Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



The Italian Language, Schools, Books, Experiences...  Go to main page of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site



Photo Tours






Italian University

Schools in Italy

Basic Italian Online and Books

Italian Dialects

Learning Italian

Easy Reading Books



Perugia is an Umbrian hillside town where the government runs a language school to train foreign students for entry into Italian universities. 


The I Read Italian site is dedicated to helping parents bring up bilingual children:  Italian/English.


Free Italian Flash-Card Programs at Flash Card Exchange


On-line Audio Lab for vocabulary and phrases



Like all Umbrian hillside towns, Perugia's homes are piled next to and on top of one another and the hill with little space to spare



Part of Piazza Grande in the center of Perugia.  The cathedral steps are the favorite hangout for students during the summer months.



A typical side street in Perugia.  Click on the image to view over 100 images of Perugia courtesy of



Siena, Golden in the Sun after a Storm.  Click on the image to view over 300 images of Siena courtesy of



Click on the image of beautiful Padua to go on a virtual tour courtesy of  



Siena's Main Square, Il Campo.  Click on the image to view a dozen images of Siena courtesy of



Florence's Cathedral.  Click on the image to view a dozen images of Florence courtesy of




A Copy of Michelangelo's David in the Main Square of Florence.  Click on the image of David above to go on a virtual tour of Florence courtesy of



Florence's famous Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge



View of Florence from the hills



Santa Croce church in Florence



Florence's Main Square



The start of Florence's main shopping street


Tips for Great Reads:



Mysteries in Ancient Rome

Historical Novels


For Children

Romance Novels

Non-Fiction (Cooking, Calendars...)

Bestselling Italian Writers


Short Stories in Dual Language

Audio Books in Italian

Free E-Books



Italian is a flexible and musical language that allows for great creativity of expression.  The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V understood this, or he wouldn't have said:

I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.

Virtualitalia, a site with many resources on Italian culture, offers a great summary of the history of the Italian language.  To become an instant expert, click here.  

The good news is that the Italian language has a small number of words compared to the English language.  To compensate, many Italian words have multiple meanings.  So you only need a vocabulary of roughly 2000 words to speak basic Italian.  To speak relatively well, you need a vocabulary of roughly 6000 words. 


Italian University

If you have to qualify for entry into an Italian University (many foreign students study medicine in Italy), Perugia's program is recognized by Italian Universities.

I had a link here, but it kept becoming obsolete, so just search for the university in Google and you should be fine.  

If you're not a mountain person (Perugia is atop an Umbrian mountain-see the photos in the left column), you may prefer to do the same course of study in Otranto on the heel of Italy's boot, where you'll find some of the best Mediterranean beaches.

Otranto nel Mondo is authorized by Perugia's University for Foreigners to teach and administer the same exams. 


Schools in Italy

I know from experience that it's a near waste of time to study a language where it's not spoken, so I suggest you go to Italy to study Italian.  

There are lots of language schools.  All you have to do is enter "Study Italian in Italy" in any search engine and you will have pages of programs to trawl through.  The ones I link to below were brought to my attention by visitors to this site.

Summer Study Abroad Programs from the Global Student Experience provides study abroad programs in Europe, Australia, Argentina and the UK.

Istituto linguistico Mediterraneo offers Italian language courses at two locations:  Pisa, and Viareggio on the coast.  Their multi-lingual site offers lots of information, including photos of the area, classes and students.  They help arrange accommodation, and even offer a Forum so you can discuss on-line things with other students, potential students and people from the school.

Porta d'Oriente, the name of the school, refers to the fact that the school is located near what was considered the eastern entry point of Italy on your way to Rome (Lecce-Brindisi).  Ancient Roman roads went from that area to Rome, marked by milestones so travelers knew where they were.  Now the area is a seaside resort, and the school offers language and cooking courses for individuals and groups, children and adults, and for teachers of Italian.  Another school in the same area is the Italian Language School.

IT Schools is a site that helps you find schools in Italy, by region, to study Italian, art, cooking, and other cultural studies.  They also offer lots of information about Italian culture in the various regions and towns, and links to other useful sites for any visit to Italy. 

Centro Giacomo Puccini in Viareggio offers Italian language courses by the seaside.  Study there in February to enjoy Carnivale, or in August to catch the Puccini Opera Festival at nearby Torre del Lago, site of the late the composer's home, to enjoy opera under the stars.  They offer accommodation too.


Basic Italian Online and Books

But before heading to Italy for your lessons, it would help to get a start on grammar and to build a small vocabulary.  You can do this on your own with the help of some of the free on-line Italian courses and learning tools.


The full title of this free e-book is Pensa in Italiano!  Think in Italian!  Use all your sense to acquire Italian Carte 1-50.  The author, Antonio Libertino, offers this e-book of fifty flashcards, with an accompanying audio file, for free to help students of Italian to build their Italian vocabulary in a scientifically proven method that aides memory retention. 

Smashwords link for the free e-book


E Language School teaches the basics with texts and sound files.  It was contributed by a site visitor.


Italian steps is a 24 step lesson program from the BBC.


These are three very basic lessons that give you an introduction to Italian. 


Teach yourself Italian offers 20 lessons, and a Useful Expressions section.


Oggi e domani offers 20 lessons making good use of sound files.  You must have a speaker with your PC to follow these lessons.


I also recommend the grammar summary in the pocket edition of Mondadori's Italian-English / English-Italian Dictionary, and the Berlitz Italian for Travelers for basic vocabulary and phrases.  Nothing beats printed books for their portability.  These two books can accompany you to Italy and back and help a great deal along the way.

To access a free on-line Italian to English Dictionary, click here.  You can switch to the English to Italian Dictionary from the window that appears. 

Another on-line translation service will translate whole phrases, or even web-pages, in case you happen upon a site all in Italian and you want to know what it says.  Click here to go to Altavista's Babelfish translator.

If you'd like books to help you learn, you can search's selection with the Search tool below, or with these essential books for learning Italian.


Just enter 'Books' in the 'Search' field, and 'Italian dictionary' (or 'Italian language', for example) in the 'Keywords' field.  Then click on the 'Go' button to see the list, find out what others think of the books, and the prices.

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Italian Dialects

I took an intensive (2 months) course in Italian at the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Umbria.  But after six weeks of heavy studying and memorizing, I could not understand basic conversation outside of the classroom.  

Then I took a bus trip to Siena for the weekend, and to my amazement, I understood at least 60% of what the Sienese were saying!  That was when I learned about Italian dialects.  

Peruginos, like many Italians, speak a local dialect.  Italian, as a national language, was created from the Sienese dialect, a Tuscan dialect.  So unless you really need the Perugia diploma, I recommend studying Italian in Tuscany.  


Learning Italian

To end with, I have some accounts of other people's experiences learning Italian in Italy that you might find interesting, inspiring, or worse!


Easy Reading Books