna will have a new novel out soon, set in modern day Venice and Dublin… Hope to be able to share more about this novel soon!

Orna writes this about Matera:

Dating back over 7000 years, the Sassi are said to be the oldest human habitation in Italy. After the inhabitants were rehoused in the 1950s, many of the caves were restored and, since the 1980s, many of them are now used as hotels, restaurants and homes for those original Sassi dwellers who wished to return.

Having an ancient biblical appearance, in most people’s imagination, over the years Matera has been the setting for at least twenty major movies. These include the obvious candidates, Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’ and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’, though other less likely movies have been filmed there, such as last year’s ‘Wonder Woman.’

In the blog to follow, Orna tells us in detail not only about the history of Matera, but what it is like to visit the city today.  After reading her blog, I felt like visiting myself, and hope to do so one day soon.  All of the highlights of the town are mentioned, with beautiful photos so that one feels they are actually waking down the city streets of Matera with a friend. And, of course, it is important to read to the end of the blog to come to the recommendations for hotels and dining!

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

Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

Four hundred metres above sea level, among the rolling hills of Basilicata in southern Italy, lies the haunting city of Matera.

It is bisected by a deep ravine through which the River Gravina flows.

The sides of this deep gorge are studded by ancient cave dwellings known as Sassi, where families lived from Palaeolithic times, right up to the 1950s when the inhabitants were rehoused by the Italian government with the aid of UNESCO.

In 1993, the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was on the basis that it is the ‘most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem.’ The UNESCO website goes on to say that the ‘first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history.’

View original post 1,471 more words

Your Italian-American Gardening Tips (with Recipes) – Basil (Basilico) and Parsley (Prezzemolo)

Basilico, Italian sweet basil from Italy
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Summer to the Italian-Americans I know means a garden of herbs and vegetables —of  fragrant basil, parsley and pungent tomatoes allowed to ripen in the sun—at the very least!

This summer, I’ve had to start a new garden from scratch now that I have moved to the Chicago suburbs from Peoria. So I thought I would take a few photos and share some of what I’ve come to know about gardening with this series “Your Italian Gardening Tips.” 

For as long as I can remember, both sides of my Italian family have established summer vegetable gardens here in America.  My grandfather was a master gardener, and used knowledge he brought over from Sicily to create his perfect garden in a very small patch of land in Brooklyn, New York.  As a small child, I knew that my fondest memories of summer would begin as I opened the large, decorative, black iron gate to enter what to me was a miraculous place – my grandparent’s a two story attached brick building that had my grandfather’s grape vines growing happily along the only free side.  Out back, there was a small cement landing where the family gathered amid large decorative clay pots of herbs, with a pergola for the ripened grapes to hang from and provide shade, of course!

The rest of my grandfather’s yard was dedicated to all kinds of  vegetables, perfectly staked  in neat rows so that no space was lost on his small plot of land.  I loved picking the fragrant basil, perfectly red, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh, soft  purple figs to take home. Yes, my grandfather even managed to keep fig trees alive during the cold NYC winters by bundling the branches up a pail and covering them with blankets, just so we could enjoy baskets of fresh figs for the summer.  And enjoy them we did!

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

Below are my insights on growing Basil and Parsley.  Please leave a comment if you want. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about growing or using these herbs!  

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip to Italy! 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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Italian Herb Basil – Basilico

 

Basilico Basil
Ornamental basil with leaves of different sizes and colors

Basil is an annual plant whose leaves are valued for their use in flavoring Italian tomato sauces and in appetizers with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.

Two of the most famous Italian appetizers are Capresi Salad, from the island of Capri (tomato, mozzarella, basil) and Panzanella Salad (bread, tomato, basil). Fresh basil from the region of Liguria (nearby Genoa) is ground slowly with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese with a marble mortar and pestle to make the famous Pesto Genovese.  To read more about this basil sauce, click on my blog Pesto Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago

There are many types of basil that can be found growing in Italy and other countries. Italian flat leaf “sweet” basil is most often used in Italian cooking, and the basil from Liguria is said to be the most aromatic and have the most complex flavor.

Basil must be grown from seed each year. Do not sow outdoors, as basil plants are very sensitive to frost. Sow indoors and plant outdoors only when the last threat of frost is over for your region. Basil grows well in containers, but will need bright sunshine, at least in the morning, and almost daily watering; if exposed to sunlight all day, the leaves may wilt, but additional water the plant will quickly recover.

 

Basilico, Italian sweet basil from Italy
Italian “sweet” basil with a broad leaf for cooking

When small, white flowers appears in mid to late summer, pinch back the stem, removing all the flowers, and harvest of the leaves can continue. Otherwise, the plant will go to seed and die.

If a basil stem with a few leaves is cut from the plant and placed in a glass of water on a sunny windowsill, roots will soon develop. When a good root ball has formed, the basil stem can be planted in a small pot of soil and will develop into a larger plant. This is a good way to keep fresh basil available during the winter months.

To harvest basil, pinch off several leaves or pinch off the stem from the top of the plant. Wash the leaves, pat dry, and shred by hand to add to tomato sauces or salads. Southern Italians love the cool flavor of fresh basil, and will top a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce with freshly torn basil as summertime treat.

To dry basil, harvest the entire plant and either hand upside down from the stem or place in a paper bag. When the leaves have dried, they can be removed. Store leaves whole for best flavor, or crumble. Place in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.

 

Caprese Salad

Check out my Instagram post if you’d like to see the method for the easy-to-make and delicious Caprese salad, which is said to originate from the island of Capri. The ingredients are the key to this “salad”:  fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes,  soft buffalo mozzarella (from the water buffalo raised in the countryside near Capri, in the Campagna region) and fresh basil leaves.  A touch of sea-salt to bring the juices out of the tomatoes that provide the acid for the “vinaigrette” and a drizzle of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil makes an exquisite summertime treat!

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Caprese Salad: Let’s use our fresh basil (basilico), heirloom tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella with extra virgin olive oil to make this flavorful salad from the Italian island of Capri. The secret is very ripe tomatoes and a little sea salt to allow the tomato juices to escape and blend with the olive oil. Buon appetito! #osnap #chicagogardening #chicagogardener #chicagogarden #italyinamerica #italiangardenstyle #basil #basilico #basilico🌱 #basilsalad #tomatoandbasil #tomatobasil #basilandtomato #basilandtomatoes #freshbasilandtomatoes #buffalomozzarella #buffalomozzarellacheese #buffalomozzarellasalad @chicagolanditalians @niafitalianamerican @sons_of_italy #freshsummersalad #freshsummertomoatoes #italianfood #italiangardens #italianfood

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Italian Herb Parsley – Prezzemolo

 

Prezzemolo Italian parsley
Italian flat leaf parsley growing in an Italian clay pot

Parsley is a biennial plant whose leaves are valued for their use in flavoring sauces, stews, and salads. Finely chopped parsley is also used in combination with basil and lemon zest in the south of Italy, and is called “gremolata,” which is used in sauces and to top meat dishes. Italian flat leaf parsley is used for cooing; curly leaf parsley is used as a garnish.

Parsley is a hardy plant that will survive into the winter months. If planted in the spring, the plant will grow through the summer and even into the fall and winter, when the temperature falls. Since parsley is a biennial, it will bloom again the next spring, but the second year it will go to seed and die at the end of the season. Replant the third year and the cycle starts again! Parsley needs frequent watering. Pinch off flowers if the plant starts to go to seed too early in the summer.

To harvest parsley, cut the stem with kitchen scissors. Save the fresh stems to bundle with kitchen twine and put in sauces and stews for flavoring. The stems can be saved in the refrigerator for a week, frozen, or dried.

 

Prezzemolo Italian flat leaf parsley
Italian flat leaf parsley

 

Remove the leaves from the stem by running the side of a large knife along the stem. Then lay the leaves out on a chopping board and chop coarsely with a large kitchen knife. Or, for finer chopped parsley bundle together before chopping.

To dry parsley, harvest the entire plant, bundle the stems together, and hand upside down. Or place in a paper bag. When the leaves have dried, they can be removed, crumbled, and stored in an air-tight container.

 

Summer Squash with Parsley

Check out my Instagram post if you’d like to see the method for this easy-to-make side dish that combines fresh parsley with zucchini and yellow summer squash.  A quick saute in a bit of olive oil and the addition of  finely chopped fresh parsley and garlic at the end (called a persillade in French cooking) makes a colorful and delectable side dish for any summertime meal.

 

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Great summer squash dish using your garden fresh French persil, Italian prezzemolo or parsley! Make a persillade from Provence region of France and add to a vegetable saute. Your kids will love eating their vegetables! Method: Chop parsley and then garlic finely. Mix together and chop again. Saute yellow squash and zucchini in olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add persillade mixture. Violà! #chicagogardening #chicagogardener #chicagogarden #italyinamerica #italiangardenstyle #franceinamerica #franceinamerica🇫🇷🇺🇸 #osnap @niafitalianamerican @chicagolanditalians @sons_of_italy #herbgarden #herbs #herb #parsley #parsleypants #parsleyhealth #prezzemolo #prezzemoloevitale #persil #persillade #frenchcooking #frenchcookingathome #frenchcookingclass #frenchcountrycooking #cookingfresh #frenchprovincialcooking #cookingfrench #frenchherbs #italianherbs

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Catnip and gray cat
My cat Gracie protecting her favorite herb!

Fathers Day Saying from Dante – Father of the Italian Language

Dante Alighieri Duomo in Florence

Fathers Day Saying from Dante

Il 16 di Giugno

Buona Festa della Papà!

Happy Father’s Day!

Auguri! = Best Wishes

a tutti i padri, nonni, e bisnonni del mondo!

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

Fathers Day saying from Dante? Why? Well, I have to confess that the famous Italian poet of old, so famous that we all have come to know him by just one name – Dante –  has crept unexpectedly into my life.

I have recently been reading  Dianne Hales book La Bella Lingua, a little bit each night.  The subtitle to this book is, “My love affair with Italian, the world’s most enchanting language,” and I would encourage every serious student of Italian to read this book to discover just how the Italian language we love so much came about.

In this book, we relive the “story” of the adoption of Italian by Italians as told through Dianne’s experiences in Italy; she discovers the facts of history, bit by bit, directly from scholars she interviews as well as from the  families that she meets every day during the many months of the year she spends in Italy.

The third chapter is dedicated to Dante, who was born into an educated family for Florence as Durante degli Alighieri in 1265.  At the beginning of Dante’s life, Latin was the language of scholars. Diane explains Dante’s genius as a poet in the Italian language that had been developing for hundreds of years before his time.  Dante’s three volume Commedia (The Divine Comedy) was the longest serious work written in Italian up to that point, and earned him the title  “Father of Italian.” The Renaissance developed in Florence as Dante was writing this book in the early 1300’s.  Italians still study Dante in school today; his rhyming story-line of one man’s journey from hell to paradise, and the different characters he meets along the way,  still  permeate the culture in many ways.

