#SingIt: 10 songs about Rome (and Romans) you’ve probably never heard of

If you’re searching for the right soundtrack for your holiday in Rome or just looking for some themed-song to learn Italian language and culture faster but you’ve definitely had enough with wonder hits like Arrivederci Roma or with Louis Prima babbling some broken Italian words over the swing of a big band, we have something for you! Here’s a list of International and Italian songs that, each one in its own peculiar way, catch the spirit of the Eternal City and will be able to guide you through its discovery.

International songs about Rome

To get you into the mood, let’s start with international songs. Many artists and bands have indeed composed songs about Rome or taken Rome as a symbol, sometimes of decadence, other times of magnificence; at times of corruption and, certainly, of beauty.

Jerry Garcia – When I paint my masterpiece

The lysergic king Jerry Garcia, leader of the Grateful Dead and prominent carachter of the late 60s-ealy 70s counter-culture, have been using to cover this wonderful Bob Dylan composition from at least 1972. The song’s topic is not specifically focused on Rome rather than on an artist’s quest for inspiration, but even if sometimes the description of the city fails to escape usual stereotypes, the first three lines are one of the most powerful and accurate depiction of Rome’s decadence:

Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs

Peggy Lee – Autumn in Rome

This one is definitely a classic, but it differs from other famous hits of the 50s focused on Rome for its delicate, jazzy musical approach and for its songwriting which brings to life nostalgic pictures of golden skies and gentle Mediterranean breezes in opposition to the cold and grey advance of winter in a northern city.

Tom Waits – In the Colosseum

No one better than Tom Waits could have represented the horrible and beautiful display of humanity that used to liven up a night at the Colosseum. Of course, in this case the Anfiteatro Flavio is a mere symbol that Waits uses to revive a theme which he holds very dear: the pointless, chaotic entropy of life.

This Heat – SPQR

Rather than considering the Roman Empire for its magnificence or its cultural influence, post-punk british band This Heat turns it into a dark omen of a dystopian, totalitarian society (for the ones who don’t know it, the acronym S.P.Q.R. stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus). Band leader Charles Hayward describes the lyrics as “a cultural view of history and logic and expedience and how we are inside that, too.”

Phoenix – Rome

With their unique mixture of Easy Listening and Electronic, the french band Phoenix were able to give birth to this danceable hit while still catching one of the party-unfriendly features of Rome: its decadence, opposed to its status of Eternal City.

“While the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.” [Venerable Bede (c. 673-735) quoting a prophecy of Anglo-Saxon pilgrims]

Italian songs about Rome

Letting alone folk ballads and traditional songs, Italian hits genuinely focused Rome are less than you might think. At least this can be said for the very few songs that are worthy to be remembered and manage to distance themselves from the usual depiction of the city – although Italian stereotypes about Rome differ significantly from foreign ones. Here’s a selection of five Italian songs about Rome that you can also use to learn some Italian.

Colle Der Fomento – Il cielo su Roma

Let’s start our journey with a song that we have already played in the last episode of Aperitalia, our webradio dedicated to Italian language students, for the roman Hip-Hop band Colle Der Formento. The sky above Rome quoted in the title is a big starry entity that observes the dramatic moltitude of lives and experiences that makes Rome a modern Babylon. The song lyrics are focused on the life in the suburbs and in the most popular neighborhoods of the city, mixing a genuine street attitude with an emphatic and somehow nostalgic songwriting.

È nella testa
Tutto qua tutto qua
Comunque resta
Tutto qua tutto qua
È nella testa
Tutto qua
Restano le mejo stelle solo le mejo che dà

Virginiana Miller – L’eternità di Roma

Again, a band which emphasizes the status of “Eternal City”, where eternity stands also for eternal decadence: post rock sextet Virginiana Miller builds up a delicate but yet merciless depiction of this crucible of vices and virtues which is Rome.

Vittime e carnefici
Demoni e pontefici
Polvere su polvere
Di polvere di secoli

Gabriella Ferri – Chitarra Romana

We promised we would have left out traditional and folk songs, but we have to make an exception for the queen of Italian modern folk, Gabriella Ferri. Many of her songs could have been included in this list as she has undoubtedly brought forward the true spirit of Rome. May this beautiful Chitarra romana serve as an example of her outstanding talent.

Claudio Baglioni – Porta Portese

If you don’t know what Porta Portese is, you might want to revisit your schedule for your next Roman holiday to visit this characteristic open air market which is one of the few traditional flea markets that resisted the assault of big shopping mall and standardized shopping. Roman songwriter Claudio Baglioni has dedicated a lovely ballad to this tradition which every Sunday brings back in time a whole area of the city.

Corrado Guzzanti – Grande Raccordo Anulare

Speaking of tradition, we couldn’t leave out the one place which all Romans have in common: the Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA), the huge circular highway that embraces the whole city and is doomed by an eternal flow of traffic. Comedian Corrado Guzzanti, imitating the famous songwriter Antonello Venditti, offers a picturesque and funny depiction of this sort of urban limbo. Enjoy! 😀

Originally posted on www.kappalanguageschool.com!

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“Che lavoro fai?” – an infographic!

One of the first steps when it comes to self introduction in a new language is being able to describe your job, even if just summarily. In fact, no beginner Italian language student is actually aware of the fact that this particular area of Italian vocabulary has been subject to major controversies during the past 50 years. As you might already know (or imagine) Italian language is arguably a slightly sexist language, and this inclination towards the predominance of masculine figures (and forms) is particularly evident in the semantic area of work and jobs.

In the infographic shown below, as well as in our Italian language courses, we tried to be as politically correct as possible, but the point is that many names that designate positions of responsibility simply don’t have the feminine (or do have it, but it is not often used). Few examples: medico (doctor) instead of which Italians tend to use the more generic dottoressa, or sindaco (mayor) and ministro (minister) whose feminine forms, sindaca and ministra, have been recently put into use with quite a struggle, encountering countless resistance from average speakers. Let alone words such architetta, which are grammatically correct but carry a disturbing (for some) assonance with female body parts…

mestieri

Originally published on www.kappalanguageschool.com

Learn Italian words (and grammar): la colazione in Italia!

As every grandma uses to say, “breakfast is the most important meal of all”. And that is indeed true, especially if you consider that generally it helps your body recovering from a night of fasting! So what’s the deal with Italian breakfast?

From a country whose diet is renowned worldwide, with an outstanding variety of ingredients and a cookbook stuffed with delicious recipes, you would expect excellence even when it comes to the first meal of the day. Yet, breakfast in Italy is very different from what many expats and Italian language students would expect, as it is usually a very fast and light meal, the mainstay being a cappuccino or an espresso accompanied by some pastries (cornetti) and, occasionally, corn flakes and cereals (fiocchi d’avena e cereali). In a regular Italian breakfast there is no room for cheese, eggs, beans or bacon, and actually most Italians tend to consider the idea of having a “salty breakfast” (or eating anything salted before midday) quite disgusting.

Even in Italy, of course, you will be able to find bars, pubs and hotels which regularly serve English or American breakfast, but if you really want to get the full Italian experience, you should really try to melt in and have a quick and light Italian breakfast in a local bar, peeking at a quotidiano and catching the occasion to have a chat with Italian natives on the latest news

For all of you who want to be prepared when having your first breakfast in Italy, here’s a new infographic… with a quick grammar overview about si passivante included!

 

Learn Italian words and grammar: breakfast in Italy, Infographic

What happens when you type “Italian” in the YouTube search box

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.

Italian Food

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.

Italian Music

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!

Italian YouTubers

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.

Italian Language

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!

Italian Culture

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.

WTF area

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!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

 

What I learned in Italy

To honor to my sixth month here in Rome (which sadly will be also my last) I would like to share with you today some VERY informal thoughts on what I learned in Italy. I will take you back to 11 August 2016, the day I arrived here in the beautiful Rome. The sun was shining and it was a summer day like all others in Italy so the streets of Rome were full of Romans (surprise! They don’t go on vacation that much: Rome is a really busy town), which brings us to the first thing you should learn in Italy:

  • it’s REALLY important to learn the language and make an effort to practice it on the streets and in stores with locals. Not everyone is able to speak English and, as you will figure out, a lot of things are only available in Italian, although, especially in the city center, you will find amusing examples of broken English. For that purpose, certain internet pages packed with Italian Language lessons and exercises are a blessing. Or you can always do it the old fashioned way and learn Italian by joining an Italian Language Course (as I did, and my Italian is so good that I am still writing articles in English! :P).

Being installed in my new home for this six months, I had to go out for grocery shopping, which I know is not the most fashionable shopping you can do but it has to be done. Anyway, this brings us to the second thing I learned:

  • when in Italy, you should get to know your local Italian cuisine – because no, there isn’t just ONE Italian cuisine. Not all of the food that you are familiar with in your home country will be available in the supermarkets, that’s why it is important to learn how to cook with the food that is available in Italy. The Italian cuisine is more than only pasta or pizza: make the best out of it and join an Italian Cooking Class where you will also be able to practice Italian and make new friends which share with you the disgrace of being totally incompetent in preparing a decent Italian dish.

Last but not last there is the thing that I enjoyed the most here:

  • learn how to appreciate Italian culture. It’s maybe quite different from yours and it the difference can be disorienting at first but, believe me, these people really know how to live. The culture of having an aperitivo after work with your friends, enjoying a good meal for (at least) a couple of hours, having a walk through the city center or just spending your afternoon while doing nothing and drinking espresso should be included in the world heritage list. The Italian culture is about the importance of family and friends in your life and that’s what will make your new Italian friends the unforgettable ones. Or, at least, this is what happened to me!

 

Arrivederci Roma, alla prossima avventura! xoxoxo

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

A shopaholic guide to the Eternal City

Italians are famous for their fashion, the most famous luxury brands in this world are born there. Brands as D&G, Versace, Giorgio Armani etc. are becoming the cultural heritage of this country. Of course, you already know streets like Via Condotti, Via Cola di Rienzo or Via del Corso. All these streets are famous for their luxury stores and are easy to find in every tourist guide to Rome.

Now that you know mostly all the Italian words you need for your shopping adventure, in this article you will find all information to “shop till you drop” in the best shopping areas of Rome.

1. Centro commerciale Porta di Roma

portediroma-1024x768So, let’s start with a low profile: Porta di Roma is the biggest shopping center of Rome, located outside the city center. It’s the perfect mix of luxury stores and middle segment stores. You can find Michael Kors and Massimo Dutti in this shopping center, but also Footlocker and Pull&Bear. This commercial center doesn’t only have clothes stores, it also includes a cinema, restaurants, bars and an arena for live shows. Also on rainy Sundays, you can enjoy this completely covered shopping dream, although locking yourself down in a shopping mall might not be your best option when in the Eternal City (even if it’s raining outside).

Website: http://it.club-onlyou.com/PORTA-DI-ROMA
How to reach: Bus line 80 from Piazza Venezia or Bus line 38 from Termini station

2. Monti area

lol_negozio_livelli_0006_a_mrf0197The Monti neighborhood is a young and dynamic (although proudly historic) area with all kind of shops in small and cozy streets. In Monti you will find second-hand stores, handmade clothes stores, vintage stores and alternative style stores. Also, you will be able to visit boutiques with the newest fashion for a reasonable price (or at least more reasonable than other areas of the city center!). Monti is also a good neighborhood to learn Italian: here you can find the best Italian Language School in Rome 8-), surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars to spend your pranzo time and practice Italian with locals.

How to reach: Bus line 64, 40 direction Termini (stop: Nazionale- Palazzo Esposizioni) or Metro Cavour (blue line)

3. Porta Portese Flea market

porta-portese-2A milestone for every respectable visit of Rome, this market takes place every Sunday morning in the neighborhood of Trastevere. Here you will find a nice and inspirational mix of second-hand clothing, handmade jewelry, makeup, food, antiques and all kind of souvenirs that you ever wanted to have and you won’t find in one of the many dreary traps for tourists scattered all over the city center. Take your time and browse all rows and stalls of this crowded market: here you will for sure find something unique that will make your day.

How to reach: Tram 8 Largo Argentina to Trastevere station from there you will reach the market in just a few minutes of walking

4. Via Condotti

natale-in-via-condottiYes I know, I was supposed to skip this part but… come on, it’s Via Condotti! This is the shopping area where you can find BVLGARI next to Prada with on the other side Gucci and Tiffany’s and co. There is a store of almost every kind of luxury brand that exists in this world. While have your shopping overdose, you can stop by for a coffee at the historic Caffé Greco or continue towards the magnificent Piazza di Spagna and have a tea at Babington’s, the oldest tea saloon in the city. Also all around the piazza you will find luxury brands like Nespresso and Aqua di Parma. Although this area is mainly occupied by renown brands, on a deeper look you will also find particular and elegant local stores. Prices aren’t properly affordable, but taking a look is completely free

How to reach: Metro A Spagna or by walking as a sidestreet of via del Corso.

These were just my own favorite places to go, but of course there is much more to discover in Rome. To me, as a shopaholic, Rome is really a heaven because there are all of my favorite brands. If you like shopping and the biggest brands of the world Rome is your place to be and of course if there will ever be an official Roma shopping route, I will let you guys know! For now, let’s grab your shopping bags and follow your heart (or your wallet). Divertitevi!

confessions-of-a-shopaholic-quotes-1_large

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Learn Italian words: le parole dell’abbigliamento!

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!

learn italian words for shopping in Rome and Italy

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!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.