Archive | Fun Stuff

Video: Italian Hand Gestures

Even if you’ve never been to Italy, you’ve seen them. I’m talking about the hand gestures that Italians use to complement their vocal language. Indeed, sometimes all you’ll get is a hand gesture so “fai attento” – pay attention – and learn a few with this video from Nada’s Italy. This is also a lovely little primer because you get a glimpse of some piazze, cafes, alleyways, and the countryside while the gesture demonstrators give their little lessons.

Favorite Italian Words: The Sequel

Text in ItalianEver since Jessica at Italylogue wrote a guest post about her Five Favorite Italian Words, I have been getting great feedback about the post via comments, Twitter, and Facebook. For the past three months, the post has been one of the most popular posts on Italofile and I credit that to Jessica for her wonderful writing and to the Italian language itself.

So many people enjoy learning Italian. It is so melodic – it’s the language of beautiful poetry, music, and the closest to Latin, the “dead” language that spawned dozens of others. While not everyone can travel to Italy, everyone can try to learn Italian, which is the reason that the five favorite Italian words post struck a chord with so many readers.

One of those readers – we’ll call her N.A. – recently wrote to me asking where she could learn even more Italian words using the five-words-per-day method. Here’s a snippet of her email:

Recently I have started the plan to learn Italian by myself. I used to have a phrase book, and I also brought a better (Colorful) one with a CD. However, I found it hard to learn things too quickly, mostly sentences gave me the hardest time.

So I went back to the basics and rules, learned and reviewed them, and used sites which helped such as livemocha.com. Then I suddenly realized an easier way for me which is learning five different words everyday. Those words are preferably random, and not categorized, such as: family members, colors…etc.

So I started searching about this online when I found your blog which had a topic ”Five Favorites: Italian Words” I really liked the way they way [sic] written, the words are differently nice, the pronunciation is there, and the meaning with a lovely story also there.

This got me thinking: wouldn’t it be great to get a meme going around of other travel bloggers and Italian language learners to share their five favorite Italian words on their own websites? This way, we could help out N.A. (and maybe others?), promote the Italian language, and get to learn some new Italian vocabulary words ourselves.

The way that it will work is like this:

1) Write a post on your own site about your five favorite Italian words. You can choose anything you want, but do refrain from curse words. Also provide a short back-story on why you chose the words that you did…why are they meaningful/amusing/helpful/memorable to you?

2) Within your post, link to this post using “five favorite Italian words” as the anchor text. Also link to the friend or friends who tagged or linked to you (see #3).

3) Also within your post, tag (link to) 2 or 3 other friends’ blogs who you think would enjoy writing about their own five favorite Italian words.

4) When you’ve finished your post, also leave a comment here. This way N.A. or anyone else following this meme will know where to look for their next language lesson.

So, who is up for this challenge? I’m hoping that the following friends and Italian language lovers will consider writing a post of their own or spreading the word to others:

Cherrye of My Bella Vita

Madeline J of Italy Beyond the Obvious

Alex of Blog from Italy

Vince of Scordo.com

Robin of My Mélange

Jessica from Italylogue is, of course, off the hook. But if you’re reading this, Jessica, I’d love for you to spread the word (or, um, la parola)! And thanks again, Jess, for the great post!

Photo © dneese_l

iPhone Apps for the Italophile


Ever since getting my iPhone last summer, I have become a completely obsessive iPhone addict. And with iPhone addiction comes app addiction. As of this writing, I have 48 (FORTY-EIGHT!) apps and counting, and that doesn’t include the apps that come pre-installed, such as iTunes and Maps.

Having an affinity for Italy, travel, and photography has definitely influenced my app choices. There certainly are a lot of travel apps that are scrollable guidebooks and audio guides of top attractions. These are useful, but pretty easy to find on your own. In this post, I want to share some of my favorite apps as well as a few others that I think fellow Italophiles will enjoy. By the way, almost all of the apps I list below are free or very cheap ($0.99-$2.99).

Italy-Specific Apps
I haven’t had the pleasure of being in Italy since getting my iPhone, but I like the idea of the following apps. If you have any first-hand experience with these or any other useful, Italy-specific apps, please comment below or contact me on Twitter @italofileblog.

Nike Goal
The first time I came across this free app, I emailed it to Jessica, writer of the Why Go Italy blog and BootsnAll’s resident soccer (calcio) fanatic. Jessica has the iPod Touch and told me she had been enjoying this app for quite a while. It gives you the low-down on upcoming Serie A and Serie B matchups, Italian soccer players, and the shoes that they wear when they score their goals (the last one is the embedded Nike ad hook). All around a fun app for followers of the beautiful game and you don’t have to even be in Italy to appreciate it.

