Archive for January, 2014

10 Best Italian Pick-Up Lines

Posted on January 30th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

retrato-de-alegre-bashkir_19-128240Italian, as they say, is the language of love.  So if you’re trying to introduce yourself to a possible romantic interest while in Italy, you have a world of amore at your fingertips.  However, if you’re a newcomer to the world of dating in Italian, you may find yourself a bit tongue-tied.  Here are a few crowd-pleasers you can remember to use on that gorgeous ragazzo or ragazza you meet at the club, with hopes of that first short, awkward conversation sparking into something more.

  1. Tu sei una stella… la mia stella.  Romantic and poetic, with allusions to Danteit translates to, “You are a star… my star,” and if appropriately timed and delivered in a perfect Italian accent is sure to make the object of your affections weak at the knees.
  2. La tua bellezza sorpassa il sole.  “Your beauty surpasses the sun.”  Also exceedingly poetic—try not to use this in combination with the previous line, or it may come off as smarmy and insincere.
  3. Hai degli occhi belli.  “You have lovely eyes.”  A good conversation starter for anyone, male or female, and it won’t come off as overly forward.
  4. Posso offrirti una bevanda calda per sciogliere il ghiaccio?  “Can I buy you a hot drink to break the ice?”  Equal parts clever and corny, this may appeal to a man or woman who has a good sense of humor.  It also gets points for being straightforward and not depending on flattery.corazon-con-lazos_23-2147488623
  5. Complimenti alla mamma, sei fantastica!  “ Compliments to your mother—you’re fantastic!”  Adorable, if smacking slightly of Italian men’s tendency to be tied to their mothers’ apron strings.  At any rate, this one is more popular in the southern provinces.
  6. Baciame.  “Kiss me.”  Again, props for not beating around the bush.  You will probably have more success with this if it comes strategically placed after some sort of preliminary conversation.
  7. Qual’è il tuo segno zodiacale?  “What’s your zodiac sign?”  It’s a bit old-fashioned, but Italians are often superstitious, and this can lead to an interesting conversation on astrology and the effects it has on personality.
  8. Voglio vederti stasera.  “I want to see you tonight.”  Brooding, domineering, and mysterious—make sure you’re wearing a good suit and standing in dramatic lighting.  Walk away without another word and don’t look back.  Light a cigarette if you have any on you.
  9. Ciao, bella!  “Hello, beautiful!”  It doubles as, “Goodbye, beautiful!” as well, and makes you come off as playful and unintimidating.
  10. Vorrei che tu mi insegni italiano.  “I would like you to teach me Italian.”  The most insidious of pick-up lines, it will cater to the other person’s desire to teach you their language while giving you a chance to enact further romantic schemes.  Get a head-start on your Italian lessons by looking into one of our Italian courses or send us an enquiry  for further information.  Soon enough, you too with be a master at the fine art of what the Italians call amoreggiare.

Top 10 Useful Phrases To Learn Before You Travel To Italy

Posted on January 26th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »


Are you about to fulfill a lifelong dream and take that long-awaited holiday to Italy?  Are you desperately thrilled or desperately terrified at the prospect of throwing yourself into the deep end of learning Italian?  For the aficionado of language-learning, traveling to a foreign country can be the ultimate immersion experience, but it can also be frustrating and overwhelming if you arrive without the proper linguistic skills.  Italy especially can be tough to navigate, as in more rural areas, especially in the south, you’ll run into a good deal of local dialects and a considerable lack of people who know English.  If your trip is coming up and you’re starting to panic, here are the top ten useful phrases that, along with pantomime and a friendly demeanor, will get you through your travels in one piece.

  1. Non capisco – io non parlo italiano.  “I don’t understand – I don’t speak Italian.”  If you don’t understand someone when they’re talking to you, at least you can explain why you don’t understand.  Then, hopefully, they will switch to English.
  2. Lei parla inglese?  “Do you speak English?”  Another indispensable one, this will get you the help you need if you’re stuck in a bind.  Note: “lei” is the “formal you” in Italian, which you should always use when speaking to strangers, just to be polite.
  3. Dov’è…? “Where is…?”  From hotels to bus terminals to train stations, this simple contraction is key in getting you where you want to go.
  4. Salve, mi chiamo… “Hello, my name is…”  If you intend to meet anyone in Italy, you will be grateful you know how to introduce yourself in a civilized manner.  Like other romance languages, it literally translates to, “I call myself…”
  5. florentino-escena_2238887Mi scusi.  “Excuse me.”  Good manners are especially important when traveling, as the last thing you want to do is give off a poor impression of your home country.  This phrase can be used in any situation, from knocking into someone on the street to wanting to catch the attention of a barista in a café.
  6. Quanto costa…?  “How much?” Good for ordering in restaurants, hailing taxis, and booking hotel rooms.
  7. Una birra, per favore.  “One beer, please.”  A useful phrase in any language – if you’re in a more upscale restaurant, you may wish to substitute “birra” with “bottiglia di vino.”
  8. Grazie.  “Thank you.”  Even foreigners can’t sound inelegant when thanking someone in Italian.
  9. C’è un bagno qui?  “Is there a toilet here?”  Again, a crucial phrase for anyone to know when traveling, especially if you’re with children.
  10. Arrivederci.  “Goodbye.”  Or you could go local and call back as you speed away on your Vespa, “Ciao!”

Of course, as useful as these phrases are, they are only the beginning.  To truly appreciate your travels in Italy, it’s imperative that you go with at least a fundamental understanding of the language.  Get started by taking a look at our list of Italian courses, or send us an enquiry for more information.

That’s Amore – Expressing Feeling the Italian Way

Posted on January 24th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Like most other Latin and Mediterranean countries, Italians have a very overt way of expressing emotions and interacting with others.  They can be quite flamboyant with their speech and body language, and intruding on other people’s personal space in the norm.  If you’re from a culture that appreciates more of a distance, both physical and emotional, between yourself and people you just meet, Italians’ overemotiveness can come as a shock at first.  And if you’re in a relationship with anyone from an Italian background, this cultural block can lead to strife and hurt feelings all around.  Here are some things to keep in mind for smooth sailing in your dealings with Italians.


  • When you meet someone for the first time, it is common in Italian culture, even between men, to give the other person an affectionate kiss on the cheek and sometimes even a hug.  Don’t shirk away from this, as you will give offense.
  • In speaking, exclamations are common.  Everyone raises their voice in excitement now and again, but the Italians do it far more commonly, thus lending a heightened sense of drama to everything they’re talking about.  Phrases like, “ma dai?” to connote disbelief and the filler word, “boh!” are common interjections – to Italians, they give conversations a dash of color. 
  • Hand gestures are ubiquitous.  As mentioned in a previous post, Italy has a complex and fascinating second language of hand gestures that serve to express emphasis, sarcasm, affection, and disdain because verbal language just isn’t emotive enough.  Body language is also quite informal, and an Italian person may stand closer to you than you’re comfortable with, punctuating his or her conversation by slapping you on the back or elbowing you in an amiable fashion.
  • Arguments are loud and heated.  Keeping a cool, even temper is not considered a virtue in Italian society.  When upset, it’s expected that you shout and gesticulate wildly, throwing tantrums and waterworks left and right.  If you come from a more stoic culture, prone to brooding and resentment, you may want to start communicating your feelings in a more overt manner if involved with an Italian or they will never have any idea that something’s wrong.  (Moreover, studies have shown that it’s good for mental and physical health to have a good meltdown every now and then.)pink-tree-woman-297021-o
  • Affection is abundantly expressed.  Similarly, if you’re the sort of person who saves saying “I love you” for special occasions, like deathbeds and apocalypses, you will  have to make a special effort if dating an Italian.  They will constantly be showering you with verbal affection and will expect to be reassured likewise.  A simple “ti amo,” at key moments will keep your relationship from going sour very quickly.

