Have you ever been inside an Italian home? Well, it is probably pretty much like yours, except everything is in Italian!
As usual, we’re here to help: check out our new infographic about Italian words for rooms, forniture and all the thing you can find inside a proper house!
Trying to learn something about a specific culture via YouTube can be tricky and dangerous: one might end up in a Dedalus of stereotypes and misconceptions that will lead to a faulty understanding of such a complex and beautiful expression of humanity. When it comes to Italy and Italians you actually know what’s coming: thousands of videos about recipes and hand gestures and some very bad joke about how Italians do things.
As usual, we’re here to help: this is why our team of social media engineers has performed a deep research on your behalf, trying to spot the most interesting/genuine/disturbing videos about Italians and Italy on YouTube.
Let’s start with a milestone: Peter Griffin turning into an Italian. He actually already did it in the past, and with poor but yet hilarious results. This time McFarlane & friends seem to try setting the record straight, at least linguistically: the Italian-spoken part sounds very genuine, although the whole concept of the video is based on the usual stereotypes concerning more Italian-Americans than Italian-Italians.
In the past 12 months, Buzzfeed has almost literally bombed the audience with videos of people reacting to things or people asking other people silly questions. There is though one video that we can define accurate, and it shows a bunch of young Italians trying US “snacks”. Now, we know we are kinda bitchy about our food, and that might be a flaw sometimes but… how can you call those things? I mean, seriously: pink chips?
On the same page, here’s a very entertaining video showing Italian nonne tasting the (in)famous Olive Garden menu. Just two observations: there are, obviously, two intruders in the video and, dear grandma, merda means literally “shit”, but we know you’re too polite to say that.
Want some real Italian food? Fear not, the YouTube is packed with recipes, some of which are actually genuine.
For the person who’s writing, this subject is kinda sensitive, and I must admit that YouTube results for “Italian music” didn’t fail to confirm my prejudice: the idea that the whole world has of music coming from Italy is stereotyped, outdated and somehow offensive. This, needless to say, is also (or mainly) our fault, as we like to export bright examples of musical putrescence turning them into semi-global events.
Anyway, let’s take a look to these top YouTube results regarding Italian songs and music: just don’t hope for the best.
Music for an Italian Dinner: seriously? Some songs in this cheesy bunch of trite hits are not even Italian. Swing and crooning are definitely NOT part of Italian musical culture.
Best Italian Songs of the decade: “best” according to who? I understand some of these are quite big names in the Italian scene, but honestly Italian rock has much more to offer other than this depressing list copy-paste songs.
Fergie – Be Italian (from “Nine”): I would have gladly ignored this video if it wasn’t for the stereotype of Italian kids confronting prosperous sexuality ad a very young age. Welcome to Italy, where everything is like in a Dolce&Gabbana commercial!
It turned out that Italy has actually produced some pretty famous YouTube stars and influencers. I honestly did vaguely know two of them, and as an Italian I have mixed feelings about how they export, let’s say, Italian lifestyle.
Let’s start with Marzia, showing up with this video in the first page of my YouTube search. She’s the girlfriend of one of the most famous Youtubers in the world, Pewdiepie, and probably one the most famous italian Youtubers too. She seems like a very pretty girl and a pleasant person. I mean, I wouldn’t dislike the world to think that “Italians” are this way. Btw the video is kinda fun at the beginning and then becomes boringly dumb.
Greta Menchi popped out of the YouTube world because of a controversy: she has been nominated as a member of the jury at the last Sanremo Festival, arousing the indignation of some web bullies who thought she was not skilled enough for the job (as if one needed to be skilled to take part to Sanremo…).
The great Gianluca Vacchi is an Italian mystery: self-proclaimed viveur, he is actually CEO of a big firm and apparently spends his life on a boat wearing a pareo and dancing like a tourist resort entertainer. I kinda like the guy, although his videos carry an idea of “Italianity” that doesn’t exist in real life.
And here we are in my area of expertise! Fear not, I won’t bore you with Italian language tips or grammar. As a proof of my good intentions, here’s a small introduction:
Simply the best scene EVER about foreigners coping with Italian language.
And here it comes the weird stuff: picking up speaking Italian. Apart from the fact that the guy doesn’t even speak Italian properly, this technique seems to work fine, although sometimes he seems to slip into sexual harassment.
20 Italian words you are saying wrong: about time, finally our American and British friends will understand how to pronounce grazie correctly! 😀
I wouldn’t even dare to comment this: it’s Monty Python, therefore it’s amazing by definition.
Italian Hand Gestures
Interesting topic, isn’t it? Although non-verbal communication is a part of every language, Italians seem to rely on that massively: this is why an Italian language students will definitely need some guidance! YouTube is actually packed with videos illustrating Italian gestures, so help yourselves. And yes, the first video is from Dolce&Gabbana, and it’s superb.
Want some more? Check out our infographic about Italian gestures!
