Italian language

Why I love Italy

This is a different VLOG for me. In this one I talk about the reasons I love Italy and give tips to both first time travelers to Italy well as experienced Italian travelers.

The video covers several sections:

  • Why I love Italy
  • Top Reasons I love Italy
  • Museums
  • What to do in Italy
  • Finding Places to Eat
  • The Metro (Subway)
  • Time to go
  • Hotels
  • Currency (Euros)
  • Airfares
  • Hopper App
  • Driving in Italy
  • Put Italy on your Bucket List

If Italy is not on your bucket list, it should be. Watch the video below and see why so many people love and go to Italy.

– George

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The Reasons I Love Italy

Italy has a special place in my heart. I am not Italian but I did a lot of work there. I gained a respect and a love for the country, the people, the food and the wine. Italians seem happy with there life. They know what is important. Their families, their life , their food & wine are all very important to them. They have to work but it is not a important part of their lives. Walk any Italian city (big or small) and you will see the elderly and the young walking. They enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables. They love their cooking especially mamma’s cooking. Their coffee, wine, gelato and bread are a tradition to them. You can here them argue about how good or bad the pasta is at a restaurant. It will never be mamma’s pasta.IMG_3189
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As I walk through a city, I smell the cooking. I see the people outside all around me. I hear the language and the passion with which it is spoken. This is the Italy I so love. People are very friendly here. Just say Buon Giorno to a stranger and watch the smile appear and you will get a Buon Giorno back. If you are trying to speak the language remember there are informal and polite forms of speaking. The young are becoming less formal but the elderly still require a stranger to speak formally.

  • Come Sta – How are you (formal)
  • Come Stai – How are you (informal)
  • Ciao – Hello (informal)
  • Buon Giorno – Hello (Literally Good Morning – Formal)

Be respectful, smile and enjoy all that your senses are experiencing. I even enjoy seeing Italian laundry out to dry. No I don’t have a laundry fetish! I enjoy the colors and shapes against a backdrop of old buildings. It is one of my favorite photo op. In Italy you can buy a dryer but most people prefer the clean scent of drying their clothes outside.

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In the morning I enjoy being in the local bar for coffee and a cornetto. You are submerged in a group of Italians, all talking and quickly drinking their coffee and eating a small cake or cornetto.

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Cornetto

As you leave after breakfast, you are again engulfed in Italian life on the streets. Listen and watch how they talk and communicate with each other. Enjoy the scooters speeding by you. Take in the smells as you pass a restaurant. Later stop in a bar, pizzeria or trattoria for lunch. Bars are famous for eating standing up. It costs more to take a table. You will see Italians eating Panini (sandwiches) and drinking a beer or glass of wine. Between about 2 pm and 4 pm watch the Italian Passeggiata (walk). Families and friends stroll together to enjoy each others company.

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After your afternoon walking or visiting museums, look for a large piazza. Life really explodes in the Italian piazzas. You will find lots of bars and restaurants here as well. Pick a non touristy place for dinner. I always look for one with mostly Italians and few or no foreigners. You will have to eat late to see Italians as no one eats dinner early in Italy.

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Evening is my favorite time to walk, watch and have a gelato.

IMG_2071 Nocciola Gelato

Life here is much less stressful. Enjoy what you have and what you are. Be Italian for a short while.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Bread, Coffee, Cooking, cornetto, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Fish, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italian language, Italy, Pizza, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Bella Perugia

Perugia is a small town in Umbria known for its chocolate (Perugina). It is the capital city of Umbria and is very near the Tuscan border. It is also close to the wonderful city of Assisi. The Tiber River flows through this city to Rome.

This is a town that invokes a lot of emotion for me. As Jo Anne and I walked this town, we were thrown way back in time. It started on the escalator  from the central parking garage to the old city on a hill. The escalator is underground going up through old ruins. If this is your first glimpse of Perugia, it will be a lasting memory.

duomo San Gimigano

Ruins seen on escalator

As we exited the escalator and building contains its terminus, we were in a small piazza in Perugia. Life was exploding all around us. As in any Italian town, life is vibrant. Motorcycles were all around us and loud. Small and larger cars were everywhere. As I looked out at the parking around the Piazza, I was reminded of my youth playing with cars. It appeared the cars were randomly placed by some giant all around the Piazza. Cars faced both directions and some were so small they could just park backed in-between two other cars.

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Parking

Italian was being spoken loud and with passion all around us. Hands are a big part of the Italian language. I am finding I use my hands more and more as I speak. It must be contagious. Life here is very visual. You can not help be emerged in it.

From the Piazza we walked down a set of stairs away from the hustle bustle of automobiles and into a restricted driving zone. Here there maybe be and occasional car or motorcycle but it is mostly pedestrians and tourists. These streets make you feel like you are in ancient times. The architecture is fantastic. Buildings almost touch each other with narrow roads in between. These roads would be impassable to large vehicles. Some passageways I can touch both sides with outstretched arms.

