Tag Archives: Italy

Lago Maggiore,: Italian reservations made for a view of Isola Bella

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and learn how to make YOUR Italian reservations 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.

Making Italian Reservations for YOUR Summer Vacation—or Any Time!

Because Caterina visits Italy during the summer months for our story, she is able to join her Italian family on their traditional trip for the Ferragosto holiday that takes place on the week of August 15. As part of their preparations,  Caterina’s sister-in-law Francesca asks Caterina to make hotel reservations for their family at their favorite family-run lakeside resort in the town of Stresa.

Listen in on Caterina’s conversation with the hotel manager at our website  www.LearnTravelItalian.com and learn important Italian phrases that may be useful to plan YOUR vacation in Italy this summer!

The Cultural Note below, adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, focuses on how to use the Italian vocabulary needed to make and change reservations.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Making Italian Reservations
Checking and Changing Italian Reservations

Historic Villa Igea Hotel, Palermo Sicily
Italian sunrise over Palermo, Sicily, from the historic Villa Igea Hotel

Let’s start with some basic phrases that will be helpful to know when calling or speaking to hotel personnel in order to make a reservation. To follow, we will learn about some general ways these phrases can be used.

 

la prenotazione reservation
Ho una prenotazione. (I) have a reservation.
prenotare to make a reservation
Ho prenotato (I) have made a reservation…
riservare to make a reservation
È riservato… (It) is reserved…
l’ordine order
ordinare to order
Ho ordinato… (I) have ordered…
annullare to cancel (a reservation or order)
Ho annulato… (I) have cancelled…
cambiare to change
Ho cambiato… (I) have changed…
controllare to check
Ho controllato (I) have checked…
confermare to confirm
Ho confermato… (I) have confirmed…

 

Vorrei/Desidero… I would like/I want to…
…fare una prenotazione. …make a reservation.
…annullare una prenotazione. …cancel a reservation.
…cambiare una prenotazione. …change a reservation.
…controllare una prenotazione. …check a reservation.
…confirmare una prenotazione. …confirm a reservation.
…ordinare la prima colazione. …order breakfast.
.
Si, la camera è riservata. Yes, the room is reserved.
Lei ha una stanza riservata per sabato. You (pol.) have a room reserved for Saturday.

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

Both Italian verbs prenotare and riservare translate into English as “to book/to make a reservation.” Their corresponding nouns are la prenotazione and la riservazione. Although both nouns translate as the English word reservation, the use of each Italian word varies with the situation.

Most commonly, when asking to make Italian reservations at a hotel, on a train, or at the theater, Italians use the word prenotazione, with the verb fare, as Caterina does when she says during her telephone conversation in our dialogue Chapter 12 Dialogue “Phone Conversations,” “Vorrei fare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to make a reservation.”

When boarding a train or entering a theater with a ticket that has a reserved seat, Caterina would have “un biglietto con la prenotazione,” or “a ticket with the reservation.” If Caterina wants to tell someone she is checking her seat to make sure she is in the right place, she would use the verb controllare, as in, “Controllo il biglietto con la prenotazione,” for “I am checking the ticket with the reservation.” Remember il controllore from Chapter 5 of our textbook Conversational Italian for Travelers, whose job it is to check tickets on passenger trains?

However, the actual room in the hotel or seat on the train or theater is referred to as reserved with the past tense, as in “Il posto è riservato.” The seat has been booked, and no one else can use it. The word riservato can also be used as an adjective. If someone else had made a prenotazione before Caterina, her request might be denied because of una camera riservata, una stanza riservata, or un posto riservato!

Now, what would happen if Caterina had to cancel a reservation she has made for a trip She would call the hotel and use the verb annullare and say, “Vorrei annullare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to cancel a reservation.” If she had placed an order for something that needed to be cancelled, Caterina would say, “Vorrei annulare un ordine.” Or if a reservation needed to be changed, she could use the verb cambiare, as in “Vorrei cambiare una prenotazione.”

And what should we do if we want to confirm a reservation? Just say, “Vorrei confermare una prenotazione.” Finally, instead of vorrei, one could also use the verb desidero for I would like. Also, as always, be polite and add per favore to the end of the sentence!

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 12, “Important Phrases and Grammar Note: Making, Checking and Changing a Reservation,” 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!
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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

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog                          Everything you need to know
to talk over the phone about your Italian beach vacation… in Italian!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

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 talk about what you did on your Italian beach vacation using the past tense correctly—over the phone?   

Can you speak Italian the way you would speak in your native language, with complex and varied sentences? This is more difficult than it may seem at first, and it’s something that I am always working on!

This series will focus on the situations that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian instructors and friends. The “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on the type of sentence structure and vocabulary we all need to remember to be more fluent when we speak Italian!

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, we must know how to use the present and the past tense easily; in this segment, we will focus on the pronomial verb esserci and the past tense in Italian. We will discuss how to use the helping verbs avere and essere with the passato prossimo past tense, the trapassato past tense, the verb passare in the past tense, and the past progressive tense. At the end will be an introduction to the future tense as well!

If you need to refresh your memory on when to use the passato prossimo form of the past tense versus when to use the imperfetto, please visit the third blog post in this series, Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

 

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

In the “Speak Italian” blog series, a short essay or dialogue in Italian will be presented about a commonly used topic of conversation. Then, we will review the Italian grammar that is necessary to talk about the particular topic in detail. And finally, the same material will be presented in Italian and English, with blanks for the reader to fill in with descriptions from his or her own life or to practice verb conjugation! Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the fourth topic in this series, “Speak Italian: Italian Vacation Revisited by Phone”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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 language instructor Simona Giuggioli.

 


Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

In the dialogue to follow,  we listen in on a conversation between an Italian mother and her daughter after the two have been separated for a few weeks. It turns out that the daughter has been enjoying a vacation on the beaches of Sicily. While reading their conversation, try  to pick out the past tense verbs and notice which helping verb—avere or essere—is used for each.

And… by the way, the southern coast of Sicily has beautiful beaches and really is a destination for windsurfing!

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited
by Phone

Una mattina, mentre Francesca stava preparando la prima colazione per se stessa e suo figlio che si chiama Carlo, i due hanno sentito lo squillo del cellulare.

One morning, while Frances was preparing breakfast for herself and her son Carl, they heard the cell phone ring.

 

Carlo ha detto, “Rispondo io” e si è diretto verso al soggiorno. Ha preso il cellulare dal tavolino e ha risposto.

Carl said, “I’ll get it (I’ll answer it),” and headed over to the living room. He took the cell phone from the end table and answered (it).

 

“Pronto,” ha detto lui. “Chi è? Chi parla?” E dopo: “Anna! Come stai? Ti passo mamma.”

“Hello,” he said. “Who is it? Who’s calling (lit. speaking)?” And after, “Anna! How are you? I’ll get (pass the phone to) mom for you.”

 

Era Anna, la figlia di Francesca, che era appena tornata dalla vacanza in Sicilia!

It was Anna, Frances’s daughter, who had just returned from vacation in Sicily!

 

Francesca aveva ricevuto qualche messaggio da Anna sul cellulare, ma non si erano parlate a telefono per tre settimane.

Frances had received some texts from Anna on the cell phone, but they had not spoken to each other on the phone for three weeks.

 

“Quanto tempo è passato!” ha detto Francesca ad Anna, dopo che Carlo le ha passato il cellulare. “Sono molto contenta di sentirti!”

“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone. “I am so happy to hear from you!”

 

“Mamma! Sono solo tre settimane!” ha detto Anna a Francesca.

“Mom! (Up until now it) is only three weeks!”(English: has been only) said Anna to Frances.

 

“Lo so. Dimmi! Dove sei? Perché non sei tornata a casa? Sei ancora alla stazione? Passerò a prenderti prima del lavoro.”

“I know. Tell me! Where are you? Why haven’t you come home? Are you still at the station? I will pick you up before work.”

 

“Stai calma, mamma!” ha detto Anna. “Siamo arrivate a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ho passato la notte a casa di Giulia.”

“Calm down, mom!” Anna said. “We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

 

Anna ha continuato a parlare: “Verrò ad Avezzano in treno e sarò alla stazione alle quattordici. Chi può venire a prendermi alla stazione, tu or Carlo?”

Anna continued (to talk): “I will come to Avezzano by train and will be at the station at 2 p.m.  Who can come to pick me up at the station, you or Carl?”

 

“Questo pomeriggio sarà in ufficio, ma Carlo può portarti a casa in macchina sua.”

“This afternoon I will be at the office, but Carl can take you home in his car.”

 

“Ci sarò,” ha detto Carlo, che ha sentito la conversazione. “Non preoccuparti!”

“I will be there,” said Carl, who had heard the conversation. “Don’t worry!”

 

“È papà?” ha chiesto Anna. “Non c’è?”

“And dad?” asked Anna. “Is he (not) there?”

 

“No. Non c’è a casa questa settimana. È dovuto andare a Milano.”

“No. He’s not at home this week. He had to go to Milan.”

 

“Dimmi un po’ della tua vacanza. C’era bel tempo? Era bella la spiaggia in Sicilia? E come era l’appartamento della famiglia di Giulia?”

“Tell me a little bit about your vacation. Was the weather nice? Was the beach nice in Sicily? And how was Julia’s family’s apartment?”

 

“C’era molto sole, naturalmente! Eravamo in Sicilia! La spiaggia era molto bella. Mi piace molto la zona di Ragusa, lo sai. Ti ho mandato molte foto via SMS. Non le hai ricevute?”

“It was very sunny, naturally! We were in Sicily! The beach was very beautiful. I love the area around Ragusa, you know. I texted a lot of photos to you. Didn’t you receive them?”

 

“Si, le ho ricivute. Ma che hai fatto per tutti quei giorni sulla spiaggia?”

“Yes, I received them. But what did you do for all those days on the beach?”

 

“Ho preso il sole. Mi sono rilassata molto. Ho nuotato con Giulia e qualche amica che abbiamo incontrato là.”

