Author Archives: Jodina

La Pasqua: Easter Eye Candy [a foto blog]

Prefer to read this post in English? Skip to the text in  green.

Così come guardare le vetrine non incide sui nostri budget, concedersi la bellezza di queste bellissime vetrine italiane decorate con esposizioni elaborate di dolci pasquali non ci metteranno dei centimetri alle vite… Meno male!

Just as window-shopping doesn’t put a dent in our budgets, indulging in the beauty of these beautiful Italian shop windows bedecked in elaborate displays of sweet treats for Easter won’t add inches to our waists… Thank goodness!

Per augurarvi una buona Pasqua, ecco alcune immagini scattate a Firenze di bellissime vetrine colme di dolci di ogni tipo per celebrare questa festa.

To wish you a happy Easter, here are some images captured in Florence of beautiful shop windows brimming with sweets of all kinds to celebrate this holiday.

easter shop windows italy

Coniglietti di ogni misura, in peluche e al cioccolato. / Bunnies in every size, as stuffed animals and in chocolate.

easter shop windows italy

Un’elegante vetrina rivestita in bianco sfoggia dei dolci più sofisticati tipo il torrone e la colomba. / An elegant window dressed in white shows off more sophisticated sweets such as nougat (front, L and R) and la colomba, a dove-shaped Easter cake (front center).

Un’esplosione di tutti i simboli primaverili e pasquali: agnelli, galline, anatroccoli e cestini pieni di uova colorate per tentare i giovanissimi ed anche i giovani di spirito. / An explosion of all the symbols of springtime and Easter: lambs, hens, ducklings and baskets full of colored eggs to tempt the very young and also the young at heart.

 Buona Pasqua! / Happy Easter!

Qual è il tuo dolce pasquale preferito?

What’s your favorite Easter candy or dessert?

Posted in Italian Food, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top 10 Reasons People Study Italian

Why do you study Italian? (And if you don’t, why do you think people study Italian? And also, what are you waiting for? … This beautiful language is calling you! 🙂 )

I came across this list and thought it very accurately reflected the reasons my students have given over the years for studying (courting, pursuing, being enamored and sometimes even obsessed with) what many consider the world’s most romantic language.

Here’s that compilation. (It’s in Italian and English, so you can practice!)

Motivazioni per lo studio dell’italiano

  1. È la lingua più musicale del mondo.
  2. È la lingua del paese con il più alto patrimonio artistico e culturale.
  3. Per andare in vacanza e parlare con la gente del posto.
  4. #3-Vacanza / Vacation

    È la lingua della lirica, della moda e del design.

  5. È la lingua del buon vino e della buona cucina.
  6. È la lingua dei miei nonni o dei miei genitori.
  7. Devo trasferirmi a lavorare in Italia.
  8. Il mio partner è italiano.
  9. Voglio studiare in Italia.
  10. Sono pensionato e voglio trasferirmi in Italia.

List source: Torre di Babele, Roma.

Motivations for Studying Italian

  1. It’s the most musical language in the world.
  2. It’s the language of the country with the greatest number of world heritage sites.
  3. To go on vacation and speak with the people of the place.
  4. It’s the language of opera, fashion and design.
  5. #5-Vino e cibo/Wine & food

    It’s the language of good wine and good cuisine.

  6. It’s the language of my grandparents or my parents.
  7. I have to move to Italy for to work.
  8. My partner is Italian.
  9. I want to study in Italy.
  10. I am retired and I want to move to Italy.

What do you think? Did your reason for studying this gorgeous language make the list? Are they any reasons you would add? Leave a comment!

Corsi di italiano


Learn Italian! – Spring Italian Language Classes start March 27 – Sign up now for Early-bird discount!



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International Women’s Day – Auguri alle donne!

festa donna 8 marzoMarch 8th, International Women’s Day, is celebrated widely in many countries around the world, though it is little known in the US. I first heard of it shortly after I’d moved to Italy.