Sailing the sea of misconceptions about Italian culture I encountered two videos which seem to be encouragingly accurate, the first from an Italian Youtuber, the second from Tia, an half-Jamaican, half-Nigerian, American born girl with a lovely accent and a very fun attitude.
Yes, there are strange videos too. Like this first one, that shows Italian cops (presumably) trying out a bulletproof vest.
This is weird and I don’t even know why it has so many views, especially considering that in Italy we tend not be that much into guns.
If you follow us, you already know the guy: Italian Spiderman, not really Italian and yet simply MAJESTIC.
Indeed, Kobe Bryant is amazingly fluent in Italian. Didn’t you know that? He was born and partially raised in the Belpaese while his father, Joe Bryant, was playing for Italian teams.
And with this last firework ends our short playlist of YouTube videos about Italians and Italian Culture. If you liked it, please share and comment with your own suggestions!
Family, in Italy, is a big deal: we all know that. This is why, for an Italian language student, wading through Italian kinship terms can be really challenging. But hey, that’s exactly the reason why we’re here!
Check out this brand new infographic about Italian kinship terms and learn how to properly address your nonna in Italian (getting some treat in return!). 🙂
Although Italy is officially a work-based secular state, Italian language and culture are scattered with open references to the Judaic and Christian traditions. The Bible itself, having been the one and only source of education for centuries, seems to be a neverending source of idioms and forms of speech. Even without embracing any particular confession, we thought it would be a good idea to collect 13 of the most common idioms taken from the Book of Books.
1. Fare da capro espiatorio (to be a scapegoat).
We tried to start with an easy one since this form of speech is also present in English and in many other Indo-European languages (Benjamin Malaussene, anyone?). The expression comes directly from the Jewish tradition, mentioned in Leviticus 9:15, of sacrificing a goat as a ritual of purification during the Yom Kippur. Passing from the original meaning to the modern one of being a person unfairly blamed for some misfortune doesn’t require too much effort.
Manna (or Mana) was an edible substance that, according to the Bible (Exodus 16:1-36 and Numbers 11:1-9) and the Quran, God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert.
This image is so deeply rooted in the Italian language that one could actually use this expression to cheer up when something good (and yet unexpected) happens: è proprio una manna dal cielo!
3. Occhio per occhio, dente per dente (eye for an eye).
This very common expression is a direct reference to the law of retaliation (legge del taglione in Italian), the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree. In a wider sense, this expression is used whenever one is seeking some form of revenge.
4. Seminare zizzania (to drive a wedge, to sow discord).
This one comes from the Gospel of Matthew, in which we can find the Parable of the Tares (Parabola della zizzania). Tares is actually darnel, a type of grass\weed that ruins crops, and it is used here as a metaphor for the struggle between the spiritual children of Christ (the good seeds) and the unbelievers (the tares).
5. Vendersi per un piatto di lenticchie (to sell yourself for a mess of pottage).
In the Book of Genesis 25:29-34 we find the two sons of Isaac, Esau and Jacob. The latter, one day, offered his brother the sale of his birthright in exchange for a lentil soup. The expression is often used to describe the action of giving away something of profound value for goods of derisory nature.
6. Restare di sale (to be flabbergasted).
Again in the Book of Genesis 19:1-26 is told the dramatic story of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by God for being consumed by vice and idolatry. The expression makes reference to the fate of Lot’s wife, who was told not to look back while escaping from the cities. The woman disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt. The idiom is currently use to express disbelief or surprise (“alla notizia, sono rimasto di sale!”).
7. Gigante dai piedi d’argilla (giant with clay feet).
This expression comes from the Book of Daniel in which the prophet tells about the dream of King Nabucodonosor: a giant statue with golden head, silver chest, bronze legs and, as a matter of fact, clay feet. Today this form of speech is a metaphor for something huge (such as a corporation or a party) which does not have steady foundations.
8. Essere il beniamino (to be the favourite).
Beniamino (Benjamin) was Jacob’s last and favourite son. Therefore, in Italian, essere un beniamino means being someone’s pupil: a very good football player can be il beniamino dei tifosi, or a famous actor can be il beniamino del pubblico and so on.
9. Niente di nuovo sotto il Sole (nothing new under the Sun).
One of the most poetic and intense books of the Old Testament, the Book of Qoelet (1:9) is responsible for this sometimes abused quote (nihil sub sole novum in latin), which is used to indicate an unchanging (and unchangeable) situation.
10. Servire due padroni (to be a two-timer).
Although brought to fame by playwright Carlo Goldoni and his Arlecchino, this expression comes from the Gospel of Luke (16:13): “One cannot serve two masters, nor two mistresses”. The meaning is clear: the idiom is used as a reference to a double-crosser, a two-timer.
11. Gettare le perle ai porci (casting pearls before swine).
We find this expression in Matthew 7:6, meaning “to give things of value to those who will not understand or appreciate it”.
