Posts Tagged ‘Speaking Italian’

I love it quadri

Tip #1:    Point and grunt.

Tip #2:    Always have Google Translate open on your phone and a copy of the “Alfabeto Fonetico” in your wallet. My name spelled out this way is Torino-Otranto-Napoli-Imola. Domodossola-Empoli-Bologna-Empoli-Livorno-Livorno-Ancona.

Tip #3:    Never make eye contact on public transportation – it invites people to speak to you.

Tip #4   Don’t engage in conversations with Italians under the age of 5…it’s just soo00 humiliating.

Tip #5:    Avoid initiating phone calls – send emails or text messages because you’re less likely to sound stupid in writing.

Tip #6:    If you must answer the phone, pretend you’ve got a bad connection. “Pronto? Mi senti? Mi senti? Boh” and then hang up.

Tip #7:    Respond to questions (even if you don’t understand them) with phrases such as “Certo” (sure), “Si, Si” (yes, yes), “Va bene” (okay) and “Ho capito” (understood) as you start to walk away. People won’t think you’re rude – just late for an appointment.

Tip #8:    When all else fails…talk with your hands.


And speaking of speaking Italian..I recently participated in a podcast with Cher Hale, the brains behind the “Iceberg Project.


What’s the Iceberg Project,?

The Iceberg Project is based on the theory that most of what you learn about culture when visiting a new country without speaking the language is just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about The Iceberg Project go to click here

by Toni DeBella


Read Full Post »

Proper Bathroom Etiquette

I put my euro into the slot at the automatic gate and a high-pitched alarm sounded. The gate wouldn’t open so I started fiddling with the coin return button in an attempt to make the buzzing stop!  Fifteen seconds of that ear-piercing noise brought out the bathroom attendant who shouted at me in Italian to move my bag. “Can’t you see that your suitcase is too close to the gate and that’s what’s causing the commotion?” he growled at me menacingly.

Big Fat Chicken

I’ve never been very good at confrontations; I get really nervous in tense situations, which usually renders me completely inarticulate. If someone is aggressive or mean to me I dummy-up, only to think of a pithy comeback later when it’s too late.

Parlo Italiano un po’

But something strange happens when I speak Italian: my personality changes and my communications become more direct and my tone tougher. Perhaps because my vocabulary is limited I don’t mince words. What finally comes out of my mouth is basic and instinctual. In Italian, I don’t pull any punches.

The change has come…

Without missing a beat or hesitating one millisecond, it came over me — a reaction as natural and spontaneous as I’ve ever had. “Eh, no, non ho capito perche’ il problema non e’ ovvio, SCUSA!” I yelled back at the attendant, adding the appropriate hand gestures for greater effect.  He backed off. Maybe this place is rubbing off on me?

by Toni DeBella

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: