Category Archives: Culture


It’s been almost three weeks that the Northern region of Italy, Emilia Romagna, has been hit by deadly earthquakes. The first one struck on May 20th at 4:00am (magnitude 6.o) and it was followed by several aftershocks. The following week another quake reached the 5.1 magnitude, causing more death, collapse of buildings and weakening several structures. Many of the readers might recall the devastating earthquake that hit in 2009 the Abruzzo region destroying entire towns and causing 308 deaths.

Every day smaller quakes are still being felt in the region and are causing several problems to Italian business and the made in Italy. Several factories such as the textile, shoes, ceramics, agriculture have estimated damages for over 500 Euros due to the severe structural ruin and produce damage. Prominent examples are factories of the parmigiano reggiano, the Balsamic vinegar, the prosciutto made in the city of Parma and the wineries of Lambrusco.

In the case of the Parmigiano, the quake caused 260.000 wheels to be affected, since the shelving which housed them (in Italian they are called “scalere”) collapsed, and they cannot be sold in the marketplace. Some have been moved to neighboring dairies, but the damage has been estimated to be over 70 million euros. Several provinces near Modena which produce the high quality Balsamic vinegar were also hard hit and suffered according to some estimates 18 million euros in damage. Some bottles of Balsamic vinegar cost up of hundreds of dollars.

As we mourn the loss of life, Italy is also dealing with the fear of paralyzing one of the most fertile economic areas in Italy.

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New Newsletter: Quaderno Culturale

The Istituto di Italianistica staff at the European Languages and Literatures Department at Queens College/CUNY is going to publish a newsletter: Quaderno Culturale. This publication will be distributed to all Universities with an Italian Institute and to the high-schools that offer Italian in the Tri-state area at the beginning of the Fall and Spring terms. It will inform Italian faculty, teachers and students about the Queens College Italian Program: courses, events, research areas, faculty and students profiles. If will also cover events from the CUNY colleges and institutes that teach and promote Italian language and culture. If you wish a significant event of the Italian Program of your CUNY college to be signaled by Quaderno Culturale, please send your information to the newsletter project coordinator Tiberio Snaidero:

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2013 Year of the Italian Culture

Italian ambassador Claudio Bisogniero announced that 2013 will be dedicated to celebrating Italian Culture. The program still has to be revealed and as soon as we hear of it we will post it on our site. ILAC will certainly willing to collaborate and plan some events to celebrate Italian Culture so if you have some ideas and would like to participate do not hesitate to contact us.

To read more (In Italian!) check out the website i-ITALY, the Italian/American Digital Project.


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Italian Food nouns & Expressions, and their “Double Meaning”

BROCCOLARE, il verbo del rimorchio


This list was inspired by the video podcasts made by journalist, Beppe Severgnini. The richness and creative nature of the Italian language is quite evident here ! Enjoy!

Broccolare:  To try to “score” with someone

Broccolone : Stupid, foolish man .

Provolone [Italian cheese]. (fare il provolone,), to act as a womanizer, Dongiovanni

Tacchinare: (Refers to turkey) to try to seduce someone.

Cozza: (Mussel) an ugly person.

Limonare: (To lemon) to french kiss.

Baccala’ (Cod) a fool, a stupid person.

Fico: (Fig) handsome.

Want to add more to the list ? Please add a comment or expression in the comment box.


Posted in Culinary, Culture, General | 1 Comment

Easy readings in Italian

We want to share some websites which provide easy readings for students of Italian. These can be used in the elementary and intermediate levels and for reading comprehensions on quizzes, exams, etc. The following links will be also added to the Resource page of the ILAC website. Our next ILAC meeting is May 4th.

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Italian Language and Literature Conferences

I would like to remind all Italianists of several opportunities to present at our Italian professional organizations.

AAIS(American Association of Italian Studies) will hold its annual conference at the College of Charleston in Charleston,May 3-5, 2012. For more information please check the website.

To receive information about upcoming conferences, job ads, etc you can subscribe to the AAIS list-serve,

AAIT (American Association of Teachers of Italian), for more information about upcoming conferences please contact the association’s website, To subscribe to the listserve please consult this page,

Painting: La Città ideale (Anonimo fiorentino) 1480- 1490

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me-lover-s-pizza-with-crazy-broad (Watch Video!)