“I sunbathed. I relaxed a lot. I swam with Julia and some friends that we met there.”

 

“Li conosco, questi amici?”

“Do I know these friends?”

 

“Ne conosci solamento uno. Ricordi Giovanni che ho incontrato all’università di Roma?”

“You know only one of them. Do you remember John whom I met at college in Rome?”

 

“No. Non me lo recordo affatto.”

“No. I really don’t remember him.”

 

“È un tipo corto ma magro… con i capelli neri. In ogni caso, l’ho incontrato per caso sulla spiaggia. C’erano tre ragazzi vicino a me. Ma Giovanni è passato davanti a me e l’ho riconosciuto.”

“He is the short type but thin… with black hair. In any case, I met him by chance on the beach. There were three guys near me. But John passed by in front of me and I recognized him.”

 

“L’ho riconosciuto subito, perché lui mi piaceva molto quando eravamo a scuola insieme.”

“I recognized him right away, because I really liked him when we were at school together.”

 

“Veramente? Non mi hai mai parlato di lui prima.”

“Really? You never talked to me about him before.”

 

“Allora, ci siamo passati i numeri di telefono e resteremo in contatto d’ora in poi.”  

“Anyway, we exchanged telephone numbers and will remain in contact from now on.”

 

“Va bene! Qual cos’altro è successo?”

“Very well!  What else happened?”

 

“Ho anche camminato molto sulla spiaggia e qualche volta ho corso un po’ sul lungomare dietro dell’appartamento. Una mattina sono corsa al porto di Ragusa per incontrari i miei amici.”

“I also walked a lot on the beach, and several times I ran a bit along the boardwalk in back of the apartment. One morning I ran to the port of Ragusa to meet my friends.”

 

“Che hai fatto al porto?”

“What did you do at the port?”

 

“Vicino al porto c’è la spiaggia pubblica. Abbiamo fatto windsurf.”

“Near the port is the public beach. We went windsurfing.”

 

“Meraviglioso! Lo so che ti piace molto fare windsurf.”

“Great! I know that you really like windsurfing.”

 

“E uno dei nostri amici ha una barca. Alcune sere siamo restati in barca fino alle nove di sera e abbiamo visti il tramonto sul mare.”

“And one of our friends has a boat. Some nights we stayed in the boat until 9 p.m. and watched the sunset from the sea.”

 

“Molto bello!”

“Very nice!”

 

“Un altra sera io e Giulia siamo andate al ristorante a Scicli. Giovanni e un ragazzo che si chiama Paolo ci hanno portato lì. Il ristorante era sottoterra, in una grotta, con le candele accesse sulle tavole. Era molto romantico.”

“Another night Julia and I went to a restaurant in Scicli. John and a guy called Paul took us there. The restaurant was underground, in a grotto, with candles on the tables. It was very romantic.”

 

“Dopo siamo andati a ballare in un piccolo discoteca vicino. Abbiamo ballato fino alle due di mattina. È stato molto divertente!”

“Afterward, we went to dance in a small club nearby. We danced until 2 a.m. It was a lot of fun!”

 

“Mi sembra di si!”

“It seems like it was!”

 

“C’è altro della storia di Giovanni e me. Ma ora ho appena finito un caffè e devo preparmi per uscire di casa. Ci parliamo più tardi.”

“There’s more to the story about John and me. But now I have just finished a cup of coffee, and I have to get ready to go out. We’ll talk more later.”

 

“Va bene. Ma ci vediamo presto!”

“OK. But we will see each other soon!”

 

“Si, mamma! La storia dell’estate è finita ma un altra storia sta per comminciare!”

“Yes, Mom! The summertime story is over, but another story is about to begin!”

 


 

Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know to Speak on the Phone…

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Use the Pronomial Verb Esserci

The verb esserci means “to be there,” or “to be around.” Notice that the adverb “ci,” which takes on the meaning of “there,” is an integral part of this verb.

Anyone who has been speaking Italian for even a short time has probably heard the expressions “c’è” for “there is” and “ci sono” for “there are.” These phrases are mentioned in Chapter 6 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers. Now we know the infinitive verb that the above expressions originate from!

There are many, many expressions that use esserci. Below is a list of the most common expressions. “Ci sarò” for “I will be there!” comes up often in conversation. “Sarò là,” or “Sara lì,” are two equivalent phrases that may be heard today that use the verb essere instead of esserci.

A common idiomatic expression that answers the question of personal well-being, “Come stai?” is “Non c’è male,” with the meaning, “Not so bad.”

Many negative expressions use esserci as well.

Finally, esserci is used in the many idiomatic expressions about the weather. A few common weather expressions are listed below.

 

c’è there is
C’è una cosa…
C’è una cosa…?
There is something…
Is there something?
Non c’è problema. There is no problem.
Non c’è dubbio. There’s no doubt.
Non c’è bisogno. There’s no need.
Non c’è più. There is no more.
Non c’è internet. The Internet doesn’t work. There’s no Internet there/here.
Non c’è WIFI. There is no WiFi.
Non c’è male. Not so bad.
Non c’è verso di… There’s no way to…/It’s not possible to…
Non c’è da farsi illusioni… It’s no wonder that…
   
ci sono there are
Ci sono tanti turisti a Firenze. There are many tourists in Florence.
Ce ne sono tanti./Ce ne sono un miliardo. There are many (of them)./There are a billion (of them). (Any number greater than 1 can be used.)
Non ci sono con la testa. I am not thinking straight; I am exhausted.
   
c’era there was
C’era una volta. Once upon a time.
Una volta c’era… In the past there was…/Once there was…
   
c’erano there were
C’erano tanti turisti a Firenze. There were many tourists in Florence.
Ce n’erano tanti. / Ce n’erano un miliardo. There were many (of them)./There were a billion (of them). (Any number greater than 1 can be used.)
   
Ci sarò. I will be there.
Chi c’è con te? Who is there with you?
Tu avresti dovuto esserci. You should have been there.
Lei/lui avrebbe dovuto esserci. He/she should have been there.
   
Deve esserci una… festa. There must be a… party there.
   
Pronto. Chi è? Chi parla? Hello? Who is it? (telephone greeting uses essere)
C’è al telefono la signora Massa. Mrs. Massa is on the phone.
Non c’è (lui)? He/she is not around./He’s not there/here.
Non c’è (nessuno)? Is anybody around?/Is anybody there?
(Nobody is around/there/here?)
Non ci sono per nessuno per la prossima ora. (lit.) I’m not here for anyone for the next hour. (idiomatic: pretend I’m not here; don’t bother me; leave me alone)
   
C’è il sole. There is sun./It is sunny.
C’è bel tempo./Fa bel tempo. There is nice weather./It is nice out.
C’è brutto tempo./Fa brutto tempo. It is bad weather./It is bad out.
C’era sole. There was sun./It was sunny.
C’era bel tempo./Faceva bel tempo. There was nice weather./It was nice out.
C’era brutto tempo./Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather./It was bad out.

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo 
Verbs That Take Essere

 

Here is a list of the most common action verbs that take essere when forming the passato prossimo form of the past tense in Italian. Most of these verbs describe the act of going from one place to another, although not all of them do. We will break them down into their respective groups in the next sections and then give examples from our dialogue.

The infinitive form is in the first column, and the corresponding past participle is listed in the third column; the irregular past participles are given in red. Remember that when essere is the helping verb, the endings of the past participles will change to reflect the gender and number of the subject. The various endings are given in parentheses.

It should be noted again that all reflexive verbs, and the verb piacere, take essere.

 

Infinitive                                                           Past Participle

accadere to happen accaduto        (a)(i,e) happened
andare to go andato            (a)(i,e) went
arrivare to arrive arrivato           (a)(i,e) arrived
cadere to fall caduto            (a)(i,e) fell
cambiare to change cambiato        (a)(i,e) changed
cominciare to begin cominciato     (a)(i,e) began
correre# to run corso              (a)(i,e) ran
crescere to grow cresciuto         (a)(i,e) grown
diventare to become diventato        (a)(i,e) became
entrare to enter entrato           (a)(i,e) entered
finire+ to finish finito               (a)(i,e) finished
iniziare+ to begin iniziato           (a)(i,e) began
morire to die morto             (a)(i,e) dead
nascere to be born nato                (a)(i,e) born
partire to leave partito            (a)(i,e) left
passare* to pass through/put through passato           (a)(i,e) passed through; passed

put through

piacere to be pleasing to piaciuto          (a)(i,e) pleased
restare to remain restato            (a)(i,e) remained
rimanere to remain rimasto           (a)(i,e) remained
ritornare to return ritornato         (a)(i,e) returned
salire* to go up salito              (a)(i,e) went up
scendere* to do down sceso              (a)(i,e) went down
stare to stay/(to be) stato               (a)(i,e) stayed/been
succedere to happen successo         (a)(i,e) happened
uscire to go out uscito             (a)(i,e) went out
tornare to return tornato           (a)(i,e) returned
venire to come venuto            (a)(i,e) came

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Direction

ALWAYS Take Essere

Let’s break down the long list of action verbs that take essere into separate categories to make them easier to remember.

The most important rule governing these verbs is that they describe movement from one place to another specific place. The action has a beginning and a specific end point. Some obvious verbs in the category, like andare (to go) and venire (to come), are listed in the following table.

Restare and rimanere have been included in this list under the theory that one has come from one place and arrived at another place where he or she will “remain” for a bit.

 

Infinitive                                                                  Past Participle

andare to go andato            (a)(i,e) went
arrivare to arrive arrivato           (a)(i,e) arrived
cadere to fall caduto            (a)(i,e) fell
entrare to enter entrato           (a)(i,e) entered
partire to leave partito            (a)(i,e) left
restare to remain restato            (a)(i,e) remained
rimanere to remain rimasto           (a)(i,e) remained
ritornare to return ritornato         (a)(i,e) returned
uscire to go out uscito             (a)(i,e) went out
tornare to return tornato           (a)(i,e) returned
venire to come venuto            (a)(i,e) came

 

Un altra sera io e Giulia siamo andate al ristorante a Scicli.”
“Another night, Julia and I went to a restaurant in Scicli.”

