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

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

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

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

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

This post is the 17th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”  just click HERE.

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

The basics of the Italian language are introduced in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books Just the Verbs and Just the Grammar  

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

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

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Pensare…

What I Am Thinking in Italian

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

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

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

Pensare – to think

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

 

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

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

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

Che ne pensi?

 

What do you think about it?

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic!

 

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

 

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Your Italian Travel Tips – Christmas Guide for Northern Italy from “Rossi Writes”

Italy Christmas 2018
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

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

For November, I am featuring a blogger who lives in Vicenza Italy, whose name is Rossi, from the blog, Rossi Writes.  She has so kindly created a list of wonderful things to do in Northern Italy during the Christmas season in Italy under the title: “Christmas Guide 2018 for Northern Italy – The Complete List of Christmas Markets, Events and Happenings.”

Visiting Italy during Christmas time has been on my bucket list for years.  I always go during the spring or summer, and yet from the photos I’ve seen, Italy is just as magical – or maybe even more so – during the Christmas season, with towns sparkling with lights and shops and churches decked out in their special holiday displays.  When I read Rossi’s list of holiday concerts and events, I can almost feel the mounting excitement of the Christmas season.

In her own words, Rossi says about herself:

Hello! I am Rossi – a Bulgarian currently living in Italy after a 14-year stint in England. This is my blog about my life in these three countries, travels around Europe and opinions about the world we live in.

My blog Rossi Writes was started in November 2014 and currently has over 350 articles on several topics: from what to do and how to settle in Vicenza, in particular, and Italy, in general, to travel diaries and personal thoughts on a variety of themes – expat life, food, travelling with a baby/toddler, dealing with life as it is to name but a few.

I hope some of you get to visit Italy during this Christmas season.  And, if you go to Northern Italy, hopefully you can experience the sights and sounds graciously listed in Rossi’s blog for us all to enjoy.

To read the full blog, click on the title: Christmas Guide 2018 for Northern Italy from Rossi Writes

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.

Turkey Soup Recipe for your Italian-American Thanksgiving

Conversational Italian turkey noodle soup
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Turkey soup for Thanksgiving is a family tradition that I started several years ago when my children were young and still living at home.

As I describe in the blog to follow, it was almost an accidental occurrence – instead of “wasting” the left over turkey bones by throwing them into the garbage, I “threw” them into a large stock pot, and created the “Turkey soup” that my family asks for every year.

Since my turkey soup recipe is to be made after Thanksgiving dinner, when the home cook is usually exhausted, it has to be easy, and it is! I have broken up the recipe into two days, but it can easily be completed the same day.  Also, a big batch of turkey soup gives your family something warm and nourishing that they can reheat themselves for the rest of the weekend.

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

And I would like to wish all my readers a “Happy Thanksgiving”
from my family to yours!

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

For a summary of my blogs on all sites, visit my website,
Learn ConversationalItalian

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

 

What makes my Thanksgiving turkey soup Italian, you ask?  Well, maybe it  actually is an American soup – since turkey is the quintessentially American bird – but made with an Italian touch!  Let me explain.

Of course, here in America it is not Thanksgiving without turkey.  And, the Italian cook hosting Thanksgiving dinner will not want anyone to miss out on their fair share (read enormous share) of turkey.  Which means a large turkey for every family size.  Which means the best part of Thanksgiving – leftovers!

Working under the Italian traditions that demand: (1) no food be wasted and (2) all left overs be transformed into a new and delicious dish,  one Thanksgiving evening I decided that it would be a waste to throw out the left over turkey bones with all the small bits of meat still clinging to them.  Instead of putting the turkey carcass into the garbage, I broke it up a bit and  put it  into my large stock pot.  Then I added a few coarsely chopped vegetables, left over fresh parsley, covered all with water and let the pot simmer on the stove top.

When my 6 year old daughter came down from her room on the second floor of the house and made her way back into the kitchen to ask why I was still cooking and what is was that smelled so good, I knew I had a hit! She insisted on having some of the soup that very night.

I have had a  standing request  from my family to make Thanksgiving turkey soup every year since that time.  The slightly sweet, mild flavor of the roasted turkey comes out beautifully with the long cooking that a soup requires.  And, with virtually no effort on my part, the family has a warm, easy meal to heat up themselves for the rest of the weekend.

For the quintessential “Italian” contribution to the soup, add a box of pappardelle noodles or small soup pasta in your favorite shape  to make your Thanksgiving turkey soup complete!

I have broken up the steps to make my Thanksgiving turkey soup into two separate days, but once the family smells the broth simmering on the stove, they may want you to finish the soup for a light evening meal  that very same night!
—Kathryn Occhipinti

For the recipe, click HERE

 

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”

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)

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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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.

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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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