In the midst of the latest recession, Pizza parlors — in the US there are 65,000 of them — are one of the few businesses that are experiencing an increase in sales. For example, Pizza Hut saw a 24% increase, while Domino’s is up 14%. Pizzerias are also creating new jobs: Pizza Hut has hired roughly 260 people and Domino’s Pizza few hundreds as well. Why this success? Well, this is easy to understand, the ingredients you need to purchase to make a pizza are inexpensive (cheese, tomato sauce) and the food is very filling. The word pizza is said to derive either from the Latin, pinsa/pinsere (smash, press, and crush) o from the Mediterranean pita, (of Greek origin)

What are the best pizzerias in New York City? Well, here are some recommendations:




John’s Pizzeria

Di Fara

Dom DeMarco’s


Denino’s Pizzeria

Zero Otto Nove




I leave you with a great piece on NY pizza and Mr. Trump by Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. A word of caution: some of the language is a little strong.

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Italian Film Festival June 01-08



For tickets:

1860 Alessandro Blasetti, 1934 Buy Tickets: Sun Jun 5: 1:00 pm | Followed by a panel discussion! Admired by the Neo-Realists, Blasetti’s rousing anthem to Italian unification chronicles the panoramic journey of a Sicilian peasant to Garibaldi’s headquarters. Please note: We will be screening a 16mm archive print which cannot be cut and mounted onto one reel. There will be brief pauses for reel changes.

1960 Gabriele Salvatores, 2010 Buy Tickets: | | Tue Jun 7: 6:10 pm | The director of Mediterraneo assembles from the RAI TV archives a fascinating portrait of Italy in boom times, chronicling a family’s search for a son.

20 Cigarettes Aureliano Amadei, 2010 Buy Tickets: Wed Jun 1: 3:45 pm | Mon Jun 6: 2:00 pm | A young antiwar activist heads to Iraq to work on a film and quickly finds himself a victim of sectarian violence and, soon, an unlikely hero. Director Aureliano Amadei in person on June 1!

Lost Kisses Roberta Torre, 2010 Buy Tickets: Thu Jun 2: 1:00 pm | Sat Jun 4: 6:45 pm | In this playful satire, the theft of a Madonna statue’s head seems to trigger visions in 13-year-old Manuela, which are quickly exploited by her dysfunctional family.

Love and Slaps Sergio Castellitto, 2010 Buy Tickets: Thu Jun 2: 6:45 pm | Mon Jun 6: 4:15 pm | In a wry, perceptive update of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, a successful architect (Castellitto) and his wife (Laura Morante) meet their daughter’s new boyfriend. Actor Marco Giallini in person on June 2!

On the Sea Alessandro D’Alatri, 2010 Buy Tickets: Fri Jun 3: 2:00 pm | Sun Jun 5: 6:15 pm | In a beautiful, stunningly immediate rendering of a love affair’s first flowering, a tour-guide and a student from Genoa strike up a bond. Director Alessandro d’Alatri in person on June 3!

Return to the Aeolian Islands Giovanni Taviani,2011 Buy Tickets: Thu Jun 2: 2:45 pm | Mon Jun 6: 8:45 pm | Shining as personal memoir and journey through cinema, Taviani’s touching film takes a beautiful look at the islands that have inspired Rossellini (Stromboli), Antonioni (L’Avventura), the Taviani Brothers (Kaos), and more. Director Giovanni Taviani in person on June 2!

Sorelle Mai Marco Bellocchio, 2010 Buy Tickets: Fri Jun 3: 9:10 pm | Tue Jun 7: 3:45 pm | Marco Bellocchio returns to his hometown Bobbio, and to the house in which he shot “Fists in the Pocket”, to narrate the story of the hopes, disappointments and yearnings of his own family.

The First Assignment Giorgia Cecere, 2010 Buy Tickets: Mon Jun 6: 6:30 pm | A hit at the Venice film festival, Cecere’s stunning debut follows a young teacher (wonderful Isabelle Ragonese) whose first posting brings her to a hardscrabble village with wild children and parents to whom she can hardly speak. Director Giorgia Cecere in person on June 6!

The Passion Carlo Mazzacurati, 2010 Buy Tickets: Thu Jun 2: 9:15 pm | Sun Jun 5: 8:45 pm | After a leak in his Tuscan apartment destroys a chapel’s fresco, a has-been director agrees to stage some Good Friday celebrations, which quickly turn challenging… Director Carlo Mazzacurati in person June 2!

