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

Burano in Venice, Italy

 

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2018?  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!
Il biglietto di auguri Natalizi
Regalo di Natale
“Spero di ricevere un buon regalo di Natale dal mio fidanzato quest’anno.”
Christmas 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 one of the only magazines 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!

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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

 

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

Visiting Galleria Borghese

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

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring one of my favorite bloggers and her unique insights about Rome.

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.” The post for September was written by Cristina,  who writes the blog “Un po’ di pepe~”
in which she shares with us amazing photos of the Galleria Borghese, one of the lesser known museums in Italy, but in my mind a “must see” place for the visitor to Rome.

 

In her own words, Cristina says about herself and her blog:

My name is Cristina and I’m passionate about art and Italian culture. I was born in Orsara di Puglia, Italy, and immigrated to Canada with my parents when I was a young child. I love spending time in Italy, including Orsara, every year. In this blog, you will find all the things I like…..art, art history, Italian travel, history, traditions, folklore, food and language….along with my photos and images.

The name ‘Un po’ di pepe’ means ‘a bit of pepper’….because everything can use some spicing up! Iniziamo l’avventura! / Let’s start the adventure!

Cristina gives precise directions how to get to the Galleria Borghese, which feature my favorite piazza in Rome, itself worth the walk to see: the Piazza del Poplolo, the northern gateway to Rome, with its identical churches.  I should mention also that the shopping just south of this piazza is incredible – local fashion designers that even make their own fabrics are still alive and well in Rome! I never leave Rome without a visit to this piazza and my favorite shops.  So enjoy the spectacular images of the Galleria now and save Cristina’s directions to a fabulous part of Rome for later.

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.

Un po' di pepe

La Galleria Borghese was an opulent 17thCentury suburban home of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V.  It was also home to his amazing personal art collection.  In 1808, Prince Camillo Borghese was forced to sell the Roman sculpture and antiquities collection to his brother in law Napoleon, for below what it was worth. 340 or so pieces, including the Borghese Gladiator from Ephesus are now in the Borghese collection at the Musée du Louvre.  The Borghese estate in Roma was sold to the Italian government in 1902 and turned into a museum and urban park.

Even though I go to Roma every year, I had yet to visit la Galleria Borghese. It requires booking tickets in advance, which is something I really do not like doing.  Prebooking interferes with my spontaneity!  I tried to book online 2 and 3 years ago when I had a longer time in Roma, but kept getting…

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One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken alla Cacciatore

 

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

Chicken cacciatore in my house is a summertime dish.  Summertime months lead to fresh vegetables in an Italian garden – especially fresh tomatoes and peppers, -which make a perfect accompaniment for chicken. And yes, here in the Midwest we also have fresh green beans, which are not traditional, but can be added as well.

The method I developed for a light chicken cacciatore was originally posted on May 23, 2018 on the Learn Italian! blog for Stella Lucente, LLC  and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the entire method!

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this recipe, or if you have another way to make this famous dish!

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

The recipe title, “One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore,” refers to a type of meat stew made in Italy, presumably when a hunter would bring home a fresh catch. Or possibly, the hunter himself would make this stew with the one pot he had on hand while out in the forest. Exactly where the title comes from is no longer known, and many delicious variations of chicken stew are called “alla cacciatore”—meaning “as a hunter would make”—in Italy today.

For our Italian chicken cacciatore recipe, a whole cut chicken is cooked in one large skillet, using olive oil and fresh summer tomatoes and peppers. Although this dish started out “back in the day” as a stew (in cooking terms, a fricassee), I’ve omitted the flour to make less of a gravy and instead a light, fresh “sauce.” By taking the chicken out of the pot after browning and then putting it back in to finish cooking, the amount of chicken fat in the dish is reduced. I like mushrooms, which I often add to the dish as well.

Hearty, crusty Italian bread makes a perfect accompaniment to Italian chicken cacciatore, although I have to admit that my family does not follow the proper Italian food “rules” when it comes to this dish. If you’ve been to Italy, you know them: the first course (il primo) is pasta, risotto, or gnocchi, and the second course (il secondo) is the meat—all by itself in a sauce or gravy. Fresh vegetables are abundant in Italy, but in Italian restaurants, they must be ordered as a side dish (contorno) during the second course.

Like good Italian-Americans, we eat our chicken with the pasta on the side and cover both in sauce. Add Parmesan cheese if you like, but only to the pasta! I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does.   —Kathryn Occhipinti  

Click here for the recipe!

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 

 

 

Your Italian Travel Tips… Gone But Not Lost: The Bridges of Florence during World War II

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

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring one of my favorite bloggers and her unique insights about Florence.

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.” The post for August was written by Stacy di Anna Pollard,  who writes the blog Prayers and Piazzas, in which she shares her love of  Italy and the Italian language.

I was thrilled to return from my visit to Florence this past July to find that Stacy had just posted a blog about the history of the bridges of Florence.  So many visitors to Italy have walked across, photographed, and enjoyed the beauty of the bridges that cross the Arno River – as I was privileged to do again recently.  But until I read this article, I did not appreciate the sacrifices the Florentine people have undergone so we could enjoy their city today.  Luckily for us, Stacy loves to share her research!