“Perché non sei tornata a casa?”
“Why haven’t you come home?”

“Siamo arrivate a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ho passato la notte a casa di Giulia.”
“We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

“Alcune sere siamo restati in barca fino alle nove di sera e abbiamo visti il tramonto sul mare.”
“Some nights we stayed in the boat until 9 p.m., and we watched the sunset from the sea.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Being/Living

ALWAYS Take Essere

 

If we think of the verbs that describe “living” as taking us from birth to death; that is, from our beginning to our end point as human beings, it makes sense that essere is needed as the helping verb. Other commonly used verbs that describe how we all change in life, ingrassare, dimagrire, and invecchiare, have also been included.

As part of this way of thinking, we have included the verbs cambiare and diventare in this list as well. Because something or someone will change from one thing into another, there is a beginning and end point implied in these verbs as well. For a similar reason, accadere and succedere are included—the endpoint of a change is that something has happened. Below is a list of these verbs.

 

Infinitive                                                          Past Participle

accadere to happen accaduto        (a)(i,e) happened
cambiare to change cambiato        (a)(i.e) changed
crescere to grow cresciuto         (a)(i,e) grown
dimagrire to lose weight/to become or make one look thin dimagrito        (a)(i,e) lost weight/became or made one look thin
diventare to become diventato        (a)(i,e) became
ingrassare to gain weight/to become or make one look fat ingrassato       (a)(i,e) gained weight/became or made one look fat
invecchiare to age/get old/to become or appear older

to mature

invecchiato     (a)(i,e) to have aged

to have gotten old

to have become or appear older

to mature

morire to die morto             (a)(i,e) dead
nascere to be born nato                (a)(i,e) born
stare to stay/(to be) stato               (a)(i,e) stayed/been
succedere to happen successo         (a)(i,e) happened

 

“Che succede?”/“Che sta succedendo?”
What is happening?”

“Che cosa è successo?”/“Che è successo?”/“Cosa è successo?”
“What happened?”

“Cosa stava succedendo quando siete arrivate alla spiaggia.”
“What was happening when we arrived at the beach?”

“Cosa altro è successo?”
“What else happened?”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Non-Directional Action Verbs

ALWAYS Take Avere

 

Camminare and ballare are two verbs of movement that take the helping verb avere, rather than essere.

I’ve always thought this a bit curious, although one could say that dancing is movement without any set direction; spinning and turning are common, of course, and there is no set beginning or end to a dance, except in a performance.

Why does camminare take avere, and not essere? Maybe because it is sometimes used with the meaning of “to stroll,” which implies a leisurely walk without any set direction? Or maybe that is just the way it is, and there is no real explanation!

 

Infinitive                                                                    Past Participle

camminare to walk/to proceed/to function camminato walked/proceeded/functioned
ballare to dance ballato danced
passeggiare to stroll/to walk passseggiato strolled/walked
nuotare to swim nuotato swam
sciare to ski sciato skiied
pattinare (sul ghiaccio) to ice skate pattinato (sul ghiaccio) ice skated
pattinare (a rotelle) to roller skate pattinato (a rotelle) roller skated
fare windsurf to windsurf fatto windsurf windsurfed

 

“Ho nuotato con Giulia e qualche amica che abbiamo incontrato là.”
I swam with Julia and some friends that we met there.

 

“Ho anche camminato molto sulla spiaggia…”
“I also walked a lot on the beach…”

 

“Vicino al porto c’è la spiaggia pubblica. Abbiamo fatto windsurf.”
“Near the port is the public beach. We went windsurfing.”

 

“Dopo siamo andati a ballare in una piccola discoteca vicino. Abbiamo ballato fino alle due di mattina.”
“Afterward, we went to dance in a small club nearby. We danced until 2 a.m. It was a lot of fun!”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verb Correre

Takes Either Essere or Avere

 

Correre will take essere if one is running toward a destination. If one is running without a destination, correre will take avere.

“Lui è corso a casa sua.” for “He ran to his house.” vs. “Lui ha corso.” for “He ran.”

Infinitive                                   Past Participle

correre to run corso              (a)(i,e) ran

 

…e qualche volta ho corso un po’ sul lungomare dietro l’appartamento. Una mattina sono corsa al porto di Ragusa per incontrare i miei amici.”

…and several times, I ran a bit along the boardwalk in back of the apartment. One morning, I ran to the port of Ragusa to meet my friends.”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Starting/Finishing
Take Either Essere or Avere

 

The following two verbs, cominciare and iniziare, which both mean “to begin,” and finire, which means “to finish,” can use either essere or avere as their helping verb with the passato prossimo past tense.

Which helping verb to use? This will depend on the situation. In linguistic terms, these verbs are considered transitive and intransitive.* But who can remember this?

Use this trick to help you to remember whether to use avere or essere. When the subject is a person or group of people that has started or finished something, and the “something” is mentioned after the verb (as a direct object), use avere. Otherwise, use essere.

 

So, “Io ho finito il libro,” “Tu hai finito il libro,” and “Lei/lui ha finito il libro,” means I, you, he/she has finished the book. 

 But “Il film è finito” means “The film is finished.”

Notice that in the last example, the verb itself completes the sentence and refers back to the subject.* ++

 

 

Infinitive                                                                          Past Participle

cominciare to start cominciato     (a)(i,e) began
finire+ to finish finito               (a)(i,e) finished
iniziare+ to begin iniziato           (a)(i,e) began

 

“Ma ora ho appena finito un caffè e devo preparmi per uscire di casa.”
”But now I have just finished a cup of coffee, and I have to get ready to go out.”

 

“La storia dell’estate è finita ma un altra storia sta per comminciare!”
“The summertime story is over, but another story is about to begin!”

 

*Finire is categorized as transitive in all of the examples except the last, and it is considered intransitive in the last example, but don’t worry about these terms!

  ++Not to complicate things too much but... One can say, “Io sono finito,” or “Lei è finita,” but unfortunately, the meaning will be that this person’s life has finished or something important in his or her life has “finished them” “for good.”

 


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Passato Prossimo
Action Verbs of Going Up/Down
Take Either Essere or Avere

Some verbs of movement that involve going up or down, such as scendere, salire, or saltare, take avere when used with a direct object (a thing or place that follows the verb), as in the following examples:

“Io ho sceso le scale.”
“I went down the stairs.”/“I have gone down the stairs.”

“Io ho salito le scale.” 
“I went up the stairs.”/“I have gone up the stairs.”

“Oggi ho saltato il pranzo.”
“Today I skipped lunch.”/“Today I have skipped lunch.”

 

 Otherwise, if these verbs are followed by a preposition, they use essere:

Lui è sceso dall’autobus.
He has gotten off the bus.

Lui è salito sull’autobus.
He has gotten on the bus.

La ragazza è saltata in aria dalla gioa.
The girl jumped in the air for joy.

Notice that in the last examples, the verb itself completes the sentence and refers back to the subject.*

 

Infinitive                                                                  Past Participle    

salire* to go up salito  (a)(i,e) went up
saltare to jump
to hop, to skip, and to go out/off (electronics)
saltato  (a)(i,e) jumped, hopped, skipped, went out/off

(electronics)

scendere* to do down sceso  (a)(i,e) went down

 

*Scendere, salire, and saltare are categorized as transitive in the first list of examples, and they are categorized as intransitive in the second, but don’t worry about these terms!


 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

The Many Uses for the Verb Passare

The verb passare means “to pass,” as in “to pass through,” “pass by,” “to pass time,” or “to spend time.” This simple verb is used in many ways in English and Italian!

lasciar passare (time) let (something) pass
  allow (something) to pass
lasciar passare (ignore) let (something) go by
passare alla storia to go down in history
   
passare una telephonata pass the telephone call over to someone
passare una serata insieme to spend a night together
passare un ordine… to send instructions (to somebody) to do (something)
passare la palla to pass the responsibility over (to someone) (lit. to pass the ball)
passare per la testa (something) comes to mind/to one’s mind/in one’s mind
   
passare a prendere (qualcuno) (pass by and) pick (someone) up
passare a far visita pass by to see (somebody)
  drop in to see (somebody)
passare a trovare (qualcuno) pass by to visit (somebody)
  pop in to see (somebody)
passare in ufficio to drop by the office
passare un attimo da casa to drop by one’s house for a bit
passare col rosso go through a red light

 

  1. Passare is used in the important everyday expression “passare a prendere,” which means “to pick up.” Venire is used with prendere as well, with a slightly different meaning.

Sei ancora alla stazione? Passerò a prenderti prima del lavoro.”
“Are you still at the station? I will pick you up before work.”

 

“Può venire alla stazione a prendermi?”
“Can you (polite) come to the station and get me?”

 

  1. We can “pass” something to someone else, such as the telephone or cell phone (il telefono, il cellulare, il telefonino) or the telephone call (la telefonata). If speaking Italian in the past tense, we must use avere as our helping verb.

“Quanto tempo è passato!” ha detto Maria ad Anna, dopo che Carlo le ha passato il cellulare.
“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone.

 

  1. If we are doing something “to pass the time,” we must use avere as our past tense helping verb.

“Siamo arrivate a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ho passato la notte a casa di Giulia.”
“We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

 

  1. Time can “pass by” all by itself, so we must use essere as our past tense helping verb.

“Quanto tempo è passato!” ha detto Maria ad Anna, dopo che Carlo le ha passato
il cellulare.
“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone. “I am so happy to hear from you!”

 

  1. If a person “passes by/passes through,” we must use essere as our past tense helping verb.

Ma Giovanni è passato davanti a me e l’ho riconosciuto.”
“But John passed by in front of me, and I recognized him.”

 

  1. Finally, the reflexive verb passarsi is used to mean “to exchange” something between people and is interchangeable with scambiarsi. Both verbs take essere in the past tense, of course, because they are reflexive!

