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!

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story! 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog                          Everything you need to know
to tell your family’s story… in Italian!

 

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!  

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 language. Meraviglioso!

But have you tried to take the next step to speak Italian fluently? Can you tell the story of your family history in Italian, using the passato remoto past tense?   

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

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

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by learning how to use the different Italian past tenses more easily. In this segment, we will focus on the  Italian passato remoto past tense and describe the similarities and differences between the passato remoto and the passato prossimo and imperfetto past tenses.

Included in the dialogue for this blog post are examples of Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense, reprinted from a previous blog post on this topic.

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

 

Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story! 

In the “Speak Italian” blog series, first, a short essay or dialogue in Italian will be presented about a commonly used topic of conversation.

Then, we will review the Italian grammar that is necessary to talk about the particular topic in detail.

And finally, if you want, ask a relative about the story of your own family history, then write it in Italian using the Italian passato remoto.

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

Enjoy the fourth topic in this series, “Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!”
—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 language instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

 


Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!  

In the dialogue to follow, we listen in on a conversation between an Italian mother and her daughter, Francesca and Maria, who are preparing a welcoming party for an Italian-American relative who is visiting the family for the first time. You may remember the characters from our recent Italian Subjunctive Mood Practice blog posts.

When reading the example dialogue below, notice the use of the imperfetto past tense (for making general statements about the past) and the passato remoto past tense (for describing actions that began and were completed in the past).  The use of these tenses shifts from one to the other while Frances is narrating the story of her family, depending on the situation that is described. The passato remoto past tense verbs will be underlined.

You will notice Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense in this dialogue as well,  which will use the imperfetto subjunctive mode and the trapassato past tense, because this dialogue is a reprint from a former blog post on Italian hypothetical phrases. If you would like to review how to make Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense, please see our blog post Italian Subjunctive (Part 5).

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Speak Italian: Passato Remoto
The Story of a Family Reunion

It was a lovely spring day in April in the mountains of Abruzzo. Frances and her daughter Mary met at Frances’ house to plan a party.

Era un bel giorno di aprile nelle montagne abruzzesi. Francesca e sua figlia, che si chiama Maria, si sono incontrate a casa di Francesca per organizzare una festa.  

They wanted this party to be very special because Francesca’s cousin Rudy, who lives in America, was coming to Italy for the first time.
Loro volevano che questa festa fosse bellissima,  perché il cugino di Francesca, Rudy, che abita in America, veniva a visitare l’Italia per la prima volta.

 

“Tell me again how Great Uncle Mark, cousin Rudy’s grandfather, saved our family in Italy,” Mary asked her mother.

“Raccontami ancora come il prozio Marco, il nonno del cugino Rudolfo, ha salvato la nostra famiglia in Italia,” Maria ha chiesto a sua madre.

 

Frances replied (to her) with the following story:

Francesca le ha risposto con la storia qui di seguito:

 

Great Grandmother Mary had a brother whose name was Mark.

La bisnonna Maria aveva un fratello, che si chiamava Marco.

 

Great Uncle Mark left Italy and went to live in America with his family in 1920.

Il prozio Marco lasciò l’Italia e andò a vivere in America con la sua famiglia nel 1920.

 

He had to leave Italy to find work, because after World War I, there was no work in Italy.

Dovette lasciare l’Italia per trovare lavoro, perché dopo la Prima Guerra Mondiale, non c’era lavoro in Italia.

 

Right after Uncle Mark had left Italy, Great Grandmother’s husband died, and she was left all alone to raise their three children.

Subito dopo che lo zio Marco lasciò l’Italia, il marito della bisnonna morì, e lei era da sola a crescere i suoi tre figli.

 

In Italy in the early 1900s, if a woman didn’t have a husband, usually she was not able to support her family.

In Italia negli anni del primo novecento, se una donna non aveva un marito, normalmente non poteva mantenere la famiglia.

 

At that time, if a woman wanted to work, she could be a teacher or a seamstress.

A quel tempo, se una donna voleva lavorare, poteva fare l’insegnante o la sarta.

 

Grandmother Mary was a teacher before she was married.

La bisnonna Maria era un’insegnante prima di sposarsi.

 

But with three children, it was not possible for her to leave the house to work.

Ma con tre figli, non era possibile per lei uscire di casa per lavorare.

 

So Uncle Mark worked in America and sent money to Italy.

E così, lo zio Marco lavorava in America e mandava i soldi in Italia.

 

If Uncle Mark had not sent money to Grandmother Mary, she and the children could have starved to death.

Se lo zio Marco non avesse mandato i soldi alla bisnonna Maria, lei e i figli sarebbero potuti morire di fame.

 

At the end of this story, Mary said, “And if Uncle Mark had not helped Grandmother Mary, you and I would not be here today!”

Alla fine della storia, Maria ha detto, “E se lo zio Marco non avesse aiutato la bisnonna Maria, tu e io non saremmo qui oggi!”

 

“Probably not,” replied Frances. “But fortunately, Uncle Mark was a good person. And so is our cousin Rudy. Let’s organize a wonderful party!”

“Probabilmente no,” ha risposto Francesca.  “Ma fortunatamente, lo zio Marco era una persona perbene.  E anche nostro cugino Rudy è così.  Organizziamo una festa meravigliosa!”

 


Speak Italian: Grammar You Will Need to Know to Narrate a Story

The “Passato Remoto”

The Italian passato remoto past tense is used in textbooks to describe historical events that took place centuries ago and is used in textbooks that describe art history.

Outside of scholarly works written in Italian, the passato remoto is still commonly found as a narrative tool in novels and other forms of fiction written today.

In fiction today, the author of a novel will often use the passato remoto form for the voice of the narrator. The passato remoto is useful for the “detached” feeling it gives to the narration in descriptive passages that relate completed events in the “remote past” of a character’s life. The passato prossimo is the past tense form usually used by the characters during their conversations, in order to give a “realistic” feeling to the dialogue.

The English translation for the passato remoto is the simple past tense, because English does not have an equivalent tense to the passato remoto. In effect, the different Italian past tenses can express certain shades of meaning that cannot be expressed by the past tense verb forms in English.

Although the passato remoto and the passato prossimo are used to evoke different feelings in the reader of an Italian novel, grammatically speaking, the passato remoto can be considered interchangeable with the passato prossimo. This is because both past tense verb types describe completed events that took place during a given period of time in the past.

Note that the imperfetto remains important for works of fiction as well because the passato remoto cannot be used to replace the imperfetto! We remember that the imperfetto is used to describe an ongoing action or event, and we have just reviewed that the passato prossimo describes completed actions or events. For a review of the specific uses of the imperfetto, please refer to our blog post Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

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Because our focus to this point has been on conversational, rather than written, Italian, a common convention regarding stories told in conversation should be noted here. In English and Italian, the present tense is very often used to tell a story that the speakers understand to have happened in the past. For instance:

            Kathy (past tense to introduce setting): “Yesterday, I met Janice.
Kathy continues (switch to present tense to tell the story): “And she says to me… And then I say to her…”

This simplifies matters—no complex, little-used past tense is needed to tell a story! But if one wants to expand his or her conversational Italian to include the ability to narrate a story about the past formally, the passato remoto is an important tense to learn.

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

We should also note here that in certain southern regions, particularly in Sicily, it is the normal convention to use the passato remoto instead of the passato prossimo. In these regions, the idea that the passato remoto should be reserved for remote events or narration is not adhered to, and the passato remoto is instead chosen to speak about any past event that took place within a given period of time.

 


Speak Italian: “Passato Remoto” Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

“Passato Remoto”—”Avere” and “Essere”

The most commonly used forms of the passato remoto are the first and third person singular of essere, which is are fui and fu.

The first and third person singular of avere, which are ebbi and ebbe are also commonly used.

Even if you don’t plan to continue to learn the passato remoto tense, remember these  verbs because you will surely encounter them when reading Italian! The full conjugations of these irregular verbs are given for completeness. The stressed syllables have been underlined.

Avere—to have—Passato Remoto

 io ebbi I had
 tu avesti you (familiar) had
 Lei

lei/lui

ebbe you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(se) noi avemmo we had
(se) voi aveste you all had
(se) loro ebbero they had

 

Essere—to be—Passato Remoto

 io fui I was
 tu fosti you (familiar) were
Lei

 lei/lui

fu you (polite) were

she/he was

     
 noi fummo we were
 voi foste you all were
 loro furono they were

 

 


Speak Italian: “Passato Remoto” Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

The “Passato Remoto” Regular Conjugations

Unfortunately, before we even begin to conjugate verbs in the passato remoto, it should be noted that the passato remoto has many, many exceptions to the regular conjugation. But luckily, use of the passato remoto in novels is usually limited by the narrative form chosen, which will normally be in the first person or third person singular. This in turn limits the number of endings necessary to learn.

Also, certain verbs are used over and over in a novel in the passato remoto form—those needed to keep the flow of dialogue going, such as said, asked, answered, went, and came. So even a limited knowledge of this verb form is very useful for understanding a work of Italian fiction.

For this blog post, we will describe how to conjugate the passato remoto but will focus on only the most commonly used verbs in the singular first and third persons.

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To conjugate the passsato remoto past tense…

As usual, we must first make our stem from the infinitive –are, –ere, and –ire verbs. The method used to form the stems for the passato remoto is easy—just drop the –are, –ere, or ire from the infinitive verb!

Then we add the endings for our passato remoto conjugations to the stems.

However, a quick look at the table below, and you will notice that, for all persons except the third person singular, each ending for the passato remoto begins with the first vowel that we have just removed from the stem!

So if it makes it easier for you, think of the endings for the are, –ere, and ire verbs
as being the same,

except for the third person singular.

Using the above method for the third person,
for the are verbs, the third person ending will be ò,
for the ere verbs, the ending will be é, and
for the –ire verbs, the ending will be–ì.

