Tag Archives: Conversational Italian

Pasticceria and Bar, Venice

Italian Barista Asks, “Cappuccino, Anyone?”

Italian Barista Asks,
“Cappuccino, Anyone?”

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and read about Italian girlfriends meeting at an Italian bar for cappuccino in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

The Italian Bar, Espresso, and Cappuccino 

After Caterina settles into the routine of daily life with her family in Italy, her sister-in-law, Francesca, invites Caterina to have coffee and lunch with an Italian girlfriend. The women meet at an Italian café, also known as a bar, and order espresso coffee and sandwiches. They also meet someone special, so feel free to listen in on their Italian conversation  at our website www.LearnTravelItalian.com and learn some Italian phrases of endearment for that special someone in your life!

The Cultural Note below, adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, talks a bit about the history of espresso and cappuccino and how each drink and its variations are made. Read on and then order your own favorite Italian coffee drink—here or in Italy!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

The Italian Bar

Florian Bar in Venice
The Florian Bar, established in 1720, in the evening at Piazza San Marco, Venice

Italian-style coffee, or caffè, has become so popular in America today that confronting the list of coffees available in an Italian bar may not be as intimidating as it once was. The list of specialty coffees offered by a coffee bar is usually displayed on a large sign behind the counter, opposite where one stands to place an order.

Most Italians pay at the counter and drink their coffee standing up at the counter as well, often fairly quickly, before proceeding on to their next appointment. Space is at a premium all over Italy, and most coffee bars have only a few small tables. So, for the luxury of a seat, the price for the same coffee is slightly higher. But although the fee is higher, I’ve always felt that for visitors, it is nice to sit down at a table with a friend, have a waiter take your order, and have coffee and any pastries or sandwiches brought to you. Then relax and enjoy while watching the world go by!

Piazza San Marco Florian Bar
Guests of the Florian Bar enjoying the evening atmosphere at the Piazza San Marco, Venice

If you want an Italian coffee, keep in mind the general “rule” that most Italians follow: cappuccino in the mornings, usually before 10–11 a.m., and espresso later in the day. This “rule” may have come from the  many well-meaning Italian mothers and their idea that milk is bad for digestion, although I don’t think anyone really knows how it started.

To support this theory, consider that those of us raised by Italian-American mothers (like myself) were often told that milk does not “go with” Italian food—that is, a tomato sauce–based meal, of course. Eat tomato sauce and drink milk and maybe, just maybe, the milk will curdle in your stomach! End result: indigestion. Not what an Italian cook wants for her family after hours spent making a special meal! In our house, soda for the children was a once- or twice-weekly event—with Italian dinners only! (If you want, leave a comment and let me know the “tradition in your Italian household. I’d love to hear!)

Of course, if you like your coffee the American way, order a caffè americano any time! Read on for a few fun facts about Italian coffee drinks and what to expect to receive when you order an espresso- or cappuccino-type drink in Italy.


 From the Italian Bar: True Espresso Drinks

In Italian bars, all coffee drinks are made by the specially trained barista (this title is used for men and women). Espresso means fast or quick and refers to the method of brewing the coffee.

The classic espresso takes 7 grams of fresh, finely ground dark-roasted coffee beans, filtered under high pressure by an industrial espresso maker, with just the right amount of hot water to fill an espresso cup halfway to the top. There will be a layer of crema (foam) on the top as the result of the high pressure those large, gleaming stainless steel coffee shop machines can generate to make the coffee. For more information about how the modern-day commercial espresso machine came about and the components of these industrial espresso makers, click on this link from the Smithsonian magazine and this espresso equipment link.

Espresso Maker by Saeco
Saeco brand chrome espresso maker, shown with 2 cups of espresso

 

Add sugar or, for a caffè corretto, a shot of brandy or one of the other liquors always found on the shelves of coffee bars. For a caffè lungo, extra water is added to fill the espresso cup to the top. For a ristretto, less water is used for the same amount of coffee grounds, to one quarter of the cup.

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

The popular stovetop espresso maker that is part of every Italian household—and I mean every household—here and in Italy is shaped like an octagon. Don’t expect to get a real crema in this case, because this coffee pot does not operate under the high pressure of the industrial espresso makers, but this classic espresso pot is an easy, inexpensive, and convenient way to brew your everyday espresso.

All stovetop espresso makers require very finely ground espresso beans packed firmly in place into a metal coffee filter that fits into the center of the pot. Freshly ground beans are, of course, best.

Put water in the bottom half of the stovetop espresso pot, insert the filter with its coffee grounds, twist on the top, and heat over medium-high heat. The water in the bottom compartment will boil, and the steam will move upward through the coffee grounds in the filter to re-condense as coffee in the top compartment.

Below is a picture of my favorite home espresso set that I picked up in Rome at one of its famous coffee bars, Cafè Sant’Eustachio. (Leave a comment if you can find the orange cat waiting for his morning coffee in the background on this lovely fall day!)

Espresso pot and espresso cups
Sant’Eustachio coffee pot and espresso cups from Rome

 


 

 From the Italian Bar—Cappuccino, Anyone?

The Italian cappuccino drink that we know today is a fairly recent development of the 20th century, although historians have found coffee drinks with a similar name that date back to 18th century Austria.

Cappuccino coffee is said to be named after the Italian Franciscan order of Capuchin monks, presumably because the combination of the dark brown color of the coffee and the milk froth (schiuma) that tops the drink is reminiscent of the white-faced monks in their habit with the distinctive dark brown hood.

This short explanation begs the question, “How did the Italian Capuchin monks get their name?” In Italian, the word “cappuccio” means “hood.” Adding the diminutive “ino” ending for the coffee drink changes the meaning of the word into “little hood.” This may sound like a lot of trouble to go to just to name a coffee drink, although one should remember the Italian tradition of nicknaming people and food based on catchy associations that then become a part of Italian tradition.

The now classic Italian cappuccino calls for three equal parts espresso coffee, milk, and milk froth, and is served in a large coffee cup. The milk froth is traditionally made by steaming low-fat milk with the wand attachment on the espresso machine.

Cappuccino
Cappuccino from Toni Patisserie, Chicago

Gently stir in some sugar if you like, then sprinkle the froth with a bit of cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg.

For a smaller coffee drink with milk later in the day, foam can be added to an espresso for a speckled drink called caffè macchiato that is served in an espresso cup.

Above all, enjoy your cappuccino drink as a delicious start to your morning!

-Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers,  “Cultural Note – Italian Coffees,” by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog—Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of
Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Barista Asks, “Cappuccino, Anyone?”

Dress shop in Rome

Shop Italian Fashion for Your Next Vacation!

Shop Italian Fashion for Your Next Vacation! 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and shop Italian in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Visit Italy and Shop Italian Fashion 

After Caterina settles into the routine of daily life with her family in Italy, her sister-in-law, Francesca, decides that they should go shopping. Although Francesca has grocery shopping in mind, Caterina would rather shop Italian at the many beautiful, fashionable shops that line the streets of Milan! To listen to this dialogue from Chapter 10 about Caterina and Francesca’s afternoon spent shopping in Milan, go to the interactive dialogues on our website at Learn Travel Italian Audio Dialogues. The Cultural Note below, also from the textbook, gives some important information about Italian sizes, for YOUR next shopping spree in Italy. Buon divertimento!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Visit Italy and Shop Italian!

Rome shop window
Shop window in Rome advertising an up to 50% discount in July

When visiting Italy, one encounters wonderful shops that sell everything imaginable. In most cities, beautiful, stylish clothing made by well-known designers hangs in the shop windows of the grand boulevards and larger piazzas. Think Via Monte Napoleone in Milan or the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Now that the fall season is upon us, the cooler weather will bring with it the exciting new Italian fashions of the season.

But maybe even more important for the shopper is what happens at the end of the fashion season in Italy. Usually in late June and July, corresponding to the height of the tourist season, it seems like almost all Italian fashion is on sale! Many clothing stores offer steep discounts, usually up to 50% throughout most of the store. Look for the signs in the shop windows that say “saldi” for sale or “sconto” for discount. Late summer is a shopper’s paradise in Italy for those who love fashion!

But one must be prepared to shop Italian. Sizes in Italy are different from those in the United States and from those in other European countries. How does one know what size clothing to bring to the dressing room? Also, when talking about Italian style, it should be mentioned that there are still dedicated craftsmen who make high-quality leather goods. There is such a dazzling variety of shoes in the shop windows that it is always tempting to buy a pair to bring home. But what size to tell the shopkeeper to get?

The tables that follow list European and Italian sizes and how they (roughly) correspond to the sizes in the United States.

Please note that this is only a general guide, and it is best to always try on any item of clothing before making a purchase!

