All posts by Kathryn Occhipinti

About Kathryn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience. Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the "Conversational Italian for Travelers" series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language. The associated website www.learntravelitalian.com, provides free interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive. Everything one needs to know to travel to Italy is in this series of books!

Cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Verbs book resting on an Italian red-checkered tablecloth

Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands

Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive  Commands 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Italian subjunctive commands:  Learn when to use the  Italian subjunctive mood to give familiar commands and  how to make polite commands! 

 

Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive  Commands — Familiar and Polite Commands 

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

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Do you know which situations use the Italian subjunctive mood? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on!

This is the final blog in the “Speak Italian” blog series that has focused on how to use the Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo.”

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss the Italian imperative verb tense, or “command form” of a verb. Then we will describe how to make and use Italian subjunctive commands. A dependent clause in the subjunctive mood can be used with the familiar command form of a verb. We will also discuss how to use the Italian present tense subjunctive as an independent clause to give a polite command. 

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we have been presenting situations take the Italian subjunctive mood.

In this blog, we will present when to use the Italian subjunctive mood in the present tense with familiar commands, as well as how to use the present tense subjunctive as an independent clause to give polite commands.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy our blog: “Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands 
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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


Speak Italian (Part 7): A brief note about and review of the Italian subjunctive mood 

As noted in the last section, in this blog we will present
how to make Italian subjunctive commands.  

This will be the last blog in our Italian subjunctive mood series!

Before starting this blog, please review the comments in the next section about how the Italian subjunctive mood is used in the Italian language. All the material we have covered so far about the Italian subjunctive mood is also listed for review at the end of this section, with links to our previous blogs.

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In previous blogs, we have noted that Italian uses a subjunctive mood that to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

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

These groups are listed below.

Groups 1-9: “Noun Clauses”

Group 10: “Adverbial Clauses”

Groups 11 and 12: “Adjective/Pronoun Clauses”

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

For a review of how to use the groups of phrases that need the Italian subjunctive mood  listed above, please see our previous blogs on this topic by clicking on the links below:

How to Use the Present Tense Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 1-3). 

How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive for Italian Past Tense (Parts 1-3)

How to Use The Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 4 and 5) — Hypothetical Phrases

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Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

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

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

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

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Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though, If

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


Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive  Familiar Commands 

What is the Familiar Command Form of a Verb?

The imperative tense, or “command form” of a verb is used when one wants to relay an urgent request, give advice, or give an order.

In Italian, familiar commands — commands given by one person to another person or to a group of people that know each other —  are realized by conjugating the commanding verb in the same way as for the present tense and adding an exclamation point after the sentence in writing.  

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How to Conjugate Verbs for the
Familiar Command Form

The table below shows the familiar imperative endings for the –are, -ere, and –ire verb groups. These endings are removed to create the stem, to which the endings in the table are added. In written Italian, an exclamation point is used to convey the idea that the verb is in the imperative form.

Note that with the imperative verb form, by definition, the speaker is always giving a command to someone else.  This means that there is no first person, or io conjugation to learn.

The tu command form is used when one person is giving a command to a single individual.  You will note from the red highlighted –a that only the –are verbs have an imperative ending that differs from the present tense. The -ere and -ire verb endings for the tu imperative from are identical to the present tense.

When speaking to a group of people we know, with the familiar you all, or voi form, the endings for the imperative present tense are also identical to the simple present tense!

There is an imperative noi form, which also has endings that are identical to the present tense.  For the noi imperative form, the meaning of the verb changes to: “Let’s… something.” Now, doesn’t it make sense that “Andiamo!” means, “Let’s go!”?  We are simply using the imperative form of the present tense!

 

Familiar Imperative Tense Endings

  -are -ere -ire
tu a(!) i(!) i(!)
noi iamo(!) iamo(!) iamo(!)
voi ate(!) ete(!) ite(!)

 

When creating a sentence with the familiar command form, the subject pronoun is usually left out, as is usual for Italian, although it can sometimes be added for emphasis. In most cases of spoken Italian, though, the sentence will consist of just the verb itself. See the examples below.

  Guardare

(to look)

Rispondere

(to answer)

Partire

(to leave)

tu Guarda!
Look!
Rispondi!
Answer!
Parti!
Leave!
noi Guardiamo!
Let’s look!
Rispondiamo!
Let’s answer!
Partiamo!
Let’s leave!
voi Guardate!
(You all) look!
Rispondete!
(You all) answer!
Partite!
(You all) leave!

 

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How to Conjugate  Irregular Verbs for the
Familiar Command Form

There are many verbs that are irregular in the familiar command form, including all of the auxiliary verbs, which are: avere, essere, and stare.  The familiar imperative conjugations for the auxiliary verbs and additional commonly used verbs are given in the tables below.

Imperative Irregular Auxiliary Verbs 

  Avere

(to have)

Essere

(to be)

Stare

(to be/stay)

tu abbi! sii! stà!
noi abbiamo! siamo! stiamo!
voi abbiate! siate! state!

 

Imperative Irregular Verbs

  Andare

(to go)

Dare

(to give)

Dire

(to say/to tell)

Fare

(to do/to make)

tu vai!, ! dai!, ! di! fai!, !
noi andiamo! diamo! diciamo! facciamo!
voi andate! date! dite! fate!

 

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How to Make Negative Familiar Commands

When commanding someone you know not to do something – using the familiar tu form – it is very easy.  Whether the verb is regular or reflexive, simply put the word non in front of the infinitive form of the verb.  In other words, do not conjugate!

To make a negative command with a reflexive verb in the tu form, the “si” ending is dropped and the reflexive pronoun ti then needs to be tacked on to the end of the  verb.

For all verbs, leave out the subject pronoun tu from the sentence.  In our examples this subject pronoun will be given in parentheses as a reminder.

So, using preoccuparsi (to be worried) and guardare (to look) and parlare (to talk/speak) as examples:

(tu)    Non preoccuparti!       Don’t (you fam.) worry yourself!

(tu)     Non guardare!             Don’t (you fam.) look!

(tu)     Non parlare!                 Don’t (you fam.) speak!

 

For the negative in the noi and voi forms, conjugate as usual and simply put non in front of the verb.  Remember to add the reflexive pronoun to the ending of the verb if it is reflexive.  Again, the subject pronouns are usually omitted, and so are given in parentheses.

(noi)   Non preoccupiamoci!        Let’s not worry (ourselves)!
(voi)    Non preoccupatevi!            (You all) Don’t worry yourselves!

(noi)    Non guardiamo!                  Let’s not look!
(voi)    Non guardate!                       (You all) Don’t look!

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Where are Reflexive, Direct and Indirect Pronouns Placed in Sentences
with the  Familiar Command Form?

For a review of how to use reflexive, direct, and indirect object pronouns, please consult Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” book.  A summary table taken from this book is provided below to aid in the discussion of pronouns that follows.

Reflexive, Direct, and Indirect Object Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns Direct Object Pronouns Indirect Object Pronouns
mi myself mi me mi to me
ti yourself(fam.) ti you (fam.) ti to you (fam.)
si yourself (pol.) La (L’) you (pol.) Le to you (pol.)
si herself la (l’) her, it (fem.) le to her
si himself lo (l’) him, it (masc.) gli to him
ci ourselves ci us ci to us
vi yourselves vi you all vi to you all
si themselves le them (fem.) gli to them (fem.)
si themselves li them (masc.) gli to them (masc.)

Reflexive Pronouns:

When conjugating a reflexive verb into the familiar imperative form, it is not enough just to use the correct verb ending.  We must also place the reflexive pronoun in the proper position with respect to the verb, which in this case is after the verb, and attached to the end of the conjugated form!  This rule holds true for the tu, noi, and voi forms.  The conjugated verb and attached pronoun are spoken as one word (see below).

This rule may seem confusing at first, since we have spent so much time thinking in Italian and putting the reflexive pronouns before the verb.  Try to remember the correct way to conjugate the reflexive imperative verbs from everyday experiences.

For instance, when welcoming a friend into your home, you would say, “Accomodati!” for “Make yourself comfortable!” Common phrases a mother might say to a teenager on a school morning would be, “Alzati!”or, “Wake (yourself) up!” and “Sbrigati!” for “ Hurry (yourself) up!”.  And, in Italian households, each person in the family is encouraged to “Siediti!” for “Sit (yourself) down!” so everyone can eat together before the food gets cold!

Two example tables have been provided. Notice the spelling change for our example verb sbrigarsi for the noi form in the table below.  The spelling change is necessary to keep the sound of this form constant with the infinitive form and other conjugated forms.

 Imperative Accomodarsi – to get comfortable

tu Accomodati! Get (Make yourself) comfortable!
noi Accomodiamoci! Let’s get comfortable!
voi Accomodatevi! You all get comfortable!

 

 Imperative Sbrigarsi – to hurry (oneself) up

tu Sbrigati! Hurry (yourself/familiar) up!
noi Sbrighiamoci! Let’s hurry  (ourselves) up!
voi Sbrigatevi! Hurry (yourselves/familiar) up!

 

Direct and Indirect Pronouns:

After conjugating a regular verb into the familiar imperative form, if we want to include a direct or indirect object pronoun in the sentence, these pronouns will come after the verb, and will be attached to the end of the conjugated form. This should be easy to remember, as the sentence structure is the same as for English.

This rule also applies when the Italian direct and indirect object pronouns are themselves combined to make one word.

The conjugated Italian verb and attached pronoun are spoken as one word.

See the examples with the familiar command forms for dare (to give) and fare (to do/to make):  The “m” is doubled by convention in these constructions.

Dammi il pacco!      Give me the package!
Dammelo!                  Give it to me!

Fammi una torta per la festa stasera.     Make me a cake for the party tonight.
Fammela!                                                              Make it for me!

    

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How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood:
Familiar Commands

When one person is giving a command to another about what someone else should do  — in short, when the subject of the first phrase in the sentence is not the same as the subject in the second phrase — the second phrase verb will need to be in the subjunctive mood.

It should be noted here that the imperative form, or command form of a verb, is used not just to give a direct order, but also to make an urgent request or to give advice. So there are many instances when a command form may initiate a sentence. This command is then linked, as usual, with the conjunction che to the next phrase in the subjunctive mood.

Two examples,  with our command forms and subjunctive verbs in green.  Remember that the noi ending for the present tense (-iamo) serves as the present subjunctive ending as well.

(Tu) Di a Maria che  lei non faccia tardi.
(You) Tell Maria that she should not be late.

(Tu) Digli che ci vediamo domani!
(You) Tell him we’ll see him tomorrow!

 


Speak Italian: Italian Subjunctive  Polite Commands 

What is the Polite Command Form of a Verb?

The imperative tense, or “command form” of a verb is used when one wants to relay an urgent request, give advice, or give an order.

In Italian, polite commands — commands given by one person to another person or to a group of people that the speaker does not know well —  are realized by conjugating the commanding verb in the present tense subjunctive mood. An exclamation point may be added after the command if desired.

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How to Conjugate Verbs in the
Polite Command Form = Present Subjunctive

The table below shows the present tense subjunctive endings for the –are, -ere, and –ire verb groups. These endings are removed to create the stem, to which the endings in the table are added. In written Italian, an exclamation point is used to convey the idea that the verb is in the imperative form.

Note that with the imperative verb form, by definition, the speaker is always giving a command to someone else that he or she does not know well.  This means that there is no first person, or io conjugation to learn.

The Lei, or polite you, present tense subjunctive form of the verb is used when one person is giving a command to a single individual that he or she does not know well.