After another glance at the table below, it soon becomes apparent that the first and third persons for the ere form of the passato remoto will not be unique (the first person –ei ending will be the same as the  first person singular (io)ending for the conditional tense;  the third person é is almost identical to the third person singular (Lei, lei, lui) of the -ere and -ire present tense verbs; the third person plural erono is identical to the third person plural of the -ere future tense verbs).

Therefore, there are alternate ere endings for the passato remoto.
The ere endings used most often will instead be
–tti for the first person singular,
–tte for the third person singular, and
–ttero for the third person plural.

 

Passato Remoto Endings for –are, –ere, and –ire Verbs

Infinitive
Verb
 (All Forms) –are –ere –ire
io (i) ai ei (etti) oi
tu (sti) asti esti isti
Lei/lei/lui   ò é (ette) ì
         
noi (mmo) ammo emmo immo
voi (ste) aste este iste
loro (rono) arono erono (ttero) irono

 

When pronouncing the passato remoto verbs, the stress will always be on the first vowel of the ending—except, of course, for the third person singular, where the ending has only one vowel and the accent reminds us that this vowel must be stressed.

Notice that andare has a regular conjugation in the passato remoto! Also, because the –etti, –ette, and –ettero forms for the –ere first and third persons are used most frequently, they are listed first.

Passato Remoto: Regular Conjugations

  Andare

(to go)

(went)

Credere

(to believe)

(believed)

Finire

(to finish)

(finished)

io andai credetti (credei) finii
tu andasti credesti finisti
Lei/lei/lui andò credette (credé) finì
       
noi andammo credemmo finimmo
voi andaste credeste finiste
loro andarono credettero (crederono) finirono

 


Speak Italian: “Passato Remoto” Past Tense
You Will Need to Know…

“Passato Remoto” Common Irregular Verbs

Because there are so many irregular verbs in the passato remoto past tense, we present in the following table only the most commonly used verbs—and only in the first person singular io and third person singular Lei/lei/lui forms. Notice that some of these irregular forms fall into groups, which are listed together.

Because the passato remoto is often used for historical purposes when describing famous individuals from the past, it should be mentioned here that although nascere (to be born) is irregular in the passato remoto, the verb morire (to die) is regular!

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular are Verbs

  Dare
(gave)
Fare
(did/made)
Stare
(stayed/was)
io diedi feci stetti
Lei/lei/lui dette fece stette

 

Passato Remoto: Irregular ere Helping Verbs

  Dovere
(had to)
Potere
(could have had to)
Volere
(wanted to)
io dovetti potei volli
Lei/lei/lui dovette poté volle

 

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular ere Verbs

  Correre
(ran)
Perdere
(lost)
Mettere
(put)
Rimanere
(remained)
Rompere
(broke)
Spengere
(put out)
Vedere
(saw)
io corsi persi misi rimasi ruppi spensi vidi
Lei/lei/lui corse perse mise rimase ruppe spense vide

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs That Double the Stem Consonant

  Bere
(drank)
Cadere
(fell)
Conoscere
(knew)
Crescere
(grew)
Sapere
(knew)
Venire
(came)
io bevvi caddi conobbi crebbi sappi venni
Lei/lei/lui bevve cadde conobbe crebbe sappe venne

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs with a Double “S” in the Stem

  Dire
(said)
Leggere
(read)
Muovere
(moved)
Scrivere
(wrote)
Vivere
(lived)
io dissi lessi mossi scrissi vissi
Lei/lei/lui disse lesse mosse scrisse visse

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs That End in –dere and –endere

  Chiedere
(asked)
Dicedere
(decided)
Prendere
(took)
Ridere
(laughed)
Rispondere
(answered)
Sorridere
(smiled)
io chiesi decisi presi risi risposi sorrisi
Lei/lei/lui chiese decise prese rise rispose sorrise

 

Passato Remoto: Common Irregular Verbs That End in –gliere

  Scegliere
(chose)
Togliere
(took off)
io scelsi tolsi
Lei/lei/lui scelse tolse

 

Passato Remoto: Irregular Verbs That End in –ngere and –ncere

  Piangere
(cried)
Stringere
(tightened/grasped)
Vincere
(won)
io piansi strinsi vinsi
Lei/lei/lui pianse strinse vinse

 

Passato Remoto: Verbs with –cqui in the stem

  Nascere
(was born)
Piacere
(liked/was pleasing to)
Tacere
(touch)
io nacqui piacqui tacqui
Lei/lei/lui naque piacque tacque

 


Speak Italian: Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell YOUR Story! 

Now that you have an example story of one family’s history, try to write a narration of your own family history using the passato remoto and imperfetto past tenses. Check the conjugations in the last section if you need to when you use the passato remoto for narration!

Here are some questions you might ask a relative to get started:

  1.  What relatives came to America?
  2. What year did they come to America?
  3. What was the family situation in Italy when they left?
  4. How did the family members who were left behind manage in Italy?
  5. How did the family members who went to America manage?
  6. Did any of the family return to Italy? Why?
  7. Did the family stay in touch despite being separated? How?
  8. Was the separation difficult? For whom and why?
  9. Did the relatives who were separated ever meet again?
  10. Did the children in the separated families ever meet?

 

 


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books, is a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area. “Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Speak Italian : Passato Remoto—Let’s Tell a Story!

Ricotta Cheesecake with Champagne

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian ricotta cheesecake — is a light, fresh cheesecake perfect for  your Valentine!

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day 

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

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

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

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

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

Making the Italian ricotta cheesecake in the recipe below was even more fun for me than usual because I was able to use my new time-lapse photography software for my  cell phone.  If you want to see the video of my home cooked Italian ricotta cheesecake in the making, just click on the link below for the magic of Instagram!

View this post on Instagram

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

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian) on

My family loved this cheesecake as an early Valentines Day present.  I hope your loved ones will too!   -Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Ricotta Cheesecake 

Ricotta Cheesecake with raspberry jam
Slice of Italian Ricotta Cheesecake with Raspberry Jam topping and coffee

Ingredients
(Makes One, 9″ Cheesecake)

Pasta Folla for the Crust
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp brandy
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Ricotta Filling 
2  1/2 lbs. fresh ricotta cheese*
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
2 large eggs beaten lightly

Topping
powdered sugar
raspberry jam
fresh raspberries

Method

Before starting to make the cheesecake,  set an oven rack into the lower third of your oven and preheat your oven to 350°.

Assemble the Springform pan and lock the bottom in place.  (If you don’t have a Springform pan, you can use a deep dish pie pan.)

For the crust:

In a large, wide bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together with a fork.

Cut in 3/4 cup unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or your hands, running your thumb across your fingers to create small, flat, “flakes” of butter (method shown in Instagram video).

Add the lightly beaten eggs, brandy and lemon zest.

Mix together with a fork gently and then your hands gently until the dough comes together to form a disk.

Pull off pieces of the dough and use this to line the bottom of a 9″ Springform pan.  Reform the remainder of the dough into a disk and refrigerate in plastic wrap 30 minutes.

Pop into the oven and bake 8 – 10 minutes at 350°, or until lightly brown and set, but not cooked through.

Take out of oven and let cool before filling.

For the filling:

Using a large spoon or an electric mixer on low, gently mix together the ricotta cheese, sugar, flour salt, vanilla and lemon zest.

Add the 2 beaten eggs and mix gently to combine.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked, cooled crust in the Springform pan.

Take out the disk of reserved dough from the refrigerator.  Roll the dough out on a floured board.

Cut  one side of the rolled out dough into 4 long strips and place each strip onto the periphery of the filling to create the four sides of a square. Cut out a heart the size to fit into the center of the square. (You can cut the heart out of paper at first until you get the right size and then use this as a stencil to trace when cutting the dough if  you are not comfortable cutting the heart free hand.  And if it doesn’t work the first time, just put the dough back together and try again!)

Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until set and lightly brown on the edges.

Complete the  Cheesecake:

Let the cheesecake cool a bit.

Sprinkle all over with powdered sugar.

For a special occasion such as Valentines Day, spread a thin layer of raspberry jam into the cheesecake, in the center of the heart and/or between the lattice crust.

Top with fresh raspberries if desired.

Let set in the refrigerator overnight or at least 3 hours before enjoying!

 

*How to Find Good Ricotta Cheese
Today, I live near two small grocery store chains that make ricotta cheese fresh daily, and I would advise using this ricotta cheese instead of the mass produced (and preservative filled) ricotta cheese found on the shelves in most grocery stores.  If you have access to good, farm-fresh milk, it is actually easy to make your own cheese – but that is the subject of another blog!

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

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

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day

Pasta and Lentils

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian pasta and lentils — is said to bring families around the world good luck for the new year !

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

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

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

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

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


Italian Pasta and Lentils

 

Italian Lentils and Pasta
Pasta and Lentils ready to serve for Italian New Year’s Sunday dinner

Ingredients
(Serves 4)


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta (Italian bacon), diced finely
1  small carrot, chopped finely*
1 stalk of celery, chopped finely*
1 small onion, skin removed, chopped finely*
1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
1/2 cup dry Italian wine, such as Chianti
1 cup Italian lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
pinch of dried thyme or rosemary
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. maltagliati pasta or lasagna noodles, coarsely broken into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
*See below for note about how to chop soup vegetables.

 

Method

Before starting to make the lentil sauce, put a large pot of salted water to boil on a back burner.  Cover so it will come to a boil quickly and be ready when you need to cook the pasta.

 Use a large frying pan or Dutch oven to cook the lentils on the stove top.  Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, which will take about 1/4 cup or so.  Let the oil heat a bit over medium heat.

Add the chopped vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, and saute in the garlic until they soften, about 5 minutes.

The pour in the red wine and then bring to a boil. Boil off about half of the wine.