After I discovered Dante’s history and place in Italian life, I decided I had to learn more. So, I went to an Italian website, and found several of Dante’s most famous phrases. I’ve reprinted his verse that includes a phrase about true love for everyone to enjoy this Fathers Day.

When I first read this verse written so long ago, it made me think of the type of love that can be shared by families even today.  The type of love that parents show their children to let them know that they believe in them. The type of love that my father showered on his two daughters when he was alive, and for which I will always be grateful.

Do Dante’s words remind you of a loved one?
Leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy American Fathers Day!

I

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle:

«Alla mia grande capacità di immaginazione mancarono le forze;

ma Dio, l’amore che fa muovere il sole e le altre stelle,

faceva già girare il mio desiderio e la mia volontà,

come una ruota che gira con moto uniforme».

The love that moves the sun and other stars is verse 145 of the XXXIII canto Paradise of Dante Alighieri and the conclusion of the entire Comedy .  Paraphrase:
This verse at the conclusion of the work is dedicated to God, and today used to refer not only to the greatness of divine love, but also to the love that all of humanity is capable of.

 

If you would like to read more famous phrases by Dante, here is the link:

Frasi di Dante

Venice, Dad's favorite city
My father enjoying a gondola ride in Venice, his favorite Italian city, with me and my children in 2013.

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How to Say “Get” in Italian

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, now half the year has passed and  I know you will have to get ready for even more complex Italian in the future!

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 speak Italian, we will be able to form descriptive sentences about what we have to get done, or what we have got to do during the course of a regular day — just as we do in our native language!

The concept of  little verb “get” is rendered differently in Italian than in English, and this is a bit tricky to get used to at first.  Instead of inserting a verb that is the equivalent of “get” into a sentence, Italians instead use the precise verb that describes exactly what it is they must “get” to do. The chosen Italian verb is often in the reflexive form, as we often refer to ourselves when we use the verb “get.”  So, we must “get ourselves ready” for this concept by remembering our Italian reflexive verbs!

Luckily, Italian reflexive verb conjugation is not difficult and once the concept is mastered that Italian renders the concept of “get” with a reflexive verb when we describe our own actions, telling others  that we “get” this idea should come easily!

This post is the 23rd 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” that describe what we are doing

during the course of an ordinary day

use the words
  “Get…” or  “Got…”

 If I want to describe our day in Italian we must learn to use
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.

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

How to Say “Get” in Italian

with

Italian Reflexive Verbs

At first glance, it seems easy to say “to get” in Italian.  The verb prendere translates as “to get.”  But, the verb prendere actually has the specific meaning of “to procure something.” 

In English conversation, which is typically less formal than written English,  the verb to get is used in many more ways and conveys many more meanings than the verb prendere does in Italian.  We English speakers rely on our basic understanding of what is going on in any given conversation to come up with the meaning of the verb to get. Instead, in both written and conversational Italian, the use of the verb to get is more specific than it is in English.

Many Italian verbs are used to translate the different meanings behind the English verb to get. Here are a few Italian verbs lifted from the Italian — English dictionary Word Reference (www.wordreference.com) as examples: ricevere (to receive/get something), portare (bring/get something), arrivare (arrive/get somewhere), capire and comprendere (understand something).

Just to make things a little more complicated… in an ordinary conversation, we all often  describe what we have “got” to do.  And, when we refer to activities of daily living in Italian, this means that the verb refers back to ourselves.  And therefore… the Italian verb that we use must be reflexive.

I’ll try to get you  to see how this works by first listing some common Italian reflexive verbs that translate as “to get” in Italian.  Take a look at the table below:

alzarsi to get up
annoiarsi to get bored
arrabbiarsi to get angry
bagnarsi to get wet
to take a bath
laurearsi to get a university degree
to graduate
mettersi
mettersi qualcuno nei guai
to put on clothing
to get (oneself) in trouble
preoccuparsi to get worried
to worry
prepararsi (per) to get ready (for)
riprendersi to get better
 to recover
spogliarsi to get undressed
sposarsi to get married
vestirsi
svestirsi
to get dressed
to get undressed

 

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Below are some example sentences taken from what we all do in a normal day, many of which use the reflexive verbs from the previous table. The Italian subject pronoun “io,” meaning “I” is included in the Italian examples, although io is almost always omitted with reflexive verbs (as in most general conversation). Parentheses have been used in the Italian sentences as a reminder of this fact.

In the same way, parentheses are used in the English translation to indicate Italian reflexive pronouns that are not necessary in English. But, hopefully it will be useful to learn to think in Italian before translating into correct English.

Also remember that the simple present tense in Italian can have several different meanings in English.  The simple phrase“Io vado,” for instance, can be translated as: “I go,” “I am going” or “I do go.”

Now, I think we understand enough about how Italian works that we are ready to get going with our examples!

 

Getting up in the morning:

(Io) Mi sveglio. I wake up. (lit. I wake myself up.)
(Io) Mi alzo. I get up. (lit. I get myself up.)
(Io) Mi alzo presto. I get (myself) up early.
(Io) Mi alzo alle sei. I get (myself) up at 6 AM.
(Io) Mi alzo tardi domani. I am going to get (myself) up
late tomorrow.

 

Getting ready to go out for the day:

(Io) Mi faccio il bagno.
(Io) Mi faccio una doccia.
I take a bath. (lit. I make myself the bath.)
I take a shower. (lit. I make myself a shower)
(Io) Mi lavo. I wash myself.
(Io) Mi asciugo. I dry myself off.
(Io) Mi pettino. I comb (myself) my hair.
(Io) Mi preparo per il lavoro. I get (myself) ready for (the) work.
(Io) Mi vesto. I get (myself) dressed.
(Io) Mi metto i vestiti. I put on (myself) the clothes.
(Io) Mi trucco. I put on (myself) makeup.
(Io) Mi metto la giacca e le scarpe. I put on (myself) the jacket and the shoes.
(Io) Mi sento molto bene! I feel very well!
Vado al lavoro./ Vado a lavorare. I go to work.

 

At the end of the day:   

Torno a casa. I return home.
(Io) Mi tolgo la giacca. I take off (myself) the jacket.
Preparo la cena per la famiglia. I make the dinner for the family.
Alle nove (io) mi svesto. At nine I get (myself) undressed.
(Io) Mi tolgo le scarpe. I take off (myself) my shoes.
(Io) Mi metto il pigiama e le ciabatte. I put on (myself) (the) pajamas and slippers.
(Io) Mi rilasso. I relax (myself).
(Io) Mi riposo. I rest (myself).
(Io) Mi addormento. I fall (myself) asleep.

 

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Three more important examples are listed below.  The first example is interesting because one might be tempted to translate the phrase — incorrectly of course — “I have decided to marry myself!” But, now that we know that an important function of Italian reflexive verbs is to render the idea “to get,” the sentence structure in Italian for “Ho deciso di sposarmi,” makes perfect sense.  Notice that the reflexive pronoun mi is attached to the end of the infinitive verb sposarsi.

The second examples are about “getting in trouble.”  These are phrases that are good to know but hopefully they will not have to be used on a daily basis!

Ho deciso di sposarmi. I have decided to get married.
   
Non metterti nei guai! Don’t get (put) yourself in trouble!
Mi sono messo nei guai. I got (put) myself in trouble.

 

Remember how to use Italian reflexive verbs when talking about things you have ” to get”  and I guarantee you will use the every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! You Make Me… “Fare Causativo”

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, now almost half the year has passed and  I hope my blogs have made you reach your goal so far this year!

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 speak Italian, we will be able to form descriptive sentences about what other people make us do  or how other people make us feel – just as we do in our native language!

Check out some popular American songs to see how often this concept comes up in language.  Catchy tunes like, “You Make Me Feel Brand New,”  sung by the Stylistics, or “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Women,” sung by Aretha Franklin are two examples that come to mind, although there are many more.  Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 22nd 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” start with the words
  “You make me…” or  “I make you…”

 If I want to use the English causative verb “make,”
in Italian I must use
the
 Fare Causativo

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.

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

Expressing the  English  Causative Verb

“Make”
with the Italian “Fare Causativo”

The verb “make” is called a “causative verb,” and is one of the three true causative verbs in English, which are: let, have, and make.

English speakers use the verb “make” to describe how someone has made them do  something or how someone has made them feel.  In other words, in this type of situation, the subject of the sentence is the instigator that will make the stated action take place for someone else.

I’ll try to make you see how this works using some example sentences in English conversation before we move on to Italian.  In English, we can say, “You are making me cry!” or “He makes me feel so special!”  In a less dramatic situation, we can form a question such as, “Are you making me go to school today?” or a statement such as, “She makes me go to school.”

In each case, the subject of the sentence is the instigator of the action that takes place, and therefore the verb “make” must be conjugated to match this person or persons.*

The sentence structure in English is simple:

 Make (conjugated) + Direct Object + Infinitive Verb
(+ optional adverb or indirect object)

The Italian verb fare means “to do” or “to make,” and is the Italian causative verb to use in this situation,  also known as the “fare causativo.” The sentence structure in Italian is the same as for English, except that for Italian (as usual) the direct object should be placed before the conjugated form of the verb fare. 

Direct Object + Fare (conjugated) + Infinitive Verb
(+ optional adverb or indirect object)

This is easy enough in English when we break down the example sentences:

You are making + me + cry.

He makes + me + feel (+ so special)!

She makes + me + go (+ to school).

A few pointers about Italian, and then we will try our example sentences.

First, let’s take a look at how subject pronoun use differs in Italian and English.  Remember that the subject pronoun (I, you, he/she, we, you all, they)  is usually left out of the sentence in Italian.  The verb ending in Italian will signal who the subject is.

So, to say, “You make…” instead of, “Tu fai…” say simply, “Fai…”  

For the Italian third person singular, a simple,“Fa…” may be fine for “He makes…” and “She makes…” since the individuals involved in the conversation usually know who is being referred to. But, if a speaker wants to clarify or to emphasize exactly who is the subject under discussion, the Italian subject pronoun can be used, and the phrase becomes “Lui fa…” or “Lei fa…”  

Second, it is OK to just use the simple Italian present tense to render the same meaning as the English present progressive tense (the “-ing” tense). Some phrases just sound better to the English speaker in the present progressive tense, and we tend to use this tense a lot.  But in Italian, the present progressive tense is used more sparingly, mostly to emphasize that something is happening exactly at the moment of conversation. So instead of the usual English phrase, “You are making…” an equivalent Italian phrase will usually be, “You make…” Just remember that the simple present tense in Italian can have several different meanings in English, such as: “You make…”  You are making…”  and “You do make…”

Finally, the direct object pronouns mi, ti, lo, la, ci, vi, li, le will go before the Italian verb, as usual.

Now, let’s to render our example sentences in Italian:

You are making + me + cry.
(Tu)  Mifai + piangere.

