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.


Welcome back! A preview of what’s coming on this September

Aaaaand we’re back! It has been a long, hot and even troubled summer, but here we are back on track, with the intent, now more than ever, to share the beauty our language and culture carry.

Besides our standard learning programme, with Intensive, Extensive, Flexible and Standard Italian Language Courses, we are glad to present our cultural activities for September 2016:

il-museo-agostinelli-di-roma-4Friday 16th, from 3pm – Vist @ Museo Agostinelli with Veni Vidi Visit
Where: meeting point @ Piazzale Ostiense
Participation fee: free
One of the most peculiar museums in Rome, a collection of 60000 objects from all over the world. An original insight on popular cultures and folklore.

cena8Thursday 22nd, from 7pm – Summer Ending Rooftop Aperitif (meetup event here)
Where: Mille13 Bistrò, Via Dei Mille 13a
Participation fee: 10€
Our classic rooftop aperitif to practice Italian, make new friends and spend an evening together in a charming roman terrace!

dsc_0195m-678x381Saturday 24th, 10am-1pm – visit @ Parco delle Energie/Lago exSnia
Where: Parco delle Energie, Via Biordo Michelotti
Participation fee: free
A lake in the heart of one of the most suggestive neighbourhoods in Rome, Pigneto, sorrounded by flourishing nature and inhabited by an extraordinary variety of wild fauna. A fantastic chance to discover a hidden treasure of the Eternal City!

5 annoying types of people you will (almost) always find at an Italian Aperitif

Italy is the worldwide known homeland of Aperitivo, although this cultural institution substiantially changes if you scroll  from southern to northern Italy.

Now, if you’re in love with Italy and Italian Lifestyle you might have attended to more than one aperitif in your life, even in Italy. And surely you have been able to identify these 5 particular kinds of attendees which are infesting every aperitif or happy hour in the world:

  1. 48802873Mr. Know-It-All – Are you talking about your late holiday in that far away island located in the middle of the Pacific? He probably had been there before you even knew of its existance. Are your friends discussing about a very obscure czech novelist that they have just discovered? He spent the past five years writing essays about his works. In few words, there’s no subject in which this charmless mr. Know-It-All cannot put his long nose. And believe me when I say that alcohol can only make thing worse, giving the guy an amount of self-confidence which is frankly unmanageable by a regular human being. Anyway, as our saint patron Morrissey used to say, “there’s gonna be someone somewhere, with a big(ger) nose who knows, and shuts you up and laughs when you fall”. Just wait and see.
  2. 57242257The Wine Expert – Italian aperitif is a magnificent occasion to taste good wine and wine-based drinks such as the spritz, but this wonderful opportunity has its scary downside: it attracts hordes of self-proclaimed wine experts which will make your head explode with neverending descriptions of the wine they (or you) are tasting. Letting alone the fact that adjectives such as “laser-like” or “intellectually satisfying” should be banished from any conversation, the truth is that if you blindfold the poor Wine Expert you will find out he’s not able to recognize a carton of Tavernello from a bottle of Amarone.
  3. futurama-fry-meme-generator-not-sure-if-tipsy-or-just-drunk-d0043aThe Always Tipsy – Hold on: aperitif is not for getting drunk. It is a social occasion, a mean to converse and take a pleasant break after a working day or before a long night. This is why the Always Tipsy type looks particulary ridiculous in this specific context. He\she gets to the bar usually suited up after having worked behind a desk for the whole day, and right after the first sip of prosecco is already giggling like a teenager. This type of person usually starts to lose his\her dignity (i.e. loosened tie, heeled shoes off etc.) at the end of the first drink and becomes actually unbearable at the second one, which usually coincides with a collective “sorry, I need to go home, tomorrow I have to work” pronounced in unison by his mates, leaving the poor guy alone with his (fake) hangover.
  4. The Gourmet Guy – Every respectable aperitif offers a good selection of food to99a2c39d89c66b56c651057cfffab1628311b763f002331681b59933b15d47f7 accompany your drink. But bear in mind that the meal you will get during an aperitif in Italy won’t always be as good as you might expect. Italians tend to be aware of this, and although we are traditionally picky about our food, we usually turn a blind eye on the lack of quality of some buffets. This is not always the case though, especially if you live the unpleasant experience of meeting the infamous Gourmet Guy: constantly bitching about the texture of his tartine, the freshness of his caponatina or the real origin of his olive taggiasche, this type is a real nightmare. If you want to enjoy your not-so-wonderful meal without feeling like you’re eating at the soup kitchen, just stay away.
  5. whenever-i-get-called-anti-social-for-being-quiet-28192The Silent One – As we said, aperitif is a mean to socialize. Nevertheless, you will always find a guy who joins your group and doesn’t utter a word for the entire evening. Is he too tired to have a chat? Doesn’t he like your company? Is he dumb? Nobody knows. The only thing you know is the embarassing feeling of sharing your table with the cardboard cutout of a person.