Put the lentils to the pan.  If you want firmer lentils, you can saute them at this point.  Otherwise, add the water.  Stir. Bring back to the boil and then lower heat and simmer the lentils about 20 minutes.

When the lentils have softened a bit, remove the bay leaf. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken or vegetable broth.  Add more water if needed. Bring up to a simmer again and cook 10 – 15 minutes more, or until lentils are of desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, put the pasta into the boiling water.  Stir. Cover the pot to return to the boil Remove cover, stir again and let pasta cook, stirring occasionally.  Cook for less time than the package directions, to a very firm al dente, as the pasta will finish cooking with the lentils.

When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving some of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the lentils.  Add the pasta water if needed.  The sauce should be fairly thick and coat the pasta nicely as you mix.

Cook over medium low heat another 5 minutes or so, until all is heated through and pasta is al dente.

Add the grated cheese and mix again to coat.

Serve steaming hot with crusty bread. Serve additional cheese and black pepper on the side to be added as desired.

New Year’s toast: Buon Anno!  Buon Appetito!

 

*How to Chop Vegetables
Carrots: Cut lengthwise to half, and then lengthwise again to get quarters. Line them up side by side and then cut crosswise from the tips to the base of the carrot to get small, even pieces that look like quarters of a circle.
Celery: Cut lengthwise through each celery stalk as many times as needed to give pieces the same thickness as the carrot pieces. (You will need more lengthwise cuts at the thicker part of the celery near the base.) Then cut crosswise from the tip to the base to get small, rectangular  pieces of celery about the same size as the carrot pieces.
 Onions: Cut lengthwise through the onion. Turn one of the halves flat side down.  Holding the onion together with one hand, cut lengthwise along the green lines through the onion, except for the root holding the onion together at the base.  Turn and cut horizontally, from the side away from the stem toward the stem.  Just before reaching the stem, flip the onion flat again and make the final cuts.  Discard the piece that contains the stem.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

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

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

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

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

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

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

Italian Pasta and Lentils for New Year’s Good Luck

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The Italian subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate for use with the Italian past tense, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto 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? Can you use the Italian subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! This is the third blog in the “Speak Italian” series that will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking  in the past tense.

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the imperfetto subjunctive mood while speaking in the past tense. In this segment, we will discuss when the helping verbs dovere, potere and volere take the subjunctive mood. 

We will also repeat the Italian conjugation of the imperfetto subjunctive form for the regular and irregular -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and then present the conjugation of the modal, or helping, verbs dovere, potere, and volere. Finally, we will revisit the trapassato subjunctive mood from our previous blog on Italian hypothetical phrases.  Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

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

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

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

Enjoy the third blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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

 


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

Once Again… Italian Phrases That Take the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used 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 will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense).  These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

We have already learned to use the imperfetto subjunctive mood with the conditional tense in our blogs about Italian hypothetical phrases!  Now, as stated before, we will focus on the use of the imperfetto subjunctive mood after introductory phrases that are in the past tense.

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

In our second blog about the imperfetto subjunctive mood, we discussed Groups 6 and 7.

These groups are again listed  below for review.

To follow in the next sections is an explanation of several more phrases and also individual words that can be used to introduce the  imperfetto subjunctive mood, which we have added into our original list as Groups 8 through Group 11.

Group 12 was already the topic of a series of blogs on Italian hypothetical phrases, but is included here for completeness.

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

 

As usual, there are summary tables in the next section that shows how to use these  phrases.  The present tense is in the left  columns.  The imperfetto past tense has been chosen for the right columns, although in some situations, the passatto prossimo past tense can be used as well. We will then present examples for the past tense.

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 introductory words or phrases already have -ché or che integrated into the word itself. In these cases, che is not repeated.  

*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.

 


 

How to Express One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood – Present Tense

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Di” in Italian

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

 

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

 


 

How to Express One’s Feelings with “Di” and “Che” and the Italian Subjunctive Mood – Past Tense

Phrases Used to Express Feelings with “Che” and the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

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

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

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.
However, if the introductory verb is in the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

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

 

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

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

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

Avevo bisogno… che tu I needed… that you*

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

I am tired…*

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

Ero stanco(a)… che tu I was tired…*

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

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

 

 


Idiomatic Use of the Italian Subjunctive Mood

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

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.
However, if  the introductory verb is the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

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

 

Phrases Used to Introduce the Subjunctive Mood—Idiomatic

 

Present Tense Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 9, 10, 11
 
Prima che Before that  ( Prima che is used to mean “before that” and followed by the subjunctive when the subject in the first phrase is different from the subject in the second phrase; use Prima di + infinitive verb when the subject of both phrases is the same.)
Benché, Sebbene Although, Even though, If
Può darsi che It may be possible that, Possibly, Maybe
Affinché So as, So that, In order that
Perché So that (Perché is only used in the subjunctive mood when it means “so that.” Other meanings of perché include “why” and “because,” and in these cases, the subjunctive mood is not used.)
Purché As long as, Provided that, Only if

 

 

Finally, our usual reminder:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps       

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

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

And, two more  phrases we can now add that DO NOT take the subjunctive mood:

Solo se = Only if

Anche se = Even though/if

 


Speak Italian: Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 3)

How to Conjugate the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

Luckily, there are only a few irregular stem forms to learn for the imperfetto subjunctive mood, making it an easier tense to learn than the present, future, and conditional tenses.

Also, the imperfetto subjunctive mood endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

To change any regular infinitive verb into the imperfetto subjunctive mood, first drop the final -re, from our infinitive -are, -ere, and -ire verbs to create the stem.

This will create stems that end in the letters –a for the –are verbs, -e for the –ere verbs, and–i for the –ire verbs.  Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

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

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

 

Subjunctive Mood – Imperfetto Endings

io ssi
tu ssi
Lei/lei/lui sse
   
noi ssimo
voi ste
loro ssero

 

The following table will put together our stems with our imperfetto subjunctive mood endings.  A few notes about this:

When pronouncing the imperfetto subjunctive mood verbs, the stress will always be on the syllable that begins with the last two letters of the stem and will incorporate one –s letter from the ending. (Remember the rule for Italian double consonants: one consonant will go with the syllable before and the second with the syllable after, in effect also stressing the double consonant itself.) The stressed syllables are underlined in our example table below.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood – Example Verb Conjugations

  Abitare(to live)

(lived/were living)

Vedere(to see)

(saw/had seen)

Finire(to finish)

(finished/were finishing)

(che) io abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) tu abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) Lei/lei/lui abitasse vedesse finisse
       
(che) noi abitassimo vedessimo finissimo
(che) voi abitaste vedeste finiste
(che) loro abitassero vedessero finissero

 


How to Conjugate the Italian Subjunctive Mood Imperfetto Tense for the Modal Verbs

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

 

 Dovere – to have to/must – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io dovessi I had to
(che) tu dovessi you (familiar) had to
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

dovesse you (polite) had to
she/he had to
     
(che) noi dovessimo we had to
(che) voi doveste you all had to
(che) loro dovessero they had to

 

  

Potere – to be able (to)/can – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

che) io potessi I was able to/could 
(che) tu potessi you (familiar) were able to/could 
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

potesse you (polite) were able to/could 

she/he was able to/could

     
(che) noi potessimo we were able to/could
(che) voi poteste you all were able to/could
(che) loro potessero they were able to/could

 

 Volere – to want/ to need – Imperfetto Subjunctive mode 
(che) io volessi I wanted/needed
(che) tu volessi you (familiar) wanted/needed
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

volesse you (polite) wanted/needed

she/he wanted/needed

     
(che) noi volessimo we wanted/needed
(che) voi voleste you all wanted/needed
(che) loro volessero they wanted/needed

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Regular and Irregular Verbs

A review from the second blog in this series:

Luckily, most verbs are regular in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  So, there are many, many more regular than irregular verbs! Below are some commonly used regular verbs, some of which are irregular in the present tense and most other tenses! Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Conjugations – Commonly Used Regular Verbs
Andare(to go)

(went/were going)

Sapere
(to know)(knew/had known)
Venire(to come)

(came/had come)

Vivere(to live)

(lived/were living)

io andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
tu andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
Lei/lei/lui andasse sapesse venisse vivesse
         
noi andassimo sapessimo venissimo vivessimo
voi andaste sapeste veniste viveste
loro andassero sapessero venissero vivessero

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

There are a few important irregular verbs to know in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  You will find them in the tables below. Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

Fare – to do/make  Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io facessi I did/ made
tu facessi you (familiar) did/made
Leilei/lui facesse you (polite) did/madeshe/he did/made
     
noi facessimo we did/made
voi faceste you all did/made
loro facessero they did/made

 

 

Dare – to give – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dessi I gave
tu dessi you (familiar) gave
Leilei/lui desse you (polite) gaveshe/he gave
     
noi dessimo we gave
voi deste you all gave
loro dessero they gave

 

 

Dire – to say/tell – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dicessi I said/told
tu dicessi you (familiar) said/told
Leilei/lui dicesse you (polite) said/toldshe/he said/told
     
noi dicessimo we said/told
voi diceste you all said/told
loro dicessero they said/told

 


How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

A review from the first blog in this series:

In the tables below are the imperfetto subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used in the subjunctive mood in written and spoken Italian. These are important verbs to commit to memory!

You will notice that avere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto subjunctive mood, whereas essere and stare have an irregular conjugation.

Avere—to have—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io avessi I had
(che) tu avessi you (familiar) had
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

avesse you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(che) noi avessimo we had
(che) voi aveste you all had
(che) loro avessero they had

 

Essere—to be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io fossi I were
(che) tu fossi you (familiar) were
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

fosse you (polite) were

she/he were

     
(che) noi fossimo we were
(che) voi foste you all were
(che) loro fossero they were

 

Stare—to stay/be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stessi I stayed/were
(che) tu stessi you (familiar) stayed/were
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stesse you (polite) stayed/were

she/he stayed/were

     
(che) noi stessimo we stayed/were
(che) voi steste you all stayed/were
(che) loro stessero they stayed/were

The “Trapassato” Subjunctive Mood

 “Essere” or  “Avere” + Past Participle

To form the trapassato subjunctive mood to describe an event that started and was completed in the past, simply use either essere or avere in the imperfetto conjugation, and add the past participle of the verb.