Women’s Dress Sizes

General U.S. Size American European Italian
Extra Small 2 32 36
Small 4 34 38
Small 6 36 40
Medium 8 38 42
Medium 10 40 44
Large 12 42 46
Large 14 44 48
Extra Large 16 46 50

 

Women’s Blouse and Sweater Sizes

General U.S. Size American European Italian
Extra Small 32 34 40
Small 34 36 42
Small 36 38 44
Medium 38 40 46
Large 40 42 48
Large 42 44 50
Extra Large 44 46 52

 

Women’s and Men’s Shoe Sizes*

American Shoe Sizes (inches) 5 ½ 6 6 ½ 7 7 ½ 8 8 ½ 9 9 ½ 10 10 ½
European/Italian Women’s Shoe Sizes 35 ½ 36 36 ½ 37 37 ½ 38 38 ½ 39
European/Italian Men’s Shoe Sizes 37 37 ½ 38 38 ½ 39 40 41 41 ½ 42 42 ½ 43

*Hint: Subtract 30 from European shoe sizes to get the equivalent of the American size for women’s shoe sizes 5 to 9.

 

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

For men’s clothing, Italian sizes and European sizes have an identical numbering system, although the fit of the clothing that corresponds to this numbering system is only loosely standardized. As usual, trying on clothing before purchasing is the best policy!

Men’s Shirt and Pant Sizes**

General U.S. Size American European Italian General Italian Size
2X Extra Small 32 42 42 Small
Extra Small 34 44 44 Medium
Small 36 46 46 Large
Medium 38 48 48 Extra Large
Large 40 50 50 2X Extra Large
Extra Large 42 52 52 3X Extra Large

**Hint: Just subtract 10 from the European shirt and pant sizes to get the American sizes.

 

Men’s Dress Shirt Sizes

General U.S. Size American European Italian General Italian Size
2X Extra Small 14.5 37 37 Small
Extra Small 15 38 38 Medium
Small 15.5 39 39 Large
Medium 15.8 40 40 Extra Large
Large 16 41 41 2X Extra Large
Extra Large 17 42 42 3X Extra Large

 

Men’s Suit Sizes

General U.S. Size American European Italian General Italian Size
2X Extra Small 36 48 48 Small
Extra Small 38 50 50 Medium
Small 40 52 52 Large
Medium 42 54 54 Extra Large
Large 44 56 56 2X Extra Large
Extra Large 46 58 58 3X Extra Large

 —Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 10, “Cultural Note,” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, by Kathryn Occhipinti 

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog—Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of
Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Shop Italian Fashion for Your Next Vacation

Italian tartufo and other gelato treats at an Italian gelateria

Tartufo: Summertime Gelato Treat!

Tartufo: Summertime  Gelato Treat! 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Tartufo — Enjoy this chocolate-coated ice cream treat that is delicious enough for kids and special enough for adults!

Tartufo: A gelato treat made just for summertime! 

The word Italian word “tartufo” refers to the round, brown-and-white truffles found in the densely forested Apennine Mountains that run down the spine of Italy. These slightly irregularly shaped round balls are found nestled between the roots of old beech, birch, and pine trees by specially trained dogs. A similarly shaped sweet French candy made from chocolate and cream, known as “ganache,” is also referred to as a truffle.

We present here a method for a round, chocolate-coated ice cream treat made from vanilla and chocolate Italian gelato ice cream that is also called “tartufo.” In the version that follows, there is a surprise in the center—a real Italian marinated Amarena cherry.* Try our recipe as is, or make your own version with any of your favorite Italian gelato flavors. Enjoy a cold, refreshing treat this summer with our simple method!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Tartufo: Summertime Gelato Treat! 

Gelato treat tartfuo
Tartufo: chocolate-covered gelato ice cream with an Amarena cherry in the center, cut in half and ready to enjoy!

Ingredients
(Makes approximately 8 ice cream balls)
(Method takes a few minutes each day for 3 days)

1 pint vanilla ice cream (gelato)
1 pint chocolate ice cream (gelato)
8 Italian Amarena cherries* in syrup

Chocolate coating**
4.0 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4.0 oz. semisweet chocolate
4 tsp canola oil

Procedure

To see step-by-step pictures, visit Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest.

Make the Ice Cream Balls

Let the vanilla and chocolate ice cream soften slightly in the ice cream cartons so it is easy to scoop out. (If it is too soft and watery, it will not make good ice cream balls.)

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 4  balls of vanilla ice cream and place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap. Pull the plastic wrap above the ball and twist to seal.

Quickly put the balls into a freezer-safe container and back into the freezer. (Plastic tray containers from Chinese take-out food work well because they are just the right size for four balls and have a cover.)

The same way, make 4 ice cream balls from the chocolate ice cream, wrap each ball in plastic wrap, and place the wrapped balls into a second freezer-safe container. Quickly return the container to the freezer.

Freeze overnight. If you want, after the ice cream balls have refrozen, form them into a more rounded shape with the plastic still on and return them to the freezer.

The next day, or when the ice cream balls have frozen through completely and are hard, remove one vanilla and one chocolate ball from the freezer at a time.

Unwrap each ball quickly and save the plastic wrap.

Turn each ball over so that the smooth, round end of each ball is facing up.

Slice each ball in half and make a tiny well in the center of each half that is the size of half a cherry. Quickly press a cherry into the center of one of the ice cream halves, and then top with an ice cream half of the other flavor so that the final balls are half vanilla and half chocolate.

Wrap each ball in the original plastic wrap again and place them back into the freezer container.

Repeat the last 5 steps until all 8 ice cream balls have been used.

Freeze overnight.

If desired, you can form each ball into a more smooth circle after it has frozen again while the ball is in the plastic wrap.

Make the Chocolate Coating

**A note about baking chocolates: I like to use 1/2 dark/bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 semisweet chocolate for children; you can use all dark chocolate if you like. Unsweetened chocolate is not recommended. Make sure to use good quality baking chocolate, whatever your choice.

On the third day, after the combined ice cream balls have completely frozen through, they are ready to coat with chocolate.

Microwave the chocolate and the canola oil in a small glass bowl (best) or glass measuring cup for about 2 minutes on medium heat (50%). Stir, and if all chocolate dissolves, set aside. Or microwave 30 seconds more, check and repeat as needed, until all chocolate is melted.

After the chocolate has melted, let it cool slightly. This is a crucial step, because if the chocolate is too hot, it will melt the chocolate balls; if the chocolate cools too much, it will start to harden. A glass bowl is best for coating the ice cream balls because it can be put into the microwave to melt the chocolate again if it starts to harden before you are finished working with it.

One at a time, take out an ice cream ball from the freezer, remove plastic wrap from the ice cream ball, and immediately place each ball into the chocolate, rolling the ball over once with a  large spoon to coat the top and bottom of the ball.

Immediately set each chocolate-covered ball onto a cookie sheet or small tray covered in aluminum foil and place back into the freezer.

Repeat the last two steps until all ice cream balls have been coated with the chocolate. There will be just enough chocolate to coat 8 balls, so work quickly and reheat the chocolate as necessary, scraping down the sides of the bowl to use all the melted chocolate efficiently.

Freeze all chocolate balls uncovered at least 2 hours.

If you are not serving the tartufi right away, cover them lightly in aluminum foil or place them back into covered containers and store in the freezer.

When ready to serve, cut each tartufo in half with a serrated knife and place on a small plate.

Or place each tartufo ball as is in the center of a large fancy ice cream cup and watch everyone  crack open the chocolate shell, dig in, and enjoy their summer treat!

*To find Amarena cherries if you do not have an Italian specialty shop in your neighborhood, simply search online. Look for the Fabbri brand pictured here.

Jars of Amarena cherries
Amarena cherries

The cherries, in heavy syrup, come in a beautiful white-and-blue decorated jar. Save the jar when you have used all the cherries and use it as a lovely decorative glass piece to give your kitchen a true Italian flair.

—Adapted from a cooking class given for the Italian-American Society of Peoria, by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Tartufo: Summertime Gelato Treat!

Book Display for Conversational Italian

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mode is easy to conjugate, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mode in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mode. Using the subjunctive mode is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and it’s something that I am always working on! This is the third blog post in the “Speak Italian” series that focuses on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mode, or “il congiuntivo.” 

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, in this segment, we will discuss how to express one’s needs in Italian and learn about other important introductory phrases and individual words that take the subjunctive mode. We will repeat the conjugation of the subjunctive mode for the regular -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and then present the conjugation of the modal, or helping, verbs dovere, potere, and volere. A review of the subjunctive tense conjugations for the auxiliary verbs and for commonly used irregular verbs will complete this blog. Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

In each blog post in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mode in the present and past tenses. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the subjunctive mode will be presented. Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mode in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the third blog post in this series, “Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3)!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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


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

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mode

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

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

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

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

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

These groups are again listed for review.

