Summer in Italian: The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

few years ago while I was sitting on a beach in Southern Italy, I noticed a man kicking a soccer ball down the shoreline. He kicked it a few feet at a time, nothing too strenuous, just a nice bit of play in the middle of a glorious sunny afternoon. It struck me as unusual that this man would take the time to do this. It was as if he had all the time in the world at his disposal and the only thing he cared about at that moment was kicking that soccer ball.

The explanation for his behaviour then occurred to me. He had developed the abilty to practice l’arte di non fare niente. This is an Italian expression which translates as the art of doing nothing. Ah, dolce far niente! It is also known as the sweetness of doing nothing.

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Summer in Italian: Buon Ferragosto!

Years ago I celebrated my first Italian Ferragosto in Capri,  a most fitting (though crowded) place to be on August 15. The Roman emperor Augustus, so enjoyed late summer that he claimed as his own the month we now call by his name.

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Summer in Italian: Vacation Time

Italy goes on vacation in August.  Even in not-yet-normal times, shops are shuttered, restaurants closed, streets quiet. Cities empty as residents joins  the esodo estivo (the summer exodus), the  mass departure of Italians heading off for their ferie estive (summer holidays).

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Summer in Italian: Bug off!

They buzz, bite, sting — and shatter the serenity of a summer day in Italy. Many of the insects (gli insetti) you might encounter in Italy are familiar foes. The fly (mosca), mosquito (zanzara), gnat (moscerino), wasp (vespa),  bumble bee (calabrone) and tick (zecca ) are blood-thirsty predators.  Others, such as the ant (formica) and beetle (scarafaggio) may be more interested in what’s on your table.

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Summer in Italian: Sailing

For years we sailed San Francisco Bay in a boat called Canto del Mare (Song of the Sea). When we started sailing in Italy, we had to master a new maritime vocabulary, starting with the names for various Italian boats (imbarcazioni italiane):

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Summer in Italian: The Beach (La Spiaggia)

The beaches on the northern California coast where I live are beautiful, dramatic — and usually windy, foggy and cold in the summer months.  As much as I love walking and running on them, none can compare with una spiaggia italiana. If I could, I’d spend the entire summer on one.

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Summer in Italian: A Season in the Sun

Italians sometimes describe themselves as “solari” (sunny, cheerful, radiant). Il sole italiano (the Italian sun) certainly has inspired il culto del sole (sun worship) throughout the peninsula. Could anyone other than Italians have written a love song to the sun?

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Summer in Italian: Swimming

I swam my way through the pandemic.  As soon as Covid restrictions eased, our community pool reopened—with social distancing, which meant no more than two swimmers at a time. By coming late in the day I almost always have had the pool to myself. Lovely as it is to be in the water—any water—it’s not the same as swimming in Italy.   

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7 Reasons to Learn Italian in Italy

The country of Italy, with its culture and iconic lifestyle, beckons to be understood. Speaking its language can help. Obviously you can study Italian as a foreign language in a school abroad or online, but nothing and no one will be able to enrich and involve you like an Italian school in Italy! As Italy opens its doors to the world, here are seven excellent reasons to come and study Italian in its native land:

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Celebrating Fathers in Italy and around the World

On Father’s Day—and many others—I cherish a special memory: the last time I danced with my Dad, at an Italian-American banquet in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   My mother had died a few months before, and I decided to bring my broken-hearted Dad along with me on a book tour that would take me to our home town of Scranton, Pa. Together we navigated the swirls of the New Jersey Turnpike. We stayed at roadside motels and a residence hall of a leafy campus. We ate at the first Mexican restaurant my 90-something Dad had ever visited. One of his hearing aids konkd out. I lost a contact lens. “We better hope Mom is in heaven looking after us,” I said.

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