Women’s Day is a celebration of all that is wonderful about women, and it’s a day to pause and reflect on the accomplishments and importance of the role of women in our world. It’s also a moment to consider improvements and changes needed to better the quality of women’s lives in general, and especially of women and girls whose rights and life conditions are compromised or perilous.

In Italia la Festa della Donna si festeggia l’8 di marzo. | In Italy, Women’s day is celebrated on March 8th.

festa donna mazze mimose

Mazze di mimose | Bouquets of mimosa flowers

Gli uomini regalano i fiori, solitamente le mimose, alle colleghe di lavoro e a tutte le altre donne importanti nelle loro vite… mamme, sorelle, fidanzate, ragazze, ecc. | Men give flowers, usually mimosas, to their co-workers and to all the other important women in their lives… moms, sisters, fiances, girlfriends, etc.

And contrary to popular belief, the mimosa is not just a popular cocktail made from succo d’arancia (orange juice) and champagne. Rather, it was the mimosa flower that inspired the drink!


The famous mimosa cocktail

The mimosa is the fragrant and fluffy yellow pom-pom-like flower of the acacia tree.  Like in Italy, California (where Italiano With Jodina is based) is full of acacia trees this time of year, which is why this flower is so common on this day.  I love the smell of these flowers — their fragrance zooms me straight back to wonderful memories of life in Italy!

Special Women’s Day auguri (well wishes) for the special ladies in your life:

  1. Auguri a tutte le donne del mondo ed in particolare alla mia che è la più bella che ci sia!” | Good wishes to all the women of the world and in particular to mine who is the most beautiful there is!
  2. Questa mimosa è bella come te che splendi e profumi nel giorno della tua festa.” | This mimosa is as beautiful as you that shine and are fragrant on your special day.
  3. La donna è la colonna portante del mondo, senza te tutto crollerebbe e la nostra famiglia andrebbe in rovina… Grazie donna, grazie mamma.” | The woman is the main support column of the world, without you everything would collapse and our family would go into ruin… Thank you woman/lady, thank you mom.

women dressed in yellowRemember to give an extra hug or shout out today to the women that matter in your life. And remember the women whose lives are not what they could be… We’ve come a long way baby, ma c’è ne ancora di strada da fare! (there’s still a ways to go!)

Leave a comment! Have you heard of Women’s Day before?  Do you celebrate it?  Which mimosa do you prefer, the flower or the cocktail?

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Verona is for lovers… and graffiti artists + Valentine’s Love Phrases

Il balcone at Juliet’s House

A little while back, I had the chance to spend a little time in Verona, and of course one of the places I visited was the famed Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). Though it’s not really her house, nor is there any proof that she ever existed outside the Bard’s play, it has become a pilgrimage for innamorati (lovers) and others who want to witness this fictional place and perhaps leave their mark as an ommaggio (homage) to love…

It’s pretty straightforward, and yet…

And there’s where it gets tricky – what some consider an amorous declaration others deem defacement of public property. If you’ve ever been to la Casa di Giulietta, you’ve probably seen what I mean. Despite visibly posted signs citing ordinances prohibiting attaching love letters or notes and writing on surfaces, at the penalty of steep fines and even possible jail time, the practice persists mostly unfettered.

Iron gates laden with lovers’ padlocks

Chewing gum, post-its, love letters and graffiti declaring love (and sometimes less noble slogans) adorn the entryway of the portico, walls and other surfaces in the courtyard; and padlocks hang from the iron gates. And though technically it’s not allowed and is frowned upon by many as a lack of decent manners and decorum, people, especially Italian high-schoolers on field trips,

More room at the top…

continue leaving their mark in broad daylight.

In relatively recent years these surfaces have been subject to major clean-up campaigns at least twice (2008, 2012), with new fines, and the police of Verona put on alert. But it seems they can’t stop love – in just a matter of time, love birds/graffiti artists/wall defacers win out, and the surroundings return to their previously graffiti-ized state. Apparently after the most recent scrubbing, temporary wall overlays were put up to protect some of the original surfaces – knowing that visitors would continue leaving their mark.