“Allora, ci siamo passati i numeri di telefono e resteremo in contatto d’ora in poi.”
“Anyway, we exchanged telephone numbers and will remain in contact from now on.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Past Tense – Past Progressive Tense
Verbs That Take Stare

Occasionally, we may want to emphasize that a particular action is going on at the exact same time as the conversation that is taking place. In this case, we would use the present progressive tense, or “-ing” tense, as we do so often in English.

In Italian, this tense is expressed with the verb stare and the gerund of the action verb. This is easier than it may seem at first because the gerunds are almost all regular for all three conjugations. Also, the second and third conjugations are identical!

To form the gerund, just drop the –are, –ere, or –ire infinitive ending and add the following endings:

Forming the Gerund

Verbs that end in are stem + ando
Verbs that end in –ere or –ire stem + endo

 

Conjugate stare to reflect the speaker, add the gerund, and you have made the present progressive tense of the verb!

For the past tense progressive form, simply conjugate stare in the imperfetto past tense and follow with the gerund. Luckily, stare is regular in the imperfetto form!

Here are all the forms of the present progressive and past progressive tenses using the verb preparare. Notice that the accent falls on the second to last syllable of the gerund, which is underlined.

Stare preparare – to be preparing

 

io sto stavo preparando I am/was                                       preparing
tu stai stavi preparando you (familiar) are/were         preparing
Lei

lei/lui

sta stava preparando you (polite) are/were             preparing

she/he is/was                            preparing

         
noi stiamo stavamo preparando we are/were                              preparing
voi state stavate preparando you all are/were                      preparing
loro stanno stavano preparando they are/were                           preparing

 

“Una mattina, mentre Francescca stava preparando la prima colazione per se stessa e suo figlio che si chiama Carlo, i due hanno sentito lo squillo del cellulare.”

“One morning, while Frances was preparing breakfast for herself and her son Carl, they heard the cell phone ring.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

 Past Tense – Trapassato Prossimo

When talking about something in the past, we may at times refer to another event that has taken place even further in the past. In this case, the verb form used is the trapassato prossimo. So there is another Italian past tense to learn! But don’t despair! The use and verb structure is the same as for the passato prossimo!

Hint for use:  Whenever we say “had” in English, use the trapassato prossimo in Italian.

To form the compound verb for the trapassato prossimo, instead of using present tense avere or essere for the helping verb, simply substitute the imperfetto past tense form of these verbs. Then add the past participle. That’s all there is to it! Here are some examples from our dialogue:

 

“Era Anna, la figlia di Francesca, che era appena tornata dalla vacanza in Sicilia!”
“It was Ann, Frances’s daughter, who had just returned from vacation in Sicily!”

 

“Francesca aveva ricevuto qualche messaggio da Anna sul cellulare, ma non si erano parlate a telefono per tre settimane.”
“Frances had received some texts from Anna on the (her) cell phone, but they had not spoken to each other on the phone for three weeks.”

 


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Prepositions for Riding in/Getting in/Getting out of Vehicles

When one is riding in a train or another vehicle, the simple use of the preposition “in” will suffice for English and Italian. Travelers sometimes describe going or coming somewhere “by” train in English, but the preposition in Italian will not deviate from the usual “in.”

 

Anna ha continuato a parlare: “Verrò ad Avezzano in treno e sarò alla stazione alle quatordici.”

Anna continued (to talk): “I will come to Avezzano by train and will be at the station at 2 p.m.

 

However, Italian prepositions will change for cars versus other forms of transportation when one describes the act of getting in the vehicle. The same prepositions will be used for getting out of any vehicle, however.

 

To follow are some examples. Notice how the prepositions su (on) and da (from/out of) are combined with the different forms of the (il, l’, or la). 

 

Salgo* in macchina. I get into the car.
Salgo su I get on/I board/I go aboard…

 

“Salgo… sullautobus, sul treno, sulla barca, sulla motocicletta, sulla bicicletta, sullaereo.”

“I get onto… the bus, the train, the motorcycle, the bicycle, the airplane.”

 

Scendo dal I go down/I get down/I get off or out of…
Scendo dalla macchina. I get out of the car.

 

“Scendo… dallautobus, dal treno, dalla barca, dalla motocicletta, dalla bicicletta, dallaereo.”

“I get off… the bus, the train, the motorcycle, the bicycle, the airplane.”

 

Some common familiar command forms used to address family or friends riding with you:

Sali in macchina! Get into the car! (fam. command)
Scendi dalla macchina! Get out of the car! (fam. command)

 

 


Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone 

How well do you know how to use the Italian passato prossimo and past tense? Do you remember when to use the imperfetto past tense? And the  verb esserci? Fill in the blanks for the verbs in the Italian sentences in the exercise below, then check your work with the dialogue in the first section. If you like, write a story about an Italian beach vacation of your own!

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited
by Phone

 

Una mattina, mentre Francescca ________________________ la prima colazione per se stessa e suo figlio che si chiama Carlo, i due ___________________ lo squillo del cellulare.

One morning, while Frances was preparing breakfast for herself and her son Carl, they heard the cell phone ring.

 

 

Carlo ________, “Rispondo io, “e ____________” verso al soggiorno.  _________________________ il cellulare dal tavolino e ___________________________.

Carl said, “I’ll get it (I’ll answer it),” and headed over to the living room. He took the cell phone from the end table and answered (it).

 

 

“Pronto,” ___________. “Chi è? Chi parla?” E dopo: “Anna! Come stai? _____________.”

“Hello,” he said. “Who is it? Who’s calling (lit. speaking)?” And after, “Anna! How are you? I’ll get (pass the phone to) mom for you.”

 

 

____Anna, la figlia di Francesca, che __________________ dalla vacanza in Sicilia!

It was Anna, Frances’s daughter, who had just returned from vacation in Sicily!

 

 

Francesca ______________ qualche messaggio da Anna sul cellulare, ma non __________________ a telefono per tre settimane.

Frances had received some texts from Anna on the cell phone, but they had not spoken to each other on the phone for three weeks.

 

 

“Quanto tempo ________________________________!” ha detto Maria ad Anna, dopo che Carlo _____________________ il cellulare. “Sono molto contenta di sentirti!”

“How much time has gone by!” Frances said to Anna, after Carl gave (passed) her the cell phone. “I am so happy to hear from you!”

 

 

“Mamma! Sono solo tre settimane!” ___________________________ Anna a Francesca.

“Mom! (Up until now it) is only three weeks!”(English: has been only) said Anna to Frances.

 

 

“Lo so. Dimmi! Dove sei? Perché non ______________ a casa? Sei ancora alla stazione?  ______________________ prima del lavoro.”

“I know. Tell me! Where are you? Why haven’t you come home? Are you still at the station? I will pick you up before work.”

“Stai calma, mamma!” _____________________ Anna. “___________________ a Roma ieri sera ma era molto tardi, cosi ________________________ la notte a casa di Giulia.”

“Calm down, mom!” Anna said. “We arrived at Rome last night, but it was very late, so I stayed at Julia’s house for the night.”

 

Anna _________________________________: “Verrò ad Avezzano in treno e sarò alla stazione alle quattordici. Chi _________________________________________ alla stazione, tu or Carlo?”

Anna continued (to talk): “I will come to Avezzano by train and will be at the station at 2 p.m. Who can come to pick me up at the station, you or Carl?”

 

“Questo pomeriggio sarà in ufficio, ma Carlo ________________________________ a casa in macchina sua.”

“This afternoon I will be at the office, but Carl can take you home in his car.”

 

 

“________________,” ____________________ Carlo, che __________________ la conversazione. “Non preoccuparti!”

“I will be there,” said Carl, who had heard the conversation. “Don’t worry!”

 

“È papà?” _________________________ Anna. “Non _____________?”

“And dad?” asked Anna. “Is he (not) there?”

 

“No. Non ______________ a casa questa settimana. _________________________ a Milano.”

“No. He’s not at home this week. He had to go to Milan.”

 

 

“Dimmi un po’ della tua vacanza. _____________ bel tempo? _____________ bella la spiaggia in Sicilia? E come ______________ l’appartamento della famiglia di Giulia?”

“Tell me a little bit about your vacation. Was the weather nice? Was the beach nice in Sicily? And how was Julia’s family’s apartment?”

 

 

“______________ molto sole, naturalmente! _______________________ in Sicilia! La spiaggia _________________molto bella. Mi piace molto la zona di Ragusa, lo sai. _______________ molte foto via SMS. Non ____________________________?”

“It was very sunny, naturally! We were in Sicily! The beach was very beautiful. I love the area around Ragusa, you know. I texted a lot of photos to you. Didn’t you receive them?”

 

 

“Si, le ho ricivute. Ma che hai fatto per tutti quei giorni sulla spiaggia?”

“Yes, _____________________. But what ___________________ for all those days on the beach?”

 

 

“_________________________ il sole. _____________________________ molto. _________________ con Giulia e qualche amica che _________________________________ là.”

“I relaxed a lot. I swam with Julia and some friends that we met there.”

 

 

“Li conosco, questi amici?”

“Do I know these friends?”

 

 

“Ne conosci solamento uno. Ricordi Giovanni che ________________________ all’università di Roma?”

“You know only one of them. Do you remember John whom I met at college in Rome?”

 

 

“No. Non me lo recordo affatto.”

“No. I really don’t remember him.”

 

 

“È un tipo corto ma magro… con i capelli neri. In ogni caso, ___________________________ per caso sulla spiaggia.  ________________________________ tre ragazzi vicino a me. Ma Giovanni _________________________ davanti a me e  _________________________________.”

“He is the short type but thin… with black hair. In any case, I met him by chance on the beach. There were three guys near me. But John passed by in front of me, and I recognized him.”

 

 

“_____________________________ subito, perché lui ___________________________ quando ______________________________ a scuola insieme.”

“I recognized him right away, because I really liked him when we were at school together.”

 

“Veramente? Non _________________________ di lui prima.”

“Really? You never talked to me about him before.”

 

 

“Allora, _________________________ i numeri di telefono e resteremo in contatto
d’ora in poi.” 

“Anyway, we exchanged telephone numbers and will remain in contact from now on.”

 

 

“Va bene! Qual cos’altro è successo?”
“Very well! What else happened?”

 

 

“_________________________________ molto sulla spiaggia e qualche volta ___________________ un po’ sul lungomare dietro dell’appartamento. Una mattina ___________________ al porto di Ragusa per incontrari i miei amici.”

“I also walked a lot on the beach, and several times I ran a bit along the boardwalk in back of the apartment. One morning, I ran to the port of Ragusa to meet my friends.”

 

 

“Che hai fatto al porto?”

“What did you do at the port?”

 

 

“Vicino al porto _____________________ la spiaggia pubblica.  _________________________ windsurf.”

“Near the port is the public beach. We went windsurfing.”

 

 

“Meraviglioso! Lo so che ti piace molto fare windsurf.”

“Great! I know that you really like windsurfing.”

 

 

“E uno dei nostri amici ha una barca. Alcune sere _____________________________ in barca fino alle nove di sera e ______________________________ il tramonto sul mare.”

“And one of our friends has a boat. Some nights we stayed in the boat until 9 p.m. and watched the sunset from the sea.”

 

 

“Molto bello!”

“Very nice!”

 

“Un altra sera io e Giulia ________________________________ al ristorante a Scicli. Giovanni e un ragazzo che si chiama Paolo __________________________ lì. Il ristorante ________________ sottoterra, in una grotta, con le candele accesse sulle tavole. ______________ molto romantico.”

“Another night, Julia and I went to a restaurant in Scicli. John and a guy called Paul took us there. The restaurant was underground, in a grotto, with candles on the tables. It was very romantic.”

 

 

“Dopo __________________________ in un piccolo discoteca vicino. _______________________ fino alle due di mattina. ____________________ molto divertente!”

“Afterward, we went to dance in a small club nearby. We danced until 2 a.m. It was a lot of fun!”

 

“Mi sembra di si!”

“It seems like it was!”

 

 

“_______________________ altro della storia di Giovanni e me. Ma ora _____________________ un caffè e devo preparmi per uscire di casa. Ci parliamo più tardi.”

“There’s more to the story about John and me. But now I have just finished a cup of coffee, and I have to get ready to go out. We’ll talk more later.”

 

 

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!”

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 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

Speak Italian: Italian Beach Vacation Revisited by Phone

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?”

Filled pork chop

Italian Pork Chops Ripieno (with Prosciutto and Fontina)

Italian Pork Chops Ripieno (with Prosciutto and Fontina)

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Ripieno—The word for “stuffed” in Italian.  And pork chops filleted and filled  with prosciutto and Fontina cheese can only mean—delicious!

Italian Pork Chops Ripieno 

Monday night is pork chop night at my home, a tradition started some time ago when my children were small and just starting to eat table food. When the butcher has thick pork chops available, I like to use the trick of filling the pork chops with prosciutto and Fontina cheese to liven up our evening meal. As usual, for the recipes I post, the method is short and simple, so the dishes are easy to prepare at home. And the combination of delicious Italian ingredients will have your family clamoring for more!

Fontina is a wonderful Italian cheese that has been made from cow’s milk in the Val d’Aosta region of Northern Italy since the 12th century. Fontina has a light yellow color, a soft but firm texture, and a slightly nutty flavor. Like mozzarella, but less well known in this country, it is used in dishes that require melted cheese. When paired with prosciutto and a single fresh sage leaf, it makes a delicious filling for… just about anything!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Pork Chops Ripieno  

Pork chops with Italian ham and cheese
Pork chop filled with prosciutto, Fontina cheese, and sage leaf, cut and ready to eat.

Ingredients
(Makes 4 filled pork chops)

4 thick cut pork chops (1.5 inches optimal)
salt, pepper, olive oil

Filling
4 slices of Fontina cheese, cut into a rectangle
4 slices of Prosicutto di Parma, halved lengthwise
4  fresh sage leaves

Procedure

Lay out the ingredients for the filling.

Prosciutto, Fontina cheese, sage
Fontina cheese, fresh sage leaves, and prosciutto for filling

Take a rectangular piece of Fontina cheese and cover each side with half of a prosciutto slice. Top with a sage leaf.

Rinse the pork chops and pat dry.

Lay the pork chops flat on a cutting board, and using a sharp, small meat knife, pare off the excess fat from the edge. Then cut parallel to the surface of the pork chop through the whitish membrane until you can feel the bone. Gently separate the layers of pork chop with your fingers as you cut to create a pocket to hold the filling.

Pork chop filet with filling ingredients
Filled pork chop with filling ingredients ready to package and insert.

Insert prosciutto and Fontina cheese filling packets into the pork chop.

Close the free edge of the pork chop with two or three toothpicks. Angle each toothpick through the layers of pork chop so the pork chop seals nicely and can lie flat.

 

Filled and sealed pork chop
Filled pork chop sealed with two toothpicks

Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in your favorite skillet or on a griddle. If you have a ridged skillet, this will create grill marks on the meat, but a regular skillet will work.

Grill skillet
Skillet with grill ridges

Add pork chops and cook over high heat about 3 to 4 minutes to brown the surface. Two pork chops will usually fit in one skillet at a time. Try not to crowd the pork chops in the pan, so they brown properly.

Skillet with pork chops
Place pork chops on the skillet along the grill ridges.

Flip pork chops over and cook another 3 to 4 minutes over high heat to brown the other side.

Flip pork chops back to the original side. If using a skillet with grill ridges, turn the pork chop 90 degrees when you flip it over to create a criss-cross pattern.

Cover and lower heat to medium. Cook about 5 to 7 minutes.

Flip pork chops over and cook over medium heat, covered, for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Test the pork chops by inserting a knife into the meat near the bone.  If the juices do not run clear, cook an additional 5 minutes on either side, or until juices run clear.

Remove from skillet and take out toothpicks. Set each pork chop in an individual dish, drizzled with a small amount of the pan juices. Watch your family’s look of amazement when they cut into the pork chops to find a delicious filling!

Pork chops filled and cut open
Finished stuffed pork chop cut open to show the filling

—Adapted from the Italian-American Society of Peoria cooking classes, 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 Pork Chops Ripieno (with Prosciutto and Fontina)

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

Italian Sunday Dinner - Braciole and Pasta

Braciole: Italian Beef Rolls for Sunday Dinner

Braciole: Italian Beef Rolls for Sunday Dinner 

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogBraciole: It’s what’s for Sunday dinner!

Braciole: Italian Beef Rolls for Sunday Dinner 

Italian beef rolls—involtini di carne,  also known as braciole, bracioli, or  bruciuluni (in Palermo Sicilian dialect)—are a favorite southern Italian treat that are often served for the Sunday family dinner. What I enjoy most about this dish is that there are so many different variations, and every family that makes braciole has its own special traditional recipe. My family hides a whole hard-boiled egg in the center for a surprise when the braciole is cut open. Other families chop the egg in half or into smaller pieces, and some families do not use egg at all!

By the way, I am not sure of the origin of the word braciole used here in America, but in Italy, braciola refers to a cut of pork (usually grilled), and this dish can be made with pork cutlets. My friend Peter Palazzolo from the Speak Sicilian! Facebook group mentioned to me that long ago this rolled-up meat was cooked with grape vine twigs cured like coal, or bracia.  But, I think my friend and Italian teacher Maria Vanessa Colapinto (blog eleganza per me),  is correct with her idea that the real origin of this word comes from the Italian for the old-type grill that the rolled up meat for this dish was cooked on. This grill is still in use today and is called a “brace.” Meat cooked in this way is “all’abrace,” or “on the grill.”

A Note about Italian Tomato Sauce 

When I was growing up, I always knew it was Sunday from the wonderful fragrance of the pot of homemade tomato sauce cooking on the stove top that would slowly permeate every corner of our house. If we couldn’t wait for the sauce to finish cooking, a slice of Italian bread dipped in the sauce would serve to keep our appetites at bay until mom or grandma deemed it was finally perfect.

Southern Italian tomato sauce is cooked at least an hour or so and usually longer when other meats are added to flavor the sauce. Every Italian family has its own special sauce that has been passed down for generations. I am including here the basic tomato sauce recipe from my family that I use to cook the braciole.

Most Italians use only a little basil in their tomato sauce and sometimes some parsley, and I have included both herbs in the tomato sauce recipe below. The Italian motto seems to be “less is more” when it comes to tomato sauce, although the ingredients used must be high quality. Oregano is a herb not generally found in tomato sauce in Italy, although legend has it that American soldiers brought oregano home after World War II, and it seems like the American families here have adopted this additional herb for their sauce in many parts of the country.

Also, if good tomatoes or good tomato puree is used (with less acid), it is not necessary to add sugar to tomato sauce, but in some parts of America, a sweeter sauce is preferred. Growing up as I did in New York, we liked the Contadina brand of tomato products.

There are as many variations as there are families in Italy and America, so make the pot of sauce your family has come to love, and enjoy a special Sunday together!

Buon appetito!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Braciole Recipe

 Italian Tomato Sauce

1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 can (28 oz.) Contadina brand tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
1 can Contadina brand tomato paste
1/4 cup dried parsley or chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon dried basil or 2 Tablespoons torn fresh basil
1 Tablespoon of salt or to taste
Optional meat: ground beef, Italian sausage, braciole

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onions and garlic with a wooden spoon until softened.

Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, parsley, and basil to the same pot.

Add 2 cups of water.

Cover, bring the sauce to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer on medium-low heat with the lid partially covering the pot, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for at least 1 hour, so the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

Cook for at least 1 hour; at least 1.5 hours if adding meat to the sauce. (Brown any meat in a separate skillet before adding it.)

Add additional water if the sauce becomes too thick, or cook for additional time with the lid of the pot off if the sauce becomes too thin.

