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

Sicily, City of Siracusa

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View original post 50 more words

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Ricotta Cheesecake for your Italian Valentine

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

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

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

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

View this post on Instagram

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

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian) on

 

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

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

 

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post is the 19th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”  just click HERE.

Many “commonly used phrases” that will help us talk more easily describe
 “I love you…”

We will discuss the Italian expressions for those we love – our one true love, our family and our friends.
 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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Amare…

How to say, “I love you!” in Italian 

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

Amare – to love

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s summarize:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In her own words, the authors say about herself:

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

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

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

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

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

Italian Pasta and Lentils for Good Luck in 2019!

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

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

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

And I would like to wish all my readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the recipe, click HERE

 

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

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

Do you want to speak Italian more easily and confidently by the end of 2019? Well, let’s start-off running toward our goal this January by learning how to use the Italian verb piacere to say, “I like it!” in Italian.

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

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

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

This post is the 18th in a series of Italian phrases we have been trying out in our Conversational Italian! Facebook group.  If you’d like to read the earlier posts in the series, “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day!”  just click HERE

Many “commonly used phrases” that allow us to describe our feelings
start with the phrase
 “I like …”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Use the Italian Verb Piacere to Say…

“I Like It!”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

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

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

mi to me
ti to you (familiar)
Le to you (polite)
le to her
gli to him
ci to us
vi to you all
gli to them

 

Now, lets put this all together!

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

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

Gli/Le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

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

 

 

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

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Conversational Italian for Travelers: “Just the Verbs”

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See below for how this works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What were you thinking about it?

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

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

 

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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”

 

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”