The best way to keep your Italian paramour in good spirits is to speak to them in their tongue, the undisputed language of romance.  Start your discovery of Italian by sending us an enquiry, or looking at our list of Italian courses.  Before you know it, you will be spouting out sweet nothings like there’s no tomorrow.

How To Be a Good Tourist In Venice

Posted on January 20th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

florencia-firenze_2537984As a country chock full of diversity and unique cultures, Italy’s different cities will appeal to different types of travelers.  For example, the fashionista is bound to go to Milan, while the romantic will get a lot out of a trip to Venice, and the foodie will love their time spent in Naples.  While every city holds its own charms and deserves to be visited for at least a week by the conscientious traveler, Florence, the capital of the region of Tuscany, is a must-see for anyone interested in art or architecture.

The zenith of Italian culture, Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance, the Italian language, and innumerable artists and poets whose legacies still endure today.  Understandably, they are considerably proud of their heritage and work hard to preserve their status as a city that celebrates art and creative genius.  As such, to be a responsible tourist and get the most out of your trip to Florence, see that you visit as many of their world-famous museums as possible.  The one you absolutely must go to is the renowned Galleria degli Uffizi, a fine art museum with enough Renaissance paintings and sculptures to fulfill anyone cultural quota for the year.  However, other museums that might pique your interest include the Gucci Museum, the Accademia Galleria, and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

If you’re more keen on getting some exercise and fresh air, don’t feel like you’re missing out, Florence is essentially one big art gallery filled with breathtaking palazzos and cathedrals.  Be sure to take your camera as you visit the Palazzo Vecchio, an old palace strewn with objets d’art, as well as the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s oldest bridge spanning the river Arno, and the iconic cathedral, Duomo di Firenze. florence

After you’re through taking in the sites, take some time to appreciate Florence’s more grassroots art scene—the city is filled with street artists and musicians, especially outside the Uffizi.  Linger a few moments to enjoy their performances and support the local arts by donating a few euros.  For the shopaholic, don’t leave Florence without buying some of their fine leather products, which the city is famous for.  (Don’t get ripped off—it is appropriate to haggle with vendors, especially if they’re selling their wares in open-air markets.)  Florence, in light of its unmatchable history of poets and writers, is also well-known for their beautiful artisan books and journals, spun glass, jewelry, and many other pieces that make excellent gifts.

Finally, while visiting Florence, be sure to kick back and enjoy the wonderful food, wine, and ambience.  The Florentines are incredibly friendly and eager to chat with foreigners, and if you find yourself being introduced to the city by a local, it’s sure to be a great experience all around.  (If not, be sure to sign up for a free walking tour, and tip generously!)  Either way, a basic knowledge of Italian will be invaluable in your travels.  Send us an enquiry and we’ll get you started in Italian classes, or browse our different types of courses to see what will best prepare you for your coming trip.

Health & Safety – Things To Consider When Travelling With Kids In Italy

Posted on January 18th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

While Italy is largely a developed country, especially in the big cities and the northern regions of the peninsula, there are also areas that are quite impoverished.  Needless to say, you should always be careful traveling, no matter where.  But if you’re traveling with children, it’s necessary to take extra precautions and stay safe and aware of your surroundings at all times.  Here are a few thoughts to take into account specifically if you’re touring Italy with your family in tow.


Beware of the traffic.  This goes mainly for Rome, but is applicable in the rest of the country too.  Italians love speed and glamor, and this can translate to everyone driving like a maniac in the city where “life in the fast-lane” is literal.  Always be sure to look both ways before crossing, and keep children at your side at all times—and if you value your life, never jaywalk.