Prepare the Braciole Meat

Any thin, flat cut of beef can be used, such as top round. If you can, ask your butcher to cut the meat against the grain, so when it cooks in the sauce, it will soften properly and virtually melt in your mouth. At Caputo’s in Chicago, the meat is nicely marbled and labeled “braggiola steak,” an Americanization of the original word, no doubt.

DSCN2228

Tenderize Braciole Steak
Braciole meat ready to tenderize

 

One package with four braciole steaks, about 1.5 pounds for four people.

 

 

 

Lay the slices of meat out on a plate. Trim them to approximately the same rectangular size. If you want, tenderize and enlarge slightly with a meat mallet.

Fill, Assemble, and Cook the Braciole
4 hardboiled eggs, whole or halved
1/4–1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed, chopped coarsely
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1/4–1/3 cup  Provolone or another hard, sharp cheese, cut into coarse pieces

Other additions/substitutions: caciocavallo cheese, pancetta, ham, salami, mushrooms
Examples: breadcrumbs + garlic + olive oil or breadcrumbs + salami + cheese + parsley

Braciole
Ready to roll the braciole

 

Place the egg and other ingredients desired onto the braciole steak.

 

 

 

 

Roll up the braciole
Braciole rolled and tied

 

The braciole meat is rolled over the egg, long side, with short ends tucked in, and then tied with meat twine. The ends also can be sealed with toothpicks. To see step-by-step pictures of the methods for rolling a braciole, go to Stella Lucente Pinterest.

 

 

Braciole and Tomato Sauce
Braciole browning in a pan and a freshly made pot of tomato sauce

 

Brown each assembled braciole in a little olive oil in a frying pan.

Have sauce boiling on the stove top. Gently lower the braciole into the boiling sauce.

 

 

 

Lower heat to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, or until tender.

While braciole are cooking in the sauce, set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil and cook spaghetti or another pasta of your choice. Time the pasta so that it is hot and ready to be sauced when the braciole are done.

Remove the meat string or toothpicks before serving the braciole!

Serve with your favorite pasta and extra sauce on the side.  Pasta used for the picture in this blog is Mafaldine 81 from Divella, made in Italy.

 —Adapted from the cooking classes given by the Italian-American Society of Peoria, with special thanks to Rose M. Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the Conversational Italian for Travelers series 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 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 about Italian food and culture in each chapter of our book! 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

Braciole: Italian Beef Rolls for Sunday Dinner

Conversational Italian for Travelers Speak Italian!

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com Speak Italian: Everything

you need to know … 

to describe your day in Italian!

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 describe your daily routine and talk about yourself in Italian? Can you speak Italian the way you would speak in your native language, with complex and varied sentences? This is more difficult than it may seem at first, and it’s something that I am always working on!

This series will focus on the situations that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian instructors and friends. The “Speak Italian” blog series will focus on the type of sentence structure and vocabulary we all need to remember to be more fluent when we speak Italian!

To take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian, we must know many things; in this segment, we will discuss how to use reflexive verbs, how to use irregular verbs to say what we like, and how to describe the passage of time.

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

In the “Speak Italian” blog series, a short essay or dialogue in Italian will be presented about a commonly used topic of conversation. Then, we will review the Italian grammar that is necessary to talk about the particular topic in detail. And finally, the same material will be presented in Italian and English, with blanks for the reader to fill in with descriptions from his or her own life!

Remember these examples about yourself as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian in your next conversation!

Enjoy the second topic in this series, “Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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 language instructor Simona Giuggioli.

 


Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Here is a short description of what I do every day. The reflexive verbs used in Italian for daily activities (many of which often translate as “to get” in English) have been underlined.

Also underlined are the verbs for “to like” (“to be pleasing to”) and “it takes time,” because they follow a different pattern of conjugation than regular Italian verbs.

Do you have a schedule that you follow every day? What do you like to eat for breakfast? Where do you go? After reading my daily routine, use the blank spaces in the form that follows to fill in the Italian for your daily routine!

 

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

On the days that I have to work, I get up at 7 in the morning.
I giorni che devo lavorare, mi alzo alle sette di mattina. 

My cell phone rings at 6:15 and I wake up, but I do not get up until 7!
Il mio telefonino suona alle sei e quindici e mi sveglio ma non mi alzo fino alle sette!

The first thing I do is take a shower.
Per prima cosa, mi faccio la doccia.

Then, I like to eat something for breakfast, so I make a cup of coffee and also have some bread or an Italian cookie.
Allora, mi piace mangiare qualcosa per la prima colazione, cosi faccio un caffè ed anche mangio del pane o un biscotto.

If I am not in a hurry, sometimes I will have a fried egg, toast, and orange juice instead.
Se non ho fretta, qualche volta,  invece, mangio un uovo fritto, il pane tostato e bevo un bicchiere di succo di arancio.

My morning routine to get ready for work includes the usual things: I brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, and brush my hair.
La mia routine di mattina per prepararmi per il lavoro include le solite cose: mi lavo i denti, mi lavo la faccia, mi vesto, e mi pettino.

I always wear makeup (for men: shave) when I go out of the house and especially to work.
Mi trucco sempre (per gli uomini: mi faccio la barba) quando esco di casa e specialmente quando vado a lavorare. 

But it is not easy and it takes time, usually about 20 minutes.
Ma non è facile e ci vuole tempo, normalmente quasi venti minuti. 

On some days, I can put on makeup (for men: shave) quickly.
Qualche giorno, però, mi posso truccare (per gli uomini: mi faccio la barba) rapidamente.

All of this usually takes me until 8:00 and then I must take the children to school.
Per fare tutto, mi ci vuole fino alle otto e poi devo portare i miei figli a scuola.

After I have dropped off the children at school, I take the train into the city to work.
Dopo avere portato i miei figli a scuola, prendo il treno per la città per andare a lavorare.

The train is very reliable, and it takes only 30 minutes to reach the city.
Il treno è molto affidabile e ci vogliono solamente trenta minuti per arrivare in città. 

On the way, I read the newspaper.
Durante il viaggio, leggo il giornale.

By 3 PM, I take the train back home.
Per le quindici, prendo il treno e torno a casa.

At 4 PM, I pick up the children from school and take them home.
Alle quattro di pomeriggio, io vado a prendere i miei figli dalla scuola e li porto a casa.

When I come home in the evening, I take off my coat and shoes and get changed into jeans or athletic wear to be more comfortable.
Quando torno a casa di sera, mi tolgo il cappotto e le scarpe e mi metto i jeans o la tuta (indumento da ginnastica)per stare più comoda.

I make dinner for my children during the workweek, but on the weekend, we usually go out to eat for dinner.
Preparo la cena per i miei figli durante la settimana lavorativa, ma il fine settimana di solito ceniamo fuori.

Then I try to relax.
Più tardi, provo a riposarmi.

I get undressed and put on my pajamas.
Mi svesto e mi metto il pigiama.

I watch the news on the television and fall asleep at 11:30 at night.
Guardo le notizie alla televisione e mi addormento alle undici e mezzo di notte.

I start this same routine all over again the next morning!
Comincio di nuovo questa routine la mattina dopo!

 


Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know…

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Use of Prepositions: “Da,” “Di,” and “A”

Many Italian verbs are followed by prepositions, those “little words” that link one phrase to another for descriptive purposes; improper use of prepositions is a common issue for all non-native speakers, because one must tap into the “way of thinking” of each language to use prepositions correctly. It is often the prepositions that give away the fact that one has had to study to learn a language—no matter how well one speaks otherwise.

Learning when to use which preposition in Italian can be challenging, and often, the “rules” of preposition use do not make sense and just need to be memorized.

Da and di are two common Italian prepositions. “Da” usually means “from,” and “di” usually means “of,” although “di” is often used in situations where in English we would use “from.”

The Italian verb “uscire,” which means “to go out,” or “to leave” is usually followed by da + definite article (il, lo, la, etc.), but when referring to the act of leaving one’s house (casa), uscire takes the preposition di without the definite article. You might want to remember this detail by thinking of the alternate meaning of the word “casa,” which is the very personal “home,” and that when speaking in Italian about one’s family and home in other situations, a definite article is not necessary. Also, notice from the last example below that the verb andare (to go) is always followed by the preposition “a,” for “to,” without the definite article.

 

1. Prepositions for Uscire

da + definite article
di (with reference to casa)

2. Preposition for Andare a

 

Examples of use:

Io esco dal ristorante. I go out to the restaurant to eat.
Io esco di casa. I go out of the house./I leave the house.
Io vado a casa mia. I go to my house.
   
Mi trucco sempre quando esco di casa e specialmente quando vado a lavorare
I always wear makeup when I leave the house and especially when I go to work.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Use of Preposition: “Per”

The preposition “per” is used in Italian to express intent and purpose and will be used to start phrases that will then describe what you are going to do. The English translation will usually be “for” but can also be “to.” When referring to time, “per” takes the place of “by” in English. The combination “stare per” means “to be about to.”

Per prima cosa, mi faccio la doccia.
The first thing I do is take a shower.

 

Per fare tutto
To do all this

 

Per le quidici…
By 3 PM…

 

La mia routine di mattina per prepararmi per il lavoro include…
My morning routine to get ready for work includes…

 

Io sto per studiare l’italiano stasera.
I am about to study Italian tonight.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Tell Time

On any given day, the time we need to do things frequently comes up. We often have to ask specifically what time our transportation will be leaving or what time an event will be starting. Here are some examples of questions you may need to ask. Remember, there is no insertion of the word “does” in Italian when asking a question, the way we do in English.

A che ora…? (At) what time (does)…?
   
A che ora arriva l’aeroplano? At what time (does) the airplane arrive?
  (lit. At what hour arrives the airplane?)
A che ora parte il treno? At what time (does) the train leave?
A che ora comincia* il viaggio? At what time (does) the trip start?
A che ora inizia* il film? At what time (does) the film begin?
A che ora finisce il film? At what time (does) the movie end?
A che ora apre il museo? At what time (does) the museum open?
A che ora chiude il museo? At what time (does) the museum close?