Not in the mood of joining an aperitif after reading this? Well, not all aperitifs are the same. For instance, you can join our Linguistic Aperitif, every Tuesday in Trastevere and every first Thursday of the month in Monti, and meet new, international friends while practicing your Italian. And if you’re not in Rome just don’t panic: there’s still the chance to have a radio-aperitif offered by our Italian Language School. Just invite your friends, play one of our podcasts and practice some Italian with us: this will surely save you from the embarassing silence of a struggling conversation…

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


A laughter will bury you all – on how romans are coping with their disfunctional city

There has been a lot of fuss these days about an article that appeared in the New York Times, which revealed a disturbing truth about Rome. For Roman readers, the article may have sounded something like: “Good morning American friends! Here is a revolutionary fact about the discovery of hot water!”; the second reaction was surely a combination of shame, sadness and embarrassment.

It is true that the quality of life in Rome has consistently decreased over the past few years on levels that, for roman citizens, have become totally unbearable. Moreover, due to the intense heat and to the humongous flow of tourists in the last few months, inefficiency in public services has also increased, reaching new heights of squalor and generating a wave of public discontent that has basically swept away part of the City Council.

Now, you might ask yourselves why a blog like ours, whose intent is to promote Italian Culture and Language, is discussing a subject that might scare away its own target? Let me tell you, it’s not just for honesty. There is indeed a good side in this wave of popular rage, at least from the linguistic point of view. Romans have always been skilled in making fun of themselves as well as others (especially powerful people, such as the immortal Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli or Pasquino used to do), and this time is no different.

Here’s a collection of roman jokes (with translation) about disservices and inefficiency that are plaguing the Eternal City – DISCLAIMER: these jokes will contain prolific language. If you feel offended by foul language, read no further!

autobus_romaON THE BUS\METRO
Un passeggero: “Aò ma quanno parte ‘sto cesso?” e l’autista “quanno se riempie de stronzi…”
A passenger: “Oi! When will this shitty bus depart?” The driver replies: “when it has been filled with shitty people…”
Actually, the passenger doesn’t use the expression di merda (shitty): he instead defines the bus cesso, which is a popular word for toilet often used to connote an object which looks shabby or dirty. The reply of the bus driver is along the same lines.

Un passeggero: “Aò, ma quanno parti?” e l’autista “quanno me danno ‘e ferie…
A passenger: “Oi! When do you plan on leaving [departing from the station]?” – The bus driver replies “When they give me vacation days…”
This joke, underlining the infamous laziness of romans, is also very suitable for the present times, when a zeal strike of the metro drivers is basically putting the whole city on its knees. One note: the expression , far from meaning anything, can be translated with the english interjection “oi!”.

bus-atac-roma1ON A CROWDED BUS

“Aò, ce manca solo l’ojo!”
“All that is missing is the oil!” [for we’re packed in this bus like sardines]

Un passeggero: “A Capooo! Che m’apri de dietro?” e l’autista “come no! E si vieni qui te apro puro davanti!”
A passenger to the bus driver: “Chief! Can you open the rear doors [literaly: “can you open me from behind?”, sic!] The driver replies: “of course! And if you come here I will open you also from the front!”
Yes, roman bus drivers (such as passengers) can sometimes be rude.

