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5 Famous Churches You Have To Visit In Italy

Posted on November 1st, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When it comes to majestic works of architecture, Italy is the heartland for some of the Renaissance’s most stunning and innovative edifices.  And, serving as the headquarters for the Catholic Church for the past two millennia, Rome alone has more than its share of historic churches and cathedrals.  So, whether you’re a lover of art and architecture or going on a religious pilgrimage, here are the top five churches you cannot miss out on if you’re traveling to Italy.

  1. St. Peter’s Basilica. Without a doubt the most famous of Rome’s cathedrals, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is one of the largest churches in the world, deemed by many to be one of “the greatest churches in all Christendom.” As tradition has it, the basilica is the resting place of St. Peter, as well as centuries’ worth of popes after him, but its claim to fame lies in the hand the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo had in its design. To this day, the dome of St. Peter’s is the largest in the world, and the sheer enormity of space inside the cathedral makes for a truly impressive experience.
  2. Sistine Chapel. Another Vatican City church that Michelangelo contributed to, the Sistine Chapel, is part of the Apostolic Palace where the Pope lives. Dating back to before the Sack of Rome, the walls of the chapel are covered with elaborate frescoes and mosaics by famous artists like Botticelli and Pinturicchio.  But the true masterpiece of the chapel is Michelangelo’s iconic paintings of biblical scenes, chiefly The Last Judgement.
  3. Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Dating back to the 13th century, this church is more commonly known as the Duomo of Florence. It is a surprising mish-mash of architecture styles, being originally built in the Gothic style, completed with the High Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, and retouched in the 19th century with green and pink marble in the Gothic Revival style. Between the Piazza del Duomo, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile, the basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Florence’s top tourist destinations.
  4. Milan Cathedral. A jagged, Gothic masterpiece that was built over the course of six centuries, the Duomo of Milan is paved with white marble and designed in a French style that is surprising to see in an Italian city. Spouting dozens of sharp spires from its roof, this cathedral has many beautiful stained glass windows and archaic sarcophagi, plus a great view from the roof.
  5. Basilica San Marco. The famous cathedral in the center of Venice, San Marco’s Basilica blends Orthodox and Catholic traditions in its design. Its arches are adorned with paintings of patron saints as well as Byzantine-style mosaics, and for centuries it has symbolized the wealth of Venice.  Not only is entry free, but the piazza beside it is filled with friendly pigeons to feed.

If you wish to learn more about Italy’s historic cathedrals, or if you’re planning a trip to Italy yourself, send us an inquiry for information about Italian lessons.  Or you can take a look at our different Italian courses for yourself.

5 Stunning Bookshops You Have To Visit In Rome

Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Rome is in many aspects the cradle of western history and culture, so it’s unsurprising that they have a plethora of imaginative bookshops.  Whether you’re a book-thirsty bibliophile, an exchange student new to the city, or simply a traveler looking for a relaxing nook to peruse some titles, here are a few of Rome’s best bookshops.


1.  Libreria del Viaggiatore.  This small bookshop on Via del Pellegrino is as romantic as it can get; its name literally means “bookshop of the traveler” and it has a wide selection of books in Italian and English.  As its name suggests, it specializes in travel books – both guides and memoirs – which are arranged by country, with most of the travel guides to Italy in English for your convenience.  Aside from that, the interior is as cute and cozy as they come, decorated with antique globes and maps of the world.

2.  Open Door Bookshop.  If you’re a fan of independent, family-run businesses, then Open Door Bookshop on Via della Lungharetta is for you.  It calls to mind a turn-of-the-century bookseller’s, with its wall to wall bookshelves and towering stacks of secondhand tomes.  And unlike many used book stores, Open Door has an eclectic trove of quality titles from all genres: classic literature, history, philosophy, poetry, political science, and much more.  It also boasts the distinction of being Rome’s only used English bookshop, and they occasionally serve as a venue for small concerts.

3.  Fandango Incontro.  This bookstore is for the booklover who likes to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine as they browse.  Beyond its collection of books, Fandango has an in-store café and bar in a cloistered room filled with light, tables, and plants, giving it the atmosphere of a greenhouse in someone’s mansion rather than a retail establishment.  With friendly staff, delicious food, and a wide share of literary events hosted, this is a bookshop you can easily sit in for hours.libreria

4.  Invito alla Lettura.  Located right in the middle of Centro Storico, this quirky independent shop is the perfect place to hide away from the bustling city.  In addition to stocking their shelves with many diverse used and rare books and manuscripts, Invito has plenty of vintage albums, stationery, and collected treasures to explore.  Although it doesn’t specialize purely in book, it’s a great place to chill out with a cup of coffee and a good novel.