He makes + me + feel (+ so special).
(Lui)  Mifa + sentire (+ così speciale).

She makes + me + go (+ to school).
(Lei)  Mi + fa + andare (+ a scuola)

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We can keep on going with our first example sentence using the fare causativo if we want to, and use all of the conjugations of fare, depending on who is making us do what!

Let’s see how this works in the table below, with our conjugated verb fare in green and our direct object in red.  If a subject pronoun is used, it is also in green to match the conjugation of fare. Really, once you remember this “Italian formula” it is easy to describe who is making you do something!

      Mi fai piangere. You make me cry.
You are making me cry.
Lui mi fa piangere. He makes me cry.
He is making me cry.
Lei mi fa piangere. She makes me cry.
She is making me cry.
      Mi fate piangere. You all make me cry.
You all are making me cry.
      Mi fanno piangere. They make me cry.
They are making me cry.

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Should we try to use the fare causativo in the past tense?  Why not?  It’s easy!  And our formula works for any Italian tense, by the way!

Check out the table below. Remember the different uses  for the passato prossimo and imperfetto past tenses! For a refresher, check out Chapters 10-14  in our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs” book! 

       Mi hai fatto piangere ieri.
       Mi facevi piangere.
You made me cry yesterday.
You used to make me cry.
Lui mi ha fatto piangere ieri.
Lui mi faceva piangere.
He made me cry yesterday.
He used to make me cry.
Lei mi ha fatto piangere ieri.
Lei mi faceva piangere
She made me cry yesterday.
She used to make me cry.
      Mi  avete fatto piangere ieri.
      Mi  facevate piangere.
You all made me cry yesterday.
You used to make me cry.
      Mi  hanno fatto piangere ieri.
      Mi  facevano piangere.
They made me cry yesterday.
They used to make me cry.

One more important past tense sentence to remember is:

Mi ha fatto piacere vederti                             It’s made me very happy to see you!

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

Now let’s try  to describe what we are making someone else do for us using the fare causativo.  Changing our formula to do this is simple! Now “I” will be the instigator of the action, so we must keep the verb fare in the io form, which is faccio, and change the direct object pronoun to describe who we are making do something!

 

      Ti  faccio piangere. I make you cry.
I am making you cry.
       La faccio piangere. I make her cry.
I am making her cry.
      Vi   faccio piangere. I make you all cry.
I am making you all cry.
      Le   faccio piangere. I make them cry. (all female group)
I am making them cry.

*In English, we conjugate present tense verbs so infrequently that we may not even realize what we are doing! The only ending that changes for a regular present tense verb in English is the third person singular. And in the case of “to make” the only change is to add an “s” at the end of the verb.  That is why we English speakers rely so much on our subject pronouns.  Here are the conjugations for the verb “to make” in English, so you will see what I mean:

I make,  You make, She/He makes, We make, You all make, They make.

I, You, She, He, We, You all, They… are making.

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

Remember how to use the Fare Causativo and I guarantee you will use this formula every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Your Italian Travel Tips – Productive Relaxation, Italian Style in Panicale

Blogging in Italy Panicale in Umbria
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

For May 2019, I am featuring Judy and Len, a retired couple who now live part time in the town of Cortona in the Umbria region of Italy, and write the blog Blogging in Italy.

I was intrigued when I read Judy and Len’s latest blog to see that they had visited a town so small it is not easily found on the map and is definitely off the radar for most tourists. The town is called Panicale, and I had never heard of it before.  I found Panicale on my map of Italy by locating Florence in Tuscany and then heading steadily southward through the towns of  Arezzo and Cortona.  Finally, I crossed into the region of Umbria, where Lago Trasimeno (Lake Trasimeno) came into view. Along the southern fringe of the mountain range that borders Lago Trasimeno, I finally found the town of Panicale, which is the topic of their blog.

The blog “Productive Relaxation Italian Style” is a charming description of how the couple Judy and Len spent a typical day in Italy enjoying the people, food and scenery, and includes many photos of Panicale –  which, as it turns out, is a hidden gem of a town that has a history dating back to the Romans.  Included in the visuals is a beautiful ancient map of the town. Oh – and you will also find the secret of how to grow a hearty crop of your own zucchini this summer, as the couple are avid gardeners.  What better way to spend a part of your day Italian style – even if for now, it is only to read about it?

Judy and Len’s philosophy can be found in this excerpt from their blog “Productive Relaxation, Italian Style”:

In Italy, there is a sight commonly found in smaller towns – men sitting on benches, or standing in small groups, discussing everything from local politics to international sports events. Meanwhile, their wives are shopping, visiting, cooking, cleaning, etc.  What they all have in common is the phrase: Siamo in pensione, or, we are retired. 

We, too, take this retirement thing seriously. Take productive relaxation for example, not an oxymoron but instead an art.

To read the full blog, click on the title: Productive Relaxation Italian Style

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

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! “Let me…” and “Let’s!” Lasciare and Fare

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, it is now April and  I hope my blogs have helped to let you reach your goal so far this year!

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 speak Italian, we will be able to use the causative verb “let” just as we do in our native language! Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 21st 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” start with the phrase
 “Let me…” or “Let’s…”

 If we want someone to let us do something in Italian we must use the verbs Lasciare or Fare

And if we want to encourage someone else to do something, we must use
a verb in the noi command form 

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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Expressing the  English  Causative Verb

“Let”

in Italian Conversation 

The verb “let” is called a “causative verb,” and is one of the three true causative verbs in English, which are: let, have, and make.

English speakers use the verb “let” to direct someone to do something.  In other words, with the verb “let,” the subject of the sentence is relying on or needs someone else to “cause” the action that will take place.

Let’s try some example sentences in English conversation to help us understand this concept before we move on to Italian.  In English, we might say, “Let/Leave me alone!” or “Let me think!”  In a less dramatic situation, we can form a question such as, “Will you let me use the car today?”  or a statement such as, “She let her son drive the car today.”  In each case, the subject is not actually completing the action – someone else is.

The sentence structure in English is simple:

Let + object + verb (+ optional descriptive phrase)

At first glance, it may seem like the Italian verb lasciare would provide a good substitute for the English causative verb let.  And, in many common Italian phrases, lasciare is indeed used as a substitute for “let” to express the ideas of: to permit, to allow, to let go, or to leave. 

Listed below are some common Italian expressions that take lasciare.   You will  notice that when lasciare is used in a causative situation,  the ending is often in the informal command form. The object pronouns (lo = him, la = her) will therefore be attached to the end of the conjugated verb and are shown in red in the table for clarity.  And remember, to command someone not to do something, use the Italian verb in its infinitive form! 

 

Lascialo venire a casa mia oggi! Let him come to my house today!
Non lasciare che la passi liscia! Don’t let him get away with it! (colloquial)
Lascia perdere!

Lascia stare!
Let it go!  Don’t think about it anymore!
Forget about it!

It was nothing! Don’t mention it!
Forget about it!
Lascialo stare! / Lasciala stare! Let him be! / Let her be!
Leave him alone!  / Leave her alone!
Non lasciare andare i tuoi sogni! Don’t let go of your dreams!
Lascia andare tua sorella al cinema!
Mi ha lasciato andare.
Let your sister go to the movies!
He let me go.
Lasciami andare!
Lascia
mi solo(a)! / Lasciami!
Let me go!
Leave me alone! / Leave me!

 

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As a side note, the verbs lasciare (to leave) and  lasciarsi (to leave each other) come into play when we describe a romantic break up between a couple.

L’ha lasciato e ora quella storia (d’amore) è finita. 
She left him and now that (love) story is over.

Below is an example sentence two people might use talk about a couple that has “broken up” or two people who have “left each other” in the Italian way of thinking.

Loro si sono lasciati. They have broken up.

If you are one of the two people in the relationship and want to talk about “breaking up”:

Ci lasciamo stasera. We (will) break up/are breaking up tonight.
Non ci lasciamo, ma… We are not breaking up but..
Ci sono lasciati il mese scorso. We broke up last month.

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Getting back to our original topic…

How else can we express the causative verb “let” in Italian?  As it turns out, there are many other ways!  But to finish this blog, we will focus two of the most common ways …

Command Form Fammi for “Let Me…”

The familiar command form of fare, which is the verb fa, can be combined with the direct object pronoun mi (me) in order to create the English phrase that means, “Let me…” 

When attaching a direct object to the familiar command verb fa, the first letter of the direct object is doubled. This holds true for mi, ti, lo, la, ci, and vi.  So, in order to say, “Let me…” the word to use is “Fammi…”

Perhaps the most commonly heard phrase of this type is Fammi pensare…” for “Let me think…” when someone wants to create a pause in the conversation rather than responding right away. You may remember that this phrase has come up in already in our previous blogs about pensare.  A few more common phrases that use this sentence structure are listed below.  Listen carefully to Italian movies or read Italian books and I am sure you will come up with many other situations to use “Fammi…”

Fammi pensare… Let me think…
Fammi vedere… Let me see… / Let me have a look…
Fammi sapere! Let me know!
Fammi  fare questa cosa!
Fammelo fare!*
Let me make/do this (thing)!
Let me make/do it!

*Note that when combining fammi + lo, the letter i in fammi must change to an e, since we are combining pronouns: mi +lo = me lo.

 

Command Form Noi  for “Let’s”

Now, let’s finish by learning how to say “let’s” or “let us” in Italian.  As it turns out, the easy-to-remember command form for the noi conjugation of Italian verbs is used to express the meaning of “let’s.” The -iamo ending of the command form is identical to the present tense ending, and is an easy ending that even the beginning student of Italian should know!

One of the most commonly heard verbs in Italian-American families is “Andiamo!” for “Let’s go!”  Therefore, when we encourage our family or friends to go somewhere in Italian, we are simply using the command form of the present tense!

So to encourage a group of people to do something simply say,  “Facciamolo!” or “Facciamola!” for “Let’s do it!”   

Or, maybe you would like a group to quiet down and listen to a song on the radio or a show on TV.  You might say, “Ascoltiamo!” for  “Let’s listen!” 

Or, maybe you are not sure something will really happen and you want to say, “Vediamo! for “Let’s see!”

How many more situations can you think of to use the noi command form?

Remember the many ways to say “Let me” and “Let’s” with Lasciare and Fare and I guarantee you will use these phrases  every day!

 

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Your Italian Travel Tips – Weird Italy Laws by Margie for Pesce d’Aprile

Margie Miklas blog Weird Italian Laws
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

For April 2019, I am featuring Margie Miklas, an author and travel blogger who writes the blog Margie in Italy.

When I first read a recent blog of Margie’s entitled “Weird Italian Laws,” I loved the insider’s perspective and touch of humor that she used to describe these unusual Italian laws.  It came to mind that many of these laws were surreal – almost too fantastic to be true!  And yet, they are all still a part of Italian law!

In short, I am posting a blog about unusual laws in Italy on April Fools Day, but this is no April Fool! By the way, Italians celebrate April Fools Day on April 1st, as we do here.  In Italy, the holiday is called, “Il Pesce d’Aprile,” which is a reference to the many jokes that people play on one another involving… fish. (Has anyone experienced this?  Leave a comment below if you have!) The origin of April Fools Day is unknown, but according to Wikipedia may have started with ancient Roman holidays called l’Hilaria or  l’Holi induista, both connected to the spring equinox.

Margie Miklas is also the author of several popular travel books that describe her experiences while traveling in Sicily and Italy.  I truly enjoyed reading her book, My Love Affair with Sicily prior to visiting Sicily for the first time myself.  If you’d like to learn more about her books, visit her Amazon author page.

In her own words, the author says about her books and her blog about Italy:

You’ll read about the good and bad in Italy but always with a special love for the Italian people. This isn’t your typical guide about what to see in Italy. It’s experiential, informative, and hopefully entertaining.

You’ll feel my  my passion and also my frustration at  times about how things are in the Bel Paese. You’ll see my photos, but they won’t be the same ones you’ve seen a hundred times on other sites or in guidebooks. I share a glimpse into the heartbeat of Italy and a sense of its people.

 

To read the full blog, click on the title: Weird Italy Laws

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

Buona Festa della Donna 2019

I’ve re-blogged the original post from 2017 in honor of Womens Day this year.

Our saying is about a truly Italian holiday, the Festa della Donna, which was celebrated on March 8 this year. It is a simple holiday started by Rita Montagnana and Teresa Mattei after World War II (dopoguerra)during which men give the mimosa flower to all the women in their lives as a show of appreciation and love.

The saying below is a tribute to Sicilian women that was written by my favorite, and world-renowned Sicilian author, Andrea Camilleri. His mystery series has been made into the hugely successful BBC television series Inspector Montalbano, segments of which I watch almost every day to keep up on my “local” Italian.

Buona Festa della Donna!

Il 8 di Marzo

Festa della Donna 2017
Buona Festa della Donna! A tribute to Sicilian women from renown Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri.

Featured image photo by Dénes Emőke – London, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15200409

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Pensare (Part 2) What I am thinking about…

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, it is now March and I think my blogs have been helping you so far with your goal this year!

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 speak Italian, we will be able to express what we are thinking about- just as we do in our native language! Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 20th 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” that allow us to describe our thoughts
start with the phrase
 “I think …”

 If we think  about something, in Italian we must say
“I think that …” 

which will lead us to the Italian subjunctive mood.
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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What I Think…

In Italian Conversation 

When an Italian wants to describe what he is thinking about, he  must use the verb pensare, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

Pensare works a bit differently from the “typical” Italian -are verb.

  • When using the verb pensare to express a thought one person or a group has for themselves, pensare must be followed by the prepositions “di” or “a.”
  • “Pensare di” is used when the phrase to follow starts with a verb – which will be in the infinitive form (to see, to start, etc.).
  • “Pensare a” is used when the phrase to follow describes a thought about someone or something.

Sperare + di + infinitive verb
or
Sperare ++ noun or pronoun

So, “I think…” would be ” Io penso di…” or ” Io penso a…” But of course, we leave out the subject pronoun in Italian, so the phrases become:“Penso di…” or “Penso a…”

“We think… “ would be: “Pensiamo di…” or  “Pensiamo a…”

Or, one can just say, “Pensiamo!”  for “Let’s think!” in order to encourage an entire group to think about a certain topic.

Listed in the table below are some every day phrases that use the verb pensare to express what we are thinking about.  Notice that in each of these phrases the subject is expressing a thought he or the group has for themselves.   

Simply memorize the first phrase, “Penso di si,” as it is a common expression that will come in handy when agreeing with people.  For the rest of the phrases below, it will be important to remember that the simple present tense in Italian can have many different meanings in English, such as: “I think,” “I am thinking,” “I do think,” and “I am going to think.” But for the Italian, simply use the phrases, “Penso di…” or “Penso a…”  

In a similar way, when translating the Italian infinitive verb that describes an action you are thinking of, use the English present progressive tense (with the “-ing”ending) to express the same idea.

Try out these sentences by saying them out loud.  Add additional qualifiers at the end of the sentence when using these phrases to describe “when” you think something might occur if you like.  There are, of course, many more “things” one can think about during the course of an ordinary day than we have listed below! How many more can you think of?  

Penso di “si.” I think so.
Pensiamo! Let’s think!
Penso a te.
Penserò a lui per sempre.
(I am) Thinking of you.
I will always think of him.
Penso alla bella macchina rossa  che tu hai ogni giorno. I think of the beautiful red car that you have every day.
Penso di… viaggiare a Roma d’estate.  I am thinking of… traveling to Rome
in the summer.
Pensiamo di… iniziare il progetto domani.  We are thinking of… starting the project tomorrow.

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As you may have noticed from the example sentences above, many different ideas can be linked to a phrase that starts with pensare.  By learning to start phrases properly with pensare, we can build longer and more meaningful sentences in Italian and express complex thoughts. But we are not done yet!  Because…

  • When one uses the verb pensare to express a thought he has regarding someone else or something else, he must follow the verb with the conjunction “che,” which means “that.” In fact, the word “che” can never be left out of an Italian sentence of this type that is used to link  two separate phrases (which is not the case in English).
  •  “Che” will then be followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, which will start the phrase that follows, in order to describe what the subject is thinking about.

Pensare + che + subjunctive present tense verb

Just what is the subjunctive mood?  The subjunctive mood is the type of verb form that Italians use to express a wide range of emotions: hopes (as we have reviewed in Blog #15 of this series , thoughts (as we are discussing now), beliefs, doubts, uncertainty, desire or a feeling.  There is a long list of phrases that trigger the subjunctive mood, and many of these phrases will be the subject of later blogs.

For now, let’s review the commonly used present tense form of the subjunctive mood for the verb essere, which means “to be.” 

Che is included in parentheses in the first column of our table below as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also, make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular verb forms are identical.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che , the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows.

Essere to be – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei
(che) lei/lui
sia you (polite) are
she/he is
     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

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Example Phrases Using “Essere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

The verb essere (to be) is commonly used in the subjunctive mood the when describing what we think about something or someone.

For instance, rather than simply stating a fact, if we are not sure, we may say, “I think…” this or that is true and then we will need to use the subjunctive mood!

Or, let’s say  we went to see a movie, and want to describe what we think about the experience or the actors.  Or, maybe we are talking with a friend and telling them what we think about a mutual friend or acquaintance. Then we must use the subjunctive mood in our sentence!

To follow are some examples of when the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life.  Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense examples and the Italian subjunctive examples used in the sentences below.

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense Phrase with the
Subjunctive Mood
Lei è bella. She is beautiful. Penso che lei sia bella. I think that she is beautiful.
L’insegnante è simpatico. The teacher is nice. Penso che l’insegnante sia simpatico. I think that the teacher is nice.
L’attrice è brava in quel film. The actress is great in that film. Penso che l’attrice sia brava in quel film.

 

I think that the actress is great in that film.
Il film è bello;
ti piacerà.
The film is good;  you will like it. Penso che il film sia bello; ti piacerà.

 

I think that the film is good; you will like it.*
Lei è contenta sulla scelta del vino per cena stasera. She is happy with the choice of wine for dinner tonight. Penso che lei sia contenta sulla scelta del vino per cena stasera.

 

I think that she is happy with the choice of wine for dinner tonight.
Loro sono bravi cantanti. They are wonderful singers. Penso che loro siano bravi cantanti. I think that they are wonderful singers.
“Falstaff” è l’ultima opera che Verdi ha scritto. “Falstaff”  is the last opera that Verdi wrote. Penso che “Falstaff” sia l’ultima opera che Puccini ha scritto.

 

I think that Falstaff is the last opera that Verdi wrote.
Lei è sposata. She is married. Penso che lei sia sposata. I think that she is married.
Loro sono ricchi. They are rich. Penso che loro siano ricchi. I think that they are rich.

Remember how to linkpensareto what you are thinking about and to the Italian subjunctive mood and I guarantee you will use this verb every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Your Italian Travel Tips – Artworks You Don’t Want to Miss in Sicily

Sicily, City of Siracusa

 

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

Ciao a tutti! About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

For February 2019, I am featuring the blogger Rochelle Del Borrello, who lives in Sicily, and who writes the blog Sicily Inside and Out.

So many Italian-Americans are of Sicilian descent, as I am.  But many of us know very little of the treasures that can be found on a visit to Sicily – the largest island in the Mediterranean with a history of art, architecture and culture that dates back to antiquity, even before the island was conquered by the Romans. In particular, Sicily is known for the beautifully preserved ancient ruins in Agrigento, the ancient historical cities of Siracusa and Palermo, the natural wonders of Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands, and dazzling Arab-Norman and Baroque  architecture, with no less than 7 sites in Sicily designated as World Heritage Sites.

This series of two blogs “Artwork You Don’t Want to Miss in Sicily” was published on the website for Italy Magazine, an online publication that features Italian travel, language and culture. The link to the articles in Rochelle’s blog will also introduce you to this Italian gem of a magazine. Thank you, Rochelle, for providing us with a guide to some of the richness that is truly Sicilian.

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

Sicily Inside & Out

Remember to follow my advice on how to avoid Stendhal Syndrome on your next visit to Sicily:

The best way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the beauty of art and history, especially in Sicily where art seems to grow ever more elaborate, is to space out your museum visits.
I have shared my own personal bucket list of artworks you don’t want to miss with Italy Magazine, who has published it on their webpage.

Click on the image below if you’d like to read my suggestions.
sicily art1
Part two in my series of artworks you simply must not miss on your next visit to Sicily has also been published.

Thanks to Italy Magazine for sharing my love of fine art.

Click on the image below if you’d like to read more suggestions.

sicily art 2
Sicily is a must visit place for art lovers, it is filled with priceless works…

View original post 50 more words

Ricotta Cheesecake for your Italian Valentine

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

For all those special people in your life – make a special Italian cake for Valentines Day!

My family’s favorite cheesecake recipe is now online for anyone who’d like to try a light, delicious cheesecake made Italian-style, with ricotta cheese – just as the Romans did way back when they invented this dessert.