Comuni d’Italia
If you write about Italy or just like to know the basics about its regions and towns, this app allows you to have that information at your fingertips. In Italian, the app lets you drill down by region, province, and comune to find stuff like zip codes, population, telephone prefix (less important in these days of the cell phone), altitude, and patron saint, among other things. The app is not highly interactive, though it does have GPS functionality that I haven’t been able to use. Probably the neatest aspects of this app are that you can quickly find the official website of the community you’re interested in learning about (not always so easy, take it from me) and the list of upcoming festivals (which is, sadly, only a list – no further info is provided). A little wonky, this app, but I like it nonetheless.

iTreni
First of all, let me just say how much I love the fact that the ubiquitous “i” in iPhone apps also assists in making Italian app names grammatically correct (the trains= i treni, or iTreni). Here’s an app that I like in theory though it hasn’t gotten a lot of great reviews. That may be because the developer is not the Italian train authority Ferrovie dello Stato but an independent app creator who has tapped into the FS’s database. Still, having information about train schedules and real time arrivals and departures on your phone sure beats the old system of checking the board at the station.

iSea: Al Mare
Here’s another app that’s only in Italian, but I can imagine it being a great resource for summer travelers with some basic knowledge of Italian. iSea provides real-time information about Italy’s Blue Flag (Bandiera Blu) beaches, which are the beaches with the safest, cleanest waters. I don’t know how the app taps into this information, but I suppose it could be helpful if you can’t make up your mind between going to Sperlonga or Ansedonia.

Cibando
This restaurant locater app is in Italian AND English and lets you search for restaurants around you – great if you’re wondering around the backstreets of Florence wondering where to grab a bite without resorting to the tripe truck. You can do a search by city, cuisine, and price, read restaurant reviews and menus, and add any gems you find to your list of favorites. Cities included range from Agrigento to Viterbo and everything in between. So this has the potential to be a very fun app, indeed.

Italian Language Apps

Conjugation Nation (Italian)
If you’re like me – an Italian language learner always looking for the right word – then you will like this app. The app is an interactive quiz that helps you learn verb conjugation, which can be invaluable if you’re in Italy and need to explain what is happening or what just happened.

Flash Cards for Kids (Italian)
I made the mistake early on of downloading a few flash cards apps to entertain my son while we were at restaurants, in airports, or other situations that required his undivided attention while I TCBed (took care of business). He really took to one flash card app that had both English and Spanish components. By “took to” I mean he constantly steals my phone. So I decided to mix it up a bit and find a flash card app for learning Italian. This particular app actually has Italian and French, perfect if you’re an Italo-Francophile like Robin at My Mélange. I’ve written about more iPhone apps for kids over on my personal blog missadventures.com in order to be entered in the BestKidsApps.com iPad contest. Wish me luck!

General Photography Apps
If you’ve got kids or just like to take a lot of photos, you definitely need a good photography app or two. There are a few apps on my phone that I use frequently.

PS Mobile
This app from Photoshop is a good app for on-the-go photo editing. You can crop, light-fill, saturate, make black/white or sepia, or utilize effects like sketch, soft focus, and sharpen. Did some tour group step into your otherwise perfect photo of the Colosseum? Crop ‘em out!

Pixelpipe
Pixelpipe is both a web app and an iPhone app that allows you to upload photos to multiple destinations all at one time. My “pipes” include Picasa, Facebook, Flickr, and Kodak Gallery, but there are dozens more, even to FTP – perfect if you have a photo blog. If you’ve read my personal blog, you’ll see in my review of Phanfare that I wasn’t too keen on Pixelpipe. But several updates later, the bugs are sorted out and I am hooked (and less enamored with Phanfare as a result).

Qik Video
If you have an older generation iPhone like I do (in fact, I got mine one week before 3GS came out!), then you don’t have a video camera app installed. This app changes all that. While I love my Flip Camera, sometimes my phone is more handy than my Flip. And, well, with the Qik app I’ve got a video camera and wireless uploading capabilities in one device. Sweet.

Quick Note on International Roaming with the iPhone
Like I said, I haven’t internationally roamed with my iPhone yet. But, in advance of my husband’s recent work trip abroad, I checked into AT&T’s iPhone Tips for International Roamers. Some of the best advice on that sheet is to make sure you use WiFi connections whenever possible and turn off data roaming. And if you want to locate Italian wifi hotspots, there’s actually an app for that, too!

Photo from slipperybrick.com

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