12. Muoia Sansone con tutti i Filistei (let Samson die with the Philistines).
The Book of the Judges (16:18-21; 28-30) tells the story of Samson, an Israelite judge who performed feats of strength against the Philistines but was betrayed by Delilah, his mistress. Blinded by revenge, Samson decided to destroy Philistines temple with his bare hands, although he knew he would die too. The idiom is often used in reference to someone who doesn’t hesitate to harm him or herself if it helps hurting others.
13. Essere un Giuda (to be a Judas).
The figure of Judas is commonly used (not exclusively but very widely in the Italian language) to indicate a traitor. Along with his name, the expression per trenta denari (for 30 pieces of silver) indicating the amount of money earned by Judas to betray Jesus Christ, is often used.
So this was our list, but please feel free to integrate it and suggest new idioms in the comments!
Hello everybody, it’s time for a new infographic to learn Italian words!
Animal names in a foreign language might not be that obvious and are actually one of the most problematic section of the Italian vocabulary for many Italian language students. Many of these names are actually used in common Italian idioms and sayings. A few examples:
- Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio (the wolf changes its fur, but never changes its behavior)
- Can che abbaia non morde (barking dog doesn’t bite)
- A caval donato non si guarda in bocca (don’t look a gift horse in the mouth)
- Essere una pecora nera (to be a black sheep)
- Avere occhi di falco (to have hawk’s eyes)
- Ripetere a pappagallo (to repeat like a parrot)
Here you’ll find some animal names in Italian divided into categories: pets, farm animals, forest animals, mountain animals and a selection of birds.
As a beginner in the Italian language, it can be hard to make conversations with locals. However, since I am a hopeless shopping addicted, I tried to speak to Italian shopkeepers as soon as I arrived in Rome. Guess what? They didn’t understand nothing! That’s why I decided to learn some useful Italian words and sentences about shopping that I wish to share with you today with a full article and an infographic… you will thank me later 🙂 Let’s start!
The Italian word for “store” is Negozio, it is used for every kind of store for example Negozio di scarpe (but also Calzature) which is the Italian translation for “shoe store”. When a store is open you will find the sign Aperto on the door, although when a store is closed you will find the sign Chiuso.
In some periods there are big sales in Italy, and this period is called Saldi.
Well, now that you got all the major signs, let’s take a look inside the shop for the most common Italian words for clothes and accessories.
La borsa = the bag
Il vestito = the dress
Le scarpe = the shoes
Il cappotto = the coat
La maglietta = the t-shirt
La cintura = the belt
Il maglione = the sweater
I pantaloni = the pants
La gonna = the skirt
Let’s make it a little bit more difficult with some useful phrases during shopping.
- When you want to know where the city center is: “Dov’è il centro?”
- When you want to say that you would like to have something you start your sentence with the polite form “Vorrei…”
- When you want to try something on and take a look at yourself in the mirror: “Posso provare…?”
- When you want to ask the price for something: “Quanto costa?”
- When you want to know if you can pay by card: “Posso pagare con il bancomat?”
Practice your Italian in the stores of Rome now and don’t forget to join on of our Italian Language Courses to learn more practical words for shopping in Italy!
E’ quello che abbiamo chiesto ai nostri studenti di Italiano di livello B2, sperando che loro notassero aspetti della cultura italiana che noi nativi, anestetizzati dalla routine culturale, non siamo più in grado di evidenziare. Le risposte, a volte, sono sorprendenti! 😀
Dell’Italia mi hanno colpito tante cose. Ho visto che la gente si salutava con i baci, anche fra maschi e fra femmine.
L’altra cosa è quando ho visto il traffico, le persone non sono gentili. Non hanno pazienza, suonano il clacson e sempre usano il cellulare quando guidano.
La terza cosa che mi ha colpito è il cibo. Prima di venire in Italia non avevo mai visto così tanti tipi di formaggi e affettati freschi. E’ proprio vero che il cibo italiano è buonissimo come si dice nel mondo.
Una cosa che mi ha colpito durante il mio soggiorno in Italia è il suono “boh” che a quanto pare è veramente fondamentale nel discorso italiano. Ho cercato una definizione su internet e risulta che la traduzione più semplice all’italiano “ufficiale” sarebbe: “non lo so”. Mi sembra un’espressione divertentissima e unica.
Una cosa strana è quando l’inverno le donne italiane mettono sopra il cappotto pesante e sotto mettono le calze leggere. Per me questa abitudine è strana, perché se hai freddo dovresti mettere i vestiti pesanti sia sopra che sotto.
Un’altra cosa che mi ha colpito molto è il saluto, perché [gli italiani] si baciano per salutare, sia la donna che l’uomo. Questa abitudine per noi cinesi è un po’ strana: i cinesi si stringono la mano.
Jing Xing (Cina)
Una cosa che mi ha colpito quando sono venuta in Italia è vedere i belli campi di girasole in Toscane. Il bel paesaggio lì è veramente qualcosa di particolare e stupendo, mai visto.