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

 

To follow in the next sections is an explanation of several more phrases and also individual words that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mode, which we have added into our original list as Group 8 through Group 11.  Group 12 will be the topic of a later series of blogs on hypothetical phrases, but is included here for completeness.

As usual, there is a summary table at the end of each descriptive section that shows how to use these  additional groups that take the subjunctive mode in Italian. The present tense phrases are in the first two columns and the past tense phrases in the last two columns. Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table.

Points to remember about the subjunctive mode:

 In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che as an integral part of them. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mode, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mode is otherwise commonly used.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare, and :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow.

**solo se also means only if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

*** anche se also means even though/if but does NOT take the subjunctive mode.

 


 

Expressing One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Di” in Italian

When expressing one’s feelings in Italian in the first person (io conjugation), many common Italian expressions are followed by di (of). In this case, when di is followed by another verb, the verb in the second phrase will be in the infinitive tense (if you remember, infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire, and translate as “to…”). Below are some examples of these phrases, along with example sentences, adapted from Chapter 7 of the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook.

 

avere bisogno di to have need of Ho bisogno di… riposare.
 
avere paura di to be afraid/have fear of Ho paura di… guidare.
 
avere voglia di to feel like Ho voglia di… mangiare una pizza.
 
essere certo di to be certain of Sono certo(a) di… ricordare il tuo nome.
 
essere sicuro di to be certain of Sono sicuro(a) di… ricordare questo posto.
 
essere felice di to be happy to Sono felice di… incontrare mio cugino oggi.
 
essere fortunato di to be lucky to Sono fortunato(a) di… mangiare questa cena.
 
essere libero di to be free to Sono libero(a) di… viaggiare.
 
essere stanco di to be tired of Sono stanco(a) di… volare.
 
temere di… to be afraid of Temo di… essere in ritardo.
 
augurarsi di… to wish/to hope (of) Mi auguro di… fare una buona vacanza.

 


How to Use the Phrase “Avere bisogno di…” in Italian

Before we go on to discuss more complex uses of the phrases in the table above, here are a few words about the very popular phrase, “ho bisogno di…” which means, “I need….”   Any student of Italian no doubt has come across this phrase many times in general conversation and has needed to use this phrase themselves to express what they want.

While I was learning how to use the subjunctive mode properly, I took the opportunity to learn how to properly use “ho bisogno di” properly as well.  After many question and answer sessions with native Italian speakers, here is what I’ve found out about the different uses of this phrase in English and Italian.

First, use of the phrase “ho bisogno di” is limited to describing a need one has for a person, a thing, something or a physical need.  Remember to conjugate the verb avere used in this phrase (“ho” is the io form of avere) if someone else besides you needs something, of course! Leave out the word “di,” which means “of” in this phrase if it is used at the end of the sentence.

The phrases “Mi serve…” and “Mi servono…” can also mean, “I need…” often in the negative sense.  The conjugation is like that of piacere.  (See below)

If a person needs to do something, but it is also necessary he does it – she/he has to do it – then the verb dovere is used.   See some examples in the table below:

avere bisogno di to have need of…  
   
…a person Ho bisogno di… te.
   
…a thing/ something Ho bisogno di… una macchina nuova.
  Ho bisogno di… prendere una vacanza.
   
…a physical need Ho bisogno di… riposare.
   
Mi serve… I need… (one thing) Mi serve 1 millione di euro.
 Mi servono…  I need… (many things)  Mi servono tante cose.
   
dovere for what you have to do

and need to do)

Devo cucinare il pranzo ogni sera.

When we come to more complex sentences, and now must express what the subject would like another person to do, the phrase “ho bisogno di” is not used.  In other words, if I want someone to do something, I must use the verb voglio, with the subjunctive, as in, “Voglio che tu…”  This was an important point for me to learn, as in English I am constantly asking my children or family to do things by saying, “I need you to…”

For instance, take the sentence, “I need you to take care of the cats when I am on vacation.”  I am not sure if this phrase “I need you to…” is used commonly in other parts of the America, but it has become a habitual use in the Northeast and Midwest.  The Italian translation would be, “Voglio che tu ti prenda cura dei gatti quando io sono in vacanza.”  So, to use the phrase “ho bisogno di” we must really learn how to think in Italian!

Enjoy some more examples for how to use our phrases to express a need or want in Italian, and then create your own!

Ho bisogno di un grande abbraccio! I need a big hug!
Abbracci e baci sono due cose che ho bisogno! Hugs and kisses are two things that I need!
Non mi serve niente. I don’t need anything.
Non mi serve nient’altro. I don’t need anything else.
Mi serve di più caffè. I need more coffee.
Devo andare al mercato. I need to/have to go to the (outdoor) market.

Non abbiamo  bisogno di giorni migliori,

ma di persone che rendono migliori i nostri giorni!

We don’t need to have better days,

instead, we need people who make our days better!


 

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Some of the expressions listed in the following table are most commonly used with the same subject for the second phrase. As noted in our previous discussions, these phrases will be followed with “di” and an infinitive verb. They are reprinted here to correspond with the previous table, followed by an asterisk and an explanation in parentheses.

For most of the expressions of feeling we have been talking about, though, it is possible to express a feeling that the speaker (io) has regarding another person or people. In this case, then, these expressions must be followed by che, and the subjunctive mode should be used for the verb in the second phrase.

In our example table, we will illustrate this by following the Italian phrases in which the subjects can be different with ...che tu, which we know means …that you, although of course, this rule follows no matter which subject pronoun we use.

 

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Group 8
    Past Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Group 8
 
Ho bisogno… che tu I need… that you*

*(This expression is not commonly used in Italian to tell another person what needs to be done; voglio che is used instead.)

Avevo bisogno… che tu I needed… that you*

*(This expression is
not commonly used
in Italian to tell
another person what
needs to be done;
volevo che is used
instead.)

       
Ho paura… che tu I am afraid… that you Avevo paura…  che tu I was afraid… that you
       
Ho voglia di… * I feel like… *
*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)
Avevo voglia… * I felt like…*

*(always used with
the same subject + di
in both phrases)

 

       
Sono certo(a)…
che tu
I am certain…
that you
Ero certo… che tu I was certain… that you
       
Sono sicuro(a)…
che tu
I am certain…
that you
Ero sicuro… che tu I was certain… that you
       
Sono felice… che tu I am happy… that you Ero felice… che tu I was happy… that you
       
Sono fortunato(a)… che tu I am happy… that you Ero fortunato(a)… che tu I was fortunate… that you
       
Sono libero(a) di… *

 

I am free… *
*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)
Ero libero(a)… * I was free… *
*(always used with
the same subject +di
in both phrases)
       
Sono stanco(a) di…

 

I am tired…*

*(always used with the same subject +di in both phrases)

Ero stanco(a)… che tu I was tired…*

*(always used with
the same subject +di
in both phrases)

       
Temo… che tu I am afraid…
that you
Temevo… che tu I was afraid… that you
       
Mi auguro… che tu I hope… that you Mi auguravo… che tu I hoped… that you

 

 


Idiomatic Use of the Italian Subjunctive Mode

The final group of words in the table below take the subjunctive mode when used to start a sentence . These conjunctions, adjectives, and pronouns imply that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence.

Only the most commonly used have been given in the table.  For a more complete list, see first section of this blog.

 

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mode—Idiomatic

 

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 9, 10, 11
 
Prima che Before that
Benché, Sebbene Although, even though, if
Può darsi che It may be possible that, Possibly, Maybe
Affinché So as, so that, in order that
Perché So that (Perché is only used in the subjunctive mode when it means “so that.” Other meanings of perché include “why” and “because,” and in these cases, the subjunctive mode is not used.)
Purché As long as, provided that, only if

 

Finally, our usual reminder:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Secondo me = According to me

Per me = For me

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!

And, two more  phrases we can now add that do NOT take the subjunctive mode:

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though/if

 


Speak Italian: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mode (Part 3)

How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mode Present Tense for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

To change any regular infinitive verb into the present subjunctive mode, first drop the final -are, -ere, or -ire to create the stem. Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

The word che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms typically are used with  the conjunction che. Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the endings for the singular forms are all the same!

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

Subjunctive Mode – Present Tense
Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a
       
noi iamo iamo iamo
voi iate iate iate
loro ino ano ano
  Tornare

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

(che)  io torni venda parta
(che) tu torni venda parta
(che) Lei/lei/lui torni venda parta
       
(che) noi torniamo vendiamo partiamo
(che) voi torniate vendiate partiate
(che) loro tornino vendano partano

*(The stressed syllable for the example verbs has been underlined in the table above.)