I’ve already shared the recipe with my Conversationalitalian followers on Instagram, so if you’d like to see how to make the cheesecake with its special crust step by step, just click here:

View this post on Instagram

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day. Makes a light, crumbly cheesecake, Italian-style, invented by the Romans! Ingredients: Crust: Mix 2 cups flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp. Salt. Cut in 3/4 cup unsalted butter. Add and mix with a fork: 2 large eggs lightly beaten, 3 Tbsps. Brandy, 1 tsp. Grated lemon zest. Spread mixture over bottom of 9” springform pan and bake 8 min at 350 degrees. Make disk of rest and refrig. Filling: Mix together 2 1/2 lbs. good ricotta cheese, 1/2 c sugar, 1 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. Vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon zest, 2 large eggs beaten lightly. Pour filling into partially prebaked crust. Roll out rest of dough to create heart. Bake at 350 1 hour and about 15 min.more. Dust with powdered sugar. Fill in heart with raspberry or other jam. Add fruit. Let cool and then refrig at leat 4 hours before enjoying!………………………….. #cheesecake #italiandesserts #italiandessertsarethebest #italiandessert🇮🇹 #italiandessertcheesecake #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodblogger #valentinedessert #valentinesday2019 #dolcevita #osnap #valentinesdaygift #learnitaliancookng #italiancook #italiancookingclass #cheesecakerecipe #cheesecakes #cheesecakefactory #thecheesecakefactoryathome #valentinesday2019 #valentinedesserts #valentinedessert #valentinedaydessert #valentinedessertcrawl #valentinedessertspecial

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

 

The full method for this recipe is being simultaneously posted on the Learn Italian! blog for my website, www.learntravelitalian.com, where all authentic Italian recipes  for the home cook that I personally use are found.  Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to print off the entire method and enjoy!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

 

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day 

When I was growing up in New York, my mother made a version of light, fresh-tasting cheesecake that my family loved.  After I became older and moved away from home,  I would often order what was called “New York Style” cheesecake in restaurants, hoping for a dessert that that would come close to the memory I had of my mother’s heavenly version.

What I came to realize over the years was that “New York Style” cheesecake is not at all like the cheesecake that my  used to make  while we were living in New York.  I could not understand why the restaurant cheesecake served to me often had an off flavor (can you say artificial ingredients?) and a texture that was heavy, and even gooey or sticky.

Of course, as I discovered when I finally asked my mother for her recipe, the reason the cheesecake I had at home was so different from what I found in restaurants was the type of cheese my mother used.  The ricotta cheese that my  mother would get freshly made from the Italian deli  after church every Sunday yielded a delicious, light, and almost crumbly cheesecake,  gently held together by a few  fresh eggs, flavored lightly with vanilla and given a fresh taste with a bit of lemon zest.  Which is not to say the other, more creamy versions made with cream cheese are not good if made with fresh ingredients.  They are just not Italian ricotta cheesecake!

The Italian crust my mother makes for her ricotta cheesecake also yields another subtle layer of flavor.  The method used to make the Italian version of a smaller fruit “crostata” or “tart” transfers to the thicker cheesecakes made in Italy.  A  “pasta frolla,” or “sweet pastry” crust lines the bottom of the tart and a lattice crust nicely decorates the top of the tart, and a true Italian cheesecake will have a lattice crust!  The crust for this cheesecake is flavored with a bit of lemon zest and brandy, which nicely compliments the taste of the fresh ricotta.

I modified the traditional lattice crust for Valentines Day by cutting an open heart into the top lattice crust.  After  baking the cheesecake, I let it cool a bit and then  I spread some good raspberry jam into the center of the heart for color and a little extra flavor.

My family loved this cheesecake as an early Valentines Day present.  I hope your loved ones will too!  For the recipe, click HERE -Kathryn Occhipinti

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – How to say, “I love you” in Italian!

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
www.learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for http://www.learntravelitalian.com

How do I say, “I love you?” in Italian?  Let me count the ways…

For Valentine’s Day this year, let’s learn how to greet all of  our loved ones warmly by saying, “I love you!” in Italian, using the correct phrases for our one true romantic love and for our family and friends.

For the last 2 years, we’ve been learning that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

Well, what common Italian phrases could be more important to learn than the phrases that mean “I love you”?

This post is the 19th 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” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “I love you…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for those we love – our one true love, our family and our friends.
 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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Amare…

How to say, “I love you!” in Italian 

Let’s learn how to use the verb amare, which means “to love”  in Italian.  But be careful!  Because this is the Italian verb of romantic love! In fact, Italians often address their romantic love simply as “amore,” which is the noun that means “love.”  Italians also address loved ones as “amore mio,” which means “my love.” Beautiful, isn’t it?  The full conjugation of this important verb is given below, with the stressed syllables underlined.

Amare – to love

io amo I love
tu ami you (familiar) love
Lei/lei/lui ama you (polite) she/he loves
     
noi amiamo we love
voi amate you all love
loro amano they love

For our focus on conversational Italian, as usual, the most important conjugations to remember for the verb amare will be the first and second persons – amo and ami. We can use these two verbs when speaking to our “one true love,” to ask about and declare our feelings of love.

This is a bit tricky in Italian, though, since the sentence structure is different from English.  In English, we say, “I love you, putting the direct object pronoun “you” after the verb “love.” But, in Italian, the word order is the opposite. The direct object pronoun for “you,” is “ti” and ti is placed before the verb “love”.  So, “I love you,” is, “Io ti amo,” in Italian.  But, the subject pronoun, is left out as usual, so we come to the simple phrase, “Ti amo.”

To tell someone that you love them in Italian, you must think like an Italian!  In my mind, to keep this all straight, I use the English sentence structure, ” It is you who I love!”

When asking the question, “Do you love me?” in Italian, the sentence structure is the same as the statement, “You love me,” but with a raised voice at the end to signify that this is a question.  In Italian, it is not necessary to say, “Do you…?” the way we do in English when asking a question.  So, the Italian phrase would be, “Tu mi ami?” Leaving out the subject pronoun, we come to, “Mi ami?” for, “Do you love me?”

Let’s summarize:

amare to love in a romantic way
amore / amore mio love / my love
essere innamorato(a) di… to be in love with…
Mi ami? Do you love me?
Ti amo!  I love you!

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After you and your romantic love have announced your love to each other, you may want to describe your feelings to someone else.  Or, you may be talking to your friend about how someone you both know has fallen in love with another.  My favorite Italian phrase to describe this head over heels feeling is, “Ho/Ha perso la testa per…”  “I/he,she has lost their mind for…”

Another expression: essere pazzamente innamorati di…”  – “to be madly in love with…” 

“Sono pazzamente innamorato di lei.” = “I am madly in love with her.”

Or, “amare (qualcuno) alla follia” –  “to love (somebody) to distraction”. 

“Amo lei alla follia.”  = “I love her to distraction.”

Below are different variations of  the first phrase, which is the one I have heard most often,  listed in a table.  Of course, you can substitute a male name for “lui” and a female name for “lei” and use the same verb form. 

Ho perso la testa per lui! I’ve fallen in love with him!
Ho perso la testa per lei! I’ve fallen in love with her!
Lei ha perso la testa per lui! She has fallen in love with him!
Lui ha perso la testa per lei! He has fallen in love with her!

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The phrases we have just discussed for romantic love are very useful. But, we know that in life there is more than just romantic love.  What about our love for family and friends? For places or things?

In America, we seem to “love” everyone and everything – from our spouse to our best friend, our hometown, our favorite movie, a comfortable pair of shoes, pizza… Everyone and everything can be “loved” in America!  But, as an Italian friend once told me. it is best to reserve amare for that one and only, special romantic love.** 

So, how do we tell family and friends that we love them in Italian?

We use the Italian phrasal verb form “volere bene (a qualcuno)” and the expression, “Ti voglio bene,” which really doesn’t translate well into English.  It has been translated as, “I care for you,” or, “I wish you well,” but really, it is the way Italians tell their children, parents, and friends that they love one another.

The phrase, “Ti voglio bene,” is also used frequently between spouses or romantic couples.  In other words, this phrase can also be used to express one’s romantic love for another.  When you watch old Italians movies, listen closely, and you will hear this phrase come up often!

Mi vuoi bene?  Do you love me/care for me?
(for family and friends, and also your true love)
Ti voglio bene.  I love you/care for you/wish you well.

******

Finally, when Italians want to say that they love a place or  thing, they usually use the verb piacere. Visit our blogs Piacere – How Italians Say, “I like it!”and Piacere – How Italians Say, “I liked it!”  to learn how the verb piacere works.

If you can learn to use the verbs amare and volere in these expressions,
you will have really learned to think in Italian!

Remember these phrases, and I hope you can use them every day!

**I have recently seen and heard exceptions to this rule about amare in advertisements: on a billboard in Milan, in an Italian magazine, and on Italian TV, but I still think it safest to be careful when choosing to use the verb amare.

*Some of this material has been reprinted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers books.

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

 Purchase at amazon.com or Learn Travel Italian.com

 

Your Italian Travel Tips – The Seven Secrets of Bologna – True or False?

La Brutta Figura photo of a canal in Bologna
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.”

For January 2019, I am featuring a blogger who lives in the Veneto region, who writes the blog La Brutta Figura (Unlocking Italy).

The author does not share her name with us in her blog, but I immediately took to her personable writing for its honesty and humor about what it is like for a Scottish expat to to live in Italy.  Plus, I love the name she chose for the blog, which translates into something like, “to make a bad impression” and has overtones of the strength and tenacity it took for her to adapt to the Italian way of life. This title is, of course, is the exact opposite of the well-known Italian saying that most Italians desperately strive to live by, which is “fare una bella figura.”

In her own words, the authors say about herself:

Initially this blog was a way of sharing my expat story, which naturally involved daily episodes of ‘la brutta figura’, but as I got to grips with participating in local traditions (mainly alcoholic as we are in the Veneto), began to travel the length and breadth of the boot, and learnt enough Italian to feel really at home in this mad country, I decided instead that I wanted to share these cultural experiences I have and non-touristy places I visit, that come from living in Italy, not just holidaying here… I am a travel writer with an incurable addiction to writing about Italy. It might be one of the easiest countries to be a writer in – Italians live like they’re in poetry, theatre, ballet. Us writers just need to record what we see. I contribute to several publications where I’ve written about a wine festival on Isola del Giglio, about surprising Italian inventions, about how to live la dolce vita, and about the so-called ‘most beautiful room in the world’.

I have never visited Bologna, although I’ve passed through on the train from one larger city to the next many times.  Each time, I vow to return and stay for at least a day or two to enjoy the unique architecture, visit Università di Bologna (founded in 1088 and the oldest continuously operating university in the world) and, of course, sample the rich Italian food with its generous use of butter and cream that has earned her the nickname “La Grassa” (literally “the fat one”) .

After reading this blog, I felt a bit closer to the spirit of the city of Bologna and I am even more intrigued about what I may find there when I finally do get a chance to visit.  I hope you are too!

To read the full blog, click on the title: The Seven Secrets of Bologna: True or False?

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

Italian Pasta and Lentils for Good Luck in 2019!

Italian lentils and pasta
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Italian pasta with lentils is said to bring families around the world good luck for the new year!

This recipe is being simultaneously posted on the Learn Italian! blog for my website, www.learntravelitalian.com, where all authentic Italian recipes  for the home cook that I personally use and have blogged about for the last 3 1/2 years are found.  Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the entire method!