Medical emergencies.  The number to call in Italy – only in the case of an injury, not for general emergencies – is 118, (centodiciotto).  Private hospitals in Italy are very good, but they can be expensive for the uninsured, so make sure your medical insurance covers you while abroad.  Alternatively, you can be treated for free in public hospitals.

Stock up on medicines beforehand.  What we’re used to as everyday, over-the-counter drugs can be hard to come by in Italian pharmacies.  Even aspirin and cold medicine you will need to ask a pharmacist for, and all antibiotics need a prescription.  Just to be safe, see that you bring the necessary amount of any painkillers or antibiotics that you or your family may need while traveling, because you may have trouble obtaining them while on the road.  Furthermore, if you or your children have any allergies, such as penicillin, be sure to state that to the pharmacist or doctor before they prescribe you any medicines.family1

Beware pickpockets.  While Italy is in general a safe country, as a tourist you will be the spotlight for thieves and other small-time criminals.  (A family traveling with children is especially sure to draw attention.)  To minimize risk in this aspect, always make sure your important documents are kept in a safe box back at the hotel, and that your credit cards and money are firmly tucked away in a money belt or inner pocket.  Try not to flash expensive cameras or phones around while on the street, and be wary of distractions, which may be fabricated so someone can snatch your bag.

Avoid small, badly-lit roads.  This is common sense for wherever you are, and it goes double for those traveling with children.  If a road looks dark, secluded, and far off from the main stretch, don’t go down it – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Overall, remember not to be intimidated by traveling in Italy and have a great time!  It is far safer and easier to travel in Italy than in other places in Europe and the United States, and you’ll find locals to be friendly and helpful.  That being said, you can best ensure that your trip goes smoothly by learning Italian before you go.  Check out our different Italian courses, or send us an enquiry so we can get you started right away!

5 Unusual Ways To Learn Italian Through Music

Posted on January 13th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »


There are as many ways to learn a language as there are people seeking to learn it, and for those who prefer an audiovisual learning method, conventional textbook learning can fall short.  Thanks to the internet, we have access to more language learning resources than ever, and for many people music can be a fun, interactive way of building their language skills.  And Italy, of course, has a rich heritage of music dating back hundreds of years, giving you limitless options on ways to practice your listening.

  1. Go To the Opera.  While opera isn’t for everyone, for those fans of classical music and dramatic storylines, going to an opera can be a fun excuse to get out of the house, dress fancy, and get a healthy dose of high culture.  Even for the beginner, Italian opera is an excellent method of practicing; many opera houses offer a libretto of lyrics and their translations, and even if they don’t, the singers are generally so emotive that you’ll understand what’s going on anyway.  Try a romantic comedy like The Marriage of Figaro, or a time-honored favorite like La Bohème.
  2. Watch Music Videos on YouTube.  For those who don’t want to leave the house, YouTube has a wealth of Italian media that you can spend hours poring through.  Many Italian songs have lyrics and English translations in subtitles on the video, making studying and learning new vocabulary as easy as possible.  Check out popular Italian artists of the past century, or look for more familiar songs from English pop culture translated into Italian.
  3. Download Songs and Listen Throughout the Day.  This is a good option for those who can’t spend long periods of time on YouTube, or who have long commutes, or who simply want a low-profile way to practice Italian at work.  Simply download onto your mp3 player and you can listen all day—great for multi-taskers!Angel_notes_neon_221515_l
  4. Karaoke.  For those who want a more active role in their language learning, why not  get up and sing yourself!  Karaoke can make for a great night out or a great night in—plenty of small Italian restaurants will have karaoke in the evenings, especially if they are part of an Italian community in your city.  Otherwise, you can always buy your own karaoke set and download the tracks for yourself.
  5. Write Your Own Song.  If none of these other options appeals to you, take matters into your own hands.  Gather a list of words you want to learn, sit down with a guitar or a keyboard, and cobble together your own musical number.  Then write some more.  Compose yourself an entire rock opera, and practice singing it often!

