La Bella lingua, or how I learn Italian.

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Learning Italian is an ongoing project of mine, The first time we visited Italy was in the mid 1980’s.  My wife and I spoke little of no Italian. My mother inlaw spoke well, but with a Sicilian dialect which some Romans resented and preceded not to understand, These days my wife and I can manage fairly well. I am better than she, by choice and hard work. She can grasp the language more quickly than I, but has many other interests that keep here occupied.  That said I have used several different methods  to learn Italian.

 

Pimlseur is one of the best methods if you commute or do not have time to sit down and practice writing and reading.  

https://offers.pimsleur.com/free-trial-1401-brand?utm_source=google&utm_term=pimsleur%20italian&utm_campaign=G_Pim_Brand_Italian_Tier%201_Exact&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=Cj0KCQjwov3nBRDFARIsANgsdoEmamrfEcunNu16hAzWBRkNogmzOpMUg9l32B92XosiZ-PvYLZptP8aAj3ZEALw_wcB

Now it is an online subscription, but you can still find lessons as MP3 or audio book on Amazon, Ebay, or Audible.  Levels go from 1 to 5 and do a good job on basic conversation.   Problem with the recordings is that you get no spelling exercises  and that does not help reading comprehension. Their accompanying booklets do not use vocabulary from the lessons. 

 

 

Rosetta Stone never did it for me  I tried and now my DVD is out of date for the next operating systems.  My feeling is do not waste your  money. They are also on a subscription program.

 

DuoLingo is a great way to learn using your tablet, phone, or PC.  It is free, but there are options to learn  without ads or being interrupted because you made too may errors and the program will not allow you to continue (with the exception of practice sessions) until the next day. You learn with written and audible lessons. One listens and is asked to translate as well as read and translate English to Italian and Italian to English.   There is a lot of repetition and that helps learning. Here are some examples from various lessons, 

 

 

https://www.duolingo.com/

 

        

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Yes, I really love DuoLingo.  But there is no one on one with a teacher.  I always have questions and Googling does not always get the correct one,

 

 

Italian Pod 101 has extensive resources for learning.  Hundreds of lessons from beginner to advanced.  It has good grammar instruction and various resources.  Those include Video, Audio, flash cards etc.   

https://www.italianpod101.com/index.php

The differentiating factor is the you can get your own teacher.  I find this very helpful and it has made me renew my membership for another year.

 

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Sample screen shots

The one on one instructions read like a book, You send a message back and forth and it continues so you always have a record of your instruction. You are able to send audio clips, photos, 

 

 

My teacher, Valentina, is very helpful and instructive. She is what makes Italian Pod 101 so effective.

 

Sample correspondence:

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SAT, JUN 01

Teacher
Ciao Greg, come stai? Spero bene! Ecco un nuovo esercizio per te. (Fammi sapere se questo l’hai già fatto in passato, non mi ricordo) youtube.com/watch?v=_hnPAciqG_U&list=PL71wtqaYwBCJXAzxWhq44UQzlHhvw0-Ru&index=3 La casa Feng Shui 1. Perché Laura è stupita quando torna a casa? 2. Cos’è il Feng Shui? Qual è il suo scopo? 3. Fai un elenco dei cambiamenti che ha fatto Marcello, facendo un confronto prima/dopo. Divano: Prima il divano era… Adesso è… Parete: Comodino: Tavolino: Mobile con giradischi: Poltrona della nonna:
01:49
4. Scrivi tutti i commenti positivi che ricordi di Laura sul nuovo arredamento. 5. Perché Laura preferiva il tavolino di plastica? 6. Completa le regole del Feng Shui che spiega Marcello. (1 o più parole) “Il divano deve favorire la ……… e dare un …….. di ………. Per questo non deve trovarsi vicino ad ……… come porte e finestre e deve ……….. a una parete.” “La parete del divano deve essere libera: niente …… , …….. o …….” “I mobili e gli oggetti di plastica bloccano il ……. …. …….. I materiali migliori sono quelli ……. : legno, …… e ……. 7. Secondo te, qual è la vera ragione per cui Marcello ha tolto la poltrona della nonna?
01:49
SUN, JUN 02 My answer to questions 

Ho riso. Lui è come mia moglia]
EDIT
04:12
TUE, JUN 04

Teacher 
Davvero? Ahah
02:22
WED, JUN 05 My answers to questions 
1 1 Laura è stupita quando torna a casa perchè lui ha cambiato I mobili, i quadri, i colori. Niente è lo stesso.
EDIT
02:53
2 Feng Shui è un modo di organizare una stanza e una casa. Il suo obiettivo è massimizzare la vita, l’energia, e il fluso della casa.
EDIT
03:01
La lista di cose cambiati: Il divano era vicino della finestra. Adesso è accanto la parete. la parete era gianca e adesso è roso le mensole mancano anche i libri Adesso sono spostati. Perchè il divano dovrebbe libera. il tavalo di camera da letto è in in sogiorno adesso. Gli incensi è sopra il tavolo (il comodino) il tavolo era plastica adesso é fatto di legno I mobolie con grandischi da il toco vintage. Non sono certo che era li prima. La sedia della nonna no è qui, Sembra che era molto grande. Ma adesso ćè una sedia moderna, senza le bracia

 

 

To sum up, no one method will suit everyone.  I am able to hold a reasonable conversation when in Italy, ask directions and order a pizza without anchovies vorrei una pizza senza acciughe

 

Buona fortuna a tutti. 

Italy Airfares? UP or Down? Plan Ahead

Last year I flew to Milan for a bike tour. Because of all the stuff I needed to bring, I had to have luggage in both directions,

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It was not a bad price, $488.00 from Miami, non stop. I spent about $60 for better seating so I could get off the plane quickly, and that was worth it.

 

This year my wife and I are traveling light, carry on only,

 

Basically the same flight with out the extras.  I purchased these tickets on Sept 20, and $389.00 Non Stop Round Trip from Miami is excellent. 

 

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Today that same ticket is $$$610.14.  That is a $120 increase, still not a bad price to Italy during the shoulder season.

Plan ahead and shop early when you see a good fare.   Use Google Flights, or Google Flight Matrix from ITA. Here is the link http://matrix.itasoftware.com

Keep track of prices and when you see a reasonable price, grab it.  In 2016 we flew to Florence vis Dusseldorf on Air Berlin (now defunct) and tickets were $900 each. Air Italy offers many deisitnations and origins. Miami, New York, San Fransico, Los Angeles. Check it out.  Keep in mind there are VERY low fares in Italy to other cities.  Alitalia is offering €39 one way fares from Milan to Catania, and €46 from Milan to Rome.  Compare a cost of $747 on Air Italy direct vs the $483 plus about $90 for the Milan to Palermo/Catania flights. 

 

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Air Italy and Miami Inewrnational

 

 

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Duomo, Milano

 

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Orvieto, take the Finiculare and bus.

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The Duomo Orvieto

If you plan on visiting Orvieto, that incredible hilltop town, and you are arriving by car, plan ahead. Like many town in Italy, traffic is restricted.  The “zona limitato” means you are subject to a multi or fine. Traffic cameras are present throughout Italy. I can attest to their effectiveness. Orvieto maintains a public parking lot at the bottom of the hill where you can take the funicular to the top and catch a bus for the short tine into the centro. Tickets are 1.30 Euro one way and good for 90 minutes. 

 

Here is a link to the short video of the ride and bus trip.

 

 

 

 

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There is a parking area at the base of the funiculare.  Look for spaces that indicate parking is allowed and there is no charge. 

Leonardo 500 | YesMilano Milan is Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the death of Leonardo

From http://www.yesmilano.it

Thing to do in Milan  Right now airfare to Milan is priced very low from mid September on.  

Vertical Gardens, Milan 2018 Greg Speck

 

 

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Leonardo 500 | YesMilano:

 

LEONARDO 500
19/02/2019
Milan is the city in which Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo da Vinci lived the longest.

Milan is the city in which Leonardo da Vinci lived the longest. Leonardo arrived to Milan in 1482, at the service of the Duke Ludovico Sforza, and his presence left an indelible mark in the history and art of the city and of the whole territory of Lombardy.

For this reason, Milan celebrates the 500th anniversary since his death with a schedule of events that will take place over the course of nine months (May 2019 – January 2020), with the Castello Sforzesco at the heart of the programme. The project will involve institutions and public and private bodies, associations and societies throughout Lombardy that will work together to create a calendar of events that will be constantly updated.

 

 

YESMILANO is the brand dedicated to the promotion of the city of Milan and its calendar of international events

Here is the link to the entire schedule 

https://www.yesmilano.it/eventi/tutti-gli-eventi/leonardo-500

 

 

 

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Photo above from Yes Milano 

 

 

 

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Above photo by Greg Speck 2018 Il Cenacolo

Tickets to view Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper go on sale three months in advance and sell out quickly, although it’s sometimes possible to buy tickets closer to your visit. You may have to combine with a tour of multiple places and the cost will be much higher.  

What I Loved About Tuscany Part 2

Siena is beautiful. From the towers to the countryside, it is full of beauty. 

Torre del mangia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

 Torre del Mangia towering above of the Palazzo Pubblico
 
Torre del Mangia.
The Torre del Mangia is a tower in Siena, in the Tuscany region of Italy. Built in 1338-1348,[1] it is located in the Piazza del Campo, Siena’s premier square, adjacent to the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall). When built it was one of the tallest seculartowers in medieval Italy.[2] At 102 m, it is second tallest after Cremona’s Torrazzo (112 m (367 ft)) the Asinelli tower in Bologna at 97 m being third.

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Piazza del Campo

 

IMG 5336From the top of the Torre. 

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My favorite lunch. 

 

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We found a wonderful BnB just outside of Siena

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The Duomo

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A small salumeria we picked out our lunch. 

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Siena is a good home base for touring around Tuscany. It is definitely car country to access all these beautiful spots. 

To be continued. 

Bargain Airfares To Italy

It s that time, lower airfares for fall travel. Just booked my fall trip for my wife and I. 

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Now is the time for searching the fares. My two tickets cost less than one several years ago. No baggage, but we travel light.

Try Google Flights, Momondo.com, and be flexible.  Use the flexible dates that can lower your trip quite a bit.

 

My flight is on AirItaly which I used last year and was very pleased with them.

 

Good hunting.

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Vincenza, Veneto, Italy

VincenzaI came upon VIncenza during bike tour in October.   A beautiful city in north east Italy. This photo is of Ponte San Paolo

 

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Porticos as we walked to the centro for dinner.

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The civic Bissara Tower was built in the late 12th century and overlooks Piazza dei Signori, alongside the famous Basilica Palladiana.
The tower was raised in the mid-15th century to it present height og 82 meters ans is still one of the tallest buildings in Vicenza.

 

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The centro or downtown area is great for dining or shopping.

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Upscale Pricing Here

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My bike tour group heads for dinner in VIncenza

Alberobello, Apulia Italy

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The trulls are whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs.   Hut is misleading as they can be quite elaborate. We decided to visit the Apulia area of Italy and found ti to be beautiful  and hospitable.  Cities like Alberobello, Ostuni, and Trani are well worth the trip down south on the Adriatic side. 

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The construction is amazing

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The architecture style applies to many buildings.

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A perfect town to walk in.

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This is a beautiful town and well worth the visit.  Click on link for map.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/70011+Alberobello,+Metropolitan+City+of+Bari,+Italy/@40.7917018,16.9671958,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x1347b264abcdaa6f:0xdec45d1171885f51!8m2!3d40.7864131!4d17.240936

 

 

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Milan’s Stunning San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore – An American in Rome

My favorite travel blog about Italy is An American In Rome.  Natalie has been helping travelers to Rome for a number of years. But she does not stop there. Look at her pos on the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore in Milan.  I was fortunate to visit this amazing treasure at the end of September.  Her blog has some amazing photos and more information.  Here are some of my photos.  The art work is amazing. Go to the link at the bottom for Natalie’s great blog page on this church. 

 

 

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The depiction of the ark is beautiful. 

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Natalies blog link is below.

 

https://anamericaninrome.com/wp/2018/12/san-maurizio-al-monastero-maggiore-milan/

 

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