  1. When pronouncing the subjunctive verbs, the stress will fall in the same place as in the conjugated verb forms for the present tense. This will be in the beginning of the verb (first or second syllable) for the io, tu, Lei/lei, lui, and loro forms, and one syllable to the right (second or third syllable) for the noi and voi forms.
  2. Notice that all of the singular subjunctive endings (io, tu, Lei/lei lui) are the same for each infinitive form of the verb.
  3. Also, all the endings for the -ere and -ire verbs are identical in the first person!
  4. The noi and voi forms are the same for all infinitive verb forms as well.
  5. The noi form is identical to the present tense!

 


How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mode Present Tense for the Modal Verbs

Here are the Italian subjunctive forms for the modal verbs; modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that are also called “helping verbs.” These verbs are often used in the subjunctive mode in written and spoken Italian. As you no doubt recall, these three helping verbs give additional information about the main verb in the phrase. In the subjunctive mode, volere can also be translated as “to need.”

 Dovere – to have to/must – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io debba I have to/must
(che) tu debba you (familiar) have to/must
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

debba you (polite) have to/must
she/he has to/must
     
(che) noi dobbiamo we have to/must
(che) voi dobbiate you all have to/must
(che) loro debbano they have to/must

 

  

Potere – to be able (to)/can – subjunctive mode

che) io possa I am able to/can
(che) tu possa you (familiar) are able to/can
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

possa you (polite) are able to/can

she/he is able to/can

     
(che) noi possiamo we are able to/can
(che) voi possiate you all are able to/can
(che) loro possano they are able to/can

 

 

 Volere – to want/ to need – subjunctive mode

(che) io voglia I want/need
(che) tu voglia you (familiar) want/need
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

voglia you (polite) want/need

she/he wants/needs

     
(che) noi vogliamo we want/need
(che) voi vogliate you all want/need
(che) loro vogliano they want/need

The Subjunctive Mode – Irregular Present Tense
Commonly Used Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

Here are the irregular subjunctive forms for six commonly used  verbs in Italian.  It may be useful to commit these forms to memory, as these verbs are often used in the subjunctive mode in written and spoken Italian. Notice that the translation is the simple present tense in English.

Andare – to go – subjunctive mode

(che) io vada I go
(che) tu vada you (familiar) go
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

     
(che) noi andiamo we go
(che) voi andiate you all go
(che) loro vadano they go

 

Dare – to give – subjunctive mode

(che) io dia I give
(che) tu dia you give
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

     
(che) noi diamo we give
(che) voi diate you all give
(che) loro diano they give

Dire – to say/ to tell – subjunctive mode

(che) io dica I say/tell
(che) tu dica you (familiar) say/tell

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

     
(che) noi diciamo we say/tell
(che) voi diciate you all say/tell
(che) loro dicano they say/tell

Fare – to do/ to make– subjunctive mode

(che) io faccia I do/ make
(che) tu faccia you (familiar) do/make

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

     
(che) noi facciamo we do/make
(che) voi facciate you all do/make
(che) loro facciano they do/make

Sapere – to know (facts) – subjunctive mode

(che) io sappia I know
(che) tu sappia you (familiar) know
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
(che) noi sappiamo we know
(che) voi sappiate you all know
(che) loro sappiano they know

Venire – to come – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io venga I come
(che) tu venga you (familiar) come
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

     
(che) noi veniamo we come
(che) voi veniate you all come
(che) loro vengano they come

How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mode

A review from the first blog in this series:

Here are the subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mode in written and spoken Italian.  Che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms are typically used with  the conjunction che.  Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular forms are identical.

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

Avere – to have – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you (familiar) have
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

Essere – to be – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

Stare – to stay (to be) – Subjunctive Mode

(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)


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

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense
Italian Subjunctive Mode

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mode in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or past tense.) Remember, even in Italian, the subjunctive is not an absolute requirement, but in the phrases below, the subjunctive mode is often used.

Notice that in English we do not use the subjunctive mode in the present tense. Also, in general, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two phrases! For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases  from earlier in this section. How many more combinations can you think of?

Voglio che tu cucini una cena speciale per la festa stasera. I want that you cook a special dinner for the party tonight. =

I want you to cook a special dinner for the party tonight.

 
Ho paura che lui  guidi  troppo veloce. I am afraid that he drives too fast. =

I am afraid he (just) drives too fast.

   
Sono certo che Lei ricordi questo giorno. I am certain that you remember this day. =

I am certain that you (will) remember this day.

 

Sono sicuro che noi ricordiamo questo posto. I am sure that we remember this place. =
I am sure that we (will) remember this place.
   
Sono felice che voi incontriate  mio cugino oggi. I am happy that you all meet my cousin today. =
I am happy (that) you all (are going) to meet my cousin today.
Sono fortunato che voi mangiate con me questa sera. I am lucky that you all are eating with me tonight.
I am lucky that you all are eating with me tonight.

 

Temo che loro non siano persone perbene. I am afraid that they are not good people. =

I am afraid that they are not good people.

 
Mi auguro che loro facciano una buona vacanza. I hope that they have a good vacation. =

I hope they have a good vacation.



 

The Italian Subjunctive Mode: Examples for Modal Verbs

Here are some examples for the introductory phrases “before that” and “after that,” which, as we have discussed in the earlier section, should take the subjunctive. These phrases seem to be most useful in situations in which we talk about plans people are making for themselves or others.

Prima che tu debba andare al lavoro, devi prepare molto bene i tuoi documenti. Before (that) you have to go to work, you must prepare your papers very well.
 
Prima che mio figlio possa andare dove vuole, lui deve portarmi a casa. Before (that) my son can go where he wants, he has to bring me home.
 
Prima che noi dobbiamo partire per Roma, dobbiamo riposare un po’ in campagna. Before (that) we must leave for Rome, we must rest a little bit in the country.
 
Prima che voi possiate andare a trovare* i vostri parenti in America, dovete guardagnare un sacco di soldi.** Before (that) you all can visit your relatives in America, you all must make a lot of money.
 
Prima che loro possano mangiare la cena,  devono prepararsi molto bene oggi per la riunione domani. Before (that) they can eat dinner, they must prepare very well today for the meeting tomorrow.

* andare a trovare is an idiomatic expression that means “to go to visit (someone).” Visitare is used when going to visit a place.

** un sacco di soldi is an idiomatic expression that means “a lot of money.”

 


The  Italian Subjunctive Mode: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases

The final group of words that take the subjunctive mode on an idiomatic basis imply that a second phrase is necessary to complete the sentence. These are essential phrases to remember if we want to express complex thoughts in Italian. Here are some examples. How many more can you think of?

Benché io voglia andare in Italia, non è possibile ora. Although I want to go to Italy, it is not possible now.
 
Sebbene lui voglia andare all’università,  non ha ricevuto voti abastanza buoni al liceo. Although he wants to go to college, he did not get good enough grades in high school.
 
Sebbene noi vogliamo vivere bene, dobbiamo lavorare per molti anni o essere molto fortunati. Though we want to live well, we must work for many years or be very lucky.
 
Perché la crostata sia fatta bene, si deve avere le fragle fresche. So that the pie is made well, one must have fresh strawberries.

(English = One/you must have fresh strawberries to make the pie properly.)

 
Vengo alla festa, purche’ lui non ci sia. I will come to the party, provided that he will not be there.

-Some of this material is adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 7, “Idiomatic Expressions – Avere and Essere + di + Infinitive” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 3) : Speak Italian!

Menus in Italian on Lido Island, Venice

Visiting Italy? Reading Italian Menus

Visiting Italy? Reading Italian Menus 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Visiting Italy? Follow Caterina for tips on how to read the Italian menus at your favorite restaurant—from the Conversational Italian series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Visiting Italy? Learn how to read the menu at your favorite Italian restaurant!

After Caterina arrives in Italy, she stays with her Italian cousin Pietro and his family in Milan for a while and adapts to Italian life and the Italian language. Then, in the last unit of the book, they all go on a summer vacation together. Caterina and her family stay at a typical northern Italian lake resort in the town of Stresa on Lago Maggiore.

Italian menus can look confusing to those who are new to Italian culture, but a few tips will help you understand how they are usually designed. Because most restaurants in Italy offer several courses, the Italian menu will usually list each course in  the order in which it is to be served. Read on for a description of each Italian course, and find out what to expect when you order your own delicious meal in Italy!

To listen to the dialogue from Chapter 16, when Caterina and her Italian family arrive at an Italian restaurant and begin their wonderful meal together, go to the interactive audio dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


  Cultural Note: Reading Italian Menus

Italian restaurant menus for pizza in Italy may be similar to this example
Italian menus may list different types of pizzas. Listed here are specialty pizzas made with a wood-burning oven in Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy.

Italian menus reflect the typical Italian meal offered at most all Italian restaurants open for dinner, from the family-run trattoria, to the more formal ristorante (with a professional chef). The Italian meal consists of several courses.