Graffiti overload

Trees + bricks + love notes gone wild

School kids congregate at the entrance

While I don’t condone the graffiti-ing of this location, I do find it fascinating that a place associated with a fictional story of star-crossed lovers holds such a powerful attraction for the collective imagination. La Casa di Giulietta seems to have become a sort of a participatory public art installation. Visitors are driven by the desire to bring good luck in love by leaving a note or rubbing the statue of Juliet. Maybe that’s why the police and even the shopkeepers [whose sales must no doubt benefit from these visitors] seem to tolerate the spectacle…  Maybe the true story is in people’s imaginations, and perhaps it’s true, perhaps you simply can’t fight love… or high-schoolers hyped up on hormones, gone wild with gum and sharpies…

This club receives letters from lovebirds wanting advice

Want to write or whisper some sweet nothings to your beloved this Valentine’s Day? Here are a few that will warm their heart…

  • Caro/a: Dear or darling
  • Tesoro: Treasure, sweetie
  • Amore, amore mio: Love, my love
  • Ti amo: I love you (for romantic loves)
  • Ti voglio bene: I care about you, I love you (for anyone)
  • Sei nel mio cuore: You are in my heart
  • Per sempre: Forever
  • Baci e abbracci: Kisses and hugs
  • Buon San Valentino! : Happy Valentine’s Day!

What do you think of all the love notes from visitors to la Casa di Giulietta? Should authorities crack down on love birds who leave their mark? What can or should be done? If you could, would you leave a love letter or declaration at Juliet’s House?

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, learn italian | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“Blackbird Days”: Italy’s Distant Cousin to Groundhog Day

Does groundhog see his shadow?

Christmas holidays have come and gone, and by the end of January, many of us have had it with cold, gray, rainy or snowy weather. How much more of this and how much longer ’til spring? If you’re in the U.S., you might check in to find out whether the groundhog saw his shadow. In Italy, there’s a similar spring-predicting folklore, and it centers on the humble blackbird, who according to legend, started out white…

Prefer to read this post in English? Skip to the text in  green.

“Blackbird days”

I giorni della merla sono il 29, 30, e 31 di gennaio. Secondo la leggenda, se questi giorni sono freddi la primavera sarà bella, e se sono caldi la primavera arriverà tardi.  Questo è forse la cosa più vicina nel folclore italiano all’osservanza di Groundhog Day (2 febbraio) negli Stati Uniti, secondo la quale, se la marmotta (the groundhog) vede la sua ombra, l’inverno durerà altre sei settimane. Se invece non vede l’ombra la primavera è in arrivo.

January 29-30-31

“Blackbird days” are the 29th, 30th and 31st of January.  According to legend, if these days are cold, spring will be beautiful, and if they are warm, spring will arrive late.  This is perhaps the closest thing in Italian folklore to the observance of Groundhog Day (February 2nd) in the United States, according to which, if the groundhog sees its shadow, winter will last another six weeks.  If instead it doesn’t see its shadow, spring is on the way.

Merla, blackbird, was once white

La leggenda dei giorni della merla ha le sue radici nei tempi romani quando nel calendario il mese di gennaio ancora conteneva solo 28 giorni.  Secondo la storia, una merla, con uno splendido candido piumaggio, veniva regolarmente strapazzata da gennaio, mese freddo e ombroso, che si divertiva ad aspettare che lei uscisse dal nido in cerca di cibo, per gettare sulla terra freddo e gelo.

January casts bitter cold & snow

The legend of  “blackbird days” has its roots in Roman times when the calendar month of January still only contained 28 days.  According to the story, a blackbird, with her splendid, snow white plumage was usually thrown about by January, a cold and overcast month, who amused himself by waiting for her to leave her nest in search of food, and then casting bitter cold and frost onto the Earth.

Merla sings to mock January

Stanca delle continue persecuzioni, la merla un anno decise di fare provviste sufficienti per un mese, e si rinchiuse nella sua tana, al riparo, per tutto il mese di gennaio, che allora aveva solo ventotto giorni. L’ultimo giorno del mese, la merla, pensando di aver ingannato il cattivo gennaio, uscì dal nascondiglio e si mise a cantare per sbeffeggiarlo.