The Loro, or polite you plural, present tense subjunctive form of the verb can be used when one person is giving a command to a group of people that he or she does not know well. This situation may occur in organizations, or in large gatherings, when a leader or speaker must address a group of people. We will not provide examples using the Loro, or polite you form, as it is no longer in common use.

The table below gives the conjugation for the first three persons of the subjunctive mood, for the -are, -ere, and -ire groups of verbs.  Notice that within each group, the endings are the same for all three persons.

 

Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense for Polite Commands

Subject Pronoun -are ending -ere ending -ire ending
io i a a
tu i a a
Lei/lei/lui i a a

 

When creating a sentence with the polite command form, the subject pronoun is left out. Below are the subjunctive present tense conjugations for the example verbs we encountered in the earlier section.  The tables to follow give the present tense subjunctive conjugations  for the auxiliary verbs and the common irregular verbs we discussed in the last section.

  Guardare

(to look)

Rispondere

(to answer)

Partire

(to leave)

Lei Guardi!
Look!
Risponda!
Answer!
Parta!
Leave!

 

Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Auxiliary Verbs for Polite Commands

  Avere

(to have)

Essere

(to be)

Stare

(to be/stay)

Lei abbia! sia! stia!

 

Subjunctive Mood – Irregular Verbs for Polite Commands

  Andare

(to go)

Dare

(to give)

Dire

(to say/to tell)

Fare

(to do/to make)

Lei Vada! Dia! Dica! Faccia!

 

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Where are Reflexive, Direct and Indirect Pronouns Placed in Sentences
with the Polite Command Form?

For a review of how to use reflexive, direct, and indirect object pronouns, please consult Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” book.  A summary table taken from this book was provided in the last section to aid in the discussion of pronouns that follows.

Reflexive Pronouns:

When conjugating a reflexive verb into the polite imperative form, it is not enough just to use the correct subjunctive verb ending.  We must also place the reflexive pronoun in the proper position with respect to the verb, which in this case is before the verb.

Below is a summary table that shows the differences between the familiar and polite command forms of the reflexive verb accomodarsi  that we used as our example in the first section.  This is one verb that is heard quite often in both its familiar and polite forms and well-worth committing to memory.

 Imperative Accomodarsi – to get comfortable

tu Accomodati! Get (Make yourself) comfortable! 
Lei Si Accomodi! Get (Make yourself) comfortable!  

 

Direct and Indirect Pronouns:

After conjugating a regular verb into the polite imperative form with the correct subjunctive ending, if we want to include a direct or indirect object pronoun in the sentence, these pronouns will come before the verb.

This rule also applies when the Italian direct and indirect object pronouns are themselves combined to make one word, which will be pronounced separately.

Below are the examples provided in the section on familiar command forms for dare (to give) and fare (to do/to make).  The polite command form has been added to each.

Familiar:   Dammi il pacco!      Give me the package!
Polite:        Mi dia il pacco! 

Familiar:  Dammelo!                  Give it to me!
Polite:       Me lo dia

 

Familiar: Fammi una torta.     Make me a cake.
Polite:      Mi faccia una torta.

Familiar: Fammela!                       Make it for me!
Polite:      Me la faccia!

 

Familiar: Digli  che ci vediamo domani!    Tell him that we’ll see him tomorrow!
Polite:     Gli dica che ci vediamo domani!

 


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

 Italian Subjunctive (Part 7): Italian Subjunctive Commands 

A pot of meatballs cooking in tomato sauce on the stove. The NIAF wooden spoon with the slogan "Make Sunday Italian Again" is in the pot

Italian Meatballs: A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Italian Meatballs: A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Meatballs A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Everyone’s Italian-American mom makes her own version of Italian Meatballs. And they are all the best!

Try Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs for YOUR Sunday Family Dinner! 

Italian Meatballs: A tribute to our Italian Mothers is a reprint from a blog originally posted on October 10, 2018, titled: “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs.”

I’ve since learned a about vegetarian meatballs from the blog post “Polpette di Melanzana (Eggplant Balls)” by Luca Marchiori, who mentions in his blog that it is traditional to make meatballs from eggplant in Puglia. He also notes that in Italy, “meat is only one of many ingredients Italians use to make polpette. In Rome, for example, there is a restaurant called Polpetta which serves them made from a variety of ingredients, many of them vegetarian. In fact their menu is topped by the hashtag #tuttoèpolpettabile (#youcanmakepolpettefromanything).”  

Also…

I’ve since added Instagram to my social media, and have added a video from Instagram to this post so you can see me cooking in real-time!  I hope you like it!

For more recipes like these, as well as French recipes, follow me on my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french.

View this post on Instagram

My Mom’s Italian meatballs, from my family to yours. Surprise your mom and make meatballs for her this Mothers Day! If you want the answer to how the Italian polpetta came about visit my latest blog on www.blog.learntravelitalian.com. For the meatballs: 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 clove garlic, chopped, 2 Tbsps olive oil, plus more for frying, 1 lb. 80% lean ground beef, 1 egg, 3/4 c Progresso brand Italian bread crumbs, 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped finely, salt and pepper. For Southern Italian tomato sauce: 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 clove garlic chopped sautéed in 2Tb olive oil, 1 can (28 oz.) Contadina tomato puree, 1 can Contadina brand tomato paste, and also fill each can with water and add water, /4 cup dried paesley or fresh chopped parsley, 1 Tb. Dried basil or 2 Tbs. torn fresh basil, salt to taste. Buon appetito! #osnap @niaf @sons_of_italy @osia_su @chicagolanditalians #meatballs #italiancookingadventures #italiancookingclasses #italianfood #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodlover #italianfoods #italiandinner #tomatosauce #tomatopuree @contadina #lamiacucina #italianmeatballs #italianmeatball #homemademeatballs #meatballrecipe #meatballrecipes #meatballrecipetasty #italianamerican #italianamericanfood @mio_modernitalian

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And now… the original story!

The blog title, “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs,” came about during an event I attended with the Chicagoland Italian American Professionals (CIAP) this fall.  The executive director, Salvatore Sciacca and his group feature Italian-American “cooking competition” events several times a year, and I have to say, they are always a delicious and  entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my family.

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

Making Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs

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

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

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

I decided to write a blog  to share my experiences that day and what I have been able to learn about  the evolution of the many different styles of meatballs that are loved here in America today.  And of, course, my family’s Italian-American recipe and tips I found from one of my favorite “go-to” Italian cook  books, Ada Boni’s  Italian Regional Cooking (translated from Italian into English by the International Culinary Society, New York ©1969will be included in the blog.

I’d love to hear how YOUR family makes Italian meatballs – leave a comment if you wish at the end of the blog! Buon appetito! – Kathryn Occhipinti

 


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How to Make “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs”

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Let’s get back to the story of the day I was a home cook for  The First Annual Meatball Fest,  held by CIAP.

The morning of the CIAP event, I rummaged around the  basement to find my trusty crock pot, rinsed it off, and set a pot of tomato sauce to cook on the stove.  I set a large bowl on the counter and followed the same routine as I have done many times before for my family: put  ground beef  and all other ingredients into the large bowl, mix gently, and  roll into balls.

Meatball ingredients ready to mix
Italian meatball ingredients ready to mix
Italian meatball ready to fry
One Italian meatball ready to fry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am from the  “Italian Mom’s Cooking School” that fries, rather than bakes meatballs to brown them. ( Sorry, I hope I haven’t offended anyone – I know there is a BIG debate about this in the Italian-American community, but I think browning dries out the meatballs and is better left to restaurants making large batches of meatballs at one time.)

I browned my meatballs in olive oil carefully, turning each with tongs to get them browned on all sides.

 

Fry Italian meatballs in olive oil
Italian meatballs frying in olive oil
Italian meatballs turned in olive oil
Turn Italian meatballs gently to brown all sides evenly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the meatballs had browned, I added them gently to the simmering pot of tomato sauce on the stove to finish cooking.

I was taught to always stir my tomato sauce with a wooden spoon, and have a small collection of wooden spoons – some with long  handles, some with short handles;  some I save just for sauteing onions and garlic, others for “non-onion” savory or sweet dishes – but recently have been using my favorite  wooden spoon for my tomato sauce, which I bought as a part of a fundraiser for the National Italian American Foundation.

The NIAF recently started a “Make Sunday Italian Again” campaign, which I love, as it not only promotes Sunday time together with family, but also  raises money for their scholarship program by selling these “Nonna spoons” that have the slogan “Make Sunday Italian Again” engraved on the wooden handle.  Check out the NIAF website, if you like, after you finish reading this blog, of course!

Tomato sauce with Italian Meatballs
Italian meatballs cooking in tomato sauce

 

After about 30 minutes,  the meatballs had finished cooking and the sauce had a nice, meaty taste.  I adjusted the salt and pepper, put all into the crock pot and left to join the event.

When I arrived at the event, with my tried and true  “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs”, I learned that I was one of 10 different contributors to the dinner!  I named my meatballs “Mom’s Best”,  because it seems to me that every Italian mother’s meatballs are loved and considered the best by her family!

CIAP 1st Annual Meatball Fest September 2018 attended by author Kathryn Occhipinti
Author/Blogger Kathryn Occhipinti at the CIAP 1st Annual Meatball Fest, September 2018

I was happy to see Italian-American home cooks of all ages, and both men and women contributed their meatballs for the event. There were two long tables of meatballs and a long line formed as everyone tried to taste them all.

CIAP 1st Annual Meatball FestEnjoying Italian meatballs at the CIAP 1st Annual Meatball Fest

At first, I had thought this would be a competition, but as it turned out, just as I had suspected, although all the meatballs were made with different ingredients, EVERYONE’s meatballs were delicious, and in the end, no vote was taken!

CIAP Mom's Best Italian Meatballs
Italian Meatballs to sample
CIAP Meatball Fest
More Italian Meatballs

 

Even more Italian meatballs
Even more Italian meatballs!

 

Below is a picture of those who participated, holding signs with the names of the type of meatballs they contributed. (I am in the back row and the Executive Director, Salvatore Sciacca, is just to my left.)

CIAP Italian meatball home cooks
Italian home cooks holding signs of the names of their meatballs at CIAP’s 1st Italian Meatball Fest

Read on for the recipe that I used to make my “Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs”.  Additional tips I learned from reading about meatballs are given in green italic lettering.  As a bonus, I am including my family’s recipe for basic Italian tomato sauce.  For tips on making Italian tomato sauce, please visit my blog Braciole – Italian Beef Rolls for Sunday Dinner.   Of course,  your own favorite tomato sauce will be fine as well!

But don’t stop after reading the first recipe, because when I went home I did a bit of research in Ada Boni’s cook book and discovered more tips on making “the best” meatballs in different styles that you may want to try yourself!

 


Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs 

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil +more for frying
1 lb. ground beef (80% lean best)
1 egg
3/4 cup Progresso brand Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper to taste.

This recipe will serve 4 people; it can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd!

Coat a small frying pan lightly with some olive oil  and add the chopped onion and garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onions and garlic have softened and given their flavor to the olive oil.

(I find that sauteing the onions and garlic gives both a nice mellow taste, and I would recommend not skipping this step.  In fact, when my  daughter was young, she insisted that she didn’t like onions,  so I would remove the onions after competing this step and she never caught on to my trick!)

Put the sauteed onions and garlic, with the olive oil, into a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients: 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil,  ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs and parsley.

Sprinkle with salt and a grind of fresh pepper  to taste (some people like more pepper, others less).

Mix gently with your hands, careful not to work the meat too much or this may make the meatballs tough!

Adjust amount of breadcrumbs as needed – more if you more, less to make a more  “meaty” meatball.  If too dry, add a few drops more of olive oil.