Appetizers, called “antipasto” or “antipasti,” are small servings of vegetables, meat, or fish, served either hot or cold, to start the meal. The pasta course can be, and often is, the main course for the meal and is called “il primo.”

If there is time for a longer dinner, or for a celebratory dinner, it is traditional to follow the pasta course with an additional course of fish or meat (usually accompanied by a vegetable) that is called “il secondo.” 

And, of course, there is almost always the option of dessert under the “il dolce” section listed on most Italian menus, or at least coffee at the end of the meal.

With all these courses, an Italian dinner may take between 1½ and 2 hours! This is understood by the restaurant owners, who consider the table booked for the evening from the moment it is occupied; dinner in Italy is considered finished only when the diner asks for the check! In Italy, meals are a time for gathering with family and friends, and a well-prepared dinner with several courses is considered a part of “la dolce vita,” or “the good life.”

Below is a list of the courses that comprise a full Italian meal, in the order that they usually appear on most Italian menus.

La Cena Italiana The Italian Dinner
   
L’Antipasto Appetizer Course
Il Primo The First Course
Il Secondo The Second Course
Il Dolce The Dessert (Sweet) Course

 


 Cultural Note: Italian Courses Explained 

L’Antipasto 

When looking through Italian menus, expect to see a selection of appetizers (gli antipasti) listed first. Each region has its own specialties, which include a wide variety of vegetables (raw, preserved in olive oil or vinegar, or cooked), as well as cold meats or salami and cheeses. Salad can also be served as part of this course, but it is often eaten after the second course, when the main course has been completed. Salads are usually not formally composed but consist of fresh lettuce and whatever other fresh garden vegetables the chef has on hand that day (insalata mista). Hot antipasto may be served, with a variety of fried foods (fritto misto), very popular throughout the coastal regions of Italy.

Soup (zuppa), often referred to as the most common type, minestrone (made with bean- and tomato-based broth and various vegetables and pasta), on Italian menus  is well loved throughout Italy, and during leaner times, soups were a mainstay of the lunch and dinner meals. Soup may come after or replace the antipasto course.

Appetizers and soups are always served with fresh bread (pane) typical of the region. The type of bread is not usually listed as a choice on Italian menus, because bread-making varies by region. That said, bread in Italy is always wonderful—either with a hard, crunchy crust and a soft center, like a French baguette, or soft throughout but golden brown on top, like a thick, light pizza (focaccia). Thin, crunchy breadsticks (grissini) are common throughout northern Italy.

Bread in Italy can be eaten as is, or dipped in fresh, extra-virgin olive oil from a bottle that is provided along with the bread when one is seated. Butter—always unsalted—will only occasionally be found on the table as an accompaniment to the bread, and only in northern Italy. So if butter is not brought to the table with the bread, it probably is not available. When it comes to bread, just follow the local traditions for the best way to enjoy the type of bread each region has to offer!


 Cultural Note: Italian Courses Explained 

Il Primo

Next on Italian menus, we come to a list of starchy foods, such as pasta, gnocchi, or rice for the first course, or il primo. The word pasta means “paste” or “dough,” and refers to the method of mixing flour with water or eggs and then kneading the paste that is formed from this simple mixture until the gluten in the flour transforms it into a dough. The dough is rested, then rolled out and stretched, and finally cut into strands or put through a hand-cranked pasta machine at home. Commercial pasta machines, with their metal dyes that shape pasta into its many well-loved forms, and the ability of pasta to be dried and then cooked easily in a pot of salted boiling water, have allowed Italian pasta to become one of the world’s most popular dishes.

Many restaurants in Italy will have a selection of fresh pastas made daily, and it is the custom to make all sauces from scratch using farm-fresh ingredients. Pasta in Italy is always cooked freshly and served “al dente,” which literally means “to the tooth” (a bit firm when chewed). Pasta is served promptly, so it is never soft or mushy.

Italian short-grain rice (riso) when cooked in the Italian way is called risotto and is often served in northern Italy instead of pasta for the first course. The most popular types of rice grown in Italy are arborio and carnaroli. Italian rice is very starchy and is cooked slowly, with constant stirring, to bring out the starch and create a creamy sauce. No milk or cream is added! A variety of vegetables, seafood, or saffron can be added, along with a final enrichment of butter and cheese. How “soupy” the final dish turns out to be varies by region, but the rice itself is always a little firm, despite the constant stirring it takes to create the sauce.

Gnocchi, or potato dumplings, look like little pillows and when made properly are said to be as light as air. They are popular all over Italy for the first course and can be served with red tomato sauce, basil pesto, or Gorgonzola cheese sauce. (See our previous blog post Gnocchi with Brown Butter or Gorgonzola Sauce if you would like to try this dish!)


 Cultural Note: Italian Courses Explained 

Il Secondo

Il secondo, or the second course, always consists of meat or seafood, and with this course, a vegetable side dish, or contorno, can be ordered. The meat or seafood may be served alone or with one starch only, such as a potato or rice, so be sure to order your vegetables if you are a vegetable lover! Italians are very fond of vegetables and consider them as important as the meat or seafood in this course—important enough to be given their own listing on Italian menus!


 Cultural Note: Italian Courses Explained 

Il Dolce

For those who like to finish their meal with something sweet, there is usually a wide array of offerings for the dessert course, or il dolce. Whether for an informal meal, a large, important gathering, or a special holiday, several dessert choices are usually listed on the menu. Il dolce may consist of fruit, nuts, cheeses, an assortment of pastries or ice cream, and of course, sweet wine (vin santo), liquors, and coffee.

Try a full Italian meal “al fresco” one balmy evening in Italy, just the way the Italians do. Watch the people stroll by as they take their evening walk, relax, and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed!

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 16, “Cultural Note – A Typical Italian Menu” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Stella Lucente Italian Facebook and Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest.
 Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
 Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Visiting Italy? Reading Italian Menus

Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter or Gorgonzola Sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter or Gorgonzola Sauce

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Gnocchi—light, airy dumplings perfect for your favorite Italian sauce!

Italian Recipe: Gnocchi with Brown Butter or Gorgonzola Sauce 

Gnocchi (pronounced (NYAAW – KEY) are Italian potato dumplings, and if made properly, they are said to be like little pillows: delicate and soft, and a delight to eat! Gnocchi are popular in northern Italy and as far south as the Abruzzo region.

The dough is prepared with just a few ingredients—potatoes, a bit of flour, and sometimes an egg. The dough is then kneaded gently, rolled out, and cut into bite-size pieces. At the end of the process, ridges are created by rolling each “gnocco” along a fork or specially carved small wooden board. These ridges are perfect for capturing the delicious butter sauce, Gorgonzola sauce, pesto, or tomato sauce they can be served with. To see the method to make gnocchi in detail, visit our Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest site.

Italian families commonly gather around the kitchen table and make these treats together, often on a Sunday afternoon. Make and enjoy these famous Italian dumplings one afternoon at your home for a special treat!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Recipe: Gnocchi with Brown Butter or Gorgonzola Sauce 

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce
Gnocchi in Gorgonzola Sauce

Ingredients
(Serves 6–8)

For the gnocchi
1 large Idaho potato
1 cup of flour

For the brown butter and sage sauce
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 fresh sage leaves, torn

For the Gorgonzola sauce
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 lb. fresh Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 –1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Procedure to make the gnocchi

Place the potato on a rack in the oven and bake until soft throughout, or microwave it on high for about 6 minutes. (If you are cooking potatoes for more than one batch, wrap the extras in foil to hold in the heat until you are ready to use them.)

Don’t work with the potato when it is very hot. Wait until it is comfortably warm, then remove the skin and mash it with a fork or use a potato ricer. (The ricer is recommended because it makes quick work of getting the potato ready to add the flour, while at the same time keeping the potato fluffy and removing all eyes and lumps.)

The mashed/riced potatoes should be light and loose.

Place 1 cup of flour on your work surface.

Place your mashed/riced potato alongside in a separate pile.

Spread out the mashed/riced potatoes, then sprinkle some of the flour onto the potatoes. Start working the two ingredients together.

As soon as the flour is absorbed, add more flour until the mixture starts to create a workable dough. A light hand in mixing here will yield a tender dumpling. Do not over-knead!

Depending on the size of your potato, you may or may not use all of the flour; use only enough to create a workable dough. (Too much dough will yield sticky, heavy gnocchi when cooked instead of light and airy gnocchi!)

Gather the dough into a ball and cover for 10 minutes. This will allow the moisture from the potatoes to be absorbed by the flour.

Knead the dough just enough to blend again; do not overwork.

Slice off a quarter of the dough and start rolling it out to form a length of “rope” that is 1/2 inch thick.

Cut the rope into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces and then process it by rolling the gnocchi beneath your finger, then quickly pulling it toward you until it has made a full turn and curled up a bit.

To create ridges, use this same movement over the back of the tines of a fork or a specially ridged wooden gnocchi board.