And I would like to wish all my readers:

Buon Anno 2019 – con salute, amore, e prosperità!
Happy New Year 2019 – with health, love, and prosperity
from my family to yours

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck! 

Pasta with lentils or lentil soup is a New Year’s tradition in many Italian households. The  lentil dishes are said to bring to luck to the family on New Year’s Day.  I am not sure if anyone really knows exactly why lentils are supposed to be good luck.  Maybe it is because they are shaped like small coins?

Whatever the reason, pasta and lentils is a hearty and delicious winter combination. Lentils are rich in protein,  and the pasta/lentil combination was probably an important contribution to family nutrition  in the days of the “cucina povera” cooking in Italy. Flavored with a bit of pancetta (Italian peppery bacon), garlic and tomato, the lentils make a delicious sauce that coats the pasta beautifully.

I used “maltagliati” or “poorly cut” pasta for this dish,  which to me is reminiscent of its “cucina povera,” origins but also because  the lentils cling nicely to the short, flat noodles. If you cannot find maltagliati pasta, lasagna noodles broken by hand into small, irregular pieces will give a similar effect.

Buon anno 2019 a tutti!  Try my pasta and lentils dish on a wintry day for a warm and comforting meal.   -Kathyn Occhipinti

For the recipe, click HERE

 

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Piacere: How Italians say, “I like it!”

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases
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 2019? Well, let’s start-off running toward our goal this January by learning how to use the Italian verb piacere to say, “I like it!” in Italian.

The Italian verb piacere will allow us to describe an important part of our feelings – our likes and dislikes.  And, piacere is a very important verb for the traveler to Italy to know because there are so many places and things “to like” in Italy!

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 to form sentences in Italian describing the places and things that we like, we will be on our way to building  own personal vocabulary of “commonly used phrases.”    Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 18th 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” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrase
 “I like …”

 In order to describe what we like in Italian,
we must learn how to use the verb
Piacere

Piacere will also allow us to describe what we don’t like!

See below for how the Italian verb piacere works. Then see how many more ways you can think of to use piacere?

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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How to Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Like It!”

The Italian verb piacere literally means “to be pleasing.” Italians use this verb when they want to express the idea that they like something. It is how Italians say, “I like it!”

It should first be noted that piacere has an irregular conjugation.  Also, because the verb piacere  is most often used to refer to one or many things that we like, it works  differently than the regular Italian verbs that have an -ere ending.  In effect, the subject of the sentence that uses the verb piacere will be the thing or things that are liked, and therefore  the conjugated forms of piacere  that will be used most often are the singular and plural third person. 

The singular third person form of piacere is piace and the plural is piacciono.

So, rather than conjugate the verb piacere in its entirety,  for now we will focus on the two most important conjugations of piacere listed above.  Simple enough! But, the tricky part is actually how to use the verb piacere! First, we will discuss how we approach the topic in English.  Then, read on to see how we must really learn to think in Italian when we use piacere to say, “I like it!”

 

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In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car, and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

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

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

So, if one thing is liked, piace is used.

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

Italians then put one of the indirect object pronouns – mi, ti, Le, le, gli, ci, vi, or glibefore the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, to denote to whom the thing is pleasing

As a refresher, here is the meaning of the indirect object pronouns in this situation:

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

 

Now, lets put this all together!

For our examples below, let’s pretend we are in a store to buy a new dress – either for ourselves or someone we know.  The actual object we like is not important – the only thing that matters is if there is one or many of them.  The grayed out lettering is mixed Italianized-English to help us to understand how the verb piacere works.  

Piace — to be pleasing
Use these phrases if one thing is liked
Mi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to me. I like the dress.
Ti piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dress.
Le piace il vestito.

Gli/Le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

     
Ci piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to us. We like the dress.
Vi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you all. You all like the dress.
Gli piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to them. They like the dress.

 

 

Piacciono — to be pleasing
Use these phrases 
if more than one thing is liked
Mi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dresses.
Le piacciono i vestiti.

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

     
Ci piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to us. We like the dresses.
Vi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you all. You all like the dresses.
Gli piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to them. They like the dresses.

 

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Now that we understand the Italian way of thinking used to describe the things we like, we can use the same method to describe how  much we like what we are doing. 

 Simply follow the indirect object and the verb piacere in the third person singular – piace – with an infinitive verb! Notice that the infinitive Italian verb can be translated two different ways in English. 

Mi piace viaggiare in Italia. I like to travel/traveling to Italy.
Ti piace studiare l’italiano. You like to study/studying Italian.
Gli piace guidare la macchina nuova. He likes to drive/driving the new car.

 

And, to say that we do not like something, or something we are doing, just add “non”  before piace.  Below are our same three example sentences in the negative.

Non mi piace viaggiare in Italia. I don’t like to travel/traveling in Italy.
Non ti piace studiare l’italiano. You don’t like to study/studying Italian.
Non gli piace guidare la macchina nuova. He doesn’t like to drive/driving the new car.

 

Finally, if you really like something, add molto after piace!

Mi piace molto il vestito!  I really like the dress!

Remember how to use the Italian verb piacere, and I guarantee you will use it every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Pensare (Part 1) What I am thinking…

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

The Christmas season is upon us and soon it will be a new year! Have you thought about making a New Year’s resolution to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2019? Well, it is never too late to start to learn Italian, and  I think my blogs can help you with your goal this coming year!

For the last 2 years, we’ve been learning that “commonly used phrases” are the key for how we can all build fluency in any language in a short time.

If we learn how to incorporate “commonly used phrases” when we speak Italian, we will be able to express important thoughts – our own thoughts – just as we do in our native language!  Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 17th 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” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “What I am thinking…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for our everyday experiences:
“I think…”, “It came to mind…”, “I changed my mind…”
   “I’ll take care of it!”

 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.

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

Pensare…

What I Am Thinking in Italian

Many, many Italian expressions use the verb pensare, which is most often translated as “to think”.  You can imagine how this verb will come up often in conversation – with family and close friends, of course, but also with acquaintances.  

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

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

Pensare – to think

io penso I think
tu pensi you (familiar) think
Lei/lei/lui pensa you (polite) she/he thinks
     
noi pensiamo we think
voi pensate you all think
loro pensano they think

 

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Read below for many (but certainly not all) of the phrases that use the verb pensare. These phrases have been put into groups in our table to aid in understanding the different situations in which pensare can be used.

First, some common expressions that use pensare with the meaning of to think are listed below. You will also notice that we’ve included  the phrase “I realized” in one of our expressions.  If you need help understanding this phrase, refer to our blog, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I realized…”

I should also note that the pronouns “ci” and  “ne” are an important component of many of the expressions that use the verb pensare.  These pronouns have been highlighted in red when they are attached to a verb, in order to make them easy to recognize and to separate them from the verb itself.  You may want to brush up on your understanding of how the  pronouns “ci” and “ne”  are used in sentences with the meaning of  “about it” and “of it” in  our Conversational Italian for Travelers text book or “Just the Grammar” book!

Che ne pensi? What do you think about it?
Pensaci bene! Think about it! / Really think it over!
Fammi pensare.
Fammici pensare.
Let me think.
Let me think about it.
Ora che inizio a pensare…
Ora che ho iniziato a pensare…
Now that I start to think…
Now that I’ve started to think…
Ora che ci penso bene…
Ora che ci ho pensato bene…
Now that I really think about it…
Now that I’ve really thought it over…
Che pensi? 
Che stai pensando?!
A cosa stavi pensando?!
Stavo pensando…
Pensandoci, mi sono reso(a) conto di…
What are you thinking?
What are you thinking?!
What were you thinking?!
I was thinking…
Thinking about it, I realized that…
Non serve a niente pensarci adesso. It doesn’t help thinking about it now.
Che ne pensavi?

 

What were you thinking about it?

 

Penso di/che…* I  think that…
Pensavo di/che…* I was thinking that…
Ho pensato di/che…* I thought that…

*How to use “di” and “che” with the verb pensare will be the topic of the another blog!

 

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

Below are some expressions where pensare is directly translated into English with the meaning of  to take care of it.”   The verb itself does not actually mean “to take care of” but rather the expressions as a whole do mean that someone is taking care of something . I call these “idiomatic expressions,” but really these expressions just show the difference that sometimes occurs when one tries to expresses the same idea in English and Italian.

Another interesting thing to know about Italian, is that in order to emphasize who is doing what, or to signify one’s intent to do somethingthe subject pronoun (io, tu, lei/lui, etc…) is placed after the verb!

Here is an example situation for when to invert the usual Italian subject pronoun/verb order. Let’s say I am sitting in a room and having a conversation, eating, playing cards, etc. with a group of people when the doorbell to the house rings. I want to signify that I will get up and go to answer the door.  In this case,  I will say, “Vado io,” to mean, I will be the one to go to answer the door right now.” This concept is expressed a lot more concisely in Italian, isn’t it?

 

Ci penso io. I’ll take care of it. 
Ci pensi tu? Will you take care of it? 
Ci pensavo io.
Ci ho pensato io.
I was taking care of it.
I took care of it.

 


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

Finally, let’s say we want to describe the circumstances around which our thought/thoughts  (pensiero/pensieri)  or idea/ideas (idea/idee) are based.  (Please note that when the English word idea is used in a phrase to mean a “guess” or “impression,” the Italian word, “impressione” is the correct translation.)

For instance, we can talk about how a thought or idea has come to our mind (mente) or into our head (testa) using the verb to come (venire), just as we would in English, and then go on to describe our thought.

Or, perhaps we have been thinking about something and want to talk about why we have changed our mind! It should be noted that Italians express a change of mind differently than an English speaker. To an Italian, the idea (idea) always changes, rather than one’s mind. But to an English speaker, it is the “mind” itself that changes.

If you want to say what you have changed your mind about, just add “su”, which in this case means “about” to the phrase and describe the change!

Mi viene in mente. (It) comes to mind.
Mi vengono in mente, tante cose. Many things came to mind.
Lots of things came to mind.
Ti vengono in testa, certe cose/ certe pensieri. Certain things/ Certain thoughts came into his head.
Mi è venuto in mente. It came to mind.
Cambio idea ogni giorno. I change my mind every day.
Ho cambiato idea su… I’ve changed my mind about…
Hai cambiato idea?  Have you changed your mind?
Ho cambiato idea su… I’ve changed my mind about…

 

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

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

*Some of this material has been reprinted from our Conversational Italian for Travelers books.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic!

 

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

 

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Learn Italian! Blog on the Imperfetto Subjunctive for the Past Tense

Just the Verbs in Conversational Italian for Travelers
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

The Italian subjunctive mood – easy to conjugate but difficult to use!

This  fall, I’ve returned to my blog series about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood or il congiuntivo on my website blog,  blog.learntravelitalian.com.

On this blog I post about the intermediate and advanced Italian that I am currently learning.  For me, writing is the way that I come to a true understanding of how to use the Italian language – which for me is what it means to  learn Italian.