(What I learned from researching meatballs – moisten the breadcrumbs in a bit of milk to make for a more tender meatball. The milk should be heated gently on the stove before adding the bread.  When all milk is absorbed, mash into a pulp with a fork.)

When the meatball mixture consistency is to your liking, pull a bit of the meat mixture off and roll into a ball to make a meatball.  Size of the meatballs is to taste, but of course the larger meatballs will need to finish cooking longer in the tomato sauce.

Set a frying pan coated with olive oil over medium-high heat.

Place the newly rolled meatballs gently into the frying pan. Fry on medium high heat (adjusting as necessary during the frying time), turning each with tongs so all sides become browned.

(What I learned from researching meatballs – roll each in a bit of flour or plain bread crumbs to aid browning and help the meatballs hold together during frying.)

After the meatballs have browned, immediately remove them with tongs and gently place into a pot of simmering tomato sauce (recipe below) to finish cooking.

Serve with spaghetti for the Italian-American presentation, or continue on to the following Italian recipes for other serving ideas.

 ******************************

 

Southern Italian Tomato Sauce  

Ingredients

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

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute 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.

 


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How to Make Italian Meatballs – My research…

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Ada Boni,  (1881 – 1973) the author of  one of my favorite Italian cook books, Italian Regional Cooking, was a well-loved Italian author and food writer.  According to the back flap of the edition of my book, Ada Boni is known throughout Italy as the author of the classic bestselling cook book, Il Talismano della Felicità.

Boni worked as a magazine editor in Italy.  This book is a collection of the series of food articles about regional Italian cooking that was originally written for the Italian monthly magazine “Arianna”.  The magazine articles cataloged in depth recipes for the entire range of food served in the 14 major regions of Italy, long before the importance of regional cooking was understood here in America.  Boni was and still is well-known for the authenticity and variety of her recipes.

The book  Italian Regional Cooking is beautifully illustrated, with a spectacular photo montage of each Italian region to be covered at the beginning of each chapter that provides a backdrop for Italian tables laden with dishes from appetizer to dessert that evoke a special family gathering.  (There are no images for each individual recipe, however).  Although I have an edition from 1969 translated into English, the book is still listed on Amazon today.  I found this book about 30 years ago in a book store in California and my cover is tattered by now!

Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni
The book cover from “Italian Regional Cooking” by Ada Boni

When I wanted to research Italian meatballs, I searched this cook book in particular for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted to discover if the way Italian-Americans now make meatballs differs significantly from how an Italian in southern Italy makes meatballs.  Second, I wanted to see if I could figure out the origins of the meatballs I make today.

 

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The Ingredients in Sicilian Meatballs

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In answer to my first question – do we make meatballs differently over here than they do in Italy, I searched  the chapter in Italian Regional Cooking that lists the recipes for Sicily.  I was pretty certain when I started my search that my family’s recipe was authentic, as it has been handed down from my grandmother, who spent her first 22 years in Sicily, and as the oldest child had been helping her mother with the household cooking since she was a young girl.

It turns out that the ingredients in Ada Boni’s  Sicilian“Polpette di Maiale con Pitaggio” are almost identical to my family’s meatballs.  “Polpette”* is the Italian word for what we call “meatballs” in America, but the translation given is, “Pork Rissoles with Vegetables.”

**********

The meat used for the meatball recipe from Sicily is pork, rather than beef, which of course would be more easy to come by in Sicily.  If I have ground pork or ground turkey on hand, I occasionally will use this meat to “lighten up” the meatballs.  The CIAP cooks used a variety of different meats (see about Neapolitan meatballs below).  The meatballs were rolled in a bit of flour before frying, which is an idea I will use from now on.

Instead of breadcrumbs, the recommendation is to soften the “pith of a small roll” with milk and “squeeze it dry.”  Several of the home cooks at the CIAP event mentioned using this method instead of  bread crumbs, and I will have to try this on my next attempt at making meatballs.   And, of course,  the Progresso brand of breadcrumbs is an American invention, so here is how we changed the meatball over in America for sure!

Other than that, the ingredients listed  for Sicilian Polpette were about the same as the meatballs I had learned to make.  The onion my family puts into meatballs was left out, but  included were garlic, fresh parsley, grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and a bit of flour to coat the meatballs before frying. The flour is another good tip!  Most of the CIAP cooks included these ingredients.

How to serve Sicilian meatballs: Suggested  serving was with sauteed artichokes (with chokes removed), green peas and fava beans in the same oil used for frying the meatballs.

I have not seen meatballs served this way, but plan on trying this suggestion, which sounds good  since true Italian meatballs  (I am told, but am not quite convinced) should served with Italian bread, rather than pasta.

 

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

The Ingredients in Neapolitan Meatballs

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

When I searched the chapter in Italian Regional Cooking  that lists the recipes for Napes-Capagna, I discovered “Polpette di Carne”, translated into “Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Neapolitan Style.” 

**********

The meat used for the meatball recipe from the Naples region is beef, which is probably the most common meat used in America today, although the CIAP cooks used ground pork and a mixture of been and pork as well.  One cook even made vegetarian meatballs of her own invention using zucchini flowers (Salvatore’s mother) and I have to say, they were delicious. Again, the meatballs were rolled in a bit of flour before frying.

Breadcrumbs were used in the Neapolitan recipe, of course grated from stale Italian bread,  and first moistened with a little milk.  This seems like a good idea to me, and I am going to include this tip from now on when I make meatballs.

The remaining ingredients listed  for Neapolitan Polpette differed significantly from the meatballs we see most frequently in America today in that they called for yellow raisins, pine nuts, and a bit of lard.  Onions were again left out. The remaining ingredients of garlic, parsley, eggs, and Parmesan cheese were the same basic ingredients given in the Sicilian recipe.

I tried the Neapolitan style meatballs one night for dinner (you might notice some pine nuts in the  images of my mixing bowl from the first section of the blog!), warning my family that they would taste sweeter than our usual meatball.  I have to say the addition of milk and a bit of lard made them the most tender meatballs I have ever had!

But it seems like Americans have lost their taste for a “sweet” meatball, however, and it was a consensus at the CIAP dinner that “no one” here in America used raisins anymore.

How to serve Neapolitan meatballs: Suggested  serving was with tomato sauce, and a recipe for simple tomato sauce was provided, as noted in the title for the recipe.

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

How to Make Italian Meatballs – My conclusions…

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It seems to me that there are as many ways to make and serve Italian meatballs as there are home cooks to make them! I do find it interesting, though, that here in America we have retained the idea of cooking meatballs in tomato sauce, whether the idea is from Sicily or Naples, and meatballs are paired with spaghetti is indeed an “American classic”.

 

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 * A final tidbit of interesting information:  when I looked up the word “polpette” in the dictionary, which means “meatballs,” I discovered that the Italian singular “polpetta” for  the singular meatball, has several negative connotations.  “Polpetta” can refer to “poisoned bait,” possibly because the reference is to little pieces of meat that are poisoned. “Polpetta” can also be used in a figurative sense, to mean that a person is a “dud” or a “drag.”  

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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Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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

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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

Italian Meatballs: A Tribute to our Italian Mothers

Photo of the Greek ruins at Agrigento Sicily, with tall columns reaching to a bright blue sky with puffy clouds.

How to Talk About: Weather in Italian

How to Talk About: Weather in Italian

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog    How to talk about weather in Italian: Important Italian phrases and vocabulary you need to know when talking about the weather with Italian friends and colleagues!

This blog series, “How to Talk About… in Italian” will focus on the topics that have come up most frequently in my everyday conversations with Italian family, friends and colleagues. We will focus on the important Italian phrases and Italian vocabulary we all need to know to become more fluent when we speak about everyday events in Italian!

The topic for this month — the weather — comes up frequently during daily conversation, both when making small talk with acquaintances and also when planning activities with family, friends, and co-workers. In the “How to Talk About Weather in Italian” blog for this month, we will focus on common Italian phrases needed to ask and answer questions about the weather.  We will also give examples of common Italian expressions that can be used to describe all four seasons.

Italians have a different approach than English-speakers when making references to the weather.  For instance, Italians talk about what the weather is making, rather than what the weather is at a given point in time. So first, we will learn how to use the Italian verb fare (to do/to make) to describe “what the weather is making” when we speak. We must first “think in Italian” if we want to talk about the weather in Italian!

Enjoy the second topic in this “How to Talk About…” series, “How to Talk About Weather in Italian.” —Kathryn Occhipinti

Some of this material was originally presented on the  Conversational Italian! blog “Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! “ Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.


How to Talk About: Weather in Italian

 

For a general assessment of the weather, Italians use the ever popular verb fare in the third person singular, which you will remember is fa. (If you need a refresher on how to conjugate the verb fare, you will find this in our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs”  reference book.)

In English, the verb to be is used to directly refer to “it,” meaning “the weather,” and how “it” actually “is” outside. Instead, Italians speak of the weather “it” is making with the verb fa. So, it is very important to think in Italian if we want to talk about the weather in Italian!

Remember that the reference to “it” in the Italian sentence will be left out, as usual.

Below are some examples of how this works, with the correct English translation in black and the literal Italian translation in gray, so we can understand the Italian approach to this topic.

If you don’t know what the weather is like and want to ask someone a question about the weather,  you can use many of the same phrases that we have listed below to describe the weather. Just raise your voice at the end of the sentence to signal that you are asking a question. There is no need to invert the subject and the verb to make a question, as we do in English.

Notice that in Italian the same word means both time and weatheril tempo.

Che tempo fa?
What is the weather?  (lit. What weather does it make?)

Fa caldo.
Fa molto caldo!
Fa caldo?
It is warm/hot.
It is very hot!
Is it warm/hot?
(lit. It makes heat.)
Fa fresco.
Fa fresco?
It is cool.
Is it cool?
(lit. It makes cool.)
Fa freddo.
Fa freddissimo!
Fa freddo?
It is cold.
It is very cold!
Is it cold?
(lit. It makes cold.)
Fa bel tempo.
Fa bel tempo?
It is nice weather.
Is it nice weather?
(lit. It makes nice weather.)
Fa bello.

Fa bellissimo.

It is nice/very nice out. (lit. It makes nice/very nice weather.)
Fa brutto tempo.
Fa brutto tempo?
It is bad weather.
Is it bad weather?
(lit. It makes bad weather.)
Fa brutto. It is bad outside. (lit. It makes bad weather.)

Of course, we may want to know how the weather was during a certain event or at a certain time.  Chatting about the weather is a common pastime in any country. Why not chat in Italian about recent weather conditions yesterday, last week, or last year?

To talk about the weather in the immediate past tense, we must return to the imperfetto and the passato prossimo.  For an in-depth explanation of how to use the imperfetto and passato prossimo forms of the Italian past tense, click on the link for the verb tense listed in this sentence that you want to learn about in this sentence.  Or, take a look at our reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs.”

The imperfetto third person singular form of fare, which is  faceva, is the most commonly used form with our general expressions.

Of course, if we want to refer to a specific time frame, the passato prossimo third person singular form of fare, which is  ha fatto, should be used.

Below are the general questions about the weather from the last example table, this time in the past tense: 

Che tempo faceva? What was the weather? (lit. What weather did it make?)
Come era il tempo? How was the weather?  

 And our answers, depending on the situation…

Faceva caldo. It was hot. (lit. It made heat.)
Ha fatto caldo tutto il giorno.  It was hot all day.  
     
Faceva fresco. It was cool. (lit. It made cool.)
Ha fatto fresco ieri. It was cool yesterday.  
     