Of course, whatever methods you choose to expand your knowledge of Italian, you will first need a strong base of vocabulary and grammar.  Achieve this by looking into one of our Italian language courses, or by sending us an enquiry so we can determine which level of Italian is best to get you on your way.

5 Secrets On Raising a Family With an Italian

Posted on January 10th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

If you’re married to an Italian, whether the two of you live in Italy or elsewhere, chances are you will soon be starting a family, if you haven’t already.  In a culture where family is paramount, child-raising can seem a daunting task, especially if you don’t have any set ideas of your own.  While any cross-cultural family will have its own unique ways of handling things, here are five secrets to the Italian attitude towards children and family that will ensure smooth sailing with your spouse into your golden years.


  1. Treat Children Like a Crucial Part of the Family.  A unique aspect of Italian child-raising which you don’t see in other cultures is the lack of a wall between generations.  Children are not treated with the “should be seen and not heard” mindset, nor are they firmly disciplined as in many other cultures.  Rather, they are indulged, celebrated, engaged with, and invited out to family gatherings along with parents, older siblings, and grandparents.  This leads to children growing up easy and comfortable with themselves and each other.
  2. Prioritize Children.  For better or for worse—some view this as spoiling, while others view it as giving your kids every advantage possible—Italian parenting advocates sacrificing your own wants for your children’s wants.  This can include material things, such as gifts, vacations, and special activities, as well as spending time with your children over spending time with your adult friends.  There is a fine line here, of course, between showering your children with affection and raising them to be self-entitled, so make sure you know where that line is!
  3. Dinnertime is Golden.  As you probably already know, family dinners in an Italian family are where the magic happens.  Good food and good conversation are key to family life, so you can expect at least an hour to be set aside every evening for a sit-down family meal.  Traditionally, the matriarch is expected to do the bulk of the cooking, but any Italian man worth his salt should know a few good pasta dishes, making dinnertimes a dual enterprise.viejos-hombres-italianos_21006901
  4. Conversation Is Key.  Plenty of people grow up in more taciturn cultures, where silence and alone time are considered perfectly viable aspects of a healthy family.  This is unthinkable to an Italian, as Italian families love to talk and argue and get all up in each other’s business.  So if you’re the sort of person who enjoys introspection and quietly reveling in your own private sphere, be assured that your spouse will have a thing or two or ten to say about that.
  5. Children Should Be Raised Bilingual.  No matter what country you’re raising your children in, there is absolutely no excuse for denying them the advantage of an early start at bilingualism, especially since a working knowledge of Italian will help them communicate with extended family.  While there are many strategies for raising bilingual children, it would be best for you to learn Italian as well to ease the process along.  Send us an enquiry, or take a look at our different levels of Italian courses to see which one can best get you started.

Top 5 Libraries in Italy

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Italy is one of the world’s most intellectual countries, and as such they are fiercely proud of their heritage in literature, poetry, and philosophy.  For scholars and bibliophiles the world over, this heritage is preserved in some of the world’s finest and most renowned libraries.  Many of these are open to the public, or serve as museums on certain days of the week, so if you happen to be traveling through Rome or other areas of the peninsula you should definitely stop by and have a look.