Tired of the ongoing harassment, one year the blackbird decided to gather enough provisions for a month and closed herself in her burrow, taking refuge for the entire month of January, which at the time had only 28 days.  The last day of the month, thinking to have outsmarted the wicked January, she left her hideaway and started singing to mock him.

January gets mad and borrows days from February

Gennaio se ne risentì così tanto che chiese in prestito tre giorni a febbraio (che allora aveva ancora 31 giorni) e si scatenò con bufere di neve, vento, gelo, e pioggia. La merla si rifugiò  in un camino e lì restò al riparo per tre giorni. Quando la merla uscì, era sì salva, ma il suo bel piumaggio si era annerito a causa del fumo e del fuliggine, e malgrado cercava di ripulirsi non ci riusciva.

Merla seeks refuge in a chimney

January took such great offense that he asked February (which then still had 31 days) for a loan of three days, and he went crazy with snow storms, wind, ice, and rain.  The blackbird took refuge in a chimney and there she stayed sheltered for three days.  When the blackbird came out, she was indeed safe, but her beautiful plumage had blackened from the smoke and soot, and despite her efforts to clean herself up, she wasn’t able.

Since then Merla’s feathers have been black

Il potente gennaio si godette la scena e poi disse con il suo vocione: “Che questo serva da lezione a voi e a tutti gli animali: non si scherza con le stagioni, con il freddo o con il clima. Non ci si può prendere gioco della Natura. Da oggi in poi io (gennaio) avrò 31 giorni e gli ultimi tre giorni saranno i più freddi dell’anno. Per ricordare a tutti questa storia, i merli porteranno per sempre queste piume nere”.

Blackbird Days proverb

Powerful January was amused by the scene, and then he said in his thundering voice, “ Let this serve as a lesson to you and to all the animals:  You don’t joke with the seasons, with the cold or with the climate.  You cannot mock Nature.  From today forward, I (January) will have 31 days, and the last three will be the coldest of the year.  To remind everyone of this story, the blackbirds will forever more bear black feathers.

Well, here where I live, the last three days of January were not very cold, so, I guess that means spring is still long way off… *sigh*. How about the weather where you are? Heard of the “Blackbird days” story before? What’s your take on animal and weather folklore?

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A proposito di propositi… Speaking of Resolutions… + Quizlet Practice Set!

So yes, the title if this blog post is a play on words: A proposito di, meaning “speaking of,” propositi, meaning “intentions/aims/objectives/goals”, as in the expression i buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo, or New Year’s resolutions.

And speaking of resolutions, you might be wondering why I’m bringing them up now, given we’re already three weeks into the new year…

Il primo gennaio, Jan 1st

Well, while while many are not fans of making New Year’s resolutions, it’s undeniable that it’s a hot topic at the beginning of the year… But studies show that as early as three weeks into the new year, many have already abandoned or started to slack off on their resolutions, and that only 8% ultimately reach their goals. With such high failure rates, it’s no wonder so many people don’t even bother setting them in the first place.

It turns out though, that there’s an art to creating goals that will get you where you want to go.  This week, I’m sharing an article that we read in Italian Story + Conversation class on creating more effective goals that can work for you.

Mangiare sano – Eat healthy

Whether your New Year’s resolutions and goals need a little tweaking, or you just want to practice your Italian, this is an interesting read. The article is in Italian and English (scroll down), with the extra bonus of an interactive Quizlet vocabulary practice set created exclusively for my students and readers (see below)!

Buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo: consigli per renderli efficaci

Risparmiare soldi – Save money

Non c’è anno nuovo senza buoni propositi. Per molte persone la fine dell’anno e l’inizio della scuola sono i momenti migliori per decidere le cose da buttare e stabilire i nuovi obiettivi. Ma pochissime persone realizzano i loro buoni propositi. Ecco una miniguida per avere più successo con i tuoi obiettivi.