Faceva freddo. It was cold. (lit. It made cold.)
Ha fatto freddo quest’inverno. It was cold all winter.  
Faceva bel tempo. It was nice weather. (lit. It made nice weather.)
Faceva bello. It was nice outside. (lit. It made nice weather.)
     
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad weather. (lit. It made bad weather.)
Faceva brutto tempo. It was bad outside. (lit. It made bad weather.)

Now, let’s try to be more specific and descriptive when we talk about the weather, and talk about common weather conditions, such as the rain, snow and wind, and how the weather changes throughout the seasons. Below are a few conversational sentences. Living in Chicago, I couldn’t resist a few lines about the show we’ve had to shovel this past winter.  How many more can you think of?

È primavera.* It is springtime.
Ci sono nuvole scure. There are dark clouds.
Viene a piovere. (It) is going to rain.
(lit. Here comes the rain.)
C’e la pioggia? Is it raining?
Piove. It’s raining.
Tira vento. It’s windy.
I fiori sono in fiore. The flowers are blooming.
Ho un mazzo di rose rosse che ho colto dal giardino. I have a bunch of red roses that I picked from the garden.
È estate.* It is summer.
C’è sole. It’s sunny. (lit. There is sun.)
È umido. Andiamo alla spiaggia! It’s humid. Let’s go to the beach!
È autunno.* It is autumn.
Fa fresco. It is cool. (lit. It makes coolness).
Le foglie cadano dagli alberi. The leaves fall from the trees.
È inverno.* It is winter.
È gelido. It’s freezing.
La gelata è dappertutto. The frost is everywhere.
C’è la neve? Is it snowing?
Nevica. It’s snowing.
C’è la bufera di neve. It’s a snowstorm.
I fiocchi di neve sono tanti. There are so many snowflakes.
I bambini fanno un pupazzo di neve. The children are making a snowman.
Mi piace sciare. Ho gli sci belli. I like skiing. I have wonderful skis.
Devo spalare la neve ora! I have to shovel the snow now!
Voglio una pala per la neve. I want a snow shovel.
Uso sempre uno spazzaneve. I always use a snowblower.

*In a simple statement about what season it is, the definite article (il, la, l’ = the) is not used.  However, in a longer sentence such as, “È l’inverno che porta neve,” the article is used. (Translations: It is the winter that brings the snow/Winter brings the snow.)


Finally, there are a few rules to follow if we want to talk about specific weather conditions in the past tense.

Let’s say we want to tell a story to our friend about the day that has just ended and we’d like to include a description of the weather. In this case, if we want to talk about a single, specific  instance in time when we experienced a certain weather condition, we must use the passato prossimo form of the past tense.

When using the passato prossimo, the verbs piovere, nevicare, and tirare can be conjugated using either avere or essere, as the helping verb, as in:

Ieri ha piovuto per due ore.         Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

            or

Ieri è piovuto per due ore.          Yesterday, it rained for two hours.

General phrases in the past tense about the sun, clouds, fog or humidity are spoken about using the imperfetto past tense.  Or, if we want to mention the weather as the “setting” or underlying condition that edited at the same time as a certain activity that happened in the past, we would again use the imperfetto past tense.

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The expressions we have already encountered earlier in this blog are given below again, this time in the imperfetto in the first column and in the passato prossimo in the second column.

Notice the different meanings for each type of past tense. And how the word “it” is, as usual, left out of the Italian phrase, but necessary for the English translation.

The words gia (already) and appena (just) are commonly used with the passato prossimo to give additional information.

Pioveva.
It was raining.
Ha già piovuto.
It already rained.
Nevicava.
It was snowing.
Ha appena nevicato.
It has just snowed.
Tirava vento.
It was windy.
Ha tirato vento tutto il giorno.
It was windy all day.
C’era sole. It was sunny.
C’era nebbia. It was foggy.
Era nuvoloso. It was cloudy.         
Era sereno. It was clear.
Era umido. It was humid.
L’umidità è stata molto alta oggi. The humidity was very high today.
L’umidità è stata bassa oggi. The humidity was very low today.

Remember how to talk about weather in Italian and I guarantee
you will use these  Italian phrases every day!

And remember to study our Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Important Phrases” pocket travel book if you want a handy way to remember all the important Italian phrases you will need to know!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

 

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 @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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

How to Talk about Email in Italian

Two bowls of split pea soup. The bowl on the left has ditalini pasta and the bowl on the right is garnished with croutons.

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Split pea soup is as comforting as it is delicious. Make it French topped with homemade Provence herb croutons or make it Italian with ditalini pasta. But make it tonight!

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons or Ditalini Pasta! 

Split pea soup is a classic, hearty soup made for generations in the winter and spring, when fresh, green vegetables are scarce.  Peas can be dried after harvest and “split peas” will keep easily for 1 year or longer in the cupboard,  waiting to satisfy that yearning for a hearty soup until fresh peas become available in the springtime.

Since my family did not make split-pea soup when I was growing up, I researched a bit to discover that this soup is popular in both Italy and France. The split peas are cooked in essentially the same way, but the soups are finished differently.

In both versions, some type of ham product is commonly used to flavor the peas, although this can be left out to make a vegetarian soup. I’ve chosen pancetta, or Italian bacon, for the ham product in my soup. Chopped onions and carrots are a mainstay, as is the herb thyme.

In Italy, split pea soup is cooked until the peas fall apart by themselves in the soup, and the soup is left a little bit chunky.  The soup is then finished by adding in cooked Ditalini pasta or a potato cut into small cubes.  In France, the soup is pureed, and finished with a topping of canned peas or croutons.

I’ve included a method to make homemade croutons using herbs of Provence as the French garnish for my split-pea soup.  But I’m sure you’ll enjoy making these croutons for many more dishes once you realize how simple it is to make croutons yourself.

Whatever version you choose, this soup is sure to please your family! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Recipe is listed below.  Check out my  latest Instagram video from Conversationalitalilan.french and watch me make split pea soup and croutons if you like!

View this post on Instagram

Split pea soup with homemade croutons or Ditalini pasta for springtime! French and Italian finishes below. For the soup: 1 bag 26 oz. dried split peas soaked in water in measuring cup to make about 3-4 cups. Put in pot with 7 cups water 1/2tsp salt and 1/8 tsp baking soda (if you have “hard water”) Bring to the boil slowly, in about 45 min so peas can absorb water. Skim foam off. After hard boil reached, skim foam and add finely chopped carrot and inion that has been sautéed in 2 Tb butter and 1/4 cup chopped pancetta (bacon). Also add herbs: chopped fresh or dried parsley, pinch of thyme and small bay leaf. Simmer an additional 2 -2 1/2 hours. Remive bay leaf when done! Can reduce peas to puree while cooking to desired thickness for Italian version (leave a little chunky). Or puree in food processor for French version. Italian version: add Cooked Ditalini pasta and enjoy. French version add 2 Tb butter, top with canned peas to serve or homemade croutons. For the croutons: 1 loaf French bread, cubed,1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic, pinch salt, dried parsley flakes, dried herbs of Provence. Mix and bake 400. Viola! #osnap @niafitalianamerican @italianjourney @sons_of_italy @osia_su @chicagolanditalians #peasoup #splitpeasoup #springsouptime #springsoupforthesoul #springsoupforlunch #frenchsplitpeasoup #italiansplitpeawithham #italiansplitpeasoup #crôutons #homemadecroutons #homemadecroutonsrecipe #homemadecrouton #herbsofprovence #herbsofprovance #ditalinipasta #ditalinipastasoup #crouton #croutons

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Split Pea Soup
with Homemade Croutons
or
Ditalini Pasta 

Two bowls of split pea soup. The bowl on the left has ditalini pasta and the bowl on the right is garnished with croutons.
Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons and Ditalini Pasta

Ingredients
for the Soup:

1 bag (26 oz.) split peas, soaked in water to make 3-4 cups

2 Tb butter
1/4 cup pancetta or ham, diced into small cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, peeled and chopped finely
Fresh sprig or 1 tsp of  dried parsley
Fresh sprig or 1/8 tsp of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Italian style: 1 cup ditalini pasta, cooked

Ingredients
for the Croutons
(French style):

1 loaf French bread, cubed
1/2 cup olive oil,
1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic (from jar)
pinch salt
dried parsley flakes
dried herbs of Provence.

Method

Put the 3-4 cups of soaked peas in large pot with 7 cups water.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp baking soda .(If you have “hard water” the baking soda will counteract the calcium salts in the hard water so the split peas can soften properly.*)

Bring the pot of water with split peas to the boil slowly, taking about 45 min. This will allow the peas to absorb the water properly and soften properly.* Skim foam off periodically as it comes to the surface.

While the split peas are coming to a boil, saute the finely chopped pancetta (or ham), onion and carrot in 2 Tb of butter and a pinch of salt until the vegetables soften. Do not brown.

After a rolling boil is reached, skim foam from the pot again and add the sauteed vegetables and ham.

Then add the herbs to taste. If fresh, the herbs should be added in a “bouquet garni,” wrapped in cheesecloth so they can be removed.  Dried herbs will soften and fall apart as the soup cooks. Suggested herbs: chopped fresh or dried parsley, sprig or pinch of dried thyme and  a small bay leaf.

Simmer an additional 2 -2 1/2 hours, until split peas fall apart and thicken the soup.

Remove bay leaf (and bouquet garni if used) when done!

Reduce peas to puree while cooking to desired thickness for Italian version (leave a little chunky). Or puree in food processor for French version.

Italian version: Cook 1/2 cup Ditalini pasta separately, add to soup and and enjoy.

French version: After pureeing, place back on the stove and add 2 Tb butter, blending into the soup as it melts. Top with canned peas to serve or homemade croutons.

For the  homemade croutons: 1 loaf French bread, cubed,1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic (add to olive oil and mix to coat evenly), pinch salt, dried parsley flakes, dried herbs of Provence. Mix, spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 400° until golden brown. Viola! Kathryn Occhipinti

Breadboard with French bread being cut into cubes
French bread cut for croutons
Croutons in a bowl with olive oil and jar of garlic in foreground
Croutons in bowl with olive oil and crushed garlic to add

 

 

 

 

Croutons ready to go into the oven.
Croutons spread out on a baking sheet, coated in olive oil, garlic and herbs and ready to go into the oven.
Croutons coated with olive oil, garlic and herbs ready to bake

*I learned these tips from the French cook book, La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, first published in French in 1920, first translated into English as of 1995, and with a second edition in 2005.  As the forward states, “it is today recognized by many French home and restaurant cooks… as the most articulate and popular home cookbook available in bookstores, from the time of its first publication… in the late 1920s to these first years of the 20th century.” This cook book is filled with so many details about buying, prepping and cooking French food of every type that I am sure cooks of all levels will benefit from the knowledge imparted by Madame into the 21st century and beyond.

 


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 @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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 Recipe: Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Chicken with tomato sauce that contains Marsala wine and mushrooms is shown in the pan used to cook it on a table with a flower pattern

Italian Recipe: One Pot Chicken in Marsala Wine

One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine 

A delicious and easy to make family dinner. Try it tonight!

Try One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine for YOUR Dinner Tonight! 

Italian Recipe: One-Pot Chicken in Marsala Wine is a reprint from a blog originally posted on February 26, 2017. I’ve since added Instagram to my social media, and have added a video from Instagram to this post so you can see me cooking in real-time! I hope you like it!

For more recipes like these, as well as French recipes, follow me on my Instagram posts at Conversationalitalian.french.

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

The recipe title, “One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine” sounds rich… and it is! But it is also so easy to make! I am told that for many years in Italy, only relatively wealthy families had ovens (in the day of my great grandparents). As a result, many wonderful Italian meals were developed that could be made entirely on the stove top. This actually fits perfectly with the lifestyle we live today.