In English, any event that started and was completed in the past simply needs “had” inserted in front of the past participle! This is a bit easier than Italian, but with a little practice, you will get used to the Italian in no time!

Visit our blog about  Italian hypothetical phrases in the past tense (Italian Subjunctive Part 5) for practice using this verb form with impossible hypothetical sentences.

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Below are the trapassato subjunctive mood conjugations for the auxiliary verbs avere and essere,  using the past participles for two Italian verbs that are commonly used in this tense – fare and andare.

Remember that action verbs of direction, reflexive verbs, other verbs of growing and changing, and piacere all take essere as a helping verb when making these compound verbs.  All other verbs take avere.  If you need a review of the use of helping verbs for the Italian past tense, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

You will notice  that avere has a regular conjugation in the imperfetto subjunctive mood, whereas essere  has an irregular conjugation. The past participle for fare (fatto) is irregular, but that of andare (andato) is regular. If you need a refresher on how to form past participles, please refer to our blog Speak Italian: A Story About… Love!

In hypothetical clauses, because the trapassato subjunctive mood is introduced by se, (se) is included in the subject pronoun column as a reminder. When conjugating these verbs, say “se” before the subject pronoun and each verb form to reinforce this way of thinking!

 

Avere  (to have) + Fare (to do/make) — Trapassato Subjunctive Mood

(se) io avessi   +      fatto I had  +                                   made/done
(se) tu avessi  +       fatto you (familiar) had  +       made/done
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

avesse  +       fatto you (polite) had  +           made/done

she/he had  +                     made/done

     
(se) noi avessimo  +  fatto we had  +                          made/done
(se) voi aveste  +        fatto you all had  +                  made/done
(se) loro avessero  +   fatto they had  +                       made/done

 

Essere (to be) + Andare (to go) — Trapassato Subjunctive Mood

(se) io fossi  +     andato(a) I had  +                               gone
(se) tu fossi  +     andato(a) you (familiar) had  +    gone
(se) Lei

(se) lei/lui

fosse  +    andato(a) you (polite) had  +        gone

she/he had  +                  gone

     
(se) noi fossimo  +  andati(e) we had  +                         gone
(se) voi foste  +        andati(e) you all had  +                 gone
(se) loro fossero  +   andati(e) they had  +                      gone


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

Example Phrases Using the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood in the Past Tense

 

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that English sentence structure differs from Italian in most of these sentences.  We can make a similar sentence in English as in Italian, but it would be considered an “awkward” sentence.

The biggest difference is that we English speakers do not use the subjunctive form, whether or not the subject in the two phrases is the same or different.  Also, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, the Italian word for “that,” “che,”  is not an option when linking two Italian phrases – except if the introductory word itself ends in -che.

For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first for some examples to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

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

 

 Ho voluto che tu cucinassi una cena speciale per la festa ieri sera. I wanted that you cook a special dinner for the party tonight. =

I wanted you to cook a special dinner for the party last night.

 
Ieri sera, ho avuto paura che lui  guidassi  troppo veloce. Last night, I was afraid that he drove too fast. =

Last night, I was afraid, since he drove too fast.

   
Non ero certo che Lei ricordasse quello giorno. I was not certain that you remembered that day.

 

Non ero sicuro che noi ricordassimo il posto corretto. I was not sure that we remembered the right place.
   
Sono stato felice che voi abbiate incontrato  mio cugino oggi. I was happy that  you all  have met my cousin today.=

I was happy  you all  met my cousin today.

Sono stata fortunata che voi abbiate mangiato con me ieri sera per il mio compleanno. I was lucky that you all ate with me last night for my birthday.=

I was lucky you all ate with me last night for my birthday.

 

Temavo che loro non fossero persone perbene. I was afraid that they were not good people.
 
Mi auguravo che loro facessero una buona vacanza. I was hoping that they had a good vacation. =

I was hoping they had a good vacation.

 


 

The Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases and Modal Verbs

Here are some examples for the introductory phrases “before that” and “after that,” which, as we have discussed in the earlier section, should take the imperfetto subjunctive mood when the reference is to the past.

These phrases seem to be most useful in situations in which we talk about plans people would have liked to or had made for themselves or others, and therefore helping verbs many times also come into play.

 Lei ha dovuto prepare molto bene i tuoi  documenti prima che tu dovessi andare al lavoro. She had to prepare your documents very well before (that) you had to come to work. =

She had to prepare your documents very well before you had to go to work.

 
Prima che mio figlio potesse andare dove ha voluto, io sono dovuto venire a casa. Before (that) my son could go where he wanted to, I had to go home. =

Before my son could go where he wanted to, I had to come home.

 
Prima che noi dovessimo partire per Roma, è stato buono che avete  riposato un po’ in campagna. Before (that) we had to leave for Rome, it was good that you all rested a little bit in the country. =

Before we had to leave for Rome, it was good that you all rested a little bit in the country.

 
Prima che voi poteste andare a trovare* i vostri parenti in America, tuo padre ha dovuto guadagnare un sacco di soldi.** Before (that) you all  could visit your relatives in America, your father had to make a lot of money. =

Before you all could visit your relatives in America, your father had to make a lot of money.

 
Il mio assistente ha dovuto portarli al riunione prima che loro possano mangiare la cena. My assistant had to bring them to the meeting before (that) they could eat dinner. =

My assistant had to bring them to the meeting before they could eat dinner.

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

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

 


The  Italian Subjunctive Mood: Examples for Idiomatic Phrases

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

Benché io volessi andare in Italia, non è stato possibile l’anno scorso. Although I wanted to go to Italy, it was not possible last year.
 
Sebbene lui volesse andare all’università,  non ha ricevuto voti abastanza buoni al liceo. Although he wanted to go to college, he did not get good enough grades in high school.
 
Sebbene noi volessimo viaggiare,  abbiamo dovuto lavorare nel’ristorante di famiglia per molti anni. Though we wanted to travel, we had to work in the family restaurant for many years.
 
Perché la crostata fosse fatto buona,  hai dovuto usare le fragole fresche. So that the pie was made well, she had to use fresh strawberries. =

She had to use fresh strawberries so that the pie was made well.

 
Sono venuto alla festa, purché( lui non ci fosse. I agreed to come to the party, provided that he was not (going to be) there. =

I agreed to come to the party, provided that he was not going to be there.

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

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Past Tense (Part 3): Speak Italian!

 

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

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

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
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More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
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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

Imperfetto Subjunctive (Part 3) : Speak Italian!

Turkey soup for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Thanksgiving Turkey Soup — continue the family  holiday celebration after Thanksgiving Day !

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup!
Calling Italian Moms, Dads, and Kids Everywhere! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Thanksgiving Turkey Soup with Noodles

 

Turkey soup for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving turkey soup with pappardelle noodles ready to serve

Ingredients

For the Turkey Broth
(Day 1)
 1 (12-16) pound roasted turkey carcass
3 carrots, each cut into 3–4 pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 3–4 pieces
2  medium onions, skin removed, cut into halves
1 small clove garlic, skin removed
1 large bundle of fresh parsley stems or  1/4 cup dried parsley

For the Soup
(for 16 -20 cups of broth)
(Day 2)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped finely*
1 stalk celery, chopped finely*
1/4 cup dried parsley or 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and white pepper

4 rounds of pappardelle pasta,  coarsely broken into desired length
(Granoro N. 134)
or 1/2 cup Ditali Rigati 59 pasta (Granoro brand)
or miniature pasta of choice

Pre-cooked, left-over turkey breast meat, chopped to desired size

*See below for note about how to chop soup vegetables.

 

Make the Turkey Broth (Day 1)

Put the turkey carcass and any left over bones desired into a large stock pot.

 

Stock pot for Thanksgiving turkey soup
Make turkey broth for the Thanksgiving turkey soup in the largest pot you have!

(This step can be skipped, but for the clearest broth: Cover the bones with cold water,  bring to a rolling boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes and skim off the “froth” that will come to the surface.  Pour out this water and then continue with the steps that follow.)

Add the vegetables and whole garlic clove into the pot with the turkey bones.

Note that these vegetables will be cooked until they have released all their flavor and will be removed before making the final soup, so there is no need to peel and chop them finely. Just wash, chop coarsely, and add to the soup pot.

Tie a bunch of parsley stalks together with food string and add them to the soup pot.

Turn the heat up to high and cover the pot to get it to boil. When the water comes to a boil, remove the lid and lower the heat to medium. Keep the water at a low boil/simmer and let the bones and vegetables cook slowly for 3–5 hours.

Skim any surface froth that may develop during cooking with a large spoon, but do not stir, or the broth will get cloudy.

Add additional water if necessary and continue cooking until the broth has the desired flavor.  The broth should reduce during the cooking time, and the final amount will vary, depending on the size of the bird you start with and how long you let the soup cook.  But expect enough soup to make about two pots of soup of  16 -20 cups each.

When the broth is done, the  carcass should be falling apart, the meat should be falling off the bones and the vegetables will be very mushy.

Turn off the heat and let cool. Remove larger pieces of bone and vegetables with a straining ladle to leave the broth in the pot.

Pour the broth through a colander with fine holes to remove any particulate matter, then store it in a large plastic containers in the refrigerator overnight.

(I usually get enough broth to fill at least 2 large bowl-shaped plastic containers when using a turkey 12 lbs. or larger, so I put one in the refrigerator and freeze the rest to make turkey soup later in the month.)