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Narrow roads everywhere

Walking along these streets gives a sense the buildings are closing in on you. Soon we were out in another Piazza. Life was again happening all around us without cars or motorcycles. Restaurants with outdoor seating were everywhere. Italian life is about being outside with other people. So we picked a place and joined in.

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At a bar/Restaurant in a Central Piazza

From our table we could nourish ourselves and partake in this age-old tradition of Italians. For a day we were becoming locals. We already knew we would miss this place when we had to leave. But for now we were here and enjoying life to its fullest.

In the movie Benvenuto al Sud, they say you cry twice in the south. One when you arrive and once when you leave. I felt this way as I shed a tear on my arrival at the sheer beauty of this place and another on leaving it because I would miss it. I tend to feel this way about most Italian towns. I guess I am just a helpless romantic.

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Memories of Perugia

George

 

Categories: Architecture, Assisi, Bars, Europe, General Travel, Italian, Italian language, Italy, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Romance, Small Towns, Tuscany, Umbria, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Walking Rome

When Jo Anne and I were in Rome (Jo’s first trip to Italy but I had been there many times), we wanted to really experience the city. There is no better way than walking! Rome has excellent metro and bus services that will get you anywhere you want but walking lets you be a Roman. You experience this great city first hand. All the important sites are walkable if you can walk a few miles.

We stayed centrally at Hotel Trevi just around the corner from the Trevi fountain. This is a hard hotel to find even with some cab drivers but worth a stay. It has been getting more popular and the price is going up. From Trevi fountain you can easily see:

  • Spanish Steps and shopping by the steps
  • Villa Borghese
  • Pantheon
  • Trastevere
  • Vatican City
  • Castel San Angelo
  • Forum
  • Old Rome
  • Coliseum
  • Piazza Navona
  • Basilica San Clemente

As you walk to these wonderful tourist attractions, take in the buildings, architecture, streets and people around you. Stop in a bar for a coffee or glass of wine. Hear the motorcycles and scooters all around you. Listen to the music of the Italian language. This is Rome! This is Italy! It must be enjoyed on the streets with the people.

Never stop in a tourist restaurant (any place very close to one of the above attractions). Seek out small family run trattoria that are full of locals enjoying their meal. People eat later in Italy than in the states (except large cities like New York).

Breakfast is usually at a bar on the run. You have a coffee and sweet roll or cake as you catch up on gossip and sports with friends. Lunch is at a pizzeria or trattoria and is taken around 1 or 2 pm. Dinner is much later around 8 or 9 in Rome. Farther south dinner can be as late as 11 pm. Restaurants will open for tourists around 7 or 7:30 pm. The terrible tourist only places stay open all day.

I love strolling these ancient streets, meeting modern-day Romans and partaking in their ancient customs. Let Rome take you away. Enjoy it fully. Don;t be afraid of it. There are pick-pockets everywhere but violent crime is very rare. As you return to your hotel, review what you did that day. Relive each important moment. These are memories you will enjoy for the rest of your life.

Be Romantic …

 

George

 

Categories: Bars, Coffee, Coliseum, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian language, Italy, Metro Travel, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Romance, Rome, Shopping, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Italian Language

If you go to Italy, you will want to say some basic things in Italian:

  1. Grazie – Thank You
  2. Prego – You are welcome (always said to someone who says Grazie to you)
  3. Per Favore – Please
  4. Buon Giorno – Good morning (said until sun is setting)
  5. Buona Sera – Good Evening (said after sun is setting)
  6. Buona Notte – Good Night (said the last time you see someone in the night)
  7. Quant0 Costa – How much does it cost?

But if you are staying longer than a short vacation or you want to be able to converse in Italian, you will need to take lessons.

  1. The language school in Naples – has an excellent course that will get you speaking fast
  2. Rosetta Stone – has excellent interactive classes. We found that these help a lot in vocabulary and spelling but not a lot in conversation.
  3. Pimsleur – Has an interactive course as well as CDs. We bought the CDs (or MP3 files) and love it. It gets you speaking quickly and understanding Italian. You do one lesson a day. You can repeat next day if you feel you didn’t really understand it.
  4. Children’s Books – We love trying to read Italian. Reading children’s books helps you get started. The internet has many of these for sale.
  5. When in Italy try to speak with the Italians you meet. This will help your ear to better understand Italian and improve your pronunciation of their language.

Above all else, enjoy Italy and remember it is their country and we are visitors. Be respectful at all times. Italians are very polite and always say Please, Thank You and You are welcome.

George & Jo Anne

 

 

 

Categories: Europe, General Travel, Italian language, Italy | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italy

Italy is a country that stretches from France, Switzerland and Austria in the north to almost Africa in the south. It is bounded on three sides by seas. The country is very mountainous and can be rugged in some places. Italy has a great system of roads called autostradas. They link all major cities and the north to the south. The train system works! Trains usually run on schedule. You have very fast trains that link major Italian cities with the rest of Europe and local trains that go to many smaller cities.