In this chicken in Marsala wine recipe, a whole cut chicken is cooked in one large skillet along with the wine and few other ingredients until a silky gravy forms. This hearty and fulfilling dish can be made during the week or served when friends are over on the weekend. Hearty, crusty Italian bread makes a perfect accompaniment. Add a salad or vegetable side dish (contorno) if you like.

So get out the largest skillet you have, and try our chicken in Marsala wine dish for your family tonight. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Recipe is listed below.  Check out my  latest Instagram video from Conversationalitalilan.french and watch me make the dish if you like!

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One Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine for Sunday dinner today. So easy you can make it any day of the week! Use a fryer chicken, browned in olive oil. Then saute chopped onion, garlic, pancetta and add Marsala wine. Reduce wine by 50%. Add mushrooms, tomatoes and parsley and cook, stirring. Return browned chicken to pan and add chicken stock and tomato juice from can to almost cover chicken. Cook chicken through, taking lid off to boil away water and thicken sauce to finish cooking. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the gravy. Buon appetito! #osnap @walkstours @italiarail @niafitalianamerican @rai1official @sons_of_italy @order_isda @italianjourney @prouditaliancook #italianfood #italiancooking #sundaydinner🍴 #sundaydinners #sundaydinnerideas #sundaydinnerclub #italiansunday #italiansundaydinner #italiansundaysupper #onepotmeal #onepotmeals #onepotrecipe #onepotrecipes #onepotrecipes❤️ #onepotchickenstew #onepotchickendinner #onepotchicken #onepotchickenmarsala #italianchickenstew #italianchickendinner #thatsamore

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One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine 

Ingredients

1 frying chicken, cut into 2 breasts, 2 thighs/legs, 2 wings
(any chicken with breasts and thighs of similar size)
up to 1/4 cup olive oil, as needed
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 strips guanciale (bacon from cheek of pig) or
2 strips prosciutto, chopped
3/4 cup Marsala wine
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes or
canned or fresh cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped coarsely

Method

Rinse the frying chicken inside and out, pat dry, and cut into pieces. Reserve the back for chicken soup to be made at a later date!

Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper.

Use a large, shallow pot, Dutch oven, or skillet to cook all ingredients over medium high heat as follows:

Pour olive oil into your pot or skillet to coat the entire bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil, using  about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat oil over medium high heat (do not let the oil smoke or flavor will be lost).

Add chicken to the pan skin side down, keeping each piece separate from the other and cook without moving the chicken for a few minutes, until the skin has browned and some of the fat from under the skin has been rendered.

Turn chicken pieces once and cook about 5 minutes more.

Remove chicken pieces to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour out excess oil/fat from the skillet. Add fresh olive oil if necessary to coat the bottom lightly again.

Into the skillet, add the chopped onion, crushed garlic clove, and guanciale or prosciutto. Cook until the onion has softened.

Add Marsala wine and turn the heat up to high briefly to boil off alcohol while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release chicken bits that will help flavor the sauce. Lower heat and continue to boil off alcohol until about 50% of the Marsala wine remains in the pot.

Put the chicken back into the skillet and add tomatoes (with the juices in the can), mushrooms, and parsley. Add enough water, so the chicken and vegetables are almost completely covered.

Chicken in Marsala Wine
Browned chicken with vegetables and Marsala wine on the stove top

Cover the skillet and cook on medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, adding more water as needed, about 15 to 30 minutes (this will depend on how cooked the chicken was initially, of course).

Chicken in Marsala Wine Italian style
Italian chicken in Marsala wine with tomatoes added, cooking on the stove top

If the sauce is too watery at the end of cooking time, remove the lid and boil off some liquid gently. The sauce should be fairly thick.*

Taste, and adjust salt and pepper before serving.

Place the chicken pieces on a large platter or on individual plates. Pour on the sauce and serve with rustic Italian bread.

Italian Chicken in Marsala Tomato Sauce
Italian chicken Marsala served with a side of bread

*This method is a fricassee of chicken (a method of cooking meat in which it is cut up, sautéed and braised, and served with its sauce), so the sauce will be a little fatty. If you want to decrease the amount of fat, the same method can be followed with skinless, bone-in chicken cooked for a shorter time initially.

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 @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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 Recipe: One-Pot Italian Chicken in Marsala Wine

Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce in a bowl with crusty Italian bread next to it ready to sop up the sauce.

Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Try Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari or stuffed sardines for your Italian Christmas Eve this year! Recipes courtesy of Sicily and Sardinia.

Italian Christmas Eve means a feast of 7 fishes with Calamari, Stuffed or Fried and Stuffed Sardines 

It is an Italian tradition to serve fish for Christmas Eve, in observance of the Catholic holiday.  In some towns in Italy and in many Italian-American families, this tradition has turned into a feast that features fish and shellfish for antipasto, primo and secondo courses —  fish is served fried, stuffed, with pasta, stewed, and baked.  Some families serve seven different types of fish, although I’m not sure if anyone really knows where the number seven originated from.

Each year, I plan my “feast of the 7 fishes” with some tried and true dishes — my shrimp scampi,  for instance, is always a big hit for the primo course and easy to make.  Last year I had fun with the antipasto course, and cooked up Sicilian and Sardinian-style stuffed calamari and stuffed fresh sardines — which, by the way, do not smell or taste “fishy” at all if you buy them fresh.  They were both a hit with young and old alike, so I present them here for your family to try.  I’ve also included a simple method for fresh fried calamari, complete with an Instagram video, as a well-known and well-loved family starter to any Italian-American meal.

Buon appetito e Buon Natale!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Stuffed Calamari Sardinian Style

Ingredients
(Makes about 12 stuffed  calamari (squid)

12 squid with about 3″ sacs

Stuffing:
Tentacles from 6 squid, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, boned and preserved in olive oil
1 Tb and 1 tsp breadcrumbs (or more as desired)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Sauce:
olive oil
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 can ( 8 oz.) Italian  chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine

Prepare the calamari:

Buy calamari already cut and cleaned.  Frozen calamari is fine.  (For whole calamari: rinse, cut tentacles from body and remove the hard beak along the outside and the hard spine on the inside of the body. Then continue as below.)

Rinse again, take out any hard spine left in body and cut off outer fins.

Separate the body and tentacles into two bowls.  Rinse again if needed.  Drain any excess water, and pat dry.

Make the stuffing and stuff the calamari:

Put all the stuffing ingredients into a bowl and mix lightly until all are blended.

Add a little olive oil if too dry or a little more breadcrumbs, as needed. The mixture should be soft and hold together when picked up with the hand.

Spoon the stuffing into the calamari bodies,  filling about 3/4 of each sac.  Close with a toothpick.

Squid bodies lined up, stuffed, and the open end closed with a toothpick
Stuffed calamari, closed with toothpicks.

 

Cook the calamari in tomato sauce: 

Use a large frying pan that can fit al the calamari.

Pour in enough olive oil to coat the pan and come slightly up the sides and heat to medium high.  Add the garlic cloves and cook until they are a golden brown and then remove.

Put in the stuffed squid and brown both sides.

Stuffed calamari frying in olive oil on the stove.
Stuffed calamari frying in olive oil on the stovetop.

Add chopped tomatoes and any juice from the can and the white wine.  Cook at slow boil to boil off the alcohol in the white wine, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook at a slow simmer until calamari are cooked through, an additional 30 – 45 minutes or more.  The cooking time with vary with the size of the calamari, so cut into the calamari to make sure it is cooked through and cook longer if needed.

Stuffed calamari cooking in tomato sauce in a frying pan on the stovetop
Stuffed calamari cooking with tomatoes on the stove top.

When the calamari have finished cooking,  remove the toothpicks and place each on a separate platter, covered with the sauce.

Serve very hot, with crusty Italian bread to mop up the sauce!

stuffed calamari in tomato sauce are in a serving platter on a festive Christmas tablecloth
Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce, cooked and ready to serve.

Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Fried Calamari 

Ingredients
Calamari (Squid), frozen or fresh
flour
olive oil
salt

Buy calamari already cut and cleaned.  Frozen calamari is fine.  (For whole calamari: rinse, cut tentacles from body and remove the hard beak along the outside and the hard spine on the inside of the body. Then continue as below.)

Rinse again, take out any hard spine left in body and cut off outer fins.

Separate the body and tentacles into two bowls.  Rinse again if needed.  Drain any excess water, but no need to pat dry.

Cut each calamari body into rings, dredge in flour and shake off excess flour. The flour alone will  cling to the damp calamari and make a very light, batter-type coating when fried in olive oil.

Heat oil about an inch deep in a large frying pan over medium heat. Do not let olive oil  get too hot or smoke. Test olive oil by dropping one  lightly floured calamari ring into the oil. The oil is hot enough when the calamari sizzles. Maintain olive oil at medium heat throughout the frying process, turning burner heat up or down as needed.

To fry the calamari, drop lightly floured calamari rings into the olive oil.  Fry in batches and do not crowd the pan.  Turn as needed to brown evenly.  Fry the calamari rings first, and then the tentacles.

When the calamari are a golden yellow color, remove the calamari from the oil with a slotted spoon.

Drain any excess oil from the fried calamari in a bowl lined with a paper towel, and then immediately transfer to the serving bowl and salt lightly.  Mix.

Bring your fried calamari right to the table and enjoy hot! .

 

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Italian Christmas Eve recipe: Easy Fried Calamari for your feast of the 7 fishes! Buy calamari already cut and cleaned. Rinse, take out any hard spine left in body and cut of fins. Cut body into circles, dredge in flour and shake odd excess flour. The flour alone will make a very light, batter-type coating when fried in olive oil. Heat oil over medium heat. It is hot enough when a piece drops in sizzles. Drain oil on paper towels, transfer to serving bowl and salt lightly. Then fry tentacles same way. Enjoy hot out of the frying pan. For more Italian fish dishes check out www.blog.learntravelitalian.com tomorrow Dec 15………………………….. #osnap #osnapmedia @niafitalianamerican @osia_su #italianchristmas #italianchristmaseve #italianchristmasfood #italianchristmasfoodtraditions #italianchristmasdinner #feastofthesevenfishes #sevenfishesfeast #sevenfishdinner #italianfishdinner #christmaseve2019 #christmaseve2019🎄 #christmaseve2019♥️ #christmaseve2019🎅🏻🌲🎉

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Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Stuffed Sardines Sicilian Style 

Ingredients
(For about 10 fresh sardines)

About 10 fresh sardines
Stuffing:
1/2 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup seedless, white raisins,  coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp sugar
3 salted anchovies,  boned and preserved in olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
pepper
Top with 2-3 bay leaves (fresh if possible), torn into pieces

Make the filling for the sardines:

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over moderate heat in a large frying pan and then add the breadcrumbs. Stir, cooking until breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

Put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and allow to cool a bit.

Add the yellow raisins, pine nuts, and sugar.

Rinse the anchovies until most of the salt has been removed.  Pat dry. Chop into small pieces and then add to the filling in the bowl.

Add 2 -3 grinds of freshly ground pepper,  parsley and onion.

Mix all ingredients together with  a spoon.  Pick up with your hand and see if mixture will hold together.  Add a few drops of olive oil if needed and mix with your hands until mixture holds together enough to be pressed into the sardines.

Clean, stuff, and cook the sardines:

Process the fresh sardines as follows: Rinse well.  Cut off the heads.  Rinse again.  Slit open the belly of each sardine lengthwise and pull out the intestines and rinse again.  Pull out the backbone.  Rinse in salted water and wipe dry. Split open and lay flat.