 

Make the Soup (Day 2)

The next day, remove the broth from the refrigerator. Skim off the fat that will have floated to the top and hardened overnight and discard.

Place the desired amount of  broth into a large pot.

Add the chopped carrot and celery and bring to a boil, cooking until the vegetables have softened a bit.

Add salt and a bit of  white pepper to taste.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta of your choice, and cook according to package directions.  The pappardelle pasta I use takes only 6 minutes to cook.

Cook  to “al dente” (a little firm) according to package directions. If not serving the soup right away, under cook it a bit, because pasta will absorb water as it sits in the soup.

Prior to serving , add the pre-cooked, left over turkey breast (or dark meat if preferred) cut to desired size and chopped parsley to warm through.

Serve in a large soup bowl garnished with fresh parsley.

Refrigerate leftovers to eat later in the week, if there are any!

*How to Chop Soup Vegetables
Carrots: Cut lengthwise to half, and then lengthwise again to get quarters. Line them up side by side and then cut crosswise from the tips to the base of the carrot to get small, even pieces that look like quarters of a circle.
Celery: Cut lengthwise through each celery stalk as many times as needed to give pieces the same thickness as the carrot pieces. (You will need more lengthwise cuts at the thicker part of the celery near the base.) Then cut crosswise from the tip to the base to get small, rectangular  pieces of celery about the same size as the carrot pieces.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

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

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

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

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

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

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

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup – That’s Italian!

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog            The imperfetto subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate for use with the Italian past tense, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto 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? Can you use the imperfetto subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! This is the second blog in the “Speak Italian” series that will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking  in the past tense.

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the imperfetto subjunctive mood while speaking in the past tense. In this segment, we will discuss when volere, desiderare, piacere, and dispiacere take the subjunctive mood.

We will also learn the conjugation of the imperfetto subjunctive mood for the -are, -ere, and -ire verbs and the commonly used irregular verbs andare, dare, dire, fare, sapere, and venire. Example sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

In each blog in the “Speak Italian” series about the  imperfetto subjunctive mood (“il congiuntivo”),  we will first present phrases in the past tense that take the impefetto subjunctive mood.

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

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

Enjoy the 2nd blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!”
—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: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

Once Again… Italian Phrases That Take the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used 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 will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

We have already learned to use the imperfetto subjunctive mood with the conditional tense in our blogs about Italian hypothetical phrases!  Now, as stated before, we will focus on the use of the imperfetto subjunctive mood after introductory phrases that are in the past tense.

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

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

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

 

As usual, there is a summary table in the next section that shows how to use these phrases. The present and present conditional tense is in the left columns, with the passatto prossimo and the imperfetto past tenses in the right columns. We will then present examples for the past tense.

 

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.

*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.)

 

 


How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with
Volere and Desiderare

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the same way, I can ask that someone do something using the verb chiedere  or insist that they do it with the verb esigere.  But just asking someone else or even insisting does not mean that it will be done (as those of us who have children know).  So, in these cases as well, the verbs chiedere and esigere  will be followed by the conjunction che and the next phrase will use a verb in the subjunctive form.

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.*
However, if the introductory verb is in the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

*Be careful with chiedere and esigere, though, when using the passato prossimo past tense, since their past participles are irregular.  For chiedere, the past participle is chiesto and for esigere, the past participle is esatto.

Esatto is, of course, also used as an adjective, meaning “exact” or “precise” as well as an interjection with the meaning of “Exactly!”


How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with
Piacere and Dispiacere

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

The above rule for using che + subjunctive applies whether the introductory phrase is in the present tense or the past tense.
However, if  if the introductory verb is in the past tense, the imperfetto subjunctive form is the form to follow!

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

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

 

Present Tense &
Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
    Past Tense &
Past Conditional Tense
Subjunctive Phrases
Groups 6 and 7
       
Voglio… che tu I want… that you Volevo… che tu
Ho voluto… che tu
I wanted… that you
Vorrei… che tu I would like…
that you
Volevo… che tu
Ho voluto… che tu
I wanted… that you
Desidero… che tu
Chiedo... che tu
Esigo… che tu
I want… that you
I ask… that you
I insist... that you
Desideravo… che tu
Chiedevo… che tu
Esigevo… che tu
Ho desiderato… che tu
Ho chiesto… che tu
Ho esatto… che tu
I wanted… that you
I asked... that you
I insisted… that you
Mi piace… che tu I like… that you Mi piaceva… che tu
Mi sono piaciuto(a)…
che tu
I liked… that you
Mi dispiace… che tu I am sorry… that you Mi dispiaceva… che tu
Mi sono dispiaciuto(a)… che tu
I was sorry… that you
Mi piacerebbe…
che tu
I would like…
that you
Mi sarebbe piaciuto(a)… che tu I would have liked…
that you
Mi dispiacerebbe…
che tu
I don’t mind…
that you
Mi sarebbe dispiaciuto(a)…
che tu
I didn’t mind…
that you

 

Finally, a word of caution:

DO NOT USE THE SUBJUNCTIVE WITH THE FOLLOWING THREE PHRASES!

Forse = Perhaps      

Per me = For me

Secondo me = According to me

 

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


Speak Italian: Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 2)

How to Conjugate the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood for -are, -ere, and -ire Verbs

Luckily, there are only a few irregular stem forms to learn for the imperfetto subjunctive mood, making it an easier tense to learn than the present, future, and conditional tenses.

Also, the imperfetto subjunctive mood endings are always regular and will be the same for all three conjugations!

To change any regular infinitive verb into the imperfetto subjunctive mood, first drop the final -re, from our infinitive -are, -ere, and -ire verbs to create the stem.

This will create stems that end in the letters –a for the –are verbs, -e for the –ere verbs, and–i for the –ire verbs.  Then add the endings given in the first table below to the stem that has been created. Examples for each verb type are given in the second table below.*

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

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

 

Subjunctive Mood – Imperfetto Endings

io ssi
tu ssi
Lei/lei/lui sse
   
noi ssimo
voi ste
loro ssero

 

The following table will put together our stems with our imperfetto subjunctive mood endings.  A few notes about this:

When pronouncing the imperfetto subjunctive mood verbs, the stress will always be on the syllable that begins with the last two letters of the stem and will incorporate one –s letter from the ending. (Remember the rule for Italian double consonants: one consonant will go with the syllable before and the second with the syllable after, in effect also stressing the double consonant itself.) The stressed syllables are underlined in our example table below.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood – Example Verb Conjugations

  Abitare(to live)

(lived/were living)

Vedere(to see)

(saw/had seen)

Finire(to finish)

(finished/were finishing)

(che) io abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) tu abitassi vedessi finissi
(che) Lei/lei/lui abitasse vedesse finisse
       
(che) noi abitassimo vedessimo finissimo
(che) voi abitaste vedeste finiste
(che) loro abitassero vedessero finissero

 


The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Regular Verbs

Luckily, most verbs are regular in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  So, there are many, many more regular than irregular verbs!

Below are some commonly used regular verbs, some of which are irregular in the present tense and most other tenses! Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

 

Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood Conjugations – Commonly Used Regular Verbs
Andare(to go)

(went/were going)

Sapere
(to know)(knew/had known)
Venire(to come)

(came/had come)

Vivere(to live)

(lived/were living)

io andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
tu andassi sapessi venissi vivessi
Lei/lei/lui andasse sapesse venisse vivesse
         
noi andassimo sapessimo venissimo vivessimo
voi andaste sapeste veniste viveste
loro andassero sapessero venissero vivessero

The Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Commonly Used Irregular Verbs

There are a few important irregular verbs to know in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.  You will find them in the tables below. Practice saying them out loud and listen to how each conjugated verb sounds.

 

Fare – to do/make  Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io facessi I did/ made
tu facessi you (familiar) did/made
Leilei/lui facesse you (polite) did/madeshe/he did/made
     
noi facessimo we did/made
voi faceste you all did/made
loro facessero they did/made

 

 

Dare – to give – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dessi I gave
tu dessi you (familiar) gave
Leilei/lui desse you (polite) gaveshe/he gave
     
noi dessimo we gave
voi deste you all gave
loro dessero they gave

 

 

Dire – to say/tell – Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

io dicessi I said/told
tu dicessi you (familiar) said/told
Leilei/lui dicesse you (polite) said/toldshe/he said/told
     
noi dicessimo we said/told
voi diceste you all said/told
loro dicessero they said/told



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

Example Phrases Using the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with the Past Tense

To follow are some examples of how the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that English sentence structure differs from Italian in most of these sentences.  We can make a similar sentence in English as in Italian, but it would be considered an “awkward” sentence.

The biggest difference is that we English speakers do not use the subjunctive form, whether or not the subject in the two phrases is the same or different.   Also, we often leave out the word “that” from our sentences that contain two phrases. But, as mentioned previously, the Italian word for “that,” “che,” is not an option when linking two Italian phrases!

For the translations, the Italian sentence structure is given first in italics to help us to think in Italian. The correct English is in bold.

We will use the example introductory phrases and verbs from earlier in this section. Some sentences will work with both the imperfetto and passato prossimo introductory phrases if we add a time frame. In these cases, the passatto prossimo is given in blue.

You can see from our first example that use of the past subjunctive in the opening phrase really does allow one to make complex sentences.  The first example has been completed to express a complex situation.  Have fun expanding the sentences we have given. How many more combinations can you think of?

 

Volevo che tu tornassi presto.
Ho voluto che tu tornassi presto ieri sera perché dovevo parlarti di una cosa importante.
I wanted that you returned early. =
I wanted you to have returned early.
I wanted you to have returned early last night because I had to talk to you about something important.
   
Volevo che lui  vendessi la macchina vecchia.
Ho voluto che lui vendesse la macchina vecchia l’anno scorso.
I wanted that he sold the old car (last year). =
I wanted him to have sold the old car (last year).
   
