Tag Archives: italian language

IEI Students in Italy!


Hi Mario:
I made it to many of the places you’ve mentioned. Unfortunately, this was my one and only full day here! I leave tomorrow to head back north. I absolutely love Napoli! I didn’t expect it; I thought it would be overwhelming, but it’s much softer and sweeter than Rome, even though yes total chaos! It’s like negotiating a crowded dance floor for me, I love the flow of it. I also experienced the “optional” red light.

The people here seem good-natured and gentle. Unlike in New York, where there is a sour mean streak. (Although I’m proud to say I survived the withering look of the barista at del Professore. That look was only surpassed by the one he gave me when I asked him for a pastry after finishing my Americano. I was prepared for this though, so it made me smile.)

Plus, almost no tourists except for at the museum! Trastevere in Rome was crawling with them (yes, people just like me, yech).

Winter 2013 Italian Language Classes


Classes at IEI begin on January 7, 2013, according to the following schedule:


Class Days Start Date Time Room Fee
Italian 1 Wednesdays Jan. 9 7 to 8:30 pm TBD 190
Italian 3 Mondays January 7 7 to 8:30 pm TBD 190
Evening Conversation Tuesdays January 15 7 to 8:30 pm TBD 190
Morning Conversation Wednesdays January 16 10 to 11:30 am TBD 190
Discovering Italy Thursdays January 10 7 to 8:30 pm TBD 190


Follow the links below for more information

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Fall Italian Classes at IEI
by Mario Fusco

Italian language courses are taught by Mario Fusco and Angelica di Chiara Fusco. Both Mario and Angelica were born and educated in Italy, and, as California residents, they continue to share their knowledge and love of their native country with anyone who is interested in learning and appreciating the various aspects of Italian lifestyle. Their organization, the Italian Educational Institute, housed on the campus of Menlo College in Atherton, is the venue through which language and culture classes are offered and Italian events are organized.

We hope you enjoy what you see here and hope to see you in one of our classes or events. Arrivederci.



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The Evolution of the Italian Language, alas!
by Mario Fusco

Italian Language Revisionism

It is no news that, for several years, separatist tendencies have become apparent in Italian political and social life. The “rich” North sees itself as a bastion of probity, industriousness, and fiscal responsibility, and profess that they are tired of picking up the tab for the shiftless, corrupt, crime-ridden South. The South sneer at the Northerners’ sanctimoniousness, and point out that the backward state of the South is in large part a consequence of the policy of despoliation and neglect that followed the annexation of the Southern Kingdom by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1861. And, they rightly add, corruption is not an exclusive of the South, witness the scandals rooted in the very inner sanctum of the Northern League involving Bossi, Il Trota, and other personages of the Lega. More extreme Northern groups avow that they would like to see a divided peninsula, a northern Padania and a southern who-knows-what, from which presumably they could draw cheap labor, sort of like Mexicans in the US or Turks in Germany, but without the language problem.

And speaking of language, Italian, the language of Dante and Petrarca, is being corrupted and bastardized by the controversy. The letter “k”, missing from the modern Italian alphabet, is increasingly being reintroduced to produce the sound we all know, heretofore produced by the letter “c” or the combination “ch”. In extreme manifestations even the letter “q” gets replaced by “k”, resulting in a written language that is, at first glance, unrecognizable by Italian speakers. The tendency to do this appears to be localized in the extreme North of the country, so that it seems another mechanism for diversity and separation. Amateur psychologists and linguists could go far speculating on this predilection for the letter “k”. Here we’ll just note that experts in these matters tell us that the letter “k” occurs in German 1.3% of the time, in English 0.7% of the time, in French 0.1%, in Spanish and in Italian 0%. The widespread use of “k” to replace the present instances of “c”, “ch” and “q” in Italian would result in a frequency of occurrence of the letter ”k” of approximately 2.2%, satisfyingly outdoing, at least linguistically, those lucky Germans, who are so much more “northern” than us Italians! (But not outdoing the Ku Klux Klan, who are at 30% in their name!)

Below is an example such k-pregnant prose, reproduced unedited from a website best left unidentified.

Your virtual gateway to Italy
by Mario Fusco

Benvenuti! Here you will find information about Italy and all things Italian, from language instruction to Italian restaurant reviews, from Italian events in the Bay Area to travel tips, from Italian food recipes to glimpses of Italian life.

Browse our posts: they run the gamut from general culture to the history of Italian immigration, from interesting tidbits about Italian products and Italian lifestyle to fascinating historical details about places that you have never heard of. We go from big cities such as Rome and Naples to achingly beautiful mountaintop hamlets such as Dozza and Bertinoro. Brush up your Italian skills with our weekly Grammar Tidbit, or access our free online Italian Grammar, complete with pronunciation guide and most used phrases and words.

And let us hear from you. If you have an interesting story to contribute, if you have a question, if you have a compliment or (alas!) a complaint, let us know, and we will respond.


Italy map

Italy in Europe

Palazzuolo and Bertinoro

An enchanting borgo in the green heart of Italy, where Romagna becomes Tuscany, Palazzuolo sul Senio is a place in which to rediscover a life in contact with nature, a oasis in the midst of gently sloping mountains, far from traffic pollution and from the frenetic rhythms of city life. At Palazzuolo one can visit valleys large and small, uninhabited casolari, ruins of ancient castles and historic hamlets bathed in an atmosphere that whispers of a glorious past.

The beautiful landscape abounds with hiking and horse trails. A leisurely walk through the borgo is an ideal way to spend a couple of hours and soak in the air of the “little Switzerland of the Appenine”. Summer evenings are animated with charming markets, musical events, culinary exhibitions and important cultural activities. In 