Method to cook the gnocchi

Fill a large pot with water about ¾ of the way to the top and add a generous amount of salt. Cover pot and bring to a boil. While the water is boiling, prepare your sauce.

Turn the heat down, uncover, and add gnocchi gently. A large, flat, slotted serving spoon works best to lower the gnocchi safely into the water.

Cook gnocchi  for about 3–4 minutes.

Watch the gnocchi as they cook, and when they float to the top of the water, gently lift them out with a slotted spoon.

Procedure to make the brown butter and sage sauce

Melt the butter gently in a large, light-colored skillet or saucepan over very low heat.

Turn the pan around on the burner as needed, so the butter melts at an even rate if you have an electric stove.

After the butter has melted, keep the heat on low, but watch it carefully. It will start to turn brown. Swirl the melted butter in the pan gently to evenly distribute the heat.

When the butter has turned light brown, immediately remove it from the heat.

Add the salt and swirl to melt.

Add the fresh torn sage leaves.

Immediately pour over warm, just-cooked gnocchi waiting to be sauced in a serving bowl and mix gently to coat.

Garnish with a sprig of sage and serve while hot.

Procedure to make the Gorgonzola sauce

Place the butter, Gorgonzola cheese, and milk in a small saucepan. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Melt all ingredients together slowly over low heat while stirring gently to blend the Gorgonzola cheese with the other ingredients.

When all has melted and blended together, taste and adjust salt.

If the gnocchi are not ready at this time, turn off the heat. Then reheat sauce gently on low heat for about a minute and add the final ingredients.

Add the heavy cream or half and half, mix to incorporate, and cook over medium heat, simmering the sauce to reduce and thicken it.

Add the Parmesan cheese and cook over low heat to melt.

Remove from heat and pour over warm, just-cooked gnocchi waiting to be sauced in a serving bowl and mix gently to coat.

—Adapted from “Cooking Around the World” at the Chillicothe Public Library, Illinois, as presented with the Italian-American Society of Peoria on July 14, 2014, by Rudy Litwin and Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Gnocchi with Brown Butter or Gorgonzola Sauce

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog            The Italian subjunctive mode is easy to conjugate, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mode in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mode. Using the Italian subjunctive mode is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and it’s something that I am always working on! This is the second blog post in the “Speak Italian” series that focuses on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mode, or “il congiuntivo.”

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian using the subjunctive, in this segment, we will discuss the situations in which phrases that use the verbs volere, desiderare, piacere, and dispiacere take the subjunctive mode. We will also learn the conjugation of the subjunctive mode for the -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and the commonly used irregular verbs andare, dare, dire, fare, sapere, and venire. Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

In each blog post in the “Speak Italian” series about the subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mode. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the subjunctive mode will be presented. Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mode in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the second blog post in this series, “Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2)!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2)

Once Again… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mode

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

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

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

In our first blog about the Italian subjunctive mode, we learned that these initial phrases fall into several groups. We discussed Group 1  through Group 5, which are given below for review.

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…”
  6. Phrases that use the verbs volere and desiderare when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.
  7. Phrases that use the verbs piacere and dispiacere when the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows. In this situation, these verbs will be followed by che.

To follow in the next sections is an explanation of several more phrases that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mode, which we have added into our original list as Group 6 and Group 7.

As usual, there is a summary table at the end of the next section that shows how to use these phrases. The present tense phrases are in the first two columns and the past tense phrases in the last two columns. Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table.

Points to remember about the subjunctive mode:

 In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mode, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mode is otherwise commonly used.

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare, and :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow.

 


How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode with
Volere and Desiderare

When expressing one’s desire in Italian in the first person (io conjugation), voglio/vorrei and desidero are used in similar situations to mean I want and I would like. In this case, these helping verbs are followed directly by another verb that is in the infinitive tense (if you remember, infinitive verbs end in -are, -ere, -ire and translate as “to…”).  Of course, these verbs can also be followed by a noun, the “object of our desire”!

Volere and desiderare are covered in detail in Chapter 4 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers, if you would like a review. Below are some simple examples:

Voglio imparare l’italiano.      I want to learn Italian.

Vorrei viaggiare in Italia.         I would like to travel in Italy.

Desidero andare al cinema.    I want to go to the movies.

But when these same verbs—voglio/vorrei and desidero—are used to express a desire for something that the speaker in the first person (io) wants another person to do, then these helping verbs must be followed by che, and then the subjunctive mode should be used for the verb in the next phrase.

 


How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode with
Piacere and Dispiacere

The verb forms mi piace, mi piacerrebbe and mi dispiace, mi dispiaccerebbe follow the same rule given for the verbs in Group 6 we just discussed: when the verb that follows these introductory phrases refers to the speaker (io form), then a verb in the infinitive form follows directly.  When the verb that follows refers to someone else, che is used as a link to a verb in the subjunctive mode in the second clause.

In our example table that follows, we will illustrate the use of che followed by a different speaker from the introductory phrase with ...che tu.  This conjunction  means …that you.  Of course, we can replace tu with any of the other subject pronouns, and then the phrases would be: ….che Lei, che lei, che lui, che noi, che voi, or che loro.

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mode  with Volere, Desiderare, Piacere, Dispiacere

 

Present Tense &
Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
    Past Tense &
Past Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
       
Voglio… che tu I want… that you Volevo… che tu I wanted… that you
Vorrei… che tu I would like…
that you
Volevo… che tu I wanted… that you
Desidero… che tu I want… that you Desideravo… che tu I wanted… that you
Mi piace… che tu I like… that you Mi piaceva… che tu I liked… that you
Mi dispiace… che tu I am sorry… that you Mi dispiaceva… che tu I was sorry… that you
Mi piacerebbe…
che tu
I would like…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto… che tu I would have liked…
that you
Mi dispiacerebbe…
che tu
I don’t mind…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto… che tu I didn’t mind… that you

 

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Secondo me = According to me

Per me = For me

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mode (Part 2)

How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mode Present Tense for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

 

To change any regular infinitive verb into the present subjunctive mode, first drop the final -are, -ere, or -ire to create the stem. Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

The word che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms typically are used with  the conjunction che. Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the endings for the singular forms are all the same!

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

Subjunctive Mode – Present Tense

 

Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a
       
noi iamo iamo iamo
voi iate iate iate
loro ino ano ano

 

  Tornare

(to return)

Vendere

(to sell)

Partire

(to leave)

(che)  io torni venda parta
(che) tu torni venda parta
(che) Lei/lei/lui torni venda parta
       
(che) noi torniamo vendiamo partiamo
(che) voi torniate vendiate partiate
(che) loro tornino vendano partano

*(The stressed syllable for the example verbs has been underlined in the table above.)

  1. When pronouncing the subjunctive verbs, the stress will fall in the same place as in the conjugated verb forms for the present tense. This will be in the beginning of the verb (first or second syllable) for the io, tu, Lei/lei, lui, and loro forms, and one syllable to the right (second or third syllable) for the noi and voi forms.
  2. Notice that all of the singular subjunctive endings (io, tu, Lei/lei lui) are the same for each infinitive form of the verb.
  3. Also, all the endings for the -ere and -ire verbs are identical in the first person!
  4. The noi and voi forms are the same for all infinitive verb forms as well.
  5. The noi form is identical to the present tense!

 


 

The Subjunctive Mode – Irregular Present Tense
Commonly Used Verbs

Here are the irregular subjunctive forms for six commonly used  verbs in Italian.  It may be useful to commit these forms to memory, as these verbs are often used in the subjunctive mode in written and spoken Italian. Notice that the translation is the simple present tense in English.

Andare – to go – subjunctive mode

(che) io vada I go
(che) tu vada you (familiar) go
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

vada you (polite) go

she/he goes

     
(che) noi andiamo we go
(che) voi andiate you all go
(che) loro vadano they go

 

 

Dare – to give – subjunctive mode

(che) io dia I give
(che) tu dia you give
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dia you give

she/he gives

     
(che) noi diamo we give
(che) voi diate you all give
(che) loro diano they give

 

 

Dire – to say/ to tell – subjunctive mode

(che) io dica I say/tell
(che) tu dica you (familiar) say/tell

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dica you (polite) say/tell

she/he says/tells

     
(che) noi diciamo we say/tell
(che) voi diciate you all say/tell
(che) loro dicano they say/tell

 

 

Fare – to do/ to make– subjunctive mode

(che) io faccia I do/ make
(che) tu faccia you (familiar) do/make

 

(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

faccia you (polite) do/make

she/he does/makes

     
(che) noi facciamo we do/make
(che) voi facciate you all do/make
(che) loro facciano they do/make

 

 

Sapere – to know (facts) – subjunctive mode

(che) io sappia I know
(che) tu sappia you (familiar) know
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sappia you (polite) know

she/he knows

     
(che) noi sappiamo we know
(che) voi sappiate you all know
(che) loro sappiano they know

 

 

Venire – to come – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io venga I come
(che) tu venga you (familiar) come
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

venga you (polite) come

she/he comes

     
(che) noi veniamo we come
(che) voi veniate you all come
(che) loro vengano they come

 


 

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2)

Example Phrases Using the Present Tense Subjunctive Mode

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mode in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. (In later blog posts in this series, we will cover examples of how to use the subjunctive when the introductory phrase is in the conditional or past tense.) Remember, even in Italian, the subjunctive is not an absolute requirement, but in the phrases below, the subjunctive mode is often used.