Desideravo che lei andasse via.
Ho desiderato che lei andasse via ieri sera.
I wanted that she went away (last night). =
I wanted her to have gone away (last night).
   
Desideravo che Lei facesse una bella torta per la festa.
Ho desiderato che Lei facesse una bella torta per la festa ieri.
I wanted that you made a nice cake for the party (yesterday). =
I wanted you to have made a nice cake for the party (yesterday).
   
Mi piaceva che tu venissi a Roma ogni giorno. I liked (It was pleasing to me) that you came to Rome every day. =
I liked (that fact that) you came to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiaceva che lui non sapesse questa informazione. I am sorry (It made me sorry) that he doesn’t know this information. =
I am sorry he doesn’t know this information.

 

 

Volevo che noi tornassimo presto.
Ho voluto che noi tornassimo presto ieri sera.
I wanted that we returned early (last night). =
I wanted us to have returned early (last night).
   
Volevo che noi vendessimo la macchina vecchia.
Ho voluto che noi vendessimo la macchina vecchia l’anno scorso.
I wanted that we sold the old car (last year). =
I wanted us to have sold the old car (last year).
   
Desideravo che voi  andaste via.
Ho desiderato che voi andaste via ieri sera.
I wanted that you all went away (last night). =
I wanted you all to have gone away (last night).
   
Desidero che voi faceste una bella torta per la festa.
Ho dovuto che voi faceste una bella torta per la festa ieri.
I wanted that you all made a nice cake for the party (yesterday). =
I wanted you all to have made a nice cake for the party (yesterday).
   
Mi piaceva che voi  veniste a Roma ogni giorno. I liked (It was pleasing to me)that  you all came to Rome every day. =
I liked (that fact that) you all came to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che voi  non sapeste questa informazione. I am sorry (It made me sorry) that you all don’t know this information. =
I am sorry you all don’t know this information.

 

 

Volevo che loro tornassero presto.
Ho voluto che noi tornassero presto ieri sera.
I wanted that they returned early (last night). =
I wanted them to have returned early (last night).
   
Volevo che loro vendessero la macchina vecchia.
Ho voluto che loro vendessero la macchina vecchia l’anno scorso.
I wanted that they sold the old car (last year). =
I wanted them to have sold the old car (last year).
   
Desideravo che loro  andassero via.
Ho desiderato che loro andassero via ieri sera.
I wanted that they went away (last night). =
I wanted them to have gone away (last night).
   
Desidero che loro facessero e una bella torta per la festa.
Ho dovuto che loro facessero una bella torta per la festa ieri.
I wanted that they  made a nice cake for the party (yesterday). =
I wanted them to have made a nice cake for the party (yesterday).
   
Mi piaceva che loro venissero a Roma ogni giorno. I liked (It was pleasing to me) that  they came to Rome every day. =
I liked (that fact that) they came to Rome every day.
   
Mi dispiace che loro non sapessero questa informazione. I am sorry (It made me sorry) that they don’t know this information. =
I am sorry they don’t know this information.

 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blogKathryn Occhipinti, MD, author of the
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Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 2): Speak Italian!

Blogger Kathryn Occhipinti at the CIAP Meatball Fest

Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs

Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Meatballs 

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! 

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.)

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 to aid browning if you want.)

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.

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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 sauté the onions and garlic with a wooden spoon until softened.

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

Add 2 cups of water.

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

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

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

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

 


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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, Progresso brand 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.

 

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The Ingredients in Neapolitan Meatballs

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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.

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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!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet Stella Lucente Italian

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

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

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

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

Mom’s Best Italian Meatballs

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Verbs

Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Imperfetto Subjunctive  for Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog               The imperfetto subjunctive mood is easy to conjugate for use with the Italian past tense, but tricky to use!

 

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto 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? Can you use the imperfetto subjunctive mood when you are speaking in the past tense? To express complex feelings in Italian correctly, it is important to use the Italian subjunctive mood. Using the subjunctive mood is difficult for English speakers, as we only rarely use this tense in English, and this is something that I am always working on! The next three blogs in the “Speak Italian” series will focus on how to conjugate and use the imperfetto Italian subjunctive mood, or “il congiuntivo” for speaking in the past tense.

Let’s take that giant step from simple beginning sentences to more complex and fluid sentences in Italian by using the imperfetto subjunctive mood while speaking in the past tense. In this segment, we will discuss the phrases that take the subjunctive mood when in the past tense and how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood for avere, essere and stareExample sentences will follow!

Speak Italian: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

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

Then,  we will review how to conjugate the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Finally, we will present common phrases from daily life that take the Italian subjunctive mood.

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

Enjoy the first blog in this series, “Imperfetto Subjunctive for Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!”
—Kathryn Occhipinti

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: How to Use the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

Introducing… Italian Phrases That Take the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Verbs in Italian can have a subjunctive mood that is used 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 will be in the indicative tense (the “usual” present or past tense). These initial phrases imply uncertainty and trigger the subjunctive mood in the phrase to follow.

We have already learned to use the imperfetto subjunctive mood with the conditional tense in our blogs about Italian hypothetical phrases!  Now, as stated before, we will focus on the use of the imperfetto subjunctive mood after introductory phrases that are in the past tense.

Phrases that take the Italian subjunctive mood are listed below:

  1. Phrases that use the verbs credere (to believe), pensare (to think), and sperare (to hope). These verbs use the pattern: [verb  di + infinitive verb to describe the beliefs, thoughts, or hopes that one has. When the subject in the introductory phrase is not the same as the subject in the 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…” and  “Chiedersi se… ” or “To wonder if…”
  4. Phrases that express uncertainty, such as, “It seems to me…” or “Mi sembra che…” and  “Chiedersi se… ” or “I wonder if…”
  5. Impersonal verbs followed by the conjunction che, such as, “Basta che…” “It is enough that,” or “Si dice che…” “They say that…

*When the speaker in the introductory phrase will carry out the action in the phrase to follow, Italian will use the following construction to link the phrases for credere, pensare, and sperare :  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.)

 

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.

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

 


 

Italian Phrases That Take the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

To follow is a (long) list of phrases that can be used to introduce the subjunctive mood, with examples from the passato prossimo past tense in the first two columns and the imperfetto past tense in the last two columns.

Basic translations are given in our tables, but remember that the imperfetto past tense can also be translated as “was… ing.”  Therefore, “Speravo che” means, “I hoped,” and “I was hoping.” In the last section, we will then present examples for the past tense.

 Passato Prossimo Past
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
    Imperfetto Past
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 1 and 2
 
Ho creduto che I believed that Credevo che I believed that
Ho pensato che I thought that Pensavo che  I thought that
Ho sperato che I hoped that Speravo che I hoped that
         
È stato possibile che It was possible that Era possibile che It was possible that
È stato probablile che It was probable that Era probabile che It was probable that
       
È stato bene che It was fine/good that Era bene che It was fine/good that
Sarebbe stato bene che It would  have been good that
È stato giusto che It was right that Era giusto che It was right that
È stato meglio  che It was better that Era meglio che It was better that
       
È stato incredible che It was incredible that Era incredibile che It was incredible that
È stato un peccato che It was a shame that Era un peccato che It was a shame that
È stata una vergogna che It was a disgrace that Era una vergogna che It was a disgrace that
È stato normale che It was normal that Era normale che It was normal that
       

 

Passato Prossimo Past
Subjunctive 
Phrase
Groups 3, 4, and 5
    Imperfetto Past
Subjunctive Phrase
Groups 3, 4, and 5
 
Non ho saputo che I didn’t know that Non sapevo che I didn’t know that
Non ho saputo dove I did’t know where Non sapevo dove I didn’t know where
Non sono stato sicuro che I wasn’t sure that Non ero sicuro che I wasn’t sure that
Non ho avuto idea che I had no idea that Non avevo idea che I had no idea that
Non vedevo l’ora che… I couldn’t wait that
Non c’è stato nulla che There was nothing that Non c’era nulla che There was nothing that
       
Mi è parso* che It seems to me Mi pareva che It seemed to me
Mi è sembrato* che It seems to me Mi sembrava che It seemed to me
(Può darsi che  only used in present tense) (Perhaps)    
Ho avuto l’impressione che I had the impression that Avevo l’impresione che I had the impression that
Ho supposto che I supposed that Supponevo che I supposed that
Ho immaginato che I imagined that Immaginavo che I imagined that
Ho dubitato che I doubted that Dubitavo che I doubted that
Sono stato(a) convinto che I was convinced that Ero convinto che I was convinced that
 
(A meno che only used in present tense) (Unless)    
Ho convenuto che It was best that Conveniva che It was best that
È bastato(a) che It was enough that Bastava che It was enough that
(Malgrado che only used in present tense) (In spite of that)    
Si è detto che It was said that =
One says/said that
Si diceva che It was said that
Hanno detto che They said that Dicevano che They said that
 C’è stato bisognato che  It was necessary that =
There was a need for that
 Bisognava che  It was necessary that

* Use the phrases “Mi era parso che” and “Mi era sembrato che” when the phrase that follows will refer to another speaker’s actions. Do NOT change the ending of  parso or sembrato.  In this case, parso and sembrato refer to “it”  in the phrase, “It seems to me that…” and so are invariable.

However, when saying, “It seems to me…” followed by an adjective that describes how the speaker himself feels about something, the last letter of parso and sembrato must match in gender and number what is being described. 

So, to describe how a beautiful girl seemed to me, I would say:
Mi era parsa bella.   – or – Mi era sembrata bella.  She seemed beautiful to me.

 

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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

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


Speak Italian: The Imperfetto  Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

How to Conjugate Italian Verbs “Essere,” “Avere,” and “Stare” in the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

Listed in the table below are the imperfetto subjunctive forms for the Italian auxiliary verbs avere, stare, and essere, which are often used with the conditional and past tenses in written and spoken Italian.