The Salt of Life Gianni Di Gregorio, 2011 Buy Tickets: Wed Jun 1: 6:30 pm | Sat Jun 4: 9:00 pm | The writer-director of the delightful Mid-August Lunch returns with the charming tale of a man in Rome putting up with retired life and family. Gianni Di Gregorio in person on June 1!

The Solitude of Prime Numbers Saverio Costanzo,2010 Buy Tickets: Wed Jun 1: 8:50 pm | Fri Jun 3: 4:15 pm | A film not easily forgotten, Costanzo’s richly told adaptation of the massive best-seller is set at four crucial moments in the lives of two perennial loners. Actress Alba Rohrwacher in person on June 1!

The Woman of My Life Luca Lucini, 2010 Buy Tickets: Thu Jun 2: 4:30 pm | Sat Jun 4: 12:15 pm | Lucini’s sharply observed comedy with a dark underlining follows romantically wounded Leonardo back into the family fold and into new love. With a superb Stefania Sandrelli. Director Luca Lucini in person on June 4!

Unlikely Revolutionaries Lucio Pellegrini, 2010 Buy Tickets: Wed Jun 1: 1:00 pm | Sun Jun 5: 4:00 pm | After botching a high-profile kidnapping, a group of disillusioned northeasterners are forced to learn how to coexist under absurd and clandestine conditions. Director Lucio Pellegrini in person on June 5!

We Believed Mario Martone,2010 Buy Tickets: Sat Jun 4: 2:45 pm | Tue Jun 7: 8:00 pm | Wed Jun 8: 1:00 pm | U.S. Premiere! In this engrossing epic reconstruction of Italy’s 19th-century path to independence, three men find themselves plunged into the fearsome double binds of revolution and sacrifice. Director Mario Martone in person on June 4 & 7!

Whatsoeverly Giulio Manfredonia, 2011 Buy Tickets: Fri Jun 3: 6:40 pm | Tue Jun 7: 1:40 pm | U.S Premiere! In this delicious and wildly popular political satire, an unscrupulous entrepreneur returns to his suddenly law-abiding hometown and resolves to enter politics. Actor Antonio Albanese in person on June 3!

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Contemporary Italy — online course at Brooklyn College

 There is a new course being offered at Brooklyn College starting Fall 2011, the title of which is Contemporary Italy — Italian 3515 Net1. The course will be fully online. This course would be particularly suited for students who need or want to take an extra course but can’t because of a conflict or time constraints, or need another course for their major or to graduate. The course is given in English and is open to everyone. Italian majors who want to count it toward their major will be required to do the work in Italian Registration information for visiting students from other CUNY and non-CUNY campuses can be found at

Course Description: A survey of thought, art, literature, politics, and the social and economic milieu of contemporary Italy. Emphasis will be placed on the historical and cultural forces that have transformed Italy from an agricultural country into one of the world’s major economic powers. This course will introduce students to Italy’s social and political institutions, artistic and literary movements, intellectual trends, the economic system, the family, the role of the Catholic Church, the environment, the “Southern Question,” traditional political parties and recent transformations, language and dialects, feminism, education, “Tangentopoli,” current trends. The material for the course will be supplemented by films and documentaries about contemporary Italy.

Required text: Mario Mignone, Italy Today: Facing the Challenges of the New Millennium, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2008 (Paperback)

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Anglicisms in Italian and W i dialetti!


 Tutte le settimane controllo sul sito del Corriere della Sera per leggere le pillole di saggezza che Severgnini dispensa dalla sua rubrica “Tre minuti una parola“. Trovo questa clip (sorry Mr. Severgnini!) molto divertente e facile da inserire come elemento culturale all’interno di uno dei nostri corsi di italiano. L’argomento: “gli orrori” (li definisce proprio cosi’) che facciamo quotidianamente usando un inglese italianizzato.

Altri video che vorrei consigliare per i nostri corsi sono le pubblicita’ prodotte dalla RAI in occasione del 150˚ anniversario dell’unificazione italiana (1861-2011). Il mio preferito è il primo video, il quale mostra tutta la ricchezza dei dialetti italiani, ma anche la loro l’incomprensibilità! Provate a capire quello che dicono ! Ho fatto vedere questi due video ai miei studenti i quali li hanno accolti con molta simpatia. Buona visione !


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