I write, and then one of my Italian instructors and I  discuss, I write, we discuss again, the instructor corrects and new points come to light, I write again… until I am satisfied I have Italian phrases I will use in real life on a particular topic.

I’ve been leaning about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood in daily conversation over the last three years and have found that – contrary to popular belief – the Italian subjunctive mood comes up often!  I find the Italian subjunctive in all written publications, from Italian novels to newspapers to “Oggi” magazine (the “People” magazine of Italy). And anyone who thinks that the Italian subjunctive doesn’t come up in conversational Italian should check their email greetings!

To read my earlier blogs about the Italian subjunctive mood, click here for a summary page on my blog,  blog.learntravelitalian.com.

The blog below is the first in my fall 2018 series about how to use the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense.  Visit the Learn Italian!  blog post from September 10, 2018 to read the entire blog and get started learning how to express yourself more naturally and fluently in Italian – in the past tense!

 

Can you use the imperfetto subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” series will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking in the past tense.

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  imperfetto subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases in the past tense that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the imperfetto subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the first blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!”  —Kathryn Occhipinti

To read the full blog, click HERE.

 

For a reference book on Italian verbs, with an introduction on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, try my Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs book.

Coming in 2019 is an entire book on the Italian subjunctive mood that will cover all the material in my blogs!
Contact: info@learntravelitalian.com for preorders with the promo code: MOOD.

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

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Sperare (Part 2) – What I wish for the holidays…

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

 

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?  Well, the end-of-the year festivities and a new year are just around the corner!  I hope this blog will help you celebrate and bring good wishes to your family and friends.

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 speak Italian, we will be able to express important feelings – like our  good wishes – just as we do in our native language!  We’ve already learned some important new conversational and  email phrases in Italian in our first blog  about the verb sperare.  Today we will expand on what we have already learned and wish a good holiday season and Happy New Year to all! Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 16th 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” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrases
“I hope…” or  “I wish…”

 If we are hopeful for someone else,  in Italian we must say
“I  hope that…” or  “I wish that…

which will lead us to the Italian subjunctive mood.
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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What I Wish…

For the Italian Winter Holiday Season

When an Italian wants to describe a hope or a wish  he has, either for himself or someone else, he  must use the verb sperare, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

Sperare works a bit differently from the “typical” Italian -are verb.  To review what we’ve learned in our last blog about sperare:

  • When using the verb sperare to express a hope or a wish one person or a group has for themselves, sperare must be followed by the preposition “di”.
  • “Di” will often be followed by a verb in the infinitive form (to see, to start, etc.), which will start the phrase that follows to describe the hope or wish.

Sperare + di + infinitive verb

So, “I hope…” or, “I wish…”  would be, ” Io spero di…” But, of course, we leave out the subject pronoun in Italian, so the phrase becomes,  “Spero di…”  “We hope… ” or, “We wish…”  would be, “Speriamo di…”

Or, one can just say, “Speriamo!”  for, “Let’s hope so!” or,  “Let’s wish!” in order to express a hope or wish that is shared  with someone else.

Below are listed important Italian holidays and some common phrases that Italians use to wish each other “happy holidays”.  We will learn how to use the verb sperare for our holiday wishes in the next section.

 

Vigilia di Natale Christmas Eve
Natale  Christmas
Buon Natale!
Buone Feste!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Auguri di buon Natale!  Best wishes for a merry Christmas!
Tanti Auguri!
Auguri!
Best wishes!
Le tradizioni Natalizi
Le luci Natalizie Il biglietto di auguri Natalizi
Regalo di Natale
“Spero di ricevere un buon regalo di Natale dal mio fidanzato quest’anno.”
Christmas traditions
Christmas lightsChristmas greeting card
Christmas gift
“I hope/wish to receive a wonderful Christmas gift from my boyfriend this year.”

 

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!
Epifania

 

Catholic church holiday, which celebrates when “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus.  In Italy, gifts are exchanged on this day.  Italian traditions: a friendly witch, La Befana, brings gifts to children, although Santa Claus is also celebrated.

 

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Now that we are familiar with Italian end-of-the-year holidays and  greetings, lets go on and see how sperare can help us to express our good wishes. A short review is necessary from our previous blog as a reminder that…

  • When one uses the verb sperare to express a hope or a wish he has for someone else or something else, he must follow the verb with the conjunction “che”, which means “that”. In fact, the word “che” can never be left out of an Italian sentence of this type and must be used to link the two phrases!
  •  “Che” will then be followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope or wish.

Sperare + che + subjunctive present tense verb

Just what is the “subjunctive mood”?  The subjunctive mood is the type of verb form that Italians use to express a wide range of emotions, such as hopes and wishes.

In order to express our good wishes for the holidays, we must first review the commonly used present tense form of the subjunctive mood for the verb avere, which means “to have”.

Che is included in parentheses in the first column of our table below as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular verb forms are identical. The stressed syllables have been underlined for you.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che , the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Avereto have – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you have
(che) Lei (che) lei/lui abbia you have
she/he has
     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

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Phrases of Good Wishes Using “Avere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

Example phraes that use avere (to have)  in the subjunctive mood to express good wishes are listed below.  Many of these phrases are a good way to end a conversation before departing a friend’s company.  These phrases are also commonly used to sign off emails to family and friends  in order to express hopes for a good week or weekend.

You will notice that for the phrases in the first column of the list below, the Italian verb passare, which refers to “passing time” or “spending time,” is used.   In English, the verb “to have” is used in these situations, so we must “think in Italian” in order to remember the proper Italian phrase!

Also, notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.

 

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Passa una buona settimana! Have a good week! Spero… che tu abbia una buona settimana. I hope that you have a good week!
Passa un buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! Spero… che tu abbia un buon fine settimana. I hope that you have a good weekend!
Buona giornata.

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

Spero… che tu abbia una buona giornata/buona serata. I hope that you have a good day/evening.

 

Finally, in the last table of examples, we will provide Italian phrases that can be used to express good wishes for the winter holidays! In later blogs, we will discuss the subjunctive endings for passare and fare.  For now, just remember the endings to use in these often-used phrases of good wishes for the holiday season!

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buon Natale!  Merry Christmas! Spero che tu passi
un buon Natale.
Spero che voi passiate
un buon Natale. 
I hope that you have a merry Christmas!

I hope that you all have a merry Christmas!

Buone feste!  Happy holidays! Spero che tu faccia  buone feste!

Spero che  voi  facciate  buone feste!

I hope that you have happy holidays!
I hope that your holidays are happy!I hope that you all have happy holidays!
I hope that your (to a group) holidays are happy!
Buon anno! Happy New Year! Spero che tu abbia
un buon anno!
Spero che voi abbiate
un buon anno!
I hope that you have a happy New Year.

I hope that you all have a happy New Year.

 

Remember these phrases and the Italian subjunctive mood, and I guarantee you will use them to bring good wishes to your family and friends for the holidays and every day!

Buone feste!

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Fra Noi Magazine – Read and become “a little bit” Italian today!

Conversational Italian in Fra Noi 2018
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti!  Fra Noi Magazine, a gorgeous, glossy magazine, featuring Italian-Americans, is the subject of my blog today because…

This already wonderful magazine has just undergone a “make-over”, and the first  “new” edition has just come just out this week!

Fra Noi is the only magazine I receive that I actually wait for with great anticipation each month! It’s pages are filled with interesting interviews about the Italian-Americans who are making a difference in our world today and informative articles about the community here in Chicagoland and in our Italian homeland.

If you want to see for yourself, click on the link for the Fra Noi Magazine November 2018 issue  that Fra Noi has generously provided to promote their magazine this month.

Along with the timely Italian-American news Fra Noi provides, their reviews of music and movies keep me up-to-date, and their travel section features great travel tips and beautiful photographs of a different region and city each month.  I also love to turn to my favorite columnists: Zia Maria, who has a witty Italian saying for every situation, and Mary Ann Esposito,  whose recipes are perfect for the home cook, whether making dinner for her family or a for a special occasion.

I am also honored to report that…

I have been included in the Fra Noi Magazine’s expansion of  coverage for Italian language!  

Fra Noi magazine now features five pages written entirely in Italian!  Check out pages 93-97 in this month’s magazine. This is a wonderful opportunity for those learning Italian to increase their knowledge of the Italian spoken today, while at the same time reading timely and entertaining material about Italy.  The Italian articles feature Italian movies, Italian history,  Italian artists, and Italian sports.

On page 85 of  Fra Noi magazine, I am introduced as a website columnist for Fra Noi. Each month on the Fra Noi website – FraNoi.com Language Tab – I will provide a blog from my popular series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”

 

Take a look at the Fra Noi website, and you will find even more reasons to love this magazine!

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

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

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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! Sperare (Part 1) – What I hope…

Burano in Venice, Italy and Everyday Italian phrases

 

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018? Well, it is now September and I hope my blogs have been helping you so far with your goal this year!

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 speak Italian, we will be able to express important feelings – like our  hopes – just as we do in our native language!  This will help us with our “email Italian” as well.  Read below and you will see what I mean.

This post is the 15th 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” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrase
 “I hope …”

 If we are hopeful for someone else,  in Italian we must say
“I hope that …

which will lead us to the Italian subjunctive mood.
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 I Hope…

In Italian Conversation and Email

When an Italian wants to describe a hope  he has, either for himself or someone else, he  must use the verb sperare, and this is the verb that will be the topic of our blog today.

Sperare works a bit differently from the “typical” Italian -are verb.

  • When using the verb sperare to express a hope one person or a group has for themselves, sperare must be followed by the preposition “di”.
  • “Di” will often be followed by a verb in the infinitive form (to see, to start, etc.), which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope.

Sperare + di + infinitive verb

So, “I hope…” would be ” Io spero di…” But, of course, we leave out the subject pronoun in Italian, so the phrase becomes,  “Spero di…”  “We hope… ” would be, “Speriamo di…”


Or, one can just say, “Speriamo!”  for, “Let’s hope so!” in order to express a hope that is shared  with someone else.

Below are some every day phrases that use the verbs sperare to express a hope for something we would like to see happen.  Notice how the subject  is expressing the hope he or the group has for themselves with the sentence structure provided below.  You can add on additional qualifiers at the end of the sentence to describe “when” you hope something might occur.

There are, of course, many more things one can hope for during the course of an ordinary day! How many more can you think of?  

Spero di “si.” I hope so.
Speriamo! Let’s hope so.
Spero di … vederti di nuovo presto. I hope… to see you again soon.
Lei spera di… viaggiare a Roma d’estate.  She hopes… to travel to Rome
in the summer.
Speriamo di… iniziare il progetto domani.  We hope… to start the project tomorrow.
Spero di… andare a trovare* mia nonna quando ho un giorno libero. I hope… to visit my grandmother
when I have a day free.