Notice that in English we do not use the subjunctive mode in the present tense. Also, in general, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two phrases! For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases and verbs from earlier in this section. How many more combinations can you think of?

 

Voglio che tu torni presto. I want that you return soon. =
I want you to return soon.
   
Voglio che lui  venda la macchina vecchia. I want that he sells the old car. =
I want him to sell the old car.
   
Desidero che lei parta questa sera. I want that she leaves tonight. =
I want her to leave tonight.
   
Desidero che Lei faccia una bella festa per il presidente. I want that you make a nice party for the president.
I want you to make a nice party for the president.
   
Mi piace che tu vada a Roma ogni giorno. I like that you go to Rome every day. =
I like you to go to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che lui non sappia questa informazione. I am sorry that he doesn’t know this information. =
I am sorry he doesn’t know this information.


 

Voglio che noi torniamo presto. I want that we return soon. =
I want us to return soon.
   
Voglio che noi vendiamo la macchina vecchia. I want that we sell the old car. =
I want us to sell the old car.
   
Desidero che voi partiate questa sera. I want that you all leave tonight. =
I want you all to leave tonight.
   
Desidero che voi facciate una bella festa per il presidente. I want that you all make a nice party for the president. = I want you all to make a nice party for the president.
   
Mi piace che voi  andiate a Roma ogni giorno. I like that you all go to Rome every day. =
I like you to go to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che voi  non sappiate questa informazione. I am sorry that you all don’t know this information. =
I am sorry you all don’t know this information.

 

 

Voglio che loro tornino presto. I want that they return soon. =
I want them to return soon.
   
Voglio che loro  vendano la macchina vecchia. I want that they sell the old car. =
I want them to sell the old car.
   
Desidero che loro partano questa sera. I want that they leave tonight. =
I want them to leave tonight.
   
Desidero che loro facciano una bella festa per il presidente. I want that they make a nice party for the president. = I want them to make a nice party for the president.
   
Mi piace che loro vadano a Roma ogni giorno. I like that they go to Rome every day. =
I like them to go to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che loro non sappiano questa informazione. I am sorry that they don’t know this information. =
I am sorry they don’t know this information.

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Grand Hotel Isles des Borromees in Stresa on Lago Maggiore, Italy

Visiting Italy? Italian Restaurant Tips

Visiting Italy? Italian Restaurant Tips 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Visiting Italy? Follow Caterina for tips on how to order at your favorite Italian restaurant—from the Conversational Italian series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Visiting Italy? Learn how to order at your favorite Italian restaurant!

After Caterina arrives in Italy, she stays with her Italian cousin Pietro and his family in Milan for a while and adapts to Italian life and the Italian language. Then, in the last unit of the book, they all go on a summer vacation together. Caterina and the family stay at a typical northern Italian lake resort in the town of Stresa on Lago Maggiore.

For those travelers who are adventurous enough to try out their Italian on their own visit to Italy, read on for some phrases that will come in handy when ordering at an Italian restaurant. Get started by speaking with the waiter. A delicious meal is soon to follow!

To listen to the dialogue from Chapter 16, when Caterina and her Italian family arrive at an Italian restaurant and begin their wonderful meal together, go to the interactive audio dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Ordering at an Italian Restaurant (Part 1)
Speaking with the Waiter

Italian Restaurant at the Hotel Villa d'Este, Lago Como, Italy
Italian restaurant at the Villa d’Este hotel on Lago Como ready for lunch.

Below are some expressions that are commonly used when dining in a restaurant.

The io (I) and noi (we) forms of the verbs potere (to be able to/can) and volere (to want) are important to know in this situation, because requests are usually made for oneself or for the entire table.

We revisit the verb “Può?” for a polite way to say, “Could you?” and add “Posso?” for
“May I…?” and “Possiamo?” for “May we…?” to our list of polite phrases to use when making a request.

To the popular “io vorrei…” for “I would like,” we add the conditional plural form, “Noi vorremmo…” for “We would like…” See Chapter 18 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook for the full conjugation of these verbs in the conditional tense.

Posso… May I…
Possiamo… May we…
…sederci vicino alla finestra? …sit by the window?
…sederci a un’altro tavolo? …sit at another table?
…avere il menù? …see (have) the menu?
Qual’è lo speciale oggi/stasera? What is the special today/this evening?
 Qual’è il piatto del giorno? What is the dish of the day? (English = special of the day)
Che cosa ha scelto/avete scelto? What have you/you all chosen?
Vorrei… I would like…
Vorremmo… We would like…
…come antipasto, l’insalata mista. …for the antipasto, mixed salad.
…come primo, le tagliatelle alla bolognese. …for the first course, tagliatelle with Bolognese meat sauce.
…come secondo, l’osso bucco. …for the second course, braised veal shank.
…come dolce, solamente frutta. …for dessert, only fruit.
Non posso mangiare niente… I cannot eat anything…
…fatto con noci/arachidi. …made with nuts/peanuts.
…molto piccante. …very spicy.
Questo è troppo caldo. This is too hot.
Questo è troppo freddo. This is too cold.
Mi può portare… Could you bring me…
Ci può portare… Could you bring us…
…dell’acqua senza gas/naturale? …some water without gas (natural water)?
…dell’acqua con gas/frizzante? …some sparkling water?
…del pane/più pane? …some bread/more bread?
…del sale e pepe? …some salt and pepper?
…un cucchiaio, un coltello, una forchetta? …a spoon, a knife, a fork?
…un tovagliolo? …a napkin?
Cin cin!/Salute!/Alla tua salute! Cheers! (To your) good health!

Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 16, “Important Phrases  – Speaking with the Waiter,” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

 Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Stella Lucente Italian Facebook and Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest.
 Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
 Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Visiting Italy? Italian Restaurant Tips

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mode is easy to conjugate, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

Can you speak Italian? By now, many of you have passed the beginning stages of learning how to speak Italian and can read and comprehend quite a bit of the language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mode in the correct situations? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mode. Using the subjunctive mode is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and it’s something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian subjunctive mode, or “il congiuntivo.”

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian using the subjunctive, in this segment, we will discuss the phrases that take the subjunctive mode and the how to conjugate the subjunctive mode for avere, essere and stare. Example sentences to follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mode (“il congiuntivo”), phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mode will be presented. Then we will review the Italian conjugation for the subjunctive mode. Finally, examples of common phrases used in daily life with the subjunctive mode will be presented. Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mode in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy the first blog in this series, “Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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


Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 1)

Introducing… Phrases That Take the Italian Subjunctive Mode

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

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

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

These groups are listed below:

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the clause that follows, the pattern changes to: [verb + che + subjunctive verb].*
  2. Impersonal constructions that begin with, “It is…” such as, “È possibile che…”
  3. Phrases that express a doubt, such as, “I don’t know…” or “Non so che…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…”

 

In Italian, the introductory phrases usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

Note that the simple present or past tenses can also be used after the introductory phrases listed below, rather than the subjunctive mode, if you are speaking about a fact or something you believe to be true. This use will make perfect sense to the Italian listener, even when the subjective mode is otherwise commonly used.

To follow is a (long) list of phrases that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mode, with the present tense in the first two columns and the past tense in the last two columns. Notice that the imperfetto form of the past tense is given in our table.