  1. Non esprimere desideri generici: esempio? “Essere ordinato” è troppo vago; Meglio:  “metterò in ordine la mia stanza e il garage. E li terrò in ordine”.
  2. Creare obiettivi specifici e a piccoli passi: per esempio, invece di semplicemente “Dimagrire”; Meglio: “perderò tre kg (chilogrammi) entro febbraio, e poi altri tre entro aprile.”
  3. Monitora i progressi per rimanere concentrato sull’obiettivo e

    Dimagrire – Lose weight

    sapere se sei sulla strada giusta.

  4. Condividi l’obiettivo: Non necessariamente su Facebook, ma il fatto di condividere i tuoi propositi e obiettivi con un amico o un parente ti aiuterà a rimanere concentrato sulla loro realizzazione.
  5. Non strafare: Pensa a tutto quello che vuoi realizzare nel 2017, e poi scegliere uno semplice da raggiungere entro gennaio, e gli altri dopo.

Click here to access the interactive Quizlet Vocabulary Practice Set and use the password JODINA.

New Year’s Resolutions: Suggestions to Make Them More Effective

Fare ginnastica – Exercise

It’s not a new year without resolutions. For many people, the end of the year and the beginning of school are the best moments to decide what to “toss out” (change) and to set (establish) new goals.  But very few people achieve their new year’s resolutions. Here is a mini-guide to have more success (be more successful) with your goals.

  1. Don’t express generic wishes: Example? “Be neat, orderly” is too vague. Better: “I will put in order (straighten up, organize) the bedroom and the garage. And I will keep them in order.”
  2. Create specific goals and in small steps (break them into small steps): Instead of simply “Lose weight”; better: “I will lose 3 kg. by the end of February, and then another 3 by end of April.”
  3. Monitor your progress to stay concentrated (focused) on a goal and to know whether you’re on the right track.

    Migliorare il tuo italiano – Improve your Italian

  4. Share your goal(s): Not necessarily on Facebook, but the act of sharing your resolutions and goals with a friend or relative will help you to stay focused on reaching them.
  5. Don’t overdo it: Think of all you want to accomplish in 2017, and then choose an easy goal to reach by the end of January, and the others after.

What are your resolutions & goals for the year? Can you make them more specific, manageable, measurable? Do you have any Italian language goals?

[Let me know if you like this and find it helpful… If I know people are using it, I’ll create more practice materials!]

Buona fortuna con i vostri buoni propositi!

Good luck with your resolutions & goals!

Posted in Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Arriva la Befana | The Befana Is Coming

Around Italy, i ragazzi, the kids, are getting ready to hang their calze, stockings, by il camino, the chimney, with care, in hopes that la Befana soon will be there.

i bravi, the good ones, will get caramelle, candies, and little regali, presents, while i cattivi, the bad ones will get carbone, coal.

While Babbo Natale, Santa Claus, comes on Christmas Eve, la Befana arrives during the night between January 5/6, coinciding with l’Epifania, Epiphany.

There are other noteable similarities and differences between the main present-bringer, Santa, and la Befana.

Just like Babbo Natale, la Befana travels through the air. In place of a sleigh with flying reindeer, befana dollla Befana flies a broomstick from house to house where there are bambini, children, entering by way of il camino.

Where Babbo Natale is rotund, merry, white-bearded and dressed in red and white, la Befana is depicted as a smiling, grandmotherly-looking witch, wearing tattered clothing and covered in soot astride a broomstick.

Just like Santa Claus, la Befana’s origins are nebulous, mainly the stuff of folklore, with many variations.befana + re magi
The most common story I encounter is that la Befana lived along the route the Magi took to Bettlemme, Bethlehem. In this version, they stopped at her house seeking food and shelter, but she wasn’t feeling sociable and sent them away.

Later, la Befana had a change of heart and set out to find the Magi to accompany them to find the Christ Child. But by then, she was too late to catch up, and she never found the three kings or the baby Jesus.

So, as the story goes, to this day, at this time of year, she still travels the world, leaving gifts for every child, lest they be il Gesù Bambino, the Baby Jesus.

Poster for a Befana event

January 6, the Epiphany, marks the official end of the Italian Christmas holiday season. It is also said that la Befana takes away the old year, and i dolci, sweets, and regali she brings symbolize seeds to grow in the new year.

Many cities and towns hold special events and parties dedicated to celebrating la festa dell’Epifania/la Befana, Epiphany holiday. People play bingo and cards, and gather outdoors in the piazze, squares, for festivities, including music, processions, live presepi, nativity scenes, mercatini, open-air markets, and live appearances by la Befana.

And while it’s mainly a celebration for the kiddos, you’ll find adults getting in on the action, too, dressing up and parading around as la Befana.

Feeling festive? Perhaps you want to get into the act, too… You could wish people “Buona Befana!,” a popular greeting on January 6 in Italy.

This could be a great time to adopt a fun new tradition, with kids, family or friends. All you need is una calza, a stocking!

Buona Befana, and hope she brings you caramelle!

Have you heard of la Befana before? Do you have any special observances for Epiphany?

Have fun practicing the Italian words in this story on Quizlet!! Click here to access the Quizlet Christmas Round-up list, and use the password JODINA.

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Lentils for Luck – Italian Recipe for a Prosperous New Year

Prefer to read this post in English? Skip to the text in  green.

gold coins     Secondo l’usanza italiana, se ti vuoi assicurare di un nuovo anno fortunato, a Capodanno  devi mangiare le lenticchie. Piatte e tonde, assomigliano le monete, e per il fatto che aumentano in misura durante la cottura, simboleggiano soldi e crescita finanziaria. Di solito in Italia le lenticchie si preparano in forma di una gustosa zuppa che viene mangiata nel periodo di Capodanno.

     According to Italian custom, if you want to ensure good luck in the new year, you must eat lentils on New Year’s Eve/Day.  Flat and round, they resemble coins, and due to the fact that they expand in size during cooking, they symbolize money and financial growth.  In Italy, lentils are usually prepared in the form of a tasty stew or soup eaten during the New Year period.

[Let me hear from you if you enjoy learning about Italian cooking, and I’ll share more recipes! Leave a comment!]

Ecco la mia ricetta – È deliziosa e abbastanza facile.

Here’s my recipe – It’s delicious and pretty easy.

[Printer-friendly version of recipe]

Zuppa di lenticchie | Lentil Stew

Persone: 4  |  Preparazione: 30 minuti  |  Cottura: circa 2 ore   |  Difficoltà: media

Serves: 4  |  Preparation: 30 minutes  |  Cooking time: about 2 hours  |  Difficulty: medium

Ingredienti | Ingredients  [Italian | English]lenticchie-2

  1. 300 gr lenticchie verdi secche | 10-11 oz dry green lentils
  2. 1-2 cucchiai olio d’oliva | 1-2 tblsp olive oil
  3. 1-2 cucchiai di burro | 1-2 tbsp butter
  4. peperoncino q.b. /quanto basta | red chili pepper, to taste
  5. 1 cipolla tritata | 1 chopped onion
  6. 1 costola di sedano tritata | 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  7. 2 gambi di porro tritati | 2 bulbs/stems chopped leeks
  8. 1 carota tritata | 1 chopped carrot
  9. 1 bicchiere di vino bianco secco | 1 c./8oz. dry white wine
  10. 1 pomodoro piccolo tritato | 1 small chopped tomato
  11. 1 foglia di alloro | 1 bay  leaf
  12. 8-10 bicchieri (2-2 ½ litri) d’acqua | 8-10 c. (2-2 ½ qt.) water
  13. Dadi di brodo vegetale q.b./quanto basta (circa un dado per litro d’acqua) | Broth cubes, as needed (approx. 1 cube per quart of water)
  14. Sale e pepe, q.b. | Salt and pepper, to taste
  15. Qualche rametto di timo fresco A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  16. Facoltativo: 300 gr cotechino o altra salsiccia | Optional:  10-11 oz. “cotechino”, a traditional Italian pork sausage, or other sausage