5. Altroquando.  A late-night bookshop located on Via del Governo Vecchio, Altroquando offers a little bit of everything and excels at it.  They offer an exceptional stock of books on art and cinema, as well as a great comic book selection.  They also are the center of an active bohemian movement of locals, offering workshops, live music events, and film viewings as well as an Italian-English language exchange on Monday evenings.

Bookshops can be a great way of meeting locals and practicing your language skills, whether you’re in Rome for the weekend or for a more long-term stay.  Get started learning Italian with one of our courses, or send us an inquiry for more information.

The Top 10 Dishes You Have To Try In Sicily

Posted on September 23rd, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Forget the pasta and pizza that’s normally associated with dining in Italy – if you’re visiting Sicily, you owe it to yourself to explore its unique and eclectic cuisine.  With its location right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily’s culture has been influenced by thousands of years’ worth of different civilizations, and its warm climate and abundant farmland produce some of the most flavorsome produce on the continent.  If you don’t know where to begin, here are ten of Sicily’s most popular dishes.


caponata post 11. Caponata.  Sicily’s soil is perfect for growing aubergines, so they are a common ingredient in many of their courses.  Caponata is a sour-sweet stew of fried aubergine, onions, zucchini, capers, balsamic vinegar, and pine nuts.

2. Alici alle arance. Two of Sicily’s most defining foods are anchovies and oranges; this salad combines both, consisting of sliced oranges, salted anchovies, pine nuts, and parsley.

3. Arancini. A popular street-food, arancini are fried rice balls with a surprise, savory filling: they could be stuffed with mozzarella, vegetables, or seafood, so be sure to sample many different varieties!

4. Insalata di carciofi e fave.  A simple but refreshing starter, this salad consists of marinated artichokes and fava beans.  Not only is it tasty, but it’s also filling and high in protein.

5. Pane e pannelle.  Another street-food, pannelle are deep-fried chickpea fritters, similar to falafel from the other side of the Mediterranean.  They are eaten between slices of bread and make for a tasty on-the-go snack.

6. Cuscusù con cernia marinata.  Drawing from North African roots, this is a couscous dish cooked with marinated grouper or any other seafood that’s at hand.  It is traditional to Trapani of West Sicily, and is often served in an enormous platter garnished with an abundance of different types of fish.

arancini di riso in marianara sauce

7. Polpo bollito.  Sicily’s fame for seafood ranges beyond the conventional fish and mollusks; get your tastebuds out of their comfort zone by sampling some boiled octopus.

8. Involtini siciliani. Sicily’s take on meatballs, these are bite-sized dumplings of veal, tomatoes, raisins, and pine nuts.  They are often served on a bed of pasta or rice.

9. Pani ca meusa. Straight from the streets of Palermo, this is a dish for the truly daring.  “Pani ca meusa” translates as “bread with spleen,” and it is indeed bread stuffed with the chopped spleen and lungs of veal.

10. Sfinci di San Giuseppe. Of all Sicily’s delectable pastries, if you can only try one make it these fried cream puffs stuffed with sweet sheep’s cheese (after all, cannoli are standard fare in cafes all around the world now).  Garnished with chopped fruits and dusted with powdered sugar, they are an ideal addition to an after-dinner espresso.

Of course, these are just a sampling of Sicily’s wildly diverse menu of antipasti, main courses, and desserts.  To truly appreciate their culinary history, you will have to invest more into this island province than a brief visit; take a look at our different Italian courses to get started, or send us an inquiry.

Finding Mrs. Perfect In Italy – The Cross-Cultural Dating Scene

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

love italyWhether you come from an Italian background or are a newcomer to Italian culture and customs, you surely know that Italy is synonymous with romance in most mindsets.  And while it is not an uncommon practice for second-generation Italians to travel to their family’s native sod to seek out and marry “a nice Italian girl,” they find themselves sorely unprepared for the dating scene and the expectations held by Italian women.  And, while English-speaking cultures tend to be more egalitarian when it comes to gender relations, Italy prefers a more chivalrous approach, with the women traditionally being pampered, flattered, and showered with gifts.  Italian men have such a finely honed game, with their custom-tailored Armani suits and their mellifluous chat-up lines, that even the most well-intentioned of foreigners find it hard to compete.   But if you mean to try, here are a few tips to follow.

1. Don’t try to be Italian.  You will come off as a sad mockery at best if you try the typical Casanova approach to wooing.  Rather than overblown compliments and declarations of love that will sound tacky and forced coming from an expat who is already out of his element, determine your own best qualities and play them up as best you can.

2. Free Your Emotional Side.  Italians are known for being passionate and spontaneous, so coming out into the Italian social scene can be a fun chance to explore these sides of yourself in a way you may not have before.  Spur of the moment romantic gestures, public shouting, fast driving, and fits of jealousy are generally viewed as signs of appreciation.

3. Always Be Well-Dressed.  It’s a sign of class and self-respect to wear brand-name suits in Italy, and while they don’t necessarily have to be expensive, it’s best to wear subtly elegant clothes at all times.  Pay attention to matching colors and patterns, as well as shoes and accessories.  This goes double for grooming and personal hygiene.

4. Walk Through the Door First.  This may seem counter-intuitive, as in English-speaking countries it’s considered polite for a man to open a door for a woman and let her walk through first.  However, in Italy this dates back to a custom of entering a building and scoping it out to make sure it’s free from brigands and thus safe for your lady-friend.  Today the custom endures as a sign of respect.

tourist5. Use Your Foreignness To Your Advantage.  As an outsider, you are automatically intriguing to local women, and that can be a good way to say hello and spark conversation.  Many women who are tired of the melodramatic charade that is dating an Italian man will actually find you a breath of fresh air if you treat her with honesty and loyalty.  Express curiosity in her culture, family, and language—if you conduct yourself in a sincere and pleasant fashion, she’ll be all too happy to agree to meet up with you again.  Get started by sending us an inquiry, and take a look at our different levels of Italian courses.

Italian Desserts For the Curious Sweet Tooth

Posted on August 1st, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s easy, when thinking about Italy’s food culture, to get distracted by its diverse range of pasta, pizza, and seafood dishes, and in doing so lose sight of the course that many are often too full by the end of the night to even consider: dessert.  But Italian culture addresses dessert with the same care and gusto they put towards the rest of their meals.  And while pastries like cannoli and tiramisu are standard additions to most menus now, Italy’s branch of sweet fare encompasses so much more.


Brutti_ma_buoniFor one thing, Italy’s contribution to the world of cookies and biscuits is seemingly endless.  Everyone has probably had biscotti with their coffee at Starbucks, but there are also pizzelles, a thin, waffle-like cookie with a lacy pattern, flavored with anise, vanilla, or almond extract.  The Prado-based cookies brutti ma buoni (which translates to “ugly but good,”) look like unappetizing stones, but have a delicate almond flavor.  The Florentine is a particularly elaborate concoction: a caramel disc coated with dark chocolate, chopped hazelnuts and almonds, and candied cherries.

Many types of pastries are so special and so time-consuming to make that they’re reserved for a certain time of year, generally Christmas or Easter.  The bocconotto, eaten at Christmas, is a fluffy pastry from the region of Abruzzo which is filled generally with cocoa powder or cinnamon.  Pignoli are popular almond macaroons made of marzipan and studded with pine nuts, traditionally reserved for All Saints’ Day.  The Sicilian viscotta is an age-old recipe for cookies that are rolled into various shapes and baked, generally in preparation for Christmas.  The dough takes many days to prepare—it is stuffed with anise seeds and allowed to sit in a cool place in order to let the flavor develop fully.  Typically, because they’re such a headache to make, the yearly batch is large enough to feed an army, and a whole platoon of mothers, sisters, and daughters contributes to the baking!

gelato - Italian Desserts For the Curious Sweet Tooth

Of course, Italians have mastered the art of cakes as well.  The genoise is a Genoese sponge cake made without traditional leavening—instead, the chef mixes the batter up in such a way that air gets trapped inside.  Variations involve replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder, or soaking the final cake in flavored syrups or liqueurs.  Moreover, anyone with an intolerance to gluten will delight in the torta caprese, which is a flour-less cake made with minced almonds and melted chocolate.  Referred to as “one of history’s most fortunate mistakes,” legend has it that the torta caprese was created when a baker forgot to add flour to his cake batter.  The resulting cake has a thin shell and a moist, chocolaty interior, much like the best brownie you’ve ever had.  It can be enjoyed accompanied by Italian gelato and a small cappuccino, or simply on its own.

If reading about a few of Italy’s choicest desserts makes your mouth water, delve deeper into its pastry culture by learning Italian.  Send us an inquiry to get started or take a look at our different levels of Italian courses to see where you might place.

Top 7 Tourist Activities in Sicily

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When it comes to vacations in Italy, Sicily often falls by the wayside in favor of the more high profile mainland cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice.  However, for the more adventurous traveler, Sicily is a ruggedly beautiful and affordable region of Italy that is immersed in the same culture and traditions that have sustained it for hundreds of years.  Be prepared to come up against local dialects, immense culture shock, and the sensation that you’ve stepped back in time a generation or two; but if these are all things that sound intriguing to you, Sicily is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.  Here are the top 10 activities you absolutely cannot miss on your trip:


stromboli - Top 7 Tourist Activities in Sicily1. Laze On the Beach At San Vito Lo Capo.  This small town on the west coast of the island has idyllic white sand beaches and stunning vistas of the Mediterranean sea, as well as well-preserved Moorish architecture.

2. Sample the Local Fare.  Sicilian food is one of the most unique and flavorsome in the world; strongly influenced by Spanish and Italian cuisine, dishes are spicy and widely seafood based, flavored by almond, rosemary, mint, and basil.  Cannoli are a popular dessert you must try with strong coffee.

3. Tour the Salt Flats In Trapani.  Once a saltwater sea, over the course of time the waters receded, leaving Trapani with a surreal stretch of dried salt.  When the tide goes out, you can watch locals collect the residue to grind it in windmills.


cannoli - Top 7 Tourist Activities in Sicily4. Go Trekking.  Sicily is the home of many diverse national parks where nature-lovers can go on unsupervised hikes to the Nebrodi Mountains.  Be sure to take whatever gear you’ll need for your trip, as you won’t find any shops or park rangers for miles at a time.

5. Explore the Catacombi di Cappuccini.  Just off the city center of Palermo are the historic catacombs of the Capuchin Convent.  For €3 you can explore the remains of 8,000 mummified bodies – a fascinating if morbid outing.

6. Take a Ferry To the Aeolian Islands.  For the person with more maritime interests, you can catch a ferry from Palermo and go island-hopping.  Book a room in Lipari, the main island, and head to the neighboring Vulcano for a soothing dip in a natural mud bath, then take a night boat-ride toward Stromboli to see its volcano spout molten lava.

7. Take In the Culture of Ragusa.  Not only is this town a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its stunning baroque architecture, but it also has plenty of exciting festivals, including an international buskers’ festival and a piano and organ competition.

While Sicily is poorer and occasionally more dangerous than the mainland (only in terms of pickpocketing – tourists are almost never targeted for violent crimes), it is one of the few locations in western Europe where you can truly appreciate a slower, more traditional way of life.  Prepare for your trip by looking through our different levels of Italian courses, or contact us at Language Trainers for more information.

Eating Your Way Through Italy Gluten-Free

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

Pizza, pasta, focaccia—Italy is famous for its delicious food and carb-heavy meals.  However, to a traveler with a gluten intolerance, the thought of being surrounded by tantalizing wheat products can be nightmarish.  Luckily, Italian cuisine is imaginative and quick to evolve with the times—in fact, their awareness of Celiac disease has predated that of most other countries, and they even have a National Celiac Association that funds study and promotion of Celiac awareness throughout the country.  To say the words, “Senza glutine,” at a restaurant is a request that people are genuinely concerned about, and they will do their utmost to accommodate you.  Thanks to this, there is a surprising array of foods suitable for the celiac diet, so that you’ll be able to indulge in Italy’s diverse culinary scene without having to live off of salads for your entire stay.


1. Gluten-free products.  To simply ask for your pasta or pizza gluten-free at a restaurant will result in the kitchen fixing you up a plate of fettuccini or gnocchi made from corn or rice flour without question—and they are likely to be some of the best dishes you’ve ever eaten.  Celiac disease is such a pressing issue in Italy that people with gluten intolerances even receive a €100 monthly allowance from the government health system to buy gluten-free foodstuffs, which are often sold in pharmacies.

capresse salad - Eating Your Way Through Italy Gluten-Free2. Caprese salad.  If you don’t want to make a fuss, there are plenty of staple Italian dishes that don’t involve meat of any sort.  An old favorite of these is the antipasto Caprese salad, a delectably simple dish of sliced buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, and leaves of fresh basil—a guaranteed pleaser even for non-celiacs!

3. Gelato.  Another necessity for anyone traveling to Italy to taste, gelato is a frozen confection made primarily with milk and eggs, and thus unoffending to even gluten-sensitive palates.  In addition to this, any gelato shop you order from will make a point to scoop your gelato from a separate container to avoid contamination from crumbs that may have fallen into the regular supply.

4. Polenta.  A less stereotypical Italian dish, polenta is a cultural favorite in the region to the northeast of Venice.  A type of cornmeal dish that is either eaten as a porridge, grilled, or fried into a cake, polenta is traditionally eaten with elaborate sides such as mushrooms, tomato salads, and local sausages.

IMG_29375. Risotto.  What many people don’t realize is rice is a common side dish in Italy, and risotto is the most common way of preparing it.  While every region has its own take on the popular dish, it is always prepared the same way: by cooking rice in broth and flavoring it with various meat, fish, and vegetables.  Be sure to try it in different cities so you can compare!

To delve deeper into Italy’s gluten-free food culture, it would help you to know the basics of Italian.  Send us an inquiry for information on getting started, or take a look at our different levels of Italian courses.

A Foreign Student’s Top Italian Phrases

Posted on June 15th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »


Italian is the perfect language for a college student to study: it’s melodious, it comes from a fascinating background of art and poetry, and it has easy grammar rules for the English-speaker to come to terms with.  And, of course, for any young student or admirer of Italian, there is the opportunity of a semester abroad in Italy.  No matter what city you choose, from the dazzling Rome to the romantic Venice to the foodie’s paradise of Naples, it’s sure to be a life-changing experience.  Get started on the right foot by knowing these crucial Italian phrases which will help make your cultural transition that much easier.

1. Ubirra_itlianana birra, per favore.  An important phrase in any language, “One beer, please,” will get you through most social situations until you learn enough Italian to cobble together an actual conversation with someone.

2. Scusate il mio italiano.  Sono uno studente internazionale.  “Pardon my Italian.  I’m an international student.”  Of course, no Italians are going to expect you to speak fluently as a newcomer to their country, and they will very likely be thrilled that you’re studying their language.  Still, this is a good way to explain to them that you’re still a beginner and liable to make mistakes.

3. Qual è il tuo vino preferito?  “Which is your favorite wine?”  It would be a shame to travel all the way to Italy and not learn a thing or two about good wine, so ask around.  Italians are very proud of their history of winemaking, and will be thrilled to tell you how to select wine like a pro.

4. I tuoi occhi sono belli come il mare.  If you plan to have a social life in Italy, you will quickly learn that romance and pretty one-liners are an important part of dating, even among the younger generation.  Start with something simple and straightforward like the above, “Your eyes are beautiful like the sea,” to strike up a conversation.  As you get more confident with your speaking skills, you can move on to more complex lines.  If you need ideas for something charming and insincere to say to an attractive person in a bar, you can always lift quotes from any Fellini movie.

5. Dove è la mia classe?  It happens to us all; we get disoriented in a new environment and start to panic.  Ask anyone on your campus, “Where is my class?” and they will do their best to point you in the right direction.

6. Mi fa cagare!  A slang term that literally means, “It makes me poop!” this is a more colorful way of saying, “That’s awful!” and can be used in any situation, from missing your bus to flunking an exam.

7. Dante è sopravvalutato.  “Dante is overrated.”  On second thought, don’t say this to anyone.  You’ll be thrown out of the country.  However, if you wish to get started with your Italian lessons as soon as possible, send us an inquiry or take a look at our different levels of classes.

5 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad In Italy

Posted on May 19th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Choosing where to study abroad for a semester can be a daunting task.  After all, every place has its charms and pitfalls, so how do you know the country you pick is right for you?  For anyone looking to study in Europe, Italy will offer you an educational experience like none other.  Here are the top five reasons you should make Italy your choice for a semester abroad.

1. Location.  Italy is conveniently placed right in the middle of the Mediterranean region, making it a quick flight or less quick train-ride away from anywhere in Europe.  With budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet, you can take advantage of deals to European cities and visit places like Paris and Madrid for as little as €40 per roundtrip.

cuisine2. Food and Wine.  Naples is the food capital of the country, but essentially anywhere you go in Italy you will be assailed by diverse, imaginative, and delicious cuisine.  Even old favorites, like pasta and pizza, will blow you away with how fresh and flavorsome they are when cooked in their home territory.  Wine is abundant, cheap, and of good quality, and 18 is the legal drinking age in Europe.  And, astonishingly, thanks to their liberal use of olive oil, Italian food is much healthier than standard college fare most undergrads live off of, so you don’t have to worry about gaining weight.

3. Fashion.  All fashionistas, whether students or fanatics of fashion, will agree that Milan is one of the world’s great style capitals, the heartland of such beloved brands as Prada, Gucci, and Dolce and Gabbana.  Throughout all of Italy, dressing well is a necessity as primal as basic hygiene, and simply walking down the street is sure to expose you to daring new getups.  While this can be intimidating to some, it can also be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and inject some new life into your own sense of style.

architecture4. Art and Architecture.  It’s no secret that Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance, boasting the residency of famous maestros such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonnarotti, and Filippo Brunelleschi.  As such, anyone with a passion for the visual arts or the aesthetics of design owes it to themselves to visit the birthplace of Europe’s first great enlightenment.  See world famous paintings, such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” at the stunning Uffizi Gallery Museum.  Stand in the grandeur of such legendary works as the gothic cathedral Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiori, the Laurentine Library, or the Florentine Pieta.

5. Language.  Simply listening to the Italian language spoken is a musical and transcendent experience, and it remains one of the most popular languages to learn because of this.  If you head to Italy with the foundations of the language under your belt, you will be amazed at how much you learn simply by being immersed in the language constantly.  Get started today by checking out our different levels of Italian courses, or send us an enquiry for more information.

Top 7 Italian Movie Quotes

Posted on May 5th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

For a culture so rich in both language and cinematography, it’s no surprise that Italian film offers the world some of the most famous and widely repeated movie quotes.  For those looking to improve their Italian listening sills, or for the lover of international cinema, here are a few of our favorite quotes from great Italian movies.

Enzo_Staiola_in_Bicycle_Thieves1. “My dears, happiness consists of being able to tell the truth without hurting anyone.”  8 ½—Considered by many to be Federico Fellini’s masterpiece, 8 ½ is a quasi-autobiographical work, the lament of an artist who feels he is past his prime.  Fellini explores the themes of life, love, truth, and beauty and in relation to the modern lifestyle.

2. “There’s a cure for everything except death.”  The Bicycle ThievesA classic of Italian cinema, The Bicycle Thieves is an emotional look at post-WII depression era Italy, with the snappy sense of humor, grimness, and appreciation for beauty that is quintessentially Italian.

3. “Buongiorno, Principessa!”  Life Is Beautiful—Roberto Benigni’s shockingly funny and heartrending drama of a family torn apart by the Holocaust won him three Oscars.  A movie of hope, humor, and love even in the darkest times, this is a must-see for anyone.

Fellini_plaque,_Via_Veneto4. “Life isn’t like in the movies.  Life is much harder.”  Cinema Paradiso—A film that is both a coming of age tale and a love song to all cinema, Cinema Paradiso tells the story of Salvatore Di Vita as he experiences youth, friendship, love, heartbreak, and an artistic calling that helps him endure it all.

5. “It is not always easy to explain our country to foreigners.  In Italy the slowest trains are called ‘fast’ and the evening news comes out in the morning.”  Il Divo: the Spectacular Life of Giulio AndreottiTelling the story of Giulio Andreotti, the Italian Prime Minister who served seven terms since 1946, here is a detailed and intricate look at the political workings of the Italian government since WWII.  Both comic and horrific, it examines the corruption and violence inherent in Andreotti’s political scheming.

6. “We’re all on the brink of despair.  All we can do is look each other in the face, keep each other company, joke a little.  Don’t you agree?”  The Great Beauty—Another critically acclaimed work by contemporary director Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty looks at the absurdity of existence through the eyes of a jaded, elderly writer.  Witty and sumptuous in the tradition of classic Italian film, this will appeal to lovers of Fellini’s films.

7. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”  The Godfather—While Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia masterpiece is technically an American film, no list of famous movie quotes is complete without a mention of its many renowned one-liners.  Other good ones include, “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes,” and, “Leave the gun.  Take the cannoli.”

Anyone interested in watching these films for themselves will find themselves entranced by the rich and thought-provoking of Italian cinema.  Send us an inquiry to get started learning Italian for yourself, or check out our different Italian courses for yourself.