*Cominciare and iniziare are interchangeable in Italian.

The answers to the above questions will also use the word “at,” which is the word “a” in Italian. We can mention our special times of day if they apply, such as “a mezzogiorno” or “a mezzanotte.” Otherwise, the word a will be combined with the definite article (the) (l’ or le). The Italian definite article l’ is combined with a to make all’ before the word una for the phrase “all’una,” which means “at one.” For all numbers greater than one, use a with the definite article le to make “alle” (alle due – ventiquattro) (at two through 24).

A mezzogiorno. At noon.
A mezzanotte. At midnight.
All’una.         At one o’clock.
Alle sette. At seven o’clock.
All’una e cinque. At 1:05 AM.
Alle sette e mezzo. At 7:30 AM.

If desired, to emphasize the time of day, as in morning, afternoon, evening, or night, you can add the following expressions after stating the numerical time: “di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, or di notte.”

 


 

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

Common Reflexive Verbs

Here is a list of regular direct reflexive verbs that includes all three conjugations. Reflexive forms are extremely important for conversation because they often involve activities and emotions that we encounter every day. Note that many of these verbs are not reflexive in English.

accomodarsi to make oneself comfortable preoccuparsi to worry/get worried
accorgersi to realize rilassarsi to relax oneself
addormentarsi to fall asleep riposarsi to rest
alzarsi to get up sbagliarsi to be wrong
annoiarsi to be/become bored sbrigarsi to hurry up
arrabbiarsi to become angry scusarsi to excuse oneself
asciugarsi to dry oneself spogliarsi to get undressed
bagnarsi to get wet/to take a bath sposarsi to get married
dirigersi to go over to/head over svegliarsi to wake up
divertirsi (a) to enjoy oneself/play with svestirsi to get undressed
fermarsi to stop oneself togliersi to take off
innamorarsi to fall in love truccarsi to put on make-up
mettersi to put on (clothes) vergognarsi to be ashamed
laurearsi to get a university degree vestirsi to get dressed/to wear
muoversi to move oneself
pettinarsi to comb one’s hair

Also,  many verbs that describe what we do every day and are translated as “to get…” in English are reflexive in Italian. Let’s take these commonly used verbs that mean “to get” out of the list above:

alzarsi to get up
annoiarsi to get bored
arrabbiarsi to get angry
bagnarsi to get wet / take a bath
laurearsi to get a university degree / to graduate
mettersi to put on clothing / to get (oneself) in trouble
preoccuparsi to get worried / to worry
spogliarsi to get undressed
sposarsi to get married
vestirsi/svestirsi to get dressed/to get undressed
Ho deciso di sposarmi. I have decided to get married.
   
Non ti metti nei guai. Don’t get (put) yourself in trouble.
Mi sono messo nei guai. I got (put) myself in trouble.

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs take a reflexive pronoun before the verb. They are conjugated in the usual way, by dropping the –are, –ere, and –ire verb endings and adding the regular endings for each type of verb to the stem that remains.

Infinitive
Present
Reflexive

Pronouns

–are –ere –ire ire (isco)
io mi o o o isco
tu ti i i i isci
Lei/lei/lui si a e e isce
           
noi ci iamo iamo iamo iamo
voi vi ate ete ite ite
loro si ano ono ono iscono

When we use an infinitive reflexive verb in a sentence, the reflexive pronoun must come after the verb; the –si is dropped from the infinitive ending, and the reflexive pronoun is then added directly onto the stem at the end of the verb.

This is the same word order that we routinely use in English! This situation usually occurs in Italian when one of the helping verbs (dovere, potere, or volere) (to have to, to be able to, or to want) precedes a reflexive verb.

Voglio divertirmi. (I) want to enjoy myself.
   
Volgio riposarmi. (I) want to rest (myself).
   
Devo alzarmi. (I) must get (myself) up.


Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Make Sentences with Reflexive Verbs

Here are some example sentences that use the regular verbs listed on the previous page. The Italian subject pronoun “io,” meaning “I” is included in the Italian examples, although, unlike the I in English, io is almost always omitted with reflexive verbs (as in most general conversation). Parentheses have been used in the Italian sentences as a reminder of this fact. In the same way, parentheses are used in the English translation to indicate Italian reflexive pronouns that are not necessary in English.

Getting up in the morning:

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

 

Getting ready to go out for the day:

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

 

At the end of the day:

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

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Getting Dressed
 with the Reflexive Verbs Vestirsi and Mettersi

The Italian verb “vestirsi” carries the general meaning of “to get dressed.” To use this verb, just conjugate it as you would any other reflexive verb to make a simple sentence. Remember that in Italian, the subject pronoun is always left out of the sentence, so it is given in parentheses below.

(Io) Mi vesto. I get dressed.
(Tu) Ti vesti. You get dressed.
(Lei/Lui) Si veste. She/he gets dressed.

When talking about putting on an article of clothing, such as a dress or suit (vestito),* for instance, Italian uses the reflexive verb “mettersi” (to put on oneself). 

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

Here is how it works:

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

Just remember the simple phrase “mi metto” and replace il vestito with the article of clothing of your choice to describe your own action! To describe action in the tu (you) form, just conjugate mettersi normally and then add the article of clothing, as in “ti metti,” or in the lei/lui (she/he) form, use “si mette,” and so on.

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

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Wearing Clothes
 with the Verbs Portare, Mettersi, and Vestire

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

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

Portare can also be used to say I wore”  in the past tense. But perhaps because portare is used so commonly with its other meaning of to bring”  in the past tense, to describe what they wore, most Italians prefer to revert to mettersi and use its past participle messo. Here is how it works:

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

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

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

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Describe Wearing Clothes
 with the Verb Indossare

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

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

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

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

Mi calza a pennello! It fits me perfectly!
Ti calza a pennello! It fits you perfectly!
Lo/la calza a pennello! It fits him/her perfectly!

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate the Irregular Verb Piacere

The irregular verb piacere literally means to like, as in “to be pleasing to.” It is the verb that Italians use when they want to express the idea that they like something. In English, when we say we like something, we mention two things: what thing is being liked and by whom. So in English, we would say, I like the car,” and fulfill these two requirements with the subject pronoun “I” and the direct object “car.”

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

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

So, if one thing is liked, or an infinitive verb follows, piace is used.

If many things are liked, piacciono is used.

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

Piace—to be pleasing to: if one thing is liked/before infinitive verbs

 

Mi piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to me. I like the dress.
Ti piace il vestito. The dress is pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dress.
Le piace il vestito.

Gli/le piace il vestito.

The dress is pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dress is pleasing to him/her.

You like the dress.

He/she likes the dress.

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

 

Piacciono—to be pleasing to: if more than one thing is liked

 

Mi piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to me. I like the dresses.
Ti piacciono i vestiti. The dresses are pleasing to you. (fam.) You like the dresses.
Le piacciono i vestiti.

Gli/le piacciono i vestiti.

The dresses are pleasing to you. (pol.)

The dresses are pleasing to him/her.

You like the dresses.

He/she likes the dresses.

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

 

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Conjugate Volerci for Phrases Describing Time

To describe the general passage of time that it takes to do something, an English speaker will often say, “It takes time.”  Volerci is used to express this idea in Italian.  Volerci is called a pronomial verb because the impersonal adverb “ci” is an integral part o this verb.  This verb takes on a different meaning from volere.

To follow is the method to translate the phrase “it takes time” into Italian using the verb volerci.  First, it should be noted that the impersonal adverb “ci” is always used to begin the phrase.  “Volere” is then conjugated to reflect the amount of time taken, in either the third person singular or plural. This is the similar to the way we conjugate the verb piacere, except with piacere the reference is to what we like, rather than to how much time something takes.

 

So when saying, “It takes time,” the word “time” is considered one segment of time, and the third person singular form of volere, which is “vuole,” is used.

If the time “it” takes is one minute, one hour, one month, or one year—that is, if the reference is to one time segment, use “vuole.”

 

If the time “it” takes is more than one of each time segment (plural), the third person plural form of volere, which is “vogliono,” is used.

Ci vuole tempo. It takes time.
     
Ci vuole un minuto. Ci vogliono due minuti. It takes one minute/two minutes.
Ci vuole un’ora. Ci vogliono due ore. It takes one hour/two hours.
Ci vuole un giorno. Ci vogliono due giorni. It takes one day/two days.
Ci vuole un mese. Ci vogliono due mesi. It takes one month/two months.
Ci vuole un anno. Ci vogliono due anni. It takes one year/two years.

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

Commonly used questions that refer to time begin with “how much,” such as, “How much time does it take?” These phrases always begin with “Quanto.”  We remember that “quanto” always changes to match the gender and number of the noun it is placed before and modifies.  Answer using the phrases in the table given in this section!

Quanto tempo ci vuole per arrivare a Roma da Milano?
How much time does it take to get to Rome from Milan?

Quante ore ci vogliono per finire il tour?
How many hours will it take to finish the tour?

 ******************************

Other verbs that act like piacere, but will not be discussed here, include the following:

Dispiacere to displease/to upset
Mancare to be lacking/to miss
Occorrere to require/to need
Servire to need

Speak Italian: You Will Need to Know…

How to Use Volerci for Phrases Describing Time
with Reference to People

If we want to speak in a little more complicated manner (and why not?) we can use the verb volerci* to describe how much time it will take someone to do something.  Remember to place the indirect object pronouns (mi, ti, le, gli, vi, gli) before vuole  to refer to the “someone” we are talking about.

Looking at the table below, you will notice that “a noi”  is used to mean to us” before ci vuole.”  In this case, the indirect object pronoun ci” for to us,” is not used.  The word “ci” is already a part of volerci, and is always placed before the conjugated verb form.  To avoid the repetition that would occur in the phrase ci ci vuole tempo, Italians revert to a noi.”