In her own words, Stacy says about herself:

Wife, mom, friend, blogger, reader, Italiana-Americana, introvert. Here I write about the most important things in my life: my family (“prayers”) and my love of Italy and Italian (“piazzas”). I also enjoy writing about gratitude, joy, books and travel. Blogging from America with Italy on my heart. – Prayers and Piazzas: link to the site: http://www.prayersandpiazzas.com

 

In the post to follow, Stacy describes how most of the bridges and much of the city of Florence was destroyed during World War II.  Read on to find out how the city’s most famous bridge – the Ponte Vecchio – was saved so that our generation and future generations will always be able to wonder at its glory!

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.

Prayers and Piazzas

By late July of 1944, Allied forces were very close to liberating Florence from the Nazis, who had occupied the city for the past year.

“The Allied forces are advancing on Florence,” warned thousands of leaflets dropped by American planes. “The city’s liberation is at hand. Citizens of Florence, you must unite to preserve your city and to defeat our common enemies… Prevent the enemy from detonating mines which they may have placed under bridges…” ¹

But different directives were coming from the German high command to the citizens of Florence. On July 29, 1944, residents along the Arno — around 150,000 people — were warned to leave their homes by noon the next day. Ultimately, the whole area was blocked off, with German paratroops standing guard at various posts.

On August 3, another warning was issued from the German high command: Beginning from this moment, it is prohibited for…

View original post 1,207 more words

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

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”

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
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
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.

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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


Stay tuned for even more blog posts on this topic!

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

analizzare = analyze
organizzare = organize
simpatizzare = sympathize

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fare…

What I Am Doing in Italian

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

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

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

Fare – to do/to make 

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

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

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

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

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

*From the Italian la fotografia.

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

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

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

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Grammar Note: Cognates

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      **********************

La Festa di San Giuseppe

Il 19 di Marzo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Traditional Sfinge di Ricotta from Sicily

 

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

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

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

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

Ingredienti*: 

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

Instructions

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

Let stand for about 20 minutes.

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

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

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

Sprinkle them with sugar and serve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Happening?

in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Va tutto bene.

Everything is all right.

Everything is going well.
Everything is fine.

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italian Festa della Donna and International Women’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

La Festa della Donna

Il 8 di Marzo

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

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

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

From the cook:

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

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

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

How to talk about relationships and love… in Italian!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Talking About Italian Relationships and Love

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I realized…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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What I Realized…

in Italian

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

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

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

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

—-or—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italy Travel Tip: Italian in My Pocket

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

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

Available on   Amazon.com
and www.LearnTravelItalian.com

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

 

From Victoria De Maio:

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

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

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti)

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

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

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

♦ ♦ ♦

Take “Conversational Italian for Travelers” and

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

 

Piacere: How Italians Say “I Liked It!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Liked It!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Gli/le è piaciuto l’automobile.

The necklace was pleasing to you. (pol.)

The car was pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklace.

He/she liked the car.

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

 

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

 

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

Gli/le sono piaciuti gli automobili.

The necklaces were pleasing to you. (pol.)

The cars were pleasing to him/her.

You liked the necklaces.

He/she liked the cars.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Learn Italian Cognates—More Italian/English Best Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 


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

 

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

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

Buon Anno Nuovo 2018!

Florence Italy's Ponte Vecchio

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

Auguri di un Felice e Prosperoso

Anno Nuovo!

Best Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Il Primo di Gennaio

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

Buon Natale! Merry Christmas in Italian!

Presepio - Italian Nativity Scene

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

Buon Natale!

Merry Christmas!

Il 24 di Dicembre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post is the 9th  in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try!  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I hear… and… What I heard

this Christmas – in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

What I smell… and… The scents of

this Christmas – in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Just the Grammar from Conversational Italian for Travelers

Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Cuccidati – My Family’s Christmas Cookie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cuccidati: Traditional Sicilian Christmas Cookies 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the recipe and method to make cuccidati.

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

Learn Italian Cognates – Italian/English Best Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Grammar Note: Cognates

Italian Nouns Ending in -tà

Some Italian -ire Verbs

 

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

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

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

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

finire  = to finish
punire  = to punish

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

 

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

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

 

Buon Fine Settimana con Proverbio!

Italian Proverb 

Il 18 di Novembre 2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post is the 8th in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on in this blog for everyone to try!  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t feel well …

in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

(Lei/Lui) Si sente male?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! How I Feel…

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

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

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

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

This post is the 7th in a series that originates in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. Our group has had a chance to use these phrases.  Now I am posting them on this blog for everyone to try!  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Feel …

in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adjectives of Personality – Postive

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

bella

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

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

 

Adjectives of Personality – Negative

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Discovering Pesto alla Genovese

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pesto alla Genovese Meets American Aquaponic Farming in Chicago

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

Diary of my first experiences making pesto…

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

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

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

Pesto success at last?