MOT02F1A_4030796F1_8113-kBLG-U43020988575500l0F-1224x916@Corriere-Web-Roma-e1405035426399IN THE CAR
[To a car driver who’s failing to start at the green light]
“Guarda che più verde de così nun diventa!”
“The light isn’t going to get any greener!”
Drivers in Rome may get very impatient. This is due to the proverbial traffic of the Eternal City, that also inspired artists such as Federico Fellini

“A moro! C’avemo tre colori, e’ uscito er verde, che volemo fà?”
“Hey, you! If the light can only be one of three colors, and this one is green, what are we to do?!”
The expression moro (literally, “dark haired guy”) such as capo (literally “chief”) are often used as interjection disregarding the real appearence or status of the interlocutor.

“’Sta strada c’ha così tante buche che se ariva l’ISIS pensa che hanno già bombardato!”
“This road has so many holes that it seems that the ISIS has already bombed us!”
This joke seem kind of nasty, but it is actually a reference to another set of jokes created when ISIS proclaimed it was going to invade Rome. Read this article if you are intersted.

“’Sta strada c’ha più crateri daa Luna!”
“This road has more craters than the moon’s surface!”
Roads manteinance in Rome has always been a thorny issue. Letting alone the nightmarish sanpietrini, all major roads of the city suffer from the same, unexplainable lack of consistency, so that every two or three months they basically dissolve under the cars’ tyres becoming a wasteland of craters and pitholes.

“A Roma appena fanno du’ gocce pare da sta’ a Venezia…”
“As soon as a light rain starts, Rome turns into Venice!”
The expression fare du’ gocce (literally “pour two drops”) is a vernacular idiom for “light raining”. The joke refers to the fact that Rome goes completely nuts when it starts to rain: everyone takes the car, roads get flooded, public transportation tilts. Letting alone when it snows…

“A Roma i Taxi so’ più cari de ‘na cena da Bastianelli!”
In Rome cabs are more expensive than a dinner at Bastianelli!
Bastianelli is a famous seafood restaurant in Fiumicino, whose bills are… well, not for everyone, such as cabs.

“Sur raccordo c’è così tanto traffico che c’è gente che c’ha preso ‘a residenza”
“The traffic on this highway is so slow, people have begun changing their addresses and taking up residence on it!”
The Grande Raccordo Anulare (aka GRA) actually is not a normal highway: is a mythological figure that tightens the whole city in a deadly embrace. Built in 1951, this highway has become a common reference in roman jokes as well as movies and songs.

“Sembra che a Roma ce frega de anna’ solo all’Auditorium e ar Bioparco!”
“It seems like in Rome we’re only interested in reaching the Auditorium and the Zoo!”
This one needs an explanation. Road signs in Rome are a matter of perennal debates: do we really need to see them? Isn’t it better to let plants and trees grow upon them? Or wouldn’t it be just nicer to turn them in street art pieces? The only exception to this are road signs to the Auditorium Parco della Musica, drew by Renzo Piano near the Stadium, and to the city Zoo. Don’t ask why, since we don’t know.

220741318-c2c02685-cd41-4270-9c37-9359b3658c92THE INFAMOUS (and slow to function) METRO C
“Pe’ fini’ la metro C tocca chiama’ Indiana Jones!”
“To finish the C line we will have to call Indiana Jones!”
This joke alludes to the fact that the works for the C Lines have been stopped many times during the years because of several archeological sites discovered along its path. Right now, the Metro C is only partially functioning, with just a fraction of the stations active and opened to public.

“Da quando so’ iniziati i lavori pe’ la metro C so’ già cambiati tre papi!”
“Since the beginning of the construction on the Metro C, we have gone through three popes!”
See above. The three popes are, as you might imagine, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the current one, Francis I.