In our last two blogs, we showed how to use the imperfetto subjunctive tense with conditional verbs when we need to make hypothetical phrases in Italian.  We saw that in these cases, the conjunction “se” for “if” introduces the dependent clause with the imperfetto subjunctive verb.

In this blog, we will focus on the use of the imperfetto subjunctive with the Italian past tense.  In these cases, the conjunction che will introduce the dependent clause with the imperfetto subjunctive verb.

In our conjugation tables, che is included in parentheses in the subject pronoun column as a reminder that these verb forms are often introduced with  the conjunction che.  Also,  make sure to include the subject pronoun in your sentence after che for clarity, since the singular forms are identical.

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

Avere—to have—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io avessi I had
(che) tu avessi you (familiar) had
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

avesse you (polite) had

she/he had

     
(che) noi avessimo we had
(che) voi aveste you all had
(che) loro avessero they had

 

Essere—to be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io fossi I were
(che) tu fossi you (familiar) were
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

fosse you (polite) were

she/he were

     
(che) noi fossimo we were
(che) voi foste you all were
(che) loro fossero they were

 

Stare—to stay/be—Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

(che) io stessi I stayed/were
(che) tu stessi you (familiar) stayed/were
(che) Lei

(che) lei/lui

stesse you (polite) stayed/were

she/he stayed/were

     
(che) noi stessimo we stayed/were
(che) voi steste you all stayed/were
(che) loro stessero they stayed/were

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

Example Phrases Using “Stare” in the Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood with the Past Tense

To follow are some examples of when the Italian subjunctive mood in the past tense might be used in conversation during daily life.

Notice that English uses the simple past tense to express the same idea, but we use our verbs a bit differently to make the subjunctive.  In stead of saying “I was,” we use “I were.”  Or, alternatively, “were + infinitive form or gerund. ”

English examples:  “If I were to go…” or “If I were going…” Also, “had + past participle,” such as, “If I had seen…”

In our first blog about the subjunctive mood, we presented example sentences using stare (to stay/to be).  We mentioned in our first blog that stare in the present subjunctive comes up very commonly in email greetings;  especially if there has not been recent communication, it is customary to mention a hope that all is well with friends and family. We will present the same examples using a reference to the past to include in conversation.

With these particular phrases in which we talk about “hoping,” in most cases, the imperfetto form of the past tense will be used.  However, if we “hope” for just one instant in time, with that time frame mentioned in the sentence, we can use the passato prossimo, which is  given in the same column in blue text.

 

 Past Tense
Phrase
Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Tu sei stato bene. You were well. Speravo che tu stessi bene.
Ieri, ho sperato che tu stessi bene.
I hoped (was hoping) that you (familiar) were well.
Yesterday, I had hoped that you (familiar) were well.
Lei è stata bene. She was well. Speravo che lei stesse bene.
Ieri, ho sperato che lei stesse bene.
I hoped  (was hoping) that she was well .
Yesterday, I had hoped that she was well.
Lui è stato bene. He was well. Speravo che lui stesse bene.
Ieri, ho sperato che lui stesse bene ieri.
 I hoped (was hoping) that he was well (yesterday).
Yesterday, I had hoped that he was well.
La famiglia è stata bene. The family was well.  

Speravo che la tua famiglia* stesse bene.
L’anno scorso, ho sperato che la tua famiglia stesse bene.

I hoped (was hoping) that the family* was well.
Last year, I had hoped that the family was well.
Tutti sono stati bene. Everybody
was fine.
Speravo che tutti stessero bene.
L’anno scorso, ho sperato che tutti stessero bene. 
I hoped (was hoping) that everybody was well.
Last year, I had hoped that everybody was fine.

*Famiglia = family and is a collective noun that takes the third person singular.


Example Phrases Using “Avere” in the Past Tense Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

As we noted in our first blog about the Italian subjunctive, we often close an email with a hope as well—for a nice weekend, for instance, or that we will see the person we have contacted sometime soon.

In a similar way,  if we have been separated from someone for some amount of time, when we email or meet that person again, we may include a hope that time spent has gone well in the past.  In this case, the phrases we most commonly use will need to use avere (to have) in the imperfetto subjunctive mood.

Again, the examples presented below are from our first blog on this topic. An example of how one might use the same phrase in the past tense is given in the imperfetto form – the most likely form to be used in these examples.

Present Tense
Phrase
Past Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
Buona settimana! Have a good week! Speravo che tu avessi una buona settimana.
I hoped (was hoping) that you had a good week!
Buon fine settimana! Have a good weekend! Speravo che tu avessi un buon fine settimana.
I hoped  (was hoping) that you had a good weekend!
Buona giornata.

Buona serata.

Have a good day.

Have a good evening.

Speravo che tu avessi una buona giornata/buona serata. I hoped (was hoping) that you had a good day/evening.

 


Example Phrases Using “Essere” in the Past Tense Imperfetto Subjunctive Mood

As we discussed in our first blog on the subjunctive, the verb essere (to be) is commonly used when describing someone’s characteristics to someone else.  But what if we are not sure that someone possesses a certain characteristic, or we would like someone to possess a characteristic we fear they may not have?

These thoughts, of course, can take place in the past as easily as in the present.  When speaking about the past tense, we must use the imperfetto subjunctive mood in our sentence! Here are a few examples. How many more can you think of?

Present or Past Tense
Phrase
Present Tense
Subjunctive Phrase
 

 

Lei era bella.

 

She was beautiful. Mi sembrava che lei fosse bella.
Dieci anni fa, mi sono sembrato che lei fosse bella.
It seemed to me that she was beautiful = 
She seemed beautiful to me.
Ten years ago, it seemed to me that she was beautiful.
L’insegnante era simpatico.
The teacher was nice.  

Speravo che l’insegnante fosse simpatico.

I hoped (was hoping) that the teacher was nice.
Dio è in cielo.

 

God is in heaven.

 

 


Credevo che Dio fosse
 in cielo.
Quando aveva dieci anni, ho creduto che Dio fosse in cielo.

 

 

I believed that God was in heaven.
When I was ten years old, I believed that God was in heaven.
L’attrice era brava in quel film. The actress was great in that film.  


Pensavo che l’attrice fosse 
brava in quel film.

 

I thought that the actress was great in that film.
Lui era fortunato. He was fortunate.  

Credevo che lui fosse fortunato.
L’anno scorso, ho creduto che lui fosse fortunato.

 


I believed that he was fortunate.

Last year, I believed that he was fortunate.
Lei era contenta. She was happy.  

Mi pareva che lei fosse contenta.
Il mese scorsa, mi parevo che lei fosse contenta.

 

It seemed to me that she was happy = 
She seemed happy to me.

Last month, it seemed to me that she was happy.
Loro erano bravi cantanti. They were wonderful singers.  

Può darsi che loro fossero bravi cantanti quando erano giovani.

 

Perhaps they were wonderful singers when they were young.
Lui era un bravo studente. He was a good student.  

Dubitavo che lui fosse un bravo studente.

 

I doubted that he was a good student.
Lei era sposata. She was married. Era probabile che lei fosse sposata. She was probably married.

(It was probable that she was married.)

Loro erano contenti. They were happy. Era possibile che loro fossero contenti. It was possible that they were happy.

Speak Italian: The Imperfetto  Subjunctive Mood (Part 1)

How to Conjugate and Use

 “Chiedersi”  –  To Wonder

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

In our previous blog on Italian hypothetical phrases, Italian Subjunctive (Part 4): Italian Hypothetical Phrases of Love, we discussed the verb chiedersi, which is the verb Italians use to describe the idea of “wondering if…” something might happen.

Let’s see how this works in the past tense, in a situation when one might have “wondered if…” something might have happened.

“Mi chiedevo…” literally means, “I asked myself,” which translates into “I wondered.”  At first glance, it may seem like chiedersi should fall into the category of improbable hypothetical phrases – especially when this verb is followed by se,  such as in the phrase “I wondered if…”  But, as we’ve learned in previous blogs, instead, chiedersi follows the same rules as our verbs of uncertainty in Rule 4.

Therefore, when chiedersi is used in the past tense,  the phrase that follows will take the imperfetto subjunctive and the trapassato subjunctive forms. 

Here are  our previous examples for when one is wondering in the past tense about something that may have happened in either the present or the past.

Mi chiedevo se lui fosse un attore bravo in quel film.
I wondered if he is a great actor in that film.

Mi chiedevo se lui fosse stato un attore bravo in quel film.
I wondered  if he was a great actor in that film.

 


Speak Italian: Common Italian Phrases to Introduce the Past Tense

Now that we are speaking in Italian in the past tense, we may want to use some of these expressions to refer to recent or more remote past events.

Notice from the list below that ieri (yesterday/last) is used to refer to specific times during the day.  Ieri is invariable (the ending does not change).  The ending for scorso (last) is gender specific (the ending changes to reflect the gender of the noun it describes).

 

stamattina this morning
ieri yesterday
l’altro ieri the day before yesterday
ieri mattina yesterday morning
ieri pomeriggio yesterday afternoon
ieri sera yesterday evening
ieri notte last night

 

 

scorso(a) last
l’anno scorso last year
il mese scorso last month
la settimana scorsa last week

 

lunedì scorso last Monday
martedì scorso last Tuesday
mercoledì scorso last Wednesday
giovedì scorso last Thursday
venerdì scorso last Friday
sabato scorso  last Saturday
domenica scorsa last Sunday

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

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

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

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on these Stella Lucente Italian sites:
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian
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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 Past Tense (Part 1): Speak Italian!

Ferragosto at Lago Maggiore Lungomare

Ferragosto – Italian Holiday Time in August

Ferragosto – Italian Holiday Time in August

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina during Ferragosto -the major holiday that takes place in Italy during  August -in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

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

Ferragosto – Italian Holiday Time in August 

Ferragosto – just what is this ancient holiday that still becomes the focus of every Italian during August? While Italy is known as a destination for world travelers seeking to enjoy the Italian landscape, art and food, it is less well-known how Italians enjoy their summertime vacation.