Italian Flag Italy Map

The currency is the Euro and the Capital of Italy is Rome. The language is Italian but many areas speak a dialect.

Escape Here lists 10 interesting facts about Italy. Some are very interesting like:

  1. It is the fourth most populated country in Europe because of high birth rates and low death rates. Italians must be doing something right!
  2. Italy has some of the highest mountains in Europe (the Alps).
  3. More than 50 million tourists visit each year. Most of them only see the major cities. Italy has so much more to offer the educated tourists.
  4. Pasta with tomato sauce wasn’t eaten here until the 1600’s. The food we mostly associate with Italy is relatively new to Italians.

Of course We would add:

  1. Great food & wine
  2. Gelato
  3. Chocolate
  4. Bread
  5. White Truffles – our all time favorite Italian food
  6. Mountain and seaport towns
  7. The language itself is so musical
  8. Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s

Whatever your taste, there is something in Italy for you. Get off the couch and go! Enjoy life the way it was meant to be lived.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Autostrada, Bread, Chocolate, Dolce, Eating Italian, Euro, Europe, Gelato, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Trains, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Go to Italy?

We were pondering this question and determining if we might go for Christmas (this year or next). There are many reasons we go to Italy and they are all positive. in fact we have no negative reasons for not going.

Reasons to go to Italy:

  1. The country is beautiful. The beaches are among the best in the world and the mountains are spectacular.
  2. The food is fantastic. Italian food in Italy is nothing like Italian food here in the US. It is so much better. Fresh ingredients cooked to perfection. Forget Fettuccine Alfredo and chicken or shrimp parmesan. They don’t exist in Italy except in tourist places (and you don’t want to eat there). The bread is to die for! Don’t forget gelato, chocolate or the famous Italian white truffles.
  3. The wine is top-notch. Italy produces some of the best wines in the world. Everyone in Italy drinks wine and understands it. From the greats like Chianti to Barolo and Brunello. Even the local wines are fantastic. Try them!
  4. The people are friendly. Italians love Americans and are very friendly. You find great people from small cities to the largest cities.
  5. There is little crime in Italy. You do find pick pockets in the larger cities but violent crime is almost nonexistent. We felt safe walking small streets in Rome at midnight.
  6. Tradition exists here. Everyone was brought up on Italian tradition and pass it on to their children.
  7. Art exists everywhere. We describe Italy as an open air museum. The art and architecture are everywhere you look. Yes the museums are still important to see but Italy is a huge museum.
  8. The language is beautiful to hear. It is like hearing a song when they speak.
  9. Italy is about relaxing, family, friends, food and wine. Enjoy it!
  10. Italy is romance. Get reacquainted with the one you love and be romantic.

Take your pen out right now and add Italy to your bucket list. Don’t just add it, VAI (GO)! When you go don’t be an American or think like one. This is not America. Be an Italian and enjoy your vacation like no other you have taken. The long trip home on the airplane will find you with a smile and many good memories.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Beaches, Bread, Europe, Gelato, Italian language, Italy, Museums, Small Towns, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Italian Language

About.com says that the Italian language is from the Romance group of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. It is a direct offspring of latin. There are many differences from English (which also has its roots in Latin):

  1. Nouns are singular or plural just like in English but they also have gender (masculine or Feminine). This gender has nothing to do with a man or woman. It is a definition all nouns have. You must memorize it.
  2. Italian verbs indicate which person they represent (first, second or third, singular or plural – I, You, He; she; it, we, you, they). In English we need the pronouns to indicate what we are talking about but in Italian it is implied usually in the verb itself.
  3. English is not pronounced as it is written but Italian is always pronounced as written.
  4. Italian is a musical language (which is why most words and syllables end in a vowel. You can feel a rhythm as you speak it or listen to it. Just listen to Andrea Bocelli sing an Italian love song.
  5. Italy has many dialects that can sound like whole other languages. Italy was made up of a bunch of independent states that were unified. After the unification, Italian became the formal language of Italy.
  6. Word order is different between English and Italian. In English we say “I have a red house” but in Italian they say “Ho una casa rossa” – literally I have a house red.
  7. Some English and Italian words are very similar in look and meaning. Others are totally different. Take the Italian word “ape”. It looks like ape in english but it means bee (like bumble bee) in Italian.
  8. Italian has both formal and informal ways of saying things. Formal is for strangers, people in authority and older people. Informal is for children and friends. In english we say How are you. In Italian Come stai (literally how are you) is informal and would be an insult to a stranger. You would say Come sta (how are he). In the south they get even more formal and say Come state (literally how are you [plural]). It sounds strange in English but it is a basic practice in Italian. Ciao is informal for hello or goodbye but buon giorno and arrivederci are formal for hello and goodbye.

Try to learn some basic Italian when going to Italy. Even the basics will impress your Italian acquaintances. A great book that explains the Italian language is Rick Zullo’s Talk like an Italian. Jo Anne says the most important sentence to learn in Italian is “Quanto costano le scarpe?” or How much are the shoes?

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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