Fresh Sardines are slit open, cleaned and shown lying flat before stuffing
Fresh sardines cleaned, split open and ready to stuff.

 

Stuffing bowl and the center sardine open with stuffing in it.
Sardine with stuffing prior to closing.

Place a little bit of the stuffing into each sardine, then close and place into a shallow cooking pan coated with a bit of olive oil.

 

Sardines are stuffed, folded over and have been placed into a pan, ready to cook
Stuffed sardines ready to cook.

 

 

 

 

Tear the bay leaves into several pieces and sprinkle them over the sardines .

 

 

 

Bake in the oven at 375°until sardines are cooked through and filling has browned, about 30 minutes.

When the sardines have finished cooking, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve hot. Present them in their pan  with the juices or transfer to a separate plate.

Sardines in their pan, cooked and ready to serve
Stuffed sardines, cooked and ready to  serve.

— 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 @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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 Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Picture of Conversational Italian for Travelers Grammar book on a checkered table cloth, reference book with a chapter on how to make comparisons in Italian

Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               Read here about Italian adjective clauses and Italian comparison phrases and learn about important situations that use the Italian Subjunctive Mood!

 

Speak Italian: Situations Use Italian Adjective Clauses with the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

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

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the subjunctive mood. In this segment, we will discuss Italian adjective clauses that take the subjunctive mood, and also include a brief discussion of comparison phrases and when Italian comparison phrases require the subjunctive mood. Finally, we will learn how to use the conjunction “sia” as a conjunction in order to connect phrases when trying to say, “Both…and…” Example sentences will follow using Italian adjective clauses for each situation.

Speak Italian: How to Use the Italian Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  Italian subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present situations take the Italian subjunctive mood.

In this blog, we will then present common Italian adjective clauses used in daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

Remember these examples as “anchors” in your knowledge for when you must speak Italian and try out the subjunctive mood in your next Italian conversation!

Enjoy our blog: “Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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


Speak Italian: Situations that Use the  Italian Subjunctive Mood (Part 6)

A Brief Review of Phrases that take
the Italian Subjunctive Mood 

In previous blogs, we have noted that Italian uses a subjunctive mood that to express beliefs, thoughts, or hopes with the verbs credere, pensare, and sperare.

The subjunctive mood is also said to “open up” a conversation to discussion about a particular topic by expressing doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling.

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

These groups are listed below.

Groups 1-9: “Noun Clauses”

Group 10: “Adverbial Clauses”

Groups 11 and 12: “Adjective/Pronoun Clauses”

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

For a review of how to use the groups of phrases that need the Italian subjunctive mood  listed above, please see our previous blogs on this topic by clicking on the links below:

How to Use the Present Tense Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 1-3). 

How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive for Italian Past Tense (Parts 1-3)

How to Use The Italian Subjunctive Mood (Parts 4 and 5) — Hypothetical Phrases

You will notice that numbers 11 and 12 above discuss specific phrases called adjective clauses that take the subjunctive mood. In this blog, we will discuss various situations, along with specific words and phrases, that will trigger the subjunctive mood in the adjective clause to follow.

We will also discuss number 13 as the last section in this bog in order to learn how to express “both… and…” and  “whether… or…” in Italian, including when it is necessary to use the subjunctive mood with these phrases.

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Points to remember about the subjunctive mood:

In Italian, the introductory phrases that take the subjunctive mood (those that trigger doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a feeling)  usually end with a linking word, also known as a conjunction, which will be che.  In this situation, che means that.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

We now see from Group 9 that some words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  The clause that follows our introductory phrase will then describe what the uncertainty is about.

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

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

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

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Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps

 Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though, If

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


Speak Italian: How to Use the Subjunctive Mood in Situations with Italian Adjective Clauses

An adjective clause is a phrase that modifies a  noun or a pronoun. Simply stated, an adjective clause is a group of words that together add additional information or further describe the person, place, or thing a sentence is about. These phrases are “dependent clauses” as they cannot “stand alone” as a complete sentence, but are dependent on the phrase that comes before them to make sense.

Now that we know what an adjective clause is, we have to discuss just what triggers use of the Italian subjunctive for an Italian adjective clause.  Italian adjective clauses are commonly used in speech and writing, and of course, not all will need the subjunctive mood!

We have already listed some specific Italian phrases that are classified as adjective clauses in the last section of this blog. These phrases will often start a sentence and then will trigger use of the Italian subjunctive mood in the phrase that comes after.

There are also certain situations that will trigger use of the Italian subjunctive mood.  In these cases, it is the uncertainty in the situation described in the first phrase of the sentence that will trigger use of the Italian subjunctive mood in the adjective clause that follows.

As one can imagine, there are innumerable “uncertain” situations that can be modified with adjective clauses, and therefore will take the Italian subjunctive mood.  Some examples will be listed below.

Similar to other situations when it is necessary to use the Italian subjunctive mood, when modifying an Italian phrase by adding an adjective clause after it, the two phrases must be linked by a conjunction, which will be che. In this situation, che means who or that.

Read on below to find out which “uncertain” or “comparative” situations will need to take the Italian subjunctive mood if you would like to add additional information to make a more complex and varied sentence when speaking Italian.

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Indefinite Antecedents:
“Cercare”  

Many situations arise when an individual will mention a specific person or thing they are looking for,  but at the time of the conversation the speaker knows that this specific desire may only exist in his or her imagination. This type of situation is  called an “indefinite antecedent.”

We often talk about our desires in conversation, and love to elaborate on exactly what we want , even though we know that what we want may not actually exist. We already know that wanting and wishing for something in Italian involves uncertainty, and therefore many times we will need to use che with the subjunctive mood in the phrase that follows! In this case, one does not outright state they are making a wish;  instead, what they desire, and the uncertainty that they will find it, is inherent in the first statement.

The most common situations of this type is when someone is looking for a type of person or a particular thing. In Italian, the verb “to look for” is cercare. When a sentence starts with a particular wish of this type, just exactly what one is looking for can be elaborated upon, even if its actual existence has yet to be proven. Here is a case for using the subjunctive mood!

You will notice from the examples below that in English we use the simple present tense in these situations.

Sto cercando una fidanzata che sia intelligente e simpatica.
I am looking for a girlfriend who is intelligent and nice.

Il mio amico cerca un appartamento che abbia due camere da letto.
My friend is looking for an apartment that has two bedrooms.

 

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Indefinite Antecedents:
“Any”

The Italian subjunctive mode must be used with adjectives or pronouns that include the idea of any in a description of a person, place or thing, such as  qualsiasi, qualunque (any), chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere). These words are listed under #11 above. Here, again, there is some uncertainty as to the person, place, or thing, as the speaker is making a generalization, rather than pointing out someone or something specific.  The subjunctive mood is used directly after these words.

There are many, many situations in which one might use the above words to express the idea of “any.”*  Some examples are listed below.  How many more can you think of?

Mi va bene qualsiasi posto che sia vicino al finestrino per favore.
Any place that is near the window is good for me, please.

Chiunque possa imparare un’altra lingua deve essere molto intelligente.
Anyone who can learn another language must be very intelligent.

Dovunque io vada in Italia è tutto bellissimo!
Anywhere I go in Italy is all very beautiful!

*You may have noticed that qualcuno,  which can mean:“anyone, anybody, someone, somebody” is not included in this list!

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Negative Antecedents:

If the speaker in a conversation is wishing for someone or something specific, but already knows he or she will not be able to find it, the sentence will begin with “non” to create an antecedent in the negative form.  Interrogative antecedents (when questioning something) can also fall into the negative antecedent category.  We have already mentioned different negative antecedents briefly in #12 of the list in our first section.

The Italian verb that is used in the adjective clause to follow the negative antecedent describe this “nobody” (nessuno) or “nothing” (niente/nulla) that we wish exists, but know does not. Since we are talking about a wish or desire that does not exist, our adjective clause will need be in the  subjunctive form.

Notice in the examples below that English uses the simple present tense for the dependent adjective clause.

Non c’è nessuno a questa festa che io conosca bene.
There is no one at this party that I know well.

Non c’è niente che io voglia comprare in questo negozio.
There is nothing that I want in this store.

Non c’è nulla che tu voglia comprare in questo negozio? 
Is there nothing in this store that you want to buy?

 


Speak Italian: How to Make Sentences with Comparisons in Italian 

A Brief Review of
How to Make Comparisons in Italian

Before we can learn when to use the Italian subjunctive mood in comparative sentences, we must first learn how comparative sentences are structured in Italian.  The material for this section has  been provided by the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and the Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” books,  found on the website www.Learntravelitaliancom and Amazon.com.

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Grammar Note – Comparatives of Equality
in Italian

Comparison of Two Italian Nouns
with Equivalent
  Descriptors

When comparing two different nouns – people , places, or things – using the same adjective or adverb, to state that their description is equivalent, use the following phrases below.

 

Così and tanto are in parentheses in the examples that follow, as these words can be omitted in conversation.

 

Comparison of Two  Italian Nouns with Equivalent  Descriptors

(così)… come as… as
(tanto)… quanto as much/as well… as

 

Milano è (così) bella come Roma.                   Milan is as beautiful as Rome.

La mia macchina va (tanto) bene,                  My car runs as well as your Ferrari.
quanto la tua Ferrari.                                    

 

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Comparison of Two Equivalent  Italian Nouns

 

When comparing what two different people have, using the same noun, to state that one person has something that is equivalent to what the other person has, use the following phrases below.

 

This pattern will usually appear with the verb avere, to describe what both people have.  Note that tanto must always be used and must agree in gender and number with the noun that it modifies.

 

  Comparison of Two Equivalent Italian Nouns

Tanto(a,i,e)….quanto as much as
as many as

 

Caterina ha tante amiche quante ne ha Anna.             Kathy has as many friends as Anna.

Pietro ha tanti parenti quanti ne ha Caterina.            Peter has as many relatives as Kathy.

 

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Grammar Note – Comparatives of Superiority and Inferiority in Italian

Comparison of Different Characteristics
of the Subject in Italian

When comparing different characteristics of the subject in a sentence, where one characteristic is better or worse than the other, use the following phrases below.  This pattern works for comparisons with adjectives, adverbs, and infinitive verbs.

 

Comparison of Different Characteristics of the Subject in Italian

più… che more… than
meno… che less… than

 

La casa è più grande che bella.                              The house is more large than beautiful.

Caterina ha meno amici che parenti.                 Kathy has fewer friends than relatives.

Mi piace di più studiare che lavorare.                    I like studying more than working.

 

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 Comparison of Different Nouns in Italian

In order to compare two different nouns, i.e. people, places or things, where one has a superior or inferior characteristic, use the following phrases below.  Note that di will combine with the definite article (il, la, lo, or l’) as usual if the definite article is needed in the sentence.

 

 

Comparison of Two Different Nouns in Italian

più…. di more… than
meno… di less… than

 

La casa di Pietro è più grande             Peter’s house is larger than Kathy’s
della casa di Caterina.                             house.

Pietro ha più soldi di Caterina.               Peter has more money than Kathy.

Caterina ha meno soldi di Pietro.            Kathy has less money than Peter.

 Questo vestito è più elegante del tuo vestito.
This dress is more elegant than your dress.

 

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Grammar Note – Relative Superlatives

 

Relative superlatives are descriptions that refer to the most or the least, and are often rendered in English with the ending -est.  In Italian, the equivalent to the most is il più or la più, for masculine and feminine nouns respectively.  The equivalent to the least is il meno or la meno.  The relative superlatives always precede the adjective they modify.

