How to Sound Natural When Speaking Italian: 25 Useful Expressions

I have been learning Italian for just over two years now and after five trips to the country and living with a native Italian speaker, I am happy to have made decent progress. I sat a GCSE in Italian in May/June of this year with a colleague; we met up once a week to revise and we did a fair amount of past papers and Zooms with a tutor and other exercises which lead to us both achieving a grade 9 (the highest grade at GCSE now, higher than the old A* I have to add!).

I don’t get much time to study intensively as my job consumes so much time and I have my poetry, social life, family etc, but it is good to maintain as much exposure to the language as possible to keep it ticking over. I still remember a tip a woman gave me when I first set out on my language learning journey which was to keep it in your life in some small way every single day. Even when you can’t actively sit and study, playing music, looking at an Instagram page or Whatsapping someone in your target language.

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Montepulciano: A Medieval Wine Town in Tuscany

Montepulciano.

Prior to this trip to Tuscany, I had only ever associated it with the cheaper-end red wine found on the lower shelves in Tesco, one I long overlooked and definitely wasn’t giving the respect it is due.

Montepulciano is a quaint and lovely hilltop town located in southern Tuscany, in the verdant Siena province.

We were visiting the Tuscany and Umbria regions of Italy for five days and had driven down from Ravenna which took just over two hours.

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Rimini & Ravenna on the North-East Coast of Italy

Rimini and Ravenna are located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which is in the centre-north of the country. This is a region very much celebrated for its food (like all of the regions of Italy) such as Ragù sauce and Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese.

This was my third time in Ravenna but my first time in Rimini; a place I had long heard about but knew nothing about.

Rimini is a seaside town located on the north-east coast of Italy, on the Adriatic sea. Cross some miles of sea and you will reach Croatia, just to give you an idea of whereabouts it is located.

Rimini is usually most popular with Russian tourists, to the extent that some signs and menus come in Italian and Russian, however that is not the case at the moment due to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

My partner was presenting in Rimini at SciVac, the Italian committee for veterinary surgeons of small animals, and I was fortunate enough to be off work for the May half term to go with him. As he was giving two presentations, they paid for two nights for us in the Grand Hotel Rimini.

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Learning Italian: My Learning Diary (20 months in)

[Click here to read my post featuring 25 Italian expressions for natural-sounding speech]

I intended to write the second language learning diary after my 12-day trip to Italy in August 2021; I wanted to track my progress soon after spending some time in the country, surrounded by the language. However, the return to school in September and a few stalls in my learning meant I’m only just getting round to it now, 8 months after the first entry.

My first diary entry detailed the methods I had used and the point I had reached. Admittedly, I don’t adhere to a strict learning schedule as I work full-time and it’s harder when you don’t live in the country of your target language, plus it’s not urgent as my partner speaks fluent English. I have picked it up a bit more recently as I am entered in for GCSE Italian at the school where I work with a colleague, and we are helping each other. I also recently returned from a 6-day trip to Italy where I got to practice some more speaking than usual (more about that later). You can read about two of those days, spent in the Alpine region of Trentino, here.

These have been my main methods of learning Italian since my last blog entry in April 2021:

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Little Tastes of Austria in Italy: Two Days in Trentino (Italian Alps)

A trip to Italy in the winter to visit my partner’s family made for an interesting experience to see how il natale (Christmas) is celebrated there. The first couple days were spent in his home city of Reggio Emilia to visit his sister then the latter days were spent in Ravenna visiting his mum. We had a couple of days between destinations to go somewhere different and while lots of Italian locations are better suited to the summer, it seemed apt to go to a wintery place this time.

I’d never been to the Alps and having not long seen the movie House of Gucci (where some scenes of the film were shot), I was intrigued to see some of the region and another part of Italy.

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