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

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

When in Rome… Your Italian Travel Tips

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! What I Know…

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

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

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

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

This post is the 6th in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

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


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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Know …

in Italian

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

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Sapere:  So, Sai, Sa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…(do) you know where the… is?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Italians Know – “Sapere” vs. “Conoscere”

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com.

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

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

To Know in Italian – 

Sapere vs. Conoscere

 

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

Sapereto know (a fact)

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

lei/lui

sa you (polite) know

she/he knows

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

 

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

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

 

Conoscereto know (be acquainted with)

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

lei/lui

conosce you (polite) know

she/he knows

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Here are some additional examples of when to use conoscere:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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

Italian Soccer, Anyone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calcio = Soccer or Italian Football

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

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

Sicilian granita and brioche

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

via 8 Hot Weather Treats Italians Love — Timeless Italy

Learn Italian Expressions: Allora?

Italy, Stresa Promenade on Lago Maggiore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(A Few) Italian Expressions for Fun and Travel 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

This post is the fifth in a series that will originate in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group. After our group has had a chance to use these phrases, I will post them on this blog for everyone to try.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!  just click HERE.

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

in Italian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some expressions to get you started.

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

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

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

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

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

Conversational Italian for Travelers Books, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These groups are again listed for review.

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

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

—Kathryn Occhipinti

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

All About Italian Movies and… Love

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

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

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

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

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love 

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

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

 

Speak Italian: About Italian Movies and Love

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

 

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

 

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

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

Italian Appetizers, Anyone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antipasto

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

 

Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

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

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: Book Review

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn for Learntravelitalian.com

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

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

 

margieinitaly

Photoby Kathy Occhipinti

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

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

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

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

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Mom’s Italian Meatballs – are the Best!

Tomato sauce with Italian Meatballs
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Last month, I attended an event organized by Salvatore Sciacca,  executive Director of the Chicagoland Italian American Professionals (CIAP). The event was called  The First Annual Meatball Fest.

As I mention in my latest blog I recently posted on my sister  blog for Italian language and culture, Learn Travel Italian, the CIAP group features Italian-American “cooking competition” events several times a year, and I have to say, they are always a delicious and  entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my family.

Click on the link to visit the recent Learn Travel Italian blog post from October 10, 2018, to read all about my experiences making my family’s meatballs and how that day sparked my interest in learning more about this traditional Italian food. Learn (probably) more than you’ve ever wanted to know about the history of Italian meatballs, making Italian meatballs, and my favorite cookbook, Ada Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking.

 

Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs

When I was invited to be one of the home cooks for this fall’s event,  The First Annual Meatball Fest,  I quickly checked my calendar, noted I was available, and signed up for another Sunday afternoon of Italian-American food and fun.

I had learned  my family recipe for Italian meatballs from my Sicilian-American mother and grandmother long ago, and have been preparing meatballs  for my own family for Italian Sunday dinners for about 20 years now.  I was happy to share my family’s recipe with other families at the event, and also looking forward to tasting what the other home cooks had to offer.

Growing up in an Italian-American household as I did, I really did not have to  do anything special to prepare for the  Italian meatball event held by the CIAP group – at least, I thought I didn’t have to do anything special !  

As it turned out, though, after hearing the other home cooks talk about their method for making meatballs,  I came home curious about the origins of this very common Italian-American dish and ended up doing a bit of research after the event! Click HERE to read more…

Visit my newly UPDATED and REDESIGNED website, www.learntravelitalian.com for more of my Italian and Italian-American recipes, cultural notes and  advanced Italian language blog posts updated monthly. 

Your Italian Travel Tips – Grotta del Vento in Bagni di Lucca, Italy

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

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring a blogger who lives in a little known area of small towns nestled in the mountains of northern of Tuscany called  “Bagni di Lucca”.

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.” The post for October was written by Debra Kolkka,  who writes the blog “Bella Bagni di Lucca.”

Although no longer a tourist “hot spot,” the area of Bagni di Lucca has been known for its thermal springs since the Etruscan and Roman times according to Debra.  The name means, “Baths of Lucca,” and it  was known as oasis for the super-rich since Countess Matilda had a bridge built to the region in 1101 and especially in the early 1800’s, when Napoleon’s sister Elisa Baciocchi, princess of Lucca at the time, had a road built into the region and spent summers there.

I have to say it is well worth a visit to her blog just to take a look at the photos  of these quintessentially picturesque towns set along the Lima River in the crevices of the lush, green Alps of northern Tuscany.  I can’t resist adding a link to her photos here.

In her own words, Debra says about herself:

I am an Australian who spends half of the year in Bagni di Lucca. I started the blog to share our lovely village with the world. Bagni di Lucca is a collection of about 25 villages dotted along the Lima and  in the mountains on either side. I have visited all of them and you can find a list of the villages and posts about them in “The Villages”.

In the post to follow, Debra describes a tour  of the Grotta del Vento, a wind cave (read on to find out just what this is, as I did!) in the Apuan Alps  in northern Tuscany, about 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca.  How’s that for an interesting Italian adventure tell your friends about the next time you visit Tuscany!

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.

Bella Bagni di Lucca

The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.

It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees…

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