Phrases That Take the Subjunctive Mode

 

Present Tense
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
    Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
 
Credo che I believe that Credevo che I believed that
Penso che I think that Pensavo che  I thought that
Spero che I hope that Speravo che I hoped that
         
È possibile che It is possible that Era possibile che It was possible that
È probablile che It is probable that Era probabile che It was probable that
       
È bene che It is fine/good that Era bene che It was fine/good that
Sarebbe bene che It would be good that Sarebbe stato bene che It would have been good that
È giusto che It is right that Era giusto che It was right that
È meglio  che It is better that Era meglio che It was better that
       
È incredible che It is incredible that Era incredibile che It was incredible that
È un peccato che It is a shame that Era un peccato che It was a shame that
È una vergogna che It is a disgrace that Era una vergogna che It was a disgrace that
È normale che It is normal that Era normale che It was normal that
       

 

Present Tense
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 3, 4, and 5
    Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 3, 4, and 5
 
Non so che I don’t know that Non sapevo che I didn’t know that
Non so dove I don’t know where Non sapevo dove I didn’t know where
Non sono sicuro che I am not sure that Non ero sicuro che I wasn’t sure that
Non ho idea che I have no idea that Non avevo idea che I had no idea that
Non mi aspetto che I couldn’t wait that Non mi aspettavo che I couldn’t wait that
Non c’è nulla che There is nothing that Non c’era nulla che There was nothing that
       
Mi pare che It seems to me Mi pareva che It seemed to me
Mi sembra che It seems to me Mi sembrava che It seemed to me
Può darsi che Perhaps    
Ho l’impressione che I have the impression that Avevo l’impresione che I had the impression that
Suppongo che I suppose that Supponevo che I supposed that
Immagino che I imagine that Immaginavo che I imagined that
Dubito che I doubt that Dubitavo che I doubted that
Sono convinto che I am convinced that Ero convinto che I was convinced that
 
A meno che Unless    
Conviene che It is best that Conveniva che It was best that
Basta che It is enough that Bastava che It was enough that
Malgrado che In spite of that    
Si dice che It is said that Si diceva che It was said that
Dicono che They say that Dicevano che They said that
 Bisogno che  It’s necessary that  Bisognavo che  It was necessary that

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare, and :  di + infinitive verb. Example: Penso di andare a Roma domani.  =  I think I will go to Rome tomorrow.

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

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Secondo me = According to me

Per me = For me

The above may seem like exceptions to the rule, but perhaps… because these phrases already express doubt or your personal opinion… in the Italian way of thinking, it would be redundant to use these phrases along with the subjunctive!


Speak Italian: The Present Tense Subjunctive Mode (Part 1)

How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mode

Here are the subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mode in written and spoken Italian.  Che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms are typically used with  the conjunction che.  Also, use the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular forms are identical.

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

Avere – to have – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io abbia I have
(che) tu abbia you (familiar) have
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

abbia you (polite) have

she/he has

     
(che) noi abbiamo we have
(che) voi abbiate you all have
(che) loro abbiano they have

 

Essere – to be – Subjunctive Mode

(che) io sia I am
(che) tu sia you (familiar) are
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

sia you (polite) are

he/he is

     
(che) noi siamo we are
(che) voi siate you all are
(che) loro siano they are

 

Stare – to stay (to be) – Subjunctive Mode

(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)

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 1)

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

To follow are some examples of when the Italian subjunctive mode in the present tense might be used in conversation during daily life. Remember, even in Italian, the subjunctive is not an absolute requirement. But, in the phrases below, the subjunctive mode is often used. Notice that the English translation is the same for the present tense and the Italian subjunctive forms used in the sentences below.

We will start with sentences using stare (to stay/to be) in the subjunctive mode because this verb comes up very commonly in this modern life, when not a day seems to go 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, if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with the family. Here is a case for the subjunctive!

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 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.


Example Phrases Using “Avere” in the Present Tense Subjunctive Mode

We often close an email with a hope as well—for a nice weekend, for instance, or that we will see the person we have contacted sometime soon. In this case, the phrases we most commonly use will need to use avere (to have) in the subjunctive mode.

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buona settimana! Have a good week! Spero che tu abbia una buona settimana.

 

I hope that you have a good week!
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.

 


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

The verb essere (to be) is commonly used when describing someone’s characteristics to someone else.  But what if we are not sure that someone possesses a certain characteristic, or we would like someone to possess a characteristic we fear they may not have? Then we must use the subjunctive in our sentence! Here are a few examples. How many more can you think of?

Present Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Lei è bella. She is beautiful. Mi sembra che lei sia bella. She seems beautiful to me.

(It seems to me that she is beautiful.)

L’insegnante è simpatico. The teacher is nice. Spero che l’insegnante sia simpatico.

 

I hope that the teacher is nice.
Dio è in cielo. God is in heaven. Credo che Dio sia in cielo.

 

I believe that God is in heaven.
L’attrice è brava in quel film. The actress is great in that film. Penso che l’attrice sia brava in quel film.

 

I think that the actress is great in that film.
Lui è fortunato. He is fortunate. Spero che lui sia fortunato.

 

I hope that he is fortunate.
Lei è contenta. She is happy. Mi pare che lei sia contenta.

 

She seems happy to me.

(It seems to me that she is happy.)

Loro sono bravi cantanti. They are wonderful singers. Può darsi che loro siano bravi cantanti. Perhaps they are wonderful singers.
Lui è un bravo studente. He is a good student. Dubito che lui sia un bravo studente.

 

I doubt that he is a good student.
Lei è sposata. She is marrried. È probabile che lei sia sposata. She is probably married.

(It is probable that she is married.)

Loro sono ricchi. They are rich. È possibile che loro siano ricchi. It is possible that they are rich.

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Subjunctive Mode (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Drive Italy! - Driving in Abruzzo

Drive Italy! When in Rome, Drive as the Romans Do!

Drive Italy! When in Rome, Drive as the Romans Do!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Drive Italy! Follow Caterina and get

tips on driving a car in Italy from the

Conversational Italian series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Drive Italy! When in Rome, Drive as the Romans Do!

After Caterina’s plane lands in Italy in the first chapter of the book, she takes a taxi to the main train station in Milan, where her cousin Pietro meets her. She is lucky to have a relative who can drive her in Italy to her final destination in Milan. For those travelers who choose to rent a car in Italy and then must drive themselves, I have included tips to follow in the “Cultural Note: Drive Italy!” section in Chapter 6, which has been adapted for this blog.

To listen to the dialogue from Chapter 6, when Caterina meets her cousin and he takes her on a (fictional) drive in Italy through Milan,  go to the interactive dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Cultural Note: Drive Italy! When in Rome, Drive as the Romans Do!

Drive Italy! Cars and buses along the Coloseum in Rome
Drive Italy: Cars, buses, and motorcycles driving by the Colosseum in Rome

The Italian railway system is the most efficient way to travel throughout Italy, especially for the tourist with limited time to spend. But for those for whom driving the autostrada in a Ferrari has always been a dream (see www.red-travel.com), or for those who have enough time to spend to really get to know the countryside (www.italylogue.com/agriturismo), here are a few tips about what it is like to drive in Italy.

To rent a car and legally drive in Italy, some additional paperwork will need to be completed. Before leaving, call AAA to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is an official translation of a U.S. driver’s license. Both the IDP and your driver’s license should be presented at the time of rental, along with proof of insurance.

Once out in your new vehicle, keep in mind that seat belts must be worn at all times, and when driving on highways, headlights must often be kept on during the day and at night (posted signs say, “in autostrada anabbaglianti sempre accessi”).  Speed limits vary according to the type of road in Italy. For the autostrada, maximum speed is 130–140 km/h, and the left lane is used for passing only, whereas through traffic uses the right lanes. Beware of drivers who try to cheat this rule by straddling the lanes. It is not advised to copy this technique!

Maximum speed on the main highways is 110 km/h and in the towns 50 km/h. Maximum speeds automatically decrease 10–20 km/h in rain and fog. The signs denoting maximum speed are round, with a red perimeter and black numbers in the center. If the speed limit temporarily decreases, such as when passing through a town, a new speed limit sign will be posted. When the restriction ends, the same sign will reappear with a diagonal slash through it.

When driving into a town, a sign with the town’s name will appear; when leaving, the same sign with a diagonal slash through the town’s name will be posted. Stop signs are the same shape and color as in the United States, and they even say the word “stop” in English. However, Italian drivers treat them as flashing yellow—if they can, drivers often keep going!

Keep in mind that (technically) there is no “right on red” in Italy. Also, beware of the upside-down triangle with a red perimeter, the dare la precedenza sign, which is found before intersections or roundabouts—you must give way to all other vehicles. A round sign with a red perimeter and white center means that the area is restricted to vehicles, and a similar sign with a white bar means no entry. A complete list of signs can be found online at www.slowtravel-italy.com.

And finally, a word about parking. Parking signs are blue, and paid parking spaces are outlined in blue. Find the parking machine nearby, pay with cash or credit for the allotted number of hours, and put the ticket on your dashboard (as in many U.S. cities today). White spaces are usually free parking, but the disco orario, a small cardboard clock, needs to be placed on your dashboard and set to the time you arrived at the space—ora di arrivo. The posted sign will tell you how long you may remain. In some cities, however, the white lines may be reserved for residents, so beware. Also, do not park in front of driveways, where you may see a passo carrabile sign; block any type of side street; or double park, despite what you may see the Italians do!

Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 6, “Cultural Note,” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.

 Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

 Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
YouTube Stella Lucente Italian, LLC

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Stella Lucente Italian Facebook and Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest 
 Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
 Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Drive Italy! When in Rome, Drive as the Romans Do!