Tag Archives: study italian

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


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“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

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

Love, Italian Style | Amore all’italiana

saying i love you in italian“Ti amo” or “Ti voglio bene”?

That is the question for italophiles this upcoming day of San Valentino.  The answer, it turns out, depends on the object of your affections.

“Ti amo” (I love you) is reserved for romantic loves, while “Ti voglio bene” (I want/wish you well) is used to say I love you to everyone: family, friends, and lovers. Per non fare brutta figura (to not make a faux pas) watch the video below!

After the video, check out the round-up of Italian love phrases to help you sweep your adorato (adored one) off their feet! Plus a link to send free online Italian Valentine’s Day cards.

Video:  Saying “I love you” in Italian

More instructional videos >>

Be your own Don Giovanni with these romantic phrases!

  1. Buon San Valentino (Happy Valentine’s Day)
  2. Ti amo. (I love you. Used only for romantic love.)
  3. Ti adoro. (I adore you.)
  4. Amore mio (My love, my beloved)
  5. Tesoro mio (My treasure)
  6. Ti voglio bene. (I love/care about you. Used for all types of relationships: family, friends, lovers.)
  7. I tuoi occhi brillano come le stelle. (Your eyes shine like stars.)
  8. Sei bella come una rosa. (You are as beautiful as a rose.)
  9. Per sempre (Forever)
  10. Per sempre tua,o (Forever yours)
  11. Sono pazza,o di te. (I’m crazy for you.)
  12. Anima mia (My soul)
  13. Sei incredibile. (You’re incredible.)
  14. Sei bellissima,o. (You’re very beautiful.)
  15. Sei un dono. (You are a gift.)
  16. Sei stupenda,o. (You’re fantastic.)

Send a free online Italian Valentine’s card to someone special at www.kisseo.it.

heart in cappuccino coffeeA tutti i miei lettori un buon San Valentino! Siete stupendi! (To all of my readers, a happy Valentine’s Day! You’re fantastic!)

Got a favorite Italian  love phrase or anecdote? Ever wished someone Happy Valentine’s in italiano? Sei un tipo romantico? (Are you the romantic type?) Leave a comment below!

Posted in Expressions, Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, italian idiomatic expressions, Italian idioms, learn italian, Sayings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 for Tuesday: Scioglilingua | Tongue Twisters

[Note: Any text in Italian is followed by the English translation.]

Gli scioglilingua sono un ottimo modo per esercitare la tua pronuncia in Italiano!

Tongue twisters are an excellent way to practice your Italian pronunciation!

3 tigri contro 3 tigriEccone due divertenti che ha condiviso il mio amico Lobsang di Torino. Li ho provati lo scorso sabato nella mia classe di conversazione e studio dell’italiano e gli studenti si sono divertiti un mondo facendo esercizio.

Here are two fun ones my friend Lobsang from Torino shared with me. I tested them out this past Saturday in my Italian Study & Conversation class, and the students had a blast practicing them.

Tre tigri contro tre tigri. | Three tigers against three tigers.

Dieci limoni, cento limoni, mille limoni.  |  Ten lemons, a hundred lemons, a thousand lemons.

[P.S. No, they don’t make sense… of course not, they’re tongue twisters!]

10-100-1000 limoniSuggerimenti & Consigli:

  •  Ascoltare le registrazioni audio
  • Pronunciare lo scioglilingua lentamente, poi due volte di fila, infine tre volte senza fermarsi
  • Aumentare la velocità senza sacrificare la pronuncia corretta


Suggestions  & Advice:

  • Listen to the audio recordings
  • Say the tongue twister once slowly, then twice in a row, and finally  three times without stopping.
  • Pick up speed without sacrificing correct pronunciation

Tre tigri contro tre tigri.

Dieci limoni, cento limoni, mille limoni.

Divertiti e fammi sapere come va! Hai mai usato gli scioglilingua come modo di fare esercizio in italiano? Lo trovi utile, difficile, divertente? Quali sono i tuoi preferiti? Lascia un commento!

Have fun and let me know how you do! Have you used tongue twisters before as a way to practice Italian? Do you find it useful, difficult, fun? What are some of your favorites? Leave  a comment!

See more tongue twisters here: Italian Tongue Twisters | Sopra la panca…

Posted in Expressions, italian tongue twisters, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo | New Year’s Resolutions

[Note: Any text in Italian is followed by the English translation.]

È giunto quel momento: un nuovo anno luccicante è iniziato! Un anno pieno di possibilità e buoni propositi, cioè tutti quegli atti e nobili intenzioni che vorremmo riuscire a mettere in pratica nei prossimi dodici mesi.

That moment has arrived: a shiny new year has begun! A year full of possibilities and resolutions, that is to say, all those actions and noble intentions  that we’d like to be able to put into practice in the next twelve months.

Ecco i miei, o perlomeno tre dei miei più importanti obiettivi:

Here are mine, or at least three of my most important goals:

– Rimettermi in forma… visto che l’anno scorso ho messo su peso e non mi vanno più i ginnasticajeans… uffa! Mi sono già iscritta ad un intenso programma di ginnastica.

– Get back in shape… seeing that last year I put on weight and can no longer get into my jeans… darn it! I have already signed up for an intensive exercise program.

– Imparare a gestire e investire intelligentemente i soldi… visto che ormai sono diventata responsabile con le finanze, è giunto il momento di procedere al prossimo traguardoinvestire soldi… Sono brava con le parole, ora voglio migliorare le capacità finanziarie.