Of course, we can always replace the word tempo in the examples below with a unit of time. Remember the rules we just learned:  If one unit of time is referred to, use the verb vuole, as in the examples.  If more than one unit of time is referred to, we need to use vogliono.

Mi ci vuole molto tempo. It takes me time.
Ti ci vuole molto tempo. It takes you time.
Le ci vuole molto tempo. It takes her time.
Gli ci vuole molto tempo. It takes him time.
   
A noi ci vuole molto tempo. It takes us time.
Vi ci vuole molto tempo. I takes you all time.
Gli ci vuole molto tempo. It takes them time.

*Volerci is a pronomial verb and takes on a different meaning from volere, as described in the previous section.

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

Commonly used questions that refer to time begin with “how much,” such as, “How much time does it take?” These phrases always begin with “Quanto.”  We remember that “quanto” always changes to match the gender and number of the noun it is placed before and modifies.  Answer using the phrases in the table given in the section above, but change the word time to the number of minutes or hours!

Quanto tempo ti ci vuole per arrivare a casa mia?
How much time does it take you to get to my house?

Quante ore ti ci vogliono per arrivare a casa mia?
How many hours will it take you to get to my house?

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

If we want to use the past tense with volerci in a phrase regarding time, we need to use the past participle voluto, with essere as the helping verb to form the passato prossimo. 

For a general statement about time in the past tense, as in the examples below, use the passato prossimo verb è voluto. 

Of course, we can always replace the word tempo in the examples below with a unit of time. Remember the rules we just learned:  If one unit of time is referred to in the past, use the verb  è voluto, as in the examples.  If more than one unit of time is referred to in the past, we need to use sono voluti(e).

To make these statements negative, just put “non” at the beginning of the sentence (with the exception of the “a noi”).

Below are some commonly used phrases that use volerci to refer to time in the past tense:

Non mi … ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take me much time.
Non ti…  ci è volulto molto tempo. It did not take you much time.
Non le … ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take her much time.
Non gli… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take him much time.
A noi non… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take us much time.
Non vi… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take you all much time.
Non gli… ci è voluto molto tempo. It did not take them much time.

 


Speak Italian: All About… What YOU Are Doing!

Do you have a schedule that you follow every day? What do you like to eat for breakfast? Where do you go?

Fill in the blanks in the Italian sentence that follows each English sentence, using
the examples given previously, or instead describing what you actually do.

Watch out for those reflexive verbs—the verbs that often mean “I get,” and the phrases
that translate as “I like” and “it takes time.”

On the days that I am working, I get up at ___________________________________.
I giorni che devo lavorare, ______________________________________________.

My cell phone rings at _________________ and I wake up, but I do not get up until 7!
Il mio telefonino suona _________________e ___________________________,ma

_____________________________________fino_____________________________!

The first thing I do is take a shower.
Per prima cosa, _______________________________________________________.

Then, I like to eat something for breakfast, so I make a cup of coffee and
have some bread or an Italian cookie.
Allora, ____________________________________qualcosa per la prima colazione,


cosi faccio_______________________________________________ed anche mangio

_____________________________________________________________________.

If I am not in a hurry, sometimes I will have a fried egg, toast, and orange juice instead.
Se non ho fretta, qualche volta, mangio ___________________________________ 

e bevo _________________________________________________________________.

My morning routine to get ready for work includes the usual things:
I brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, and brush my hair.
La mia routine di mattina ______________________________include le solite cose:

_________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________.

I always wear makeup (for men: shave) when I go out of the house and especially to work. ________________________________ quando esco di casa e specialmente quando vado a lavorare.

But it is not easy and takes time, usually about 20 minutes.
Ma non è facile e ______________________, normalmente

_________________________________________________________________________.

On some days, I can put on makeup (or shave) quickly.
Qualche giorno, però, __________________________________________ rapidamente.

All of this usually takes me until 8:00 and then I must take the children to school.
Per fare tutto, ___________________ fino ___________________ed poi devo portare i miei figli a scuola.

After I have dropped off the children at school, I take the train into the city to work.
Dopo aver portato i miei figli a scuola, ________________________________________
per andare a lavorare.

The train is very reliable, and it takes only 30 minutes to reach the city.
Il treno è molto affidabile e _____________________ solamente ___________________ per arrivare in città.

On the way, I read the newspaper.
Durante il viaggio, leggo il giornale.

By 3 PM, I take the train back home.
_______________________________________________, prendo il treno e torno a casa.

At 4 PM, I pick up the children from school and take them home.
_______________________, io vado a prendere i miei figli dalla scuola e li porto a casa.

When I come home in the evening, I take off my coat and shoes and get changed into jeans or athletic wear to be more comfortable.
Quando torno a casa di sera, __________________________________________________________________________

e ________________________________________________________________________

per stare più comoda.

I make dinner for my children during the workweek, but on the weekend, we usually go out to eat for dinner.
Preparo la cena per i miei figli durante la settimana lavorativa, ma il fine settimana di solito ceniamo fuori.

Then I try to relax.
Più tardi, _________________________________________________________________.

I get undressed and put on my pajamas.
__________________________________________________________________________

e ________________________________________________________________il pigiama.

I watch the news on the television and fall asleep at 11:30 at night.
Guardo le notizie alla televisione e _________________________________________________________________________.

I start this same routine all over again the next morning!
Comincio di nuovo questa routine____________________________________________ !

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

Kathryn for learntravelitalian.comKathryn 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 group 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

Speak Italian: All About… What I Am Doing!

Drive Italy! - Driving in Abruzzo

Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Drive Italy! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Drive Italy! Follow Caterina and learn

how to rent a car in 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! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

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 who do not have a personal chauffeur to take them on a tour of Italy, or who just want to rent a Ferrari as part of their dream vacation, I have included in the book some tips on renting cars in the “Cultural Note: Drive Italy!” section in Chapter 6, which have 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! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

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 a limited period of 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 is needed to rent a car and drive in Italy.

A quick search of the Internet for “rent a car in Italy” yields many companies that promise quick and easy deals. Auto Europe is not a car rental company, but a car broker that allows the traveler to book online, and it offers several additional services (www.autoeurope.com). Auto Europe is recommended by Slow Travel Italy, which can also be found on the Internet at http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/planning/. Here are some of the benefits that Auto Europe can provide for the renter: competitive pricing, a list of what is included for the price, pickup and dropoff at different locations within Italy at no extra charge, and a 24/7 customer service line that will help the traveler handle any issues encountered on the road or with the local rental company. Note that commonly included fees when renting a car in Italy include taxes, a surcharge for picking up the car at the airport, and possibly a daily road tax. Insurance is necessary to drive in Italy and can significantly increase the price of the rental when obtained through the rental company, so it is worthwhile to check if you can get cheaper insurance through a credit card company.

Picking up a rental car at the airport can be difficult at peak travel times because of long lines, and during off-hours, when parts of the airport may be closed. In addition, many Italian hotels, especially if located centrally within a city, do not have parking available for their guests. There are tolls on most Italian freeways, and gas is expensive in Italy. It may be easier to take the train to your initial destination and pick up the car the next day or when you are leaving for the next city on your trip—again, public transportation in most cities is excellent. The city streets in Italy are narrow, so remember that a smaller car is probably better than a larger car, as long as luggage and family will fit!

Here is a checklist of things to find out before leaving the rental office: (1) whether the car takes unleaded gas (benzina) or diesel (gasolio), (2) how to put the car in reverse, (3) how to lock and unlock doors and windows, (4) whether a reflective vest and other equipment required by law in case of an accident have been provided (in the trunk), (5) whether a GPS or map of the town where you will be driving is available, and (6) whether you can get a parking disc for the car.

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.

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! Renting Cars to Drive in Italy

Venice Public Transportation ACTV

Venice: Arriving in Venice for Your Italian Adventure

Arriving in Venice for Your Italian Adventure

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Start your Italian adventure in Venice…

Follow Caterina 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.

Arriving in Venice

One of the first things Caterina must do after her plane lands in Italy at Milan’s Malpensa Airport is find her way to the city of Milan. You can learn about how to do this  at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html from one of the many free, interactive dialogues on this site. But what if we want to begin our Italian adventure in Venice and land instead at the Marco Polo Airport on mainland Italy just outside that magical city of islands? Read on and find out all about transportation to and along the waterways of Venice!
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Cultural Note: Arriving in Venice

Venice baot: Alilaguna
Venice Alilaguna transport boat from the airport on the mainland to the islands of Venice

The Marco Polo Airport serves the city of Venice and is located on the mainland, near the town of Mestre, just across the lagoon. The major island of Venice (Venezia) is connected by a bridge to the mainland and is served by a local train station and a large bus station. A city bus or taxi can be taken over this bridge directly into Venice from the airport. You can also take a taxi ride to the train station in the nearby town of Mestre on the mainland. The trains in Mestre connect with towns on the mainland and to the Santa Lucia station in Venice.

Unique to Venice are the water ferry and water taxi. Take the yellow Alilaguna water ferry to Saint Mark’s Square in the main island of Venice or to the beaches of the island of Lido from the Marco Polo Airport by following the covered walkway from the arrivals desk to the nearby dock. The walk takes about 10 minutes, so it may be necessary to hire a taxi if you have a lot of baggage or have difficulty walking. Tickets can be purchased at the arrivals desk in the airport or at the dock once you arrive and are about 15€ one way. The trip takes 1–1½ hours, depending on the number of stops made along the route. Also along the same dock are smaller, private water taxi boats that can take travelers directly to their destination.

Once in Venice proper, purchase an imob.venezia card for the length of your stay (4 days, 7 days, or longer) for the public ACTV water bus system to get to all of the major sites on the islands. This card can also be used on the local bus system on the Lido Island. Private water taxis are also available at most docks on all the islands of Venice. And of course, for a leisurely ride through the smaller canals, try the classic sleek black gondola piloted by one oar by one of the trained gondolieri in their black-and-white striped uniforms!

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 3, “Cultural Note,” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of Italian for 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

Venice: Arriving in Venice for Your Italian Adventure