In our story, Caterina, an Italian-American girl,  is a guest in Milan at the house of her Italian cousin Pietro and his wife Francesca.  She arrives in Italy just before the start of the important Italian summer holiday called “Ferragosto”.  The holiday is officially one day – August 15 – and is a holiday celebrated by the Catholic church.  But, most Italians take off at least a week and often two or even three weeks, as people in the cities and even smaller towns escape from the to summer heat to the mountains or beach to enjoy time with their families.

If you want to feel like an insider during the Ferragosto holiday this year, first click on the link from Conversational Italian for Travelers  – Chapter 14 – “On the Beach at Last.”  Listen to the free audio of a the conversation between Caterina and a new friend who meet on the beach during her family’s Ferragosto holiday.

This free audio to learn Italian is provided by www.LearnTravelItalian.com.  The grammar and verb conjugations necessary to understand this dialogue are provided by the same Chapter 14 in the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook and reference books, Just the Grammar and Just the Verbs.

Then, read the Cultural Note below, adapted from the  same textbook also found on Amazon.com, “Conversational Italian for Travelers,”  which describes the history of Ferragosto – how the holiday came to be during Roman times and the different celebrations that take place  around Italy today.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Ferragosto
Italian Holiday Time in August 

 

Ferragosto in Venice Italy, Lido Beach
Sunbathers in the early morning on Lido Island, Venice during Ferragosto

What is the perfect Ferragosto holiday?  Ask any Italian this question, and the answer will no doubt involve fond memories of past holiday traditions of family and food, and, often a passionate description of their usual family get-away to the sea or mountains.  Ferragosto is known as a holiday for fun and relaxation for the entire family.  As one of the oldest and well-loved holidays in Italy, most Italians have high expectations of the fulfillment that comes with their Ferragosto celebration.

The official beginning of the holiday is August 15, which the Catholic church has adopted as its own with the Feast of the Assumption (a celebration of Mother Mary’s ascension into heaven to join her son, Jesus).

This church tradition is thought to have been started in 580 A.D., by the Byzantine Emperor Maurice, but the holiday traditions practiced today actually date back to the Roman festival of Consuali, which itself is said to have been begun by Romulus, the founder of Rome.  During Consuali, all Roman workers and animals were granted days of rest prior to the hard working days of the fall harvest.

During the Roman empire, in 18 BC, Emperor Augustus expanded the tradition by making ferie Augusti (Augustus’ holidays) special days set aside to pay tribute to the Roman gods, and extended the holiday to involve the entire month of August.  The holiday was considered a special time for all of Roman society, and during these days all classes of Romans were able to mingle and celebrate together.

Over the centuries, many towns have adopted special traditions for this time period, such as the famous horse race, or Palio, in Siena, which takes place on August 16th, and ancient ceremonies of renewal, which involve bonfires or bathing.

The tradition of going in montagne or al mare (to the mountains or to the sea) probably began with this idea of spiritual and physical renewal.  Mussolini made Ferragosto a national holiday, and brought the idea of vacationing for most of the month of August into the 20th century.

Companies today still close in Italy for several days surrounding the official start of the holiday on August 15th, and most Italians will close shop and take at least a week off in August if they are able.  It is customary to pack a picnic lunch with foods that are cool and refreshing during the hot month of August, such as watermelon (cocomero) or other fresh fruit, cold beverages, fresh vegetables and cold pasta or rice dishes.

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, “Cultural Note – Ferragosto”  by Kathryn Occhipinti

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

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
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YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
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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

Ferragosto – Italian Holiday Time in August

Italian Chicken Cacciatore

One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore

One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Chicken Cacciatore 

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

Try One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore  for YOUR Italian Dinner Tonight! 

The recipe title, “One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore,” refers to a type of meat stew made in Italy, presumably when a hunter would bring home a fresh catch. Or possibly, the hunter himself would make this stew with the one pot he had on hand while out in the forest. Exactly where the title comes from is no longer known, and many delicious variations of chicken stew are called “alla cacciatore”—meaning “as a hunter would make”—in Italy today.

For our Italian chicken cacciatore recipe, a whole cut chicken is cooked in one large skillet, using olive oil and fresh summer tomatoes and peppers. Although this dish started out “back in the day” as a stew (in cooking terms, a fricassee), I’ve omitted the flour to make less of a gravy and instead a light, fresh “sauce.” By taking the chicken out of the pot after browning and then putting it back in to finish cooking, the amount of chicken fat in the dish is reduced. I like mushrooms, which I often add to the dish as well.

Hearty, crusty Italian bread makes a perfect accompaniment to Italian chicken cacciatore, although I have to admit that my family does not follow the proper Italian food “rules” when it comes to this dish. If you’ve been to Italy, you know them: the first course (il primo) is pasta, risotto, or gnocchi, and the second course (il secondo) is the meat—all by itself in a sauce or gravy. Fresh vegetables are abundant in Italy, but in Italian restaurants, they must be ordered as a side dish (contorno) during the second course.

Like good Italian-Americans, we eat our chicken with the pasta on the side and cover both in sauce. Add Parmesan cheese if you like, but only to the pasta! I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does.   —Kathryn Occhipinti


One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore 

Ingredients

1 frying chicken, cut into 2 breasts, 2 thighs/legs, 2 wings
(or any chicken with breasts and thighs of similar size)
approximately 1/4 cup olive oil, and more as needed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3/4 cup Italian dry white wine
1 large medium onion, sliced thickly
2 bell peppers (1 green and 1 red preferred), sliced lengthwise
11 (15 oz.) can tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped, in liquid
6–8 cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, sliced lengthwise (optional)
(quickly rinsed, gently rubbed dry with a paper towel, stem trimmed)

1/2–1 cup good chicken stock, or water
2 sprigs of Italian flat-leaf parsley (chop off leafy parts and reserve; tie stems in a small bundle)

Full Method

(*Scroll to the end of this section for an abbreviated method for an even quicker weeknight dinner.)

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 freshly ground black 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 approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Add 1 of the cloves of crushed garlic and cook under low heat until it softens and adds flavor to the olive oil, but do not brown.

Remove garlic.  Raise heat to medium high.

When the oil has heated, add chicken to the pan skin side down, keeping each piece separate from the other. Let cook without moving the chicken for a few minutes. Lift up one of the chicken pieces gently to check. When the skin has browned lightly, turn chicken pieces once and cook about 5 minutes more.

Remove the chicken to a plate. Pour off any rendered chicken fat and a couple more tablespoons of olive oil so pan is coated lightly.

Add the second piece of crushed garlic, the onions, and the peppers and sauté until all vegetables have softened a bit but have not cooked.

Add the white wine and boil off about 1/2 of the wine. While the wine is boiling, use a wooden spoon to scrape off any browned bits that have stuck to the pan while the chicken was browning.

Add the chopped tomatoes with their juices, bundled fresh parsley stems and optional sliced mushrooms. Then add a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Add enough chicken stock or water to almost cover the chicken and vegetables.

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

Cover the skillet, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook on medium low heat about 30–40 minutes. The liquid should be simmering but not boiling in order to give a nice consistency of the vegetables and retain their shape. Turn the chicken over a few times gently as it cooks, to ensure even cooking, and add more water as needed. (Additional cooking time will depend on how cooked the chicken was initially, of course.)

Test the chicken to make sure it is cooked through by cutting a slit into one of the breasts. When the chicken is done, the juices should run clear. Just before the chicken is cooked through, you may want to uncover to boil off any excess liquid.

Italian chicken cacciatore
Chicken Cacciatore simmering on the stove top.

This dish is not quite a chicken stew,** and the “sauce” it yields will usually be a bit thin, because we have not added flour as a thickener.

Taste the sauce, and adjust salt and pepper before serving. Remove the parsley stems.

Place the chicken pieces on a large platter or on individual plates. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.

The “sauce” can be served over the chicken and the dish eaten accompanied by bread, like a stew. But as I’ve noted above, I have to admit that here in America, my family breaks the “pasta first course and meat second course” rule and serves this chicken dish together with pasta. I think that this dish is a great way to introduce children to how delicious fresh vegetables can be. But only put grated Parmesan cheese on your pasta—not the chicken, please!

*Abbreviated Method

With this method, the chicken can be cooked on the stove top, with a large, deep skillet, or started on the stove top and finished in the oven with an oven-safe pot.

(Note: It is not  traditional Italian to cook onions and garlic without softening them first in olive oil, but when simmered in hot, salted liquid, onions and garlic will mellow and add a sweet flavor to the sauce.)

Put 1/4 cup olive oil, crushed garlic, sliced onions, sliced peppers, tomatoes and their juices, optional sliced mushrooms, and parsley stalks into your cooking pot of choice. Sprinkle with salt.

Place the chicken, washed, patted dry, and sprinkled with salt and pepper, on top of the vegetables.

Add enough water or stock to just cover the chicken and vegetables. (Omit the white wine in the ingredients list.)

Cook on stove top over high heat to bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, on the stove top or in the oven at 350° until done, about 40–60 minutes. Turn chicken and mix vegetables so all remain in liquid every 15 minutes or so while the chicken is cooking. Add more liquid as necessary. When the chicken is cut with a knife, the juices should be clear when the chicken is cooked through to the proper temperature.

Plate chicken and vegetables in their juices and serve with bread or pasta on the side, as given in the first method.

Italian Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Cacciatore served with pasta and sauce from the pot.

**In a stew meat is cut up, sautéed, and braised, with flour as a thickener. In this recipe, we use a generous amount of healthy olive oil. If you want to decrease the amount of fat, the same methods can be followed with skinless, bone-in chicken, browned 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 Stella Lucente Italian

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

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

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

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

One-Pot Italian Chicken Cacciatore