*andare a trovare = to visit a person you know 
visitare= to visit a place

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You’ve probably already noticed that our example sentences for the verb sperare can become fairly long and express complex ideas. By connecting phrases we can learn build more meaningful sentences in Italian!  But we are not done yet!  Because…

  • When one uses the verb sperare to express a hope he has for someone else or something else, he must follow the verb with the conjunction “che” which means “that”. In fact, the word “che” can never be left out of an Italian sentence of this type and must be used to link the two phrases!
  •  “Che” will then be followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, which will start the phrase that follows to describe this hope.

Sperare + che + subjunctive present tense verb

Just what is the “subjunctive mood”?  The subjunctive mood is the type of verb form that Italians use to express a wide range of emotions: hopes (as we have just seen), thoughts, beliefs, doubts, uncertainty, desire or a feeling.  There is a long list of phrases that trigger the subjunctive mood, and many of these phrases will be the subject of later blogs.

For now, let’s review the commonly used present tense form of the subjunctive mood for the verb stare, which means “to stay” but is used with the meaning of “to be” in situations regarding one’s health.

Che is included in parentheses in the first column of our table below as a reminder that these verb forms are typically introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular verb forms are identical.  The stressed syllables have been underlined for you.

Practice the subjunctive verbs out loud by saying che, the subject  pronoun and then the correct verb form that follows!

Stareto stay (to be) – Present Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stia I stay (am)
(che) tu stia you (familiar) stay (are)
(che) Lei(che) lei/lui stia you (polite) stay (are)
she/he stays (is)
     
(che) noi stiamo we stay (are)
(che) voi stiate you all stay (are)
(che) loro stiano they stay (are)

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Example Phrases Using “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mood

Sentences using stare (to stay/to be) in the subjunctive mood come up very commonly in this modern life in conversation, and especially in email.  In this era of technology, it seems like not a day goes by without an email being sent and received. The old formalities of opening and closing a letter have returned!

After the greeting in an email, especially if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with friends and family. Here is a case for the subjunctive!

To follow are some examples when the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Tu stai bene. You (familiar) are well. Spero… che tu stia bene. I hope… that you (familiar) are well.
Lei sta bene. You (polite) are well.
She is well.
Spero… che Lei/lei stia
bene.
I hope… that you (polite) are well.
I hope that she is well.
Lui sta bene. He is well. Spero… che lui stia bene. I hope… that he is well.
La famiglia sta bene. The family is well. Spero… che la tua famiglia* stia bene. I hope… that the family* is well.
Tutti stanno bene. Everyone/body
is well.
Spero… che tutti stiano bene.  I hope… that everyone/everybody is well.

*Famiglia = family and is a collective noun and takes the third person singular.

Remember these phrases and the Italian subjunctive mood, and I guarantee you will use them every day!

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Ferragosto – Italian Holiday Time

Ferragosto in Italy, on Lido Beach in Venice, Italy

 

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

August means Ferragosto in Italy and Ferragosto means a much-anticipated family vacation on the beaches or in the mountains.

My introduction to Ferragosto was in 2013, when I stayed with my cousin who was living in Vicenza, a small town west of Venice.  The town had an eerie feeling, as most of the shops were closed and the hoards of tourists I had become used to encountering  during the summer months in Italy were nowhere to be found.  Some of the locals frequented the two coffee shops, which remained open.  But, most restaurants and non-essential shops in their small piazza were closed.  I could only take my cousin and his family to dinner right before I left, at the end of August, when their favorite restaurant had finally re-opened.

If you’ve never heard of Ferragosto, read on to learn more about this ancient Roman holiday and why it is still celebrated  in Italy today, with anticipation and excitement for Italian families that is second only to that found during the Christmas season.

The following blog was just published on the Learn Italian! blog on August  12, 2018 for Stella Lucente, LLC and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to read the entire blog!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever been in Italy during the Ferragosto holiday!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

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

 

Ferragosto – just what is this ancient holiday that still becomes the focus of every Italian during August? While Italy is known as a destination for world travelers seeking to enjoy the Italian landscape, art and food, it is less well-known how Italians enjoy their summertime vacation.

In our story, Caterina, an Italian-American girl,  is a guest in Milan at the house of her Italian cousin Pietro and his wife Francesca.  She arrives in Italy just before the start of the important Italian summer holiday called “Ferragosto”.  The holiday is officially one day – August 15 – and is a holiday celebrated by the Catholic church.  But, most Italians take off at least a week and often two or even three weeks, as people in the cities and even smaller towns escape from the to summer heat to the mountains or beach to enjoy time with their families.

If you want to feel like an insider during the Ferragosto holiday this year, first click on the link from Conversational Italian for Travelers  – Chapter 14 – “On the Beach at Last.”  Listen to the free audio of a the conversation between Caterina and a new friend who meet on the beach during her family’s Ferragosto holiday.

Then, read the Cultural Note below, adapted from the  same textbook also found on Amazon.com, “Conversational Italian for Travelers,”  which describes the history of Ferragosto – how the holiday came to be during Roman times and the different celebrations that take place  around Italy today.  —Kathryn Occhipinti 

To read the Cultural Note about Ferragosto, CLICK HERE 

 

 

How to talk about the Weather in Italian

Florence, Italy the Piazza Signoria
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Do you know how to talk about the weather in Italian? 

Whether making small talk with someone I’ve just met, or conversing with a friend or family member, I find that knowing a little bit about how to describe the weather in Italian is very useful.  And, now that the (usually) sun-filled days of summer are here, I’m betting that we all are spending more time than usual talking about the weather.

In a blog from last month, Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How’s the Weather? Fare (Part 3), we learned how to make general statements about if the weather is “good” or “bad” in the present and past tense.

But, what if we want to be more descriptive?  In this blog, I list some simple conversational Italian phrases that we can use to describe actual weather conditions. The simple present tense is used in Italian to refer to the near future, when we in English need to insert the word “will” before our action verb.  So, the present tense examples that I give in Italian can be used to talk about the weather of the day and to make plans for the immediate future!

Talking about how the weather has been in Italian to describe our day is a bit more tricky, so I’ve listed the identical phrases about the weather in the past tense as well.

Most of the examples in this blog are from my reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers, Just the Grammar, found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

How to Talk about the Weather in Italian

Common expressions to describe the weather are given below.  In Italian, the weather conditions are described in the third person singular, with the reference to “it” left out, as usual.  Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weathertempo.

il tempo the weather

 

piovere to rain
Piove. (It) is raining. / It rains.
Viene a piovere. (It) is going to rain.
(lit. Here comes the rain.)

 

tirare  to cast / to throw
Tira vento. (It) is windy.
C’è sole. It is sunny.
(lit. There is sun.)
C’è nebbia. It is foggy.
(lit. There is fog.)
È nuvoloso. It is cloudy.
È sereno. It is clear.
È umido. It is humid.
L’umidità è molto alta oggi. The humidity is very high today.
L’umidità è molto bassa oggi. The humidity is very low today.

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Common expressions that describe the weather in the past tense use both the imperfetto as well as the passato prossimo.

(Note: Detailed explanations that describe when it is appropriate to use these past tenses in general situations can be found in our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook  and reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers, Just the Verbs.)

When using the passato prossimo, the verbs piovere, nevicare, and tirare can be conjugated using either avere or essere, as in:

Ieri ha piovuto per due ore.         Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

            or

Ieri è piovuto per due ore.          Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

The expressions we have already encountered in the first part of this blog are given below again, this time in the imperfetto in the first column and in the passato prossimo in the second column.

Notice the different meanings for each type of past tense.

The words gia (already) and appena (just) are commonly used with the passato prossimo to give additional information.

 

Pioveva.
It was raining.
Ha già piovuto.
It already rained.
Nevicava.
It was snowing.
Ha appena nevicato.
It has just snowed.
Tirava vento.
It was windy.
Ha tirato vento tutto il giorno.
It was windy all day.
C’era sole. It was sunny.
C’era nebbia. It was foggy.
Era nuvoloso. It was cloudy.         
Era sereno. It was clear.
Era umido. It was humid.
L’umidità è stato molto alta oggi. The humidity was very high today.
L’umidità è stato bassa oggi. The humidity was very low today.

Can you think of more phrases to talk about the weather in Italian?
Please reply. I’d love to hear from you!
Or join our Conversational Italian! group discussion on Facebook.

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

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

 

Conversational Italian Books – Review and July 4th Giveaway!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Books
Learn Conversational Italian books 2017
Conversational Italian for Travelers books exhibited by author Kathryn Occhipinti at the NIAF Gala Weekend in 2017

Update August 2019: The Conversational Italian.com website has been disabled for now.  All interactive dialogues and blogs from Stella Lucente, LLC can be found on LearnTravelItalian.com.


 

Grazie mille Aeine from Italian for Self Study for reviewing all three of my “Conversational Italian for Travelers” books!

Read all about what Aeine has to say about how to use my  “Conversational Italian for Travelers” reference books “Just the Verbs” and “Just the Grammar” along  with my pocket books of Italian phrases, “Just the Important Phrases”

…with a redesigned cover for “Just the Important Phrases for 2019, shown below:

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

found on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com, and now also on  Learn Conversational Italian.com.

(The rights to purchase the Conversational Italian for Travelers books in PDF format can also be obtained on my websites.)

Then, if you want to get started, LISTEN to the FREE  audio of the story about Caterina, the American girl who travels to Italy (played by me, of course) when she goes to visit her Italian family (each role played by native Italian speakers).

Each chapter of my books is built around the Italian spoken in these dialogues, which are available for FREE on my NEW website: Learn Conversational Italian.com.

When you open the homepage to  Learn Conversational Italian.com , you will find all of my blogs to learn both beginning and intermediate Italian (including the subjunctive mode).

When you click on the maroon Audio Tab on the homepage, the drop down bar will bring you to a green tab that reads:  Online Interactive Conversational Italian Dialogue .

The green tab  will take you to a page that lists Chapters 1 – 18 of my dialogues. From “At the Airport” to “At the Hotel and Restaurant.” Simply  click on the chapter you want to listen to and get started!  For a print out version of each dialogue, click on the “PDF” link on the top right hand corner.  It’s that easy.

And, of course, here is the link to my review! Click on the link and fill out a simple form to be entered in a drawing for a free pocket phrase book.  Good Luck! Conversational Italian Review and Giveaway by Aein Hope June 26, 2018,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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Fare (Part 3):

What is the Weather Doing ?

(English: How is the Weather?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Fa bellissimo.

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 And our answers, depending on the situation…

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

 

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

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

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

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

archeologia

=

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

 

 

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

musica = music
politica = politics
repubblica = republic

                                    

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orna comments about why she wrote this blog:

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

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

 

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

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

Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

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

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

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

View original post 713 more words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fare…

Going Shopping in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are tables that summarize the above discussion.

 

Grocery Shopping

fare la spesa to do the grocery shopping

to do some grocery shopping

 

General Shopping

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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


Stay tuned for even more blog posts on this topic!