– Learn to intelligently manage and invest money… seeing that by now I have become responsible with my finances, the moment has arrived to move to the next milestone… I’m good with words; now I want to improve my financial skills.

– Imparare a cantare e a usare bene la voce. È sempre stato il mio sogno poter cantar bene, o almeno decentemente (possibilmente evitando che i cani abbaino mentre intono una canzone). In più, visto che parlo per mestiere, apprendere l’uso corretto Jodina singing at Cicciotti's-editeddell’apparato vocale-respiratorio penso sia un buon investimento nella mia vita professionale.

– Learn to sing and use my voice well. It has always been my dream to be able to sing well, or at least decently (possibly avoiding that dogs howl when I sing a song). Moreover, seeing that I speak for a living, I believe that learning to correctly use my vocal-respiratory apparatus is a good investment in my professional life.

Questi sono i miei propositi per il 2015. Le aspirazioni e i sogni che punto a realizzare. Dichiararli agli altri è sempre difficile, ma fondamentale. Per questo vi chiedo di condividere anche i vostri. Che cosa farete nel nuovo anno? Come investirete il vostro tempo? Per quali obiettivi lotterete?

These are my resolutions for 2015. Aspirations and dreams that I aim to realize. Declaring them to others is always difficult but essential. For this reason, I’m asking you to share yours, too. What will you do in the new year? How will you invest your time? What goals will you strive for?

Auguro a tutti un anno  felice e pieno di creatività!

I wish everyone a happy new year full of creativity!

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, learn italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Fave 3 Friday: Handling the Holidays – Calma, sangue freddo e un respiro profondo | Calm, cool and a deep breath

[Note: Any text in Italian is followed by the English translation.]

Le feste invernali sono alle porte e per molti di noi, il Natale può essere una ricorrenza tanto bella quanto stressante. Forse per l’ansia di trovare il regalo perfetto, partecipare a cene e ricevimenti, o per alcuni, sentire la mancanza di familiari lontani o assenti. Quello che ci serve è una boccata di aria fresca, con lo sfondo romantico della Costiera Amalfitana. Ecco tre immagini catturate la scorsa primavera che vi voglio regalare…

The winter holidays are upon us (literally, “at the doors”), and for many of us, Christmas can be an event that is as stressful as it is beautiful. Perhaps it’s the anxiety of finding the perfect gift, attending dinners and parties, or for some, feeling the absence of family who are far away or have passed. What we need is a breath of fresh air, with the romantic Amalfi Coastline as a backdrop. Here are three images captured last spring that I want to give you as a gift…

Sogno o realtà? Sulla strada per Ravello percorrendo la Costiera Amalfitana… / Dream or reality? On the road to Ravello traveling the Amalfi coastline.

Sogno o realtà? Sulla strada per Ravello percorrendo la Costiera Amalfitana…  |  Dream or reality? On the road to Ravello traveling the Amalfi Coastline…

VillaRuffolo + Sea.WM

Golfo di Salerno visto dai giardini di Villa Rufolo a Ravello.  |  The Gulf of Salerno seen from the gardens of Villa Rufolo in Ravello.


Cartolina da Positano: l’incantevole paese della Campania, con le sue case color pastello costruite direttamente sul precipizio.  |  Postcard from Positano: The enchanting town of Campania (region) with its pastel colored houses built right into the cliff.

Sono sicura che ora va meglio. A volte basta poco per rilassarsi e gestire lo stress. Voi come ci riuscite? E cosa fate per ritrovare il vostro equilibrio?

I’m sure that now you’re feeling better (lit. “it’s going better”). Sometimes it takes very little to relax and handle stress. How do you manage it? What do you do to regain your balance?

Auguri di stagione!  |  Seasons greetings!


[Grazie al mio collaboratore speciale, Lobsang Burzacchini]

Posted in Fave 3 blog posts, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Photo Foto Blog, travel with jodina | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fave 3 Thursday: Parole di gratitudine | Words of Gratitude

[Note: Any text in Italian is followed by the English translation.]

ringraziemento-harvest-cneterpiece-pumpkins-candles-aplesNello spirito della gratitudine e in osservanza del Giorno del Ringraziamento, ecco tre cose per cui sono grata:

In the spirit of gratitude, and in observance of Thanksgiving Day, here are three things for which I am grateful…

  1. I miei studenti e i lettori di questo blog, senza i quali non potrei seguire la mia passione nell’insegnamento di questa bellissima lingua. |  My students and blog readers, without which I couldn’t follow my passion of teaching this beautiful language.
  2. Internet, senza il quale sarebbe molto più difficile fare quello che faccio.  |  The internet, without which it would be much more difficult to do what I do.
  3. Gli amici e i familiari, vicini e lontani, che mi appoggiano e spronano a modo loro,  tramite i mezzi a disposizione (telefono, social media, contatti diretti), a dare il meglio ringraziemento-Snoopy+woodstock-reverse imageper inseguire, sviluppare e condividere i miei obiettivi e idee, cosa che mi da uno scopo nella vita. Grazie!  |   Friends and family, near and far, that support and spur me on in their own ways, by available means (phone, social media, direct contact) to give my best in following, developing and sharing my goals and ideas, which gives purpose to my life.  Thank you!

Buon Giorno del Ringraziamento a tutti!  E voi di che cosa siete grati?  |  Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!  What are YOU grateful for?


[Grazie al mio collaboratore speciale, Lobsang Burzacchini]


Posted in Fave 3 blog posts, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Vocaboli Italiai | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments