This is the blog for Dream of Italy™, The Insider's Guide to Undiscovered Italy, a paid subscription travel newsletter. Dream of Italy™ (www.dreamofitaly.com) has been recommended by USA TODAY, National Geographic Traveler, U.S. News & World Report and American Way. Editor Kathy McCabe has helped thousands of travelers get the most out of their visits to Italy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

That Language We Love -- Italiano

Italian is currently spoken by about 70 million people around the world, in Italy and 29 other countries. It is the official language of Italy, San Marino and the Ticino and Grigioni cantons of Switzerland. It is the second official language in Vatican City and in some areas of Istria in Slovenia and Croatia with an Italian minority. It is widely used by immigrant groups in Luxembourg, the U. S., Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and Australia, and is also spoken in neighboring Albania. Italian is also spoken to a lesser extent in parts of Africa formerly under Italian rule such as Somalia, Libya, and Eritrea. On Malta, too, Italian is widely known and taught and served as the official language until English was adopted in its 1934 Constitution.

Italian enthusiasts may be interested in subscribing to one or more of Accademia La Crusca’s periodicals, which are, in typical Italian fashion, beautifully printed. The organization has three annual publications and La Crusca per voi, published bi-monthly.

Readers interested in learning, or improving upon, Italian will find no shortage of classes to take or language courses to peruse. A few resources are:

Self-Study Courses

Living Language: the pioneer in foreign language self-study courses, founded in 1946. Courses are available in book, CD, cassette, video, and DVD formats for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Courses include Complete Course: The Basics, Drive Time, In-Flight, Ultimate Beginner-Intermediate, Ultimate Advanced, Parla Italiano?, All-Audio, Without the Fuss, Languages for Travelers, Baby’s First Steps, Learn Together for the Car, Learn Together in the Kitchen, Bravissimo!, and a new interactive program, 2,000+ Essential Italian Verbs.

Acquerello Italiano: a bimonthly audiomagazine for students of Italian language and culture, but not for beginners. Editions are available in either cassette or CD and each program, featuring topics ranging from politics, music, film, travel, opera, interviews, and current events, is one hour in length. The broadcasts are presented in Italian by native speakers. An annual subscription on cassette is $99 or $189 for two years; on CD, subscriptions are $110 for one year and $211 for two. Each recording comes with a magazine that includes a word for word transcription, an extensive glossary, and URLs for related websites.

Italian Classes in Florence

British Institute of Florence: founded in 1917, the British Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote British culture in Italy and Italian culture to English-speaking visitors. The BI also maintains a library of English books, housed in Palazzo Lanfredini, which it inherited from Sir Harold Acton. Language courses are offered for beginners, intensive beginners, and intermediate as well as intensive study courses offered for one week and Living Italian offered for three months. A two-week Italian Summer School is also offered in August. Language courses range in price from about $190 a week to $1,750 for 12 weeks. Drawing, watercolor, art history, Tuscan cooking, wine and food, and opera courses are also offered. The BI also has an accommodation advisor to help students find living quarters if needed, and it has access to a limited number of rooms in self-catering accommodations often shared with Italian or foreign students to be booked at least three months in advance. The British Institute is located at piazza Strozzi 2, (39) 055.2677.8222

Centro Lingua Italiana Calvino: CLIC is an Italian language school authorized by the Italian Ministry of Education. Language courses offered are superintensive (6 hours per day), standard (4 hours per day), and holiday (2 hours a day). Courses range in price from about 140 euros for one week to 2,160 euros for a three week individual program. In addition, a great number of organized activities are arranged, including visits to museums, dinners, concerts, games, lectures, cinema shows, guided walks around Florence, and trips to other towns in Tuscany. CLIC also offers cooking and computer graphics classes, and offers housing in apartments, even for families. The school is located at viale Fratelli Rosselli 74, 055.288.081

Classes in the U. S.

Istituto Italiano di Cultura: the Italian Cultural Institute not only offers language classes but is a great organization to help keep you immersed in all things Italian. If you live in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington, D. C. you may partake in all the classes, lectures, and special events organized by the ICI. But if you do not, you may still find the ICI’s website (http://www.italcultny.org/) a useful reference as it has links to scholarships and grants for American citizens to study in Italy; Italian private schools offering language courses; Italian public institutions offering courses for foreigners; and scholarships for studying Italian language and culture in Italy available through the ICI.

All the North American offices of the Italian Government Tourist Board have a number of brochures for language classes both domestically and in Italy. Offices are located in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto.

Finally, many colleges and universities offer language courses during the summer months that are open to adults at every level, and Italian students studying here often advertise their services for teaching Italian. If you really want to learn, it’s not that difficult to find a tutor or a class.

As an aside, if you need help translating a fax, e-mail, letter, or text of any kind, try logging onto www.altavista.com. Users simply click on the word “translate” (don’t worry that only English and Spanish appear on the right side of the screen), then type in the word or phrase you want translated, select from English to Italian, and click again on “translate.” It works from Italian to English, too. This is particularly helpful when viewing websites that are exclusively in Italian.

-- Barrie Kerper, special contributing editor to the June issue of Dream of Italy and author of the The Collected Traveler series of books


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