Preparazione | Directions

  1. Sciacquate le lenticchie e mettetele in ammolo in acqua fredda per circa 2-3 ore.
    1. Rinse and soak lentils in cold water for approx. 2-3 hours.
  2. Riscaldate l’acqua con i dadi di brodo e tenetela coperta a fuoco lento finche occorre.
    1. Heat the water with broth cubes and keep covered at a simmer until needed.
  3. Trascorso il tempo di ammollo, potete iniziare a preparare la zuppa di lenticchie.  In una pentola grande rosolate  cipolla, porro, sedano e carote tritati nel burro e l’olio d’oliva.italian food italian cooking
    1. Upon completion of soaking time, in a large pan sauté the chopped onion, leeks, carrot and celery in the butter and olive oil, until onion is transparent.
  4. Aggiungete le lenticchie, ben scolate dall’acqua di ammollo,e la foglia di alloro, girandole 1-2 minuti mentre assorbono il burro, l’olio ed i gusti della verdura.
    1. Add lentils, having drained the soaking water, and the bay leaf, stirring 1-2 minutes as they absorb the butter, oil and flavors of the vegetables.
  5. Aggiungete e fate sfumare il vino bianco, girando il tutto a fuoco basso.
    1. Add white wine and stir the mix while sautéing so wine absorbs into lentils as it evaporates.
  6. Aggiungete il pomodoro e girate a fuoco lento.
    1. Add tomato and stir while sautéing.
  7. Aggiungete sale e pepe quanto basta.
    1. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Aggiungete circa la meta` del brodo e coprire la pentola. Controllate, girate ed assaggiate di tanto in tanto, aggiundendo del brodo in piu` quando occorre ed evitando che le lenticchie si attaccano. Attenzione che le lenticchie ultimate siano al dente e non stracotte.
    1. Add about half the broth and cover the pan. Check, stir and taste every so often, adding more broth as needed to avoid lentils cooking to the bottom of pan.  Take care that the finished lentils are “al dente” and not overcooked (when ready, lentils should be soft but not mushy).
  9. Aggiungete del sale quanto basta.
    1. Add salt as needed/to taste.
  10. In una padella a parte, fate rosolare le salsicce. Abbiate cura a non stracuocerle. Alla fine della cottura la pelle sara` diventata biancastra. Dovrebbero essere tenere e non dure.
    1. In a separate pan, steam the sausage(s). Be careful not to overcook. When finished, the casings will have turned white. They should be tender, not tough.
  11. Quando le salsicce saranno ultimate, toglietele dalla fiamma e togliere la pelle.
    1. When sausages are cooked, remove from heat and remove casings.
  12. capodanno-buon anno 2014

    Buon Anno | Happy New Year!

    Quando la zuppa di lenticchie sara` ultimate, toglietela dalla fiamma, togliete la foglia di alloro, aggiungete del timo fresco e mescolate.  Affettate le salsicce, mettete le fette in cima alle porzioni di zuppa ed aggiungete un rametto di timo fresco. Buon appetito e prospero anno !

    1. When lentils have finished cooking, remove from heat, remove bay leaf, add the leaves of several fresh sprigs of thyme and mix.  Slice the sausages, put slices over the top of the portions of lentil stew, add a sprig of thyme and serve.  Good eating and Prosperous New Year!

Un sacco di lenticchie

P.S. Don’t have the time or desire to cook? No problem! Another tradition to ensure good luck in the new year is simply to cross the threshold of your home at the stroke of midnight and enter your household carrying a sack of lentils!

Have you ever eaten lentil soup?  What special foods do you eat at New Year’s?

Let me hear from you if you enjoy learning about Italian cooking, and I’ll share more recipes! Leave a comment!

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Holiday Vocab Round-up! Top 30 Italian Christmas Words & Phrases + Quizlet Practice Set!

Ciao ragazzi!

Before going on holiday break, my students asked if I would create some materials to help them practice their Italian and stay engaged with the language during the holidays…

So, here’s a round-up of the most popular Italian Christmas words and phrases. I’ve set it up the same as the “Words of the Week” (WoWs). WoWs are words we choose and practice each week from the materials we’re working on in class.