  1. Vatican Library: The most obvious library the literary explorer has to check out while in Rome is the Vatican Library.  Dating back to 1475, it’s one of the oldest libraries in the world, housing over a million printed books as well as 75,000 archaic codices and manuscripts from the Library of Constantinople.  If you are interested in viewing illuminated manuscripts or are curious about the surrounding mosaics and frescoes in the building, make this your first stop.
  2. Biblioteca Angelica: Your second stop should be at Rome’s other high-profile book collection, the Biblioteca Angelica.  Founded in 1604 as an annex of an Augustinian monastery, it opened to the public five years later.  Today it remains a key archive of 180,000 manuscripts, many of them containing first-hand information on the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, including the historic Codex Angelicus.
  3. Biblioteca Casanatense:  Another Roman library originally founded by a religious order, the Biblioteca Casanatense was once part of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.  Once a thriving hub of intellectual activity in the city, the library retains its sense of Renaissance grandeur despite being currently overseen by the Italian Ministry of Culture.  Today the collection holds over 400,000 works of literature, including some biblical manuscripts that date back to the Middle Ages.libros_2622757
  4. Biblioteca di Bella Arti:  If you swing through Milan, be sure to stop by the library at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, a public institution founded in 1776 as a school for teaching the creative arts.  UNESCO has named it one of the world’s leading universities, and as such the library is unmatched in terms of literature as well as art and architecture.  Soaring buttresses and century-old chandeliers in the main hall make this a true palace of learning.
  5. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana:  No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to Florence, and no trip to Florence is complete without stopping by the renowned Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, known as the Laurentian Library in English.  It dates back to the Renaissance, when it was built to stand as a testament to the intellectual and artistic prowess of the Medici family.  The building was designed by Michelangelo, and the building is filled with staircases, pillars, and reading halls in the Mannerist style.  As well as a museum, it remains an active scholarly library, free to enter and read books from.

Whether your interests lie in books, architecture, or history, every one of these libraries is sure to enrich your travels through Italy in countless ways.  To fully appreciate them, it will be necessary to have at least a working knowledge of the Italian language, so take a look at our different levels of Italian courses.  Or if you prefer, send us an enquiry and we will get you started as soon as possible!

What To Pack For Your Business Trip To Italy

Posted on January 3rd, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

If your job leads you to a business trip to Italy, it’s without a doubt a thrilling opportunity that you’ll want to make the most of.  Even if it’s only a weekend visit, a properly organized itinerary will ensure that you enjoy your time outside of the office, giving you an experience to remember.  However, it’s crucial to manage your packing efficiently to see that your time spent in transit is easy and stress-free.  Aside from the obvious laptop, toiletries, and camera, here are a few items you should definitely consider taking with you, no matter what your plans or where you’re going.

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  1. An Expensive Suit.  While you will need an expensive suit, preferably from a high-end label, for your business meeting, it will help you make a good impression for whoever you meet.  Wearing an Italian brand will be particularly appreciated—Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Missoni, and Gucci are all a safe bet.
  2. Large Suitcase.  Conversely, you could always go ahead and buy luxury brand attire straight from the source.  Cities like Rome and Milan are strongholds for high-end fashion, as well as shoes, leather products, perfumes, and ceramics.  For the shopaholic, a large suitcase will be necessary in transporting gifts and souvenirs back home!
  3. Map.  Even if you don’t plan to do much sightseeing, a street map is imperative to bring along.  Plenty of Italian cities dating back hundreds or even thousands of years have labyrinthine streets and layouts that are incomprehensible to newcomers.  To avoid wandering in circles through the wrong parts of town, take a map and then stick to the advised sections.
  4. Plug Adapter.  It can be easy to forget in the heat of preparing for your flight that European countries use different electrical outlets, but if you want to be able to charge your phone and laptop or dry your hair, make sure you bring one ahead of time.  Wandering a strange city looking for adapters is the last thing you want to be doing straight out of the airport.italia
  5. Good Shoes.  As a tourist who won’t be familiar with the local public transportation, it’s safe to say you’ll be doing a lot of walking in Italy, especially since in traffic-congested cities walking is usually the best way to take in the sites and experience the town up close.  Especially if you’ll be carrying a lot of luggage with you, a pair of good shoes with proper arch support is a must-have.
  6. Italian-English Dictionary.  Even if you know some Italian beforehand, traveling with a dictionary will help you in communicating with the locals, finding your way around, ordering at restaurants, and anything else you can think of.  People will also appreciate that you’re making the effort to try and learn their language, which will lead to better relations both inside and outside the office.  To get started learning Italian for your prospective business trip, send us an enquiry or take a look at our different levels of Italian courses—we’d love to hear from you!