 

When the adjective to be modified comes before the noun, the relative superlative phrases are used with the definite article, as given above.  If the adjective to be modified comes after the noun, the definite article (il, la) is omitted from the relative superlative phrase.  In the second case, the definite article will already be in front of the noun for proper grammar!  See the examples below for how this works.

 

Also, notice that instead of the word in, Italians use di with comparisons, which is often combined with the definite article (il, la, lo, etc.).  Refer to Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Grammar” if you need to learn more about how to combine definite articles with prepositions.

 

Milano è la più bella città d’Italia.           Milan is the most beautiful city in Italy.

                                                   – or –

Milano è la città più bella d’Italia.           Milan is the city (which is) the most
beautiful in Italy.

 

Caterina è la meno alta della famiglia.     Kathy is the least tall in the family.

Pietro è il più alto della famiglia                  Peter is the tallest in the family.

 

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Grammar Note – Absolute Superlatives

 

The absolute superlative ending translates into very or really/extremely, and is used to say that something is simply the best, even beyond comparison.  The ending used to make an adjective into the absolute superlative is -issimo.  Remember from Chapter 6 how molto bene and benissimo both translated into very well/really well?

 

The absolute superlative ending will change to reflect the gender and number of the adjective modified, from –issimo to: -issima, -issimi,or -issime.  The last vowel of the adjective is dropped before adding these endings; buono will become buonissimo, grande will become grandissimo, and bella will become bellissima.

 

Il caffè in Italia è buonissimo.                             The coffee in Italy is really good.

I palazzi a Milano sono grandissimi.                The buildings in Milan are extremely big.

Milano è una bellissima città.                              Milan is a very beautiful city.

Le fontane sono bellissime.                                  The fountains are really beautiful.

 


Speak Italian: The Subjunctive Mood with Comparison Italian Adjective Clauses 

Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Absolute Superlatives

Now that we have reviewed how to make comparisons in Italian, we are ready to discuss how to use absolute superlative phrases with the Italian subjunctive mood.  In short, if you describe a person, place, or thing, and then want to say that this is “the best” you have ever seen, heard, met,  etc. you must use the  subjunctive!

For the speaker, at the point in time of the conversation, this is the best he or she has experienced; although one might say there is always the possibility that this opinion could change in the future.  Someone or something else may come along that is even better! And, where there is uncertainty, we need to use the subjunctive mood!

Some examples follow. Notice the use of the word “mai” to mean “ever,” which reinforces the idea of “the most.”

Since the speaker is talking about what they have experienced, the subjunctive verb conjugation must also be in the past.  In this examples below the form used is the passato congiuntivo.

The last example has been structured as a question, since we often ask others about their best experiences to date!

La Sicilia è l’isola più bella che io abbia mai visto.
Sicily is the most beautiful island that I have ever seen.

Mia madre è la donna più brava che io abbia mai incontrato.
My mother is the most wonderful woman that I have ever met.

Questa è la più bella sinfonia che io abbia mai sentito.
This is the most beautiful symphony that I have ever heard.

È questa la più bella sinfonia che tu abbia mai sentito?
Is this the most beautiful symphony that you have ever heard?

 

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Italian Adjective Clauses that Modify
Equivalents to Absolute Superlatives:
“Unico, Solo, Primo, Ultimo”

 

There are single Italian adjectives that can be considered to be “equivalent” to the absolute superlatives.  We have listed some above in the first section under Number 12 as the words which mean “only”:  unico, solo, a che uno. To these words we add primo, which means “first” and “ultimo,” which means “last.”  

When using the above Italian adjectives as absolute superlatives, their endings must agree in gender and number to the noun they modify (the same as for all Italian adjectives). The placement of the adjective will be between the definite article (il, la, lo, l’, etc.) and the noun it modifies.  Notice that these adjectives can be plural, since sometimes a group of things may be involved in the statement.

Check out the singular and plural forms of these absolute superlative adjectives below. You will remember from beginning Italian that  the  ending of the adjective primo changes since it is a cardinal number, and primo has regular endings. The adjectives solo and ultimo also have regular endings.

The adjective ultimo has an irregular in pronunciation in the plural masculine form (gli unici) and an irregular in spelling to preserve the pronunciation in the plural feminine form (le uniche).

l’unico l’unica gli unici le uniche
il solo la sola i soli le sole
il primo la prima i primi le prime
l’ultimo l’ultima gli ultimi le ultime

 

Some example sentences using unico, solo, primo, and ultimo are given below.  These words can be used in many different situations to make complex, descriptive sentences.  How many more can you think of?

Lui è l’unico ragazzo che mi piaccia nel mio paese.
He is the only boy that I like in my town.

Questa casa è l’unica casa che io abbia visto dipinta tutto in giallo.
This house is the only house that I have seen painted all in yellow.

Quella soluzione è solamente la prima soluzione che dobbiamo considerare.
This solution is only the first solution that we must consider.

L’Ultima Cena è l’ultimo quadro che Leonardo da Vinci abbia dipinto con la tempera.
The Last Supper is the last painting that Leonardo da Vinci painted with tempera (egg-based paint).


Speak Italian: How to Say “Both… and…”  with the Conjunction “Sia” 

How to Use
the Italian Conjunction
“Sia…  che…” to say “Both.. and…”

To finish our blog on adjective phrases, we now mention a way to link two nouns or verbs within a single descriptive phrase — use the Italian word sia as a conjunction!

By now, we have become used to using the word “sia”  as the present tense singular subjunctive  form of essere, as we’ve learned way back in the first blog on this topic. But we now mention that the Italian word sia can also be used as a conjunction , which is a  simple linking word.

In effect, Italian word sia does double duty as both a verb and a conjunction!

In sentences where one wants to express both… and…, in effect linking two equal alternatives  to one another in one phrase,  the first alternative is introduced with the conjunction sia  and the second alternative follows after the word  che.   In this case the word “che” is translated into English with the word  “and.” 

In some instances, this idea may also be communicated by using the conjunction sia twice, with the phrase sia… sia….  It is more common in spoken italian to hear sia…che…, although in a very few sentences  you might hear sia…sia…, which is perfectly correct too.  One sentence where the sia… sia… combination is used frequently refers to films that are adapted to two specific groups of people,  young and old:  “Il film è adatto sia a un pubblico adulto sia a un pubblico giovane.” 

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How to Make Phrases with
“Sia…  che…” to say “Both.. and…”

To form a phrase with the Italian conjunction sia is easy.  When we would say, “both… and..” in English, just substitute “sia… che…” in Italian.  A noun can be linked with a noun or a verb can be linked with a verb to show that there are two separate but equal possibilities for a single situation. Just use the sia… che combination!

Remember to use the Italian definite article with each noun that follows the conjugation sia, as is usual for Italian nouns.  The exception will be when using the Italian preposition “in” to go into a country, region or state, or large island like Sicily, as is usual for situations of this type.

Remember to use the infinitive form of the Italian verb that follows the conjugation sia, and conjugate only the main verb in the sentence.

The dependent phrase with sia…che… can be used as the subject of the sentence itself, especially when two people are the subject. In this case, the verb is conjugated in the third person plural form.  If this is confusing, just substitute “they” for the subject!

But, above all…

Don’t fall into the trap of translating the English
words “both” and “and” directly into Italian.
Instead, use “sia… che…”!

For instance:

Mi piace parlare sia l’italiano che l’inglese.
I like to speak  both  (the) Italian and (the) English (languages).

Mi piace viaggiare sia in Italia che in America.
I like traveling, both in Italy and in America.

Io devo sia comprare che incartare il regalo prima di andare al lavoro stasera.
I have to both buy and wrap the gift before going to work tonight.

Sia Marco che Maria (Loro) mi hanno invitato alla festa di compleanno di Julia.
Both Mark and Mary (They) have invited me to Julia’s birthday party.

 


 

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
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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 Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Subjunctive (Part 6): Situations for Italian Adjective Clauses and Comparisons

Two oval, white bowls of Chicken Soup, one with Chicken Egg Drop Soup and the other with Pastina Soup on a colorful tablecloth with fall pumpkin theeme

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian chicken broth with wispy strands of  eggs is called “Egg Drop Soup” at my family’s home but is known better as Stracciatella, or “Rags Soup.” For the perfect children’s chicken soup, instead add tiny pastas called pastina stars to your homemade chicken broth. Which is better?  Make them both and you decide!

Italian Chicken Broth: Egg Drop Soup or Pastina Stars  

When I was a child, my mother’s chicken soup was a welcome treat that accompanied the cool breezes of fall and sustained us through the cold winter months.  We children loved when she returned home from the “chicken farm” down the road with stewing chickens because we knew that her delicious chicken soup would soon follow!

Italian chicken soup starts with a hearty chicken broth, or “brodo.”  Chicken broth is simplicity to make, with just a few ingredients most home cooks have around the house.  My mother would drizzle beaten eggs into her chicken broth to make wispy yellow strands of scrambled eggs, for “Egg Drop Soup” as my family called it,  also known by its more traditional name of  “Stracciatella “ or “Rags Soup.”  And, I think every Italian adult has fond memories  of their lunches at home as a young child, especially when they discovered tiny star-shaped “pastina” pastas  in their chicken broth for “Pastina Soup!”

To make the most flavorful Italian chicken soup, start with a broth made with “stewing” chickens.  Stewing chickens are the older, tougher chickens that will soften but not loose their flavor entirely and make a nice broth after  even just 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking in liquid.  The meat of stewing chickens usually can be removed from the bones and added to the soup if desired. Younger frying or broiling chickens can also be used to make chicken broth, but in this case the cooking time should be increased to 2 or 3 hours and by this time most of the chicken’s flavor will have been given up to the soup, rendering the chicken flavorless.

Italian moms know that adding a small tomato will make the chicken broth sweeter, a small potato will add a little starch for body, and if you leave the outer leaves on the onion the broth will become a golden color.   Try my family’s simple method and I’m sure your children will agree: Italian chicken soup is the quintessential comfort food!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Chicken Broth with Egg Drop Soup or  Pastina Stars 

 

Italian Chicken Broth or “Brodo”

Ingredients
(Makes about 16-18 cups)

1 stewing chicken, 3-4 lbs., rinsed, quartered
with fat trimmed off
4 carrots,  rinsed and chopped coarsely
2 celery sticks,  rinsed and cut in half
1 onion, (skin on or off), rinsed and cut in half
1 small tomato, quartered
1 small waxy potato (not russet), yellow or red
Optional: Small bundle of fresh parsley stalks from garden
salt  to taste

Method for Italian Chicken Broth

Rinse the stewing chicken well. Ask the butcher to quarter it for you, or cut the chicken into quarters if needed. Rinse again to clean off again.

(Additional step if desired to give a clearer broth: Pre-cook the chicken briefly: Put chicken in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil slowly. Skim off the foam that comes to the top, then discard the water and continue with the rest of the method.)

Place the quartered chicken into a large soup pot. Add cold water 3/4 to the top of the pot.

Add the carrots, celery, onion, tomato and potato.

Bring to the boil and then quickly turn down heat to keep the broth cooking at a simmer.

Continue to cook the soup uncovered. Skim off any “skuzz” or “foam” that floats to the top periodically, but do not stir the broth, which will yield a cloudy soup.

When the soup has cooked  down to desired flavor — at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours, remove the chicken and the vegetables.

Taste the chicken and if it remains flavorful, remove it from the bones and reserve the meat to add to the soup if desired.  The vegetables will usually lose all their flavor and should be discarded and new, finely-chopped vegetables added to the finished soup.  (If not, the soup should probably be cooked for a little longer time, but that is of course a matter of taste!)

Strain the broth to remove any small particles that may have formed.

(Additional step that can be omitted: If you do not need the broth right away, or if on a low-fat diet, store the strained broth  in a pot in the refrigerator.  By the next  day, the fat will have floated to the top and hardened and can easily be skimmed off with a spoon.)

Add salt to the broth as desired and then finish as below and make into a soup.

 


Italian Egg Drop Soup

Ingredients
(Makes about 4 cups)

4 cups  Italian chicken broth, homemade or canned
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1/4 cup  finely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Optional: Fresh parsley stalk and leaves from garden for garnish

 

Method for Egg Drop Soup*

Use a small bowl or large measuring cup with a spout, if possible.  Mix the eggs and Parmesan cheese together lightly.

Place the 4 cups of cold chicken broth into a pot that can hold about 6 cups.

Adjust salt as desired.

Use medium-low heat to gradually bring the broth to a boil. Watch closely as the broth comes to a boil.

When small bubbles start to appear, and the broth is almost at a simmer,  while mixing, drizzle the egg/cheese mixture into the pot slowly, allowing the eggs to cook briefly before adding more of the mixture.

When all egg has been added and partially cooked, mix lightly with a fork to keep the egg separated until the egg has completely cooked.

Watch the Instagram video below to see this method in action!

 

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Italian chicken broth “brodo” and chicken egg drop soup or chicken soup with pastina. Moms love to make it and kids love to eat it on a chilly day! Broth: 1 stewing chicken, carrots, celery, onion (peeled or not for yellow color), small potato, one tomato quartered. Egg drop soup: 4 cups chicken broth. Add salt to taste. Add slowly just before boiling: 2 eggs lightly beaten with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Stir until cooked through. For Pastina: Boil broth snd add Pastina Pasta. Fresh parsley from garden should still be available if desired as parsley loves the cool weather. Buon appetito! #osnap #italiansoup @niafitalianamerican @chicagolanditalians @sons_of_italy @osia_su #italianfoodblogger #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodbloggers🍷🍕🇮🇹 #chickensoup #chickensouprecipe #chickensouprecipes #brodo #italianbrodo #italianchickensoup #strattiacella #chickeneggdropsoup #eggdropsoup #pastinainbrodo #pastinasoup #pastinasoupforlunch For more #Italianrecipes visit www.Learntravelitalian.com

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 

*For an alternative method, that will yield small strands of egg mixed more completely into the soup, called Stracciatella soup,  omit the Parmesan cheese.  Mix about 1 cup of the warm broth into the lightly mixed eggs and then pour all of the egg/broth mixture into the warm broth.  Bring to a boil and watch the smaller egg strands form.

To make larger “rags,” omit the Parmesan cheese and very lightly beat the egg mixture so that some of the white remains visible.  Bring the soup to a low boil, and drizzle in the egg mixture a bit at a time while stirring gently with a fork.

When the egg is cooked through, it is ready to eat, topped with Parmesan cheese of course!


 

Italian Pastina Soup for Children

Ingredients
(Makes about 4 cups)

4 cups  Italian chicken broth, homemade or canned
1/3 cup pastina (little stars) pasta

 

Method for Pastina Soup for Children

For 4 cups of chicken broth, use 1/3 cup pastina star pasta

Place the 4 cups of cold chicken broth into a pot that can hold about 6 cups.

Cook as you would for any other pasta:

Set the chicken broth on the stove over medium high heat and heat to a rolling boil.

Add salt to taste,  cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add pastina pasta.

Stir pasta, cover and bring to a boil again.

Take cover off and stir.

Let the pasta cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”). In this case, you will see the pasta stars grow.  When pasta has finished cooking, ladle the soup into a bowl .

Present to small children with Italian bread for a warm and satisfying lunch!

— 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 @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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 Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Pasta and zucchini

Zucchini with Pasta Made Two Ways

Zucchini with Pasta Made Two Ways

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Zucchini with Pasta  is a classic combination, either alone or paired with  fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil for a summer vegetable treat!

Zucchini and My Italian-American Gardening Family 

Growing up as I did with two Italian-American parents means that  to me, summertime will always be the time for gardening—and enjoying the fresh vegetables and fruits of that garden!

As I’ve written in my last blog under Italian and Italian-American Recipes, both sides of my Italian family have established summer vegetable gardens here in America.  My grandfather was a master gardener, and used knowledge he brought over from Sicily to create his perfect garden in a very small patch of land in Brooklyn, New York.

Most of my grandfather’s yard was dedicated to all kinds of  vegetables and fruits, perfectly staked  in neat rows so that no space was lost on his small plot of land. There were all kinds of tomatoes, both large and small, and green and red peppers of all types.  Vines of zucchini, or in Italian, molte zucchine, were somehow trained to grow  between the rows of tomatoes and peppers.  My grandfather grew the “typical” dark green zucchini found in all American supermarkets today, harvested at about 5-6″ long.

Recently, though, I’ve learned of a squash called cucuzza, which is so popular in the south of Italy that the word cucuzza has replaced the word  zucchine when people talk about squash grown in the summertime.  Read below for some “fun facts” about this type of squash and Italian-American culture.

Zucchini and Italian Culture

Cucuzza – The Famous Italian Summer Squash

Image from www.specialtyproduce.com

A famous long, thin, light green squash that is harvested in the summer from southern Italy and Sicily is known as “cucuzza.”  Cucuzza (pronounced “goo-gooz” in  Sicilian dialect) typically grows from 1 to 3 feet. Unlike a true summer squash, the skin from this squash must be peeled before cooking.  There is a well-known Sicilian proverb that states, “Cucinala come vuoi, sempre cucuzza è!” meaning, “However you cook it, it’s still just squash!” 

Cucuzza is also used as an endearing term for a young girl in a 1950’s Italian novelty song sung by Louis Prima called, “My Cucuzza.”  He sings about the vegetable, Cucuza grows in Italy down on the farm.  It’s something like zucchini flavored with Italian charm… I call my girl cucuzza because she’s as sweet as can be.”  To hear the song sung by Louis Prima in it’s entirety, click this My Cucuzza link.


Zucchini with Pasta Made Two Ways

To continue with the story of my family, while my grandfather was busy gardening, my grandmother was busy in the kitchen!  She created wonderful dishes from zucchini, which was a favorite summer vegetable in my mother’s house and is in my house today.

Pasta with zucchini and fresh tomatoes and basil is a classic Italian combination that my grandmother and mother made frequently. In this dish, chopped tomatoes are cooked in olive oil just to soften, and left chunky, which is different than the more usual pureed tomato sauce of winter in Southern Italian households. In the recipe below, I’ve used bow-tie pasta, which makes it fun for kids of all ages to eat their zucchini! Note that basil, not oregano,  is the herb of choice for any type of pasta and “fresh tomato sauce” combination.

My mother recently remembered my grandmother’s summer version of   “Spaghetti Aglio Olio,” or spaghetti with garlic in olive oil, which was modified in the summer to include zucchini slices fried gently in the garlic-flavored olive oil until a light golden color.  I made this simple recipe for my family’s dinner one recent summer evening, and topped with Parmesan cheese it quickly disappeared.

Yes, with the zucchini and pasta combination recipes that I share below, children of all ages will love to eat their vegetables! I hope your family enjoys this zucchini recipes as much as my family does!  -Kathryn Occhipinti


Zucchini with Pasta and  Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Zucchini and Pasta
Zucchini with Bow Tie Pasta and Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce

Ingredients
(Serves 1-4)

3 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
2 medium-size zucchini, chopped coarsely
4 plumb tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 large bunch of fresh basil,
leaves stripped from stems and hand-torn
1 box (1 lb.) bow-tie pasta, cooked al-dente
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

 

Method

Set a pot of water on the stove to boil for making the spaghetti.  When the water does boil, add salt, cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add bow-tie pasta. Stir pasta, cover and bring to a boil again. Take cover off and stir.  Let the pasta cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”), or slightly firm, stirring occasionally,  while you cook the zucchini below.

The rest of the dish is made in a large frying pan with high sides.

Add enough olive oil to almost cover the frying pan and then heat gently on medium-high heat.

Add chopped garlic and let soften.

Add chopped zucchini and a sprinkle of salt, and let soften, stirring frequently, so the zucchini does not burn, but browns lightly.

Add chopped tomatoes and freshly torn basil leaves, and stir.

Add a bit of the pasta water and turn the heat down to simmer.  Let the sauce cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until all vegetables have softened, but are still a bit firm, stirring frequently.

When the “sauce” is ready, drain the pasta and add to the frying pan.  Depending on the size of zucchinis and tomatoes you use, you may have a little less or more sauce than needed for 1 lb. of pasta.  Add “enough” pasta to the frying pan so when it is mixed it is coated lightly with the “sauce.”

Add the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese and mix again.  Salt to taste.

Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese on the side and enjoy!

Check out my Instagram post if you’d like to see me actively making this zucchini and pasta dish.  A delicious dinner or side dish will be ready in no time with this classic Italian combination!

View this post on Instagram

Zucchini and Tomatoes with Pasta. Use your fresh garden vegetables to make this easy and delicious authentic Italian pasta dish. Your kids will love eating their vegetables! Use 3 cloves of garlic, 2 medium size zucchini, 4 plum tomatoes, fresh basil leaves torn, and 1 lb. box of bowtie pasta. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, salt to taste. Add salted pasta water as vegetables cook and then after adding pasta, as needed……………………………………….. #osnap #italianstyle #italianfood #pasta #pastaandzucchini #pastaandzucchinis #zucchiniandpasta #zucchinirecipes #andzucchini #zucchinipasta #pastasitalianas #foodblogger #foodie #italianstyle🇮🇹 #italiancooking #italianrecipe🇮🇹 #Italianrecipes #italianvegetables #italianvegetarian #vegetarianitalian @niafitalianamerican @osia_su @chicagolanditalians

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 

 


 

Zucchini with Spaghetti Aglio Olio
(Zucchini with Spaghetti in Garlic and Olive Oil)

Ingredients
(Serves 1-4)

 

3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 to 4  medium sized zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
(cut the zucchini cross-wise from one end to the other,
as in photo of cucuzza above)
1 lb. of spaghetti
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Method

Set a pot of water on the stove to boil for making the spaghetti.  When the water does boil, add salt, cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and add spaghetti. Stir spaghetti, cover and bring to a boil again. Take cover off and stir.  Let the spaghetti cook until al-dente (“to the tooth”), or slightly firm, stirring occasionally,  while you cook the zucchini below.

The rest of the dish is made in a large frying pan with high sides.

Add enough olive oil to almost cover the frying pan and then heat gently on medium-high heat.

Add the crushed garlic cloves and let soften to flavor the oil.

Add sliced zucchini, spreading over the pan in one layer, so the zucchini can fry in the oil evenly.  You will need to do this in 2 or more batches if cooking more zucchini slices than the size pan you have can accomodate.

After a about 5 minutes, when the zucchini rounds have softened, turn and let the other side soften.

Continue to cook until zucchini rounds have shrunk and turned a light, golden brown.

When the zucchini is ready, drain the spaghetti and put into a large serving bowl.

Add the fried zucchini from the pan,  without draining the olive oil from the zucchini rounds. Mix. Add additional olive oil from the pan as needed to coat the spaghetti lightly and evenly.

Add the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese and mix again.  Salt to taste.

Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese on the side and enjoy!

Check out my Instagram site (soon to be posted) if you’d like to see me actively making zucchini and spaghetti aglio olio.  A delicious dinner or side dish will be ready in no time with this classic Italian combination!

— 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 @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

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

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

Zucchini with Pasta Two Ways