I’ve added this week’s WoWs below, to a list I created in Quizlet. If you’re already familiar with Quizlet, then you know how engaging and fun it is to use the many interactive exercises it features to build your vocabulary and strengthen your memory. Click here to access the Quizlet Christmas Round-up list and use the password JODINA.

  1. Natale: Christmas
  2. la vigilia di Natale: Christmas Eve
  3. il presepe, il presepio: Manger, nativity scene
  4. i regali: gifts, presents
  5. gli addobbi: Decorations
  6. le luci: lights (also, “le luminarie”)
  7. le palline: ornaments (lit. little balls)
  8. l’albero di Natale: Christmas tree
  9. la stella: star
  10. il vischio: mistletoe
  11. le castagne: chestnuts
  12. le caldarroste: roasted chestnuts (also called castagne arrostite)
  13. il panettone: Italian Christmas cake (dome shaped with candied fruit and raisins)
  14. le lenticchie: lentils (eaten to ensure good fortune in the new year)
  15. il cenone: big dinner, from the word cena (dinner) plus the suffix -one, indicating large
  16. la chiesa: church
  17. santa messa: holy mass
  18. Gesù Bambino: Baby Jesus
  19. Babbo Natale: Santa Claus (Father Christmas – babbo is a colloquial word originating in Tuscany and meaning dad, daddy, pops)
  20. Buon Natale!: Merry Christmas!
  21. Buone Feste!: Happy Holidays!  
  22. Auguri di stagione!: Seasons Greetings!
  23. Capodanno: New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day (lit. the head/end/extremity of the year)
  24. Buon Anno!: Happy New Year!
  25. Prospero e felice anno nuovo!: Prosperous and Happy New Year!
  26. l’Epifania: Epiphany, celebrated Jan 6th
  27. i Re Magi: the wise men (three kings, magi)
  28. la Befana: gift-bringing witch (comes on Epiphany)
  29. la calza: stocking (to hold candies and small gifts la Befana brings)
  30. i biglietti di auguri: greeting cards

Got any Italian holiday questions or words to add to the list?

Let me know if you like this and find it helpful… If I know people are using it, I’ll create more practice materials!

Posted in Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Watch Movies, Improve Your Italian!


Shorter days, longer nights and chilly temperatures make it the perfect season to cozy up with a good Italian movie.

Most of my students find watching Italian movies an enjoyable experience, but “they talk so fast” (referring to dialog in the films) is a frequent observation, usually followed by this question: “What can I do to increase my comprehension of these films?”

Here’s my advice for a tried-and-true way to employ Italian movies as a vehicle to exponentially expand your understanding of spoken Italian :

  1. Watch as many movies as you can get your hands (or eyes) on, preferably ones that are easily available. (See my picks of Italian movies on Netflix here.)
  2. Choose one of these movies as your “project”. Make it a film that you enjoy so much you’d happily watch it over and over again, because that’s exactly what I’m about to prescribe.
  3. Watch the whole movie several times, while reading the English subtitles, until you have the movie meaning and content memorized.
  4. Now, starting with chapter one (or the first section/scene of the film), turn off the subtitles and (already knowing what is happening in the scene) focus on listening only to the Italian. At this point, because you know exactly what’s going on in the movie plot, you are free to focus on the spoken language. Listen to each chapter or scene several times, focusing first on getting the gist and then gradually on comprehending words and phrases.
  5. If possible, when you first turn off the English subtitles, consider watching with the subtitles switched to Italian.
  6. It might seem like you’re training yourself to be able to understand only this one movie, but stick with it. What you are really doing is using it to train your ear, and this will improve your comprehension skills and spill over to any new movies or programs you listen to in Italian (not to mention actual live people). When it’s time to choose a new movie “project”, if you’ve followed these steps, you’ll be amazed at how much more quickly you are able to understand and get the gist!
  7. Here’s that list of my Italian movie picks on Netflix. Enjoy!

Got any favorite Italian movies? Or listening comprehension suggestions you’d like to share? Love to hear your comments!

Posted in italian movies, learn italian | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments