If you are planning to survive in Italy, you definitely need to know where to go to buy everyday stuff, namely you need to learn Italian words related to shop and small business names. As always, Kappa Language School is here to help you learning the hard stuff in a colorful way: here’s a brand new (horizontal!) infographic you might want to check before going out on your shopping spree in the Belpaese!
I bet that one of the main reasons most of you guys are in love with Italy (and studying Italian language) is your attraction for Italian food, and you are damn right about that! With such an amazing variety of ingredients and dishes, Italian cuisine is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and part of the world cultural heritage!
Despite being worldly renown, though, a traditional Italian meal has a structure that many of our Italian language students (especially the ones coming from the far east) find puzzling. For many of those who approach Italian cuisine and are used to meals based on a single dish, the distinction between primo and secondo might seem useless and confusing, and the fact that an Italian lunch (or dinner) is often divided in 3 or more dishes can give the impression of an unnecessary generous meal.
Now, we do not expect to turn you into a three-stars chef or teach you everything our nonna told us about Italian food, but we really hope this brand new infographic, Il menù in italiano, will help you sorting out some useful information you can use during you next pranzo!
The vocabulary related to human body is always one of the toughest challenges for an Italian language student, since usually this particular semantic area is full of false friends and very specific words which seem to have no relation with their Gemanic equivalents.
As usual, Kappa Language School is here to help: we have prepared a brand new infographic whic will guide you through the discover of a new bit of Italian language!
Keep on learning Italian words and grammar with us and follow our blog and our website!
The internet, we all know, has simplified our lives allowing us to communicate instantaneously covering huge distances at the speed of a click. It has also created a new, interesting paralanguage, made of little funny faces we all know under the name of emoticons (faccine in Italian internet slang), the meaning of which is universal as well as human emotions are. This, for an Italian language student, might make things very much easier, but being aware of the Italian words hidden beneath the smiley is definitely something useful.
We know you’re eager to start chatting in Italian with your penfriends or your Italian Language School friends, but just take a minute to check this new infographic translating for you the most common faccine in Italian!
You might be in Rome for tourism but, as a general rule, being seen by locals as a tourist is something best avoided.
Now, let’s take a minute to define the word “tourist”: according to the Merriam-Webster, a tourist is “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture”. Although a slight interest for local culture should be implicit in touring, the sheer meaning of the word “tourist” implies a confining sense of transience. And for a person who’s really interested in getting to know Italian Language and Culture, this is something to avoid or, at least, to limit.
Our aim is to help you find your way while discovering the best of Italian Culture, at the same time experiencing Italy as a local: that is why we’ve prepared a short vademecum of things you DON’T want to do when touring, living or studying in Italy, unless you want to be considered one of the many tourists that every day pass through the Bel Paese.
Let’s get down to basics: Rome (as well as Italy) is a treasure chest so full of hidden gems not even locals are able to discover them all in a lifetime. Of course, the Colosseum, S. Pietro and the Trevi Fountain (which btw is not a bathtub) are sights which are too important to miss, but why not spice up your stay in Rome a little by venturing to the almost forgotten but unimaginably important small churches, or Rome’s fascinating borgate with their outstanding variety of street art masterpieces? There’s a tour for everyone, if you search hard enough.
On the road & in the streets
The streets of Rome, brilliantly sang by artists such as Bob Dylan, are certainly a place of breathtaking beauty: you can find a glimpse of the glorious past of the city on every street corner, and yet the whole city is immersed in a mellow, decadent atmosphere. But once on the road, you have to learn how to watch your step, as traffic can be really wild and it’s not unusual to spot packs of tourists lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for the right moment to cross the street.
Now, I’ll try to put this simply: crossing the streets in Rome requires some skills. We call it “the pigeon technique” (la tattica del piccione): if you have to cross, just do it, provided there’s a reasonable distance between the upcoming cars and your body. Drivers will eventually stop, especially if you are bold enough to fearlessly look into their eyes as you would do with an attacking animal. And there you go: you will be on the other side without even noticing, and actually feel more self-confident than ever. It’s the law of the jungle, folks!
The same cannot be said for bikers (and bike tours): you really have to be reckless to ride a bike in the city center without the supervision of a local. Rome is simply not equipped for cycling, except for certain areas. If you really want to experience Rome on two wheels, make friends with a local and let himor her help you.
Eating & drinking
Yes, I know you came to Italy mainly for the food. Who doesn’t? Even Italians travel all along the country to taste local delicacies. But remember: food in Italy is a serious matter, and Italians tend to get really bitchy about their meals (and the way you might want to experience them). Obvious advice and common sense aside (avoid tourist traps, eat local and with locals), if you really want to prevent astonished looks from the locals you should follow these simple rules:
– Cappuccino CAN NOT be the happy ending of your meal. It is something we consume strictly before 12pm, specifically for breakfast. Ordering a cappuccino at a restaurant is like buying a computer from a furniture store. The restaurateur might give you what you want, but you will break his\her heart. Do you really want that?
– Pizza in Rome is thin and provides just a limited variety of toppings. Beware of odd variants unless you are in a pizzeria which is famous among locals for its creativity.
– Never pay more than 8€ for your pizza margherita. In Italy good food can be extremely cheap: you can get a decent Italian wine for 10€ and fill yourself up with 15€ in a pizzeria (supplì included). Although you shouldn’t drink wine with pizza: for that we have Peroni.
– Remember that spaghetti bolognese IS NOT A THING IN ITALY. They can literally kick you out of the restaurant, if the owner is in a bad mood.
This is a bit of a sore subject. Italians are widely known for their loose approach to PDOA, their open display of emotions and their genuineness and yet, if you really want to blend in, you should remember that Rome is not Miami nor LA, and that Romans tend to consider people going around the city in Bermudas and flip-flops as quirky but a little disturbing. Plus, as Louis CK used to say, every big city is basically a huge pile of dirt, and Rome is no exception: knowing this, do you still want to go around wearing flip-flops?
Everyone has his or her own style, but looking around you to see what locals do is always a good strategy and a matter of common sense when in a foreign country. This applies especially to Rome, the privileged destination of millions of tourists every year.
Binge drinking, in Italy, can be a thing when it comes to depressed medium-sized suburban towns, but drinking only to get pissed is really something Italians don’t do – although the average age for the first sip of alcohol in Italy is approximately 6. So forget about your night out at a club downing one shot after another: if you do this in Rome, you’ve been caught in a tourist trap. For further information, take a look at this very instructive video. Knowledge is power. 🙂
And here we are, in our area of expertise. As Italian language teachers, we wouldn’t dare to criticise the happy ones who try to learn and speak Italian: every effort is indeed appreciated, even if it is just an impromptu. Italian people, on the other hand, tend to be annoyed by very few and specific things, such as the mispronounciation of grazie (which is often spelled “grazy” by anglo-american speakers) or the ridicolous outcomes of expressions such as buongiorno (see picture for lulz). That said, if you really want to fit in, learning some basic expressions (and practice your pronunciation) in Italian language is definitely a good move, although in Italy you will always find someone who will be able to help you using alternative forms of communication, such as Italian hand gestures. 🙂
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!