“A Roma ce so’ più cantieri daa Metro C che kebbabbari!”
“In rome we have more construction sites for the C line lines than kebab vendors!”
During the past 10 years, kebab became a common street food in Italy too. This brought a huge number of syrian and turkish shops in the city center: something pretty unusual for romans, but not as unusual as the duration of the works for the C line!

stazione_termini_romaAT THE TERMINI STATION
“Ao, ma chi l’ha progettata ‘sta stazione? Saw L’Enigmista?”
“Who the hell drew this station? Jigsaw?”
Termini station looks like a dedalus of false exits, closed binaries and escalators. It is so disorienting that someone might think the famous enigmist Jigsaw have drawn it as a sadistic torture for all roman citizens…

“Ao, questa n’è ‘na stazione, è ‘n parco acquatico!”
“Hey, this is not a station: it’s an aqua park!”
Again, floodings. Don’t ask why, but basically every metro station in Rome gets flooded when heavy rain comes. Too bad it doesn’t happen in august, when one would actually need a refreshing bath…

Well, that’s it. There are many more jokes, some even dirtier than the ones you have just read, but this was just to give you an hint of how roman citizens are coping with this ongoing disaster.
Be sure to check out these satirical articles below to further illustrate the joke that transportation in Rome has become!

Rome: jumps on the Metro B tracks on friday, gets hit on sunday

Rome: he is waiting for the Metro B, Godot arrives instead

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


Tra Roma e il Giappone

Another story From students to students! Today Yogo, a musician from Japan, tells us about his experience in Rome… in his own very peculiar style!

Io sono un musicista Giapponese.
Da lungo tempo volevo venire a Roma.
perché ci sono nato.

Fortunato, dopo 2 settimane che sono arrivato a Fiumicino,
ho potuto avere un concerto.

In quel momento potevo dire solo “Ciao mi chiamo…”
però dopo il concerto, ho sentito le voci

Gli ospiti italiani erano molto calorosi.
Da allora io ho iniziato a frequentare il Pigneto.

Nella discoteca, come sono differenti “Roma” e “Giappone”?

Il cane
A Roma c’è
In Giappone non c’è

I bambini
A Roma ci sono
In Giappone non ci sono

I bambini che fanno i compiti a casa
A Roma ci sono
In Giappone non ci sono

Il ristorante in cui posso mangiare la pasta
A Roma c’è
In Giappone non c’è

Sul palcoscenico, qualcuno legge una bella poesia.
A Roma c’è
In Giappone non c’è

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


A rice surprise

Hail to the King.

Hail to the King.

One delight you definitely cannot miss when in Rome is the traditional supplì. Along with Baccalà fritto and fiore di zucca, this inviting rice ball filled with tomato sauce, melted mozzarella and (in most cases) ragù is the most known and appreciated antipasto in every roman pizzeria worthy of the name. Even its name, coming from the french word surprise (referring to the heart of melted cheese hidden in the center of the rice ball) and cleverly twisted and abbreviated in the current form, suggests an experience which is nearer to wonder than to the simple appreciation of a traditional dish.

Every single pizza shop, from the small pizza al taglio to the best pizzeria in Rome, offers its variety of this plumpy deliciousness. It is important to untangle the maze when it comes to such a big variety of choices: the online magazine Agrodolce offers a selection of the 10 best places in Rome where you can taste the king of roman street food at its best.

La classifica dei 10 migliori supplì di Roma

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


We’re back! A preview of 2015 at Kappa Language School

It’s been a long and refreshing holiday: lots of gifts, plenty of food, more than a sprinkle of snow all over Italy and the usual, joyful atmosphere that spreads all over the Belpaese every year at Christmas.

We have great plans for this upcoming year: more Online Lessons, more videos, more Italian Language Courses, more articles from our students, more insights into Italian Culture. In two words: more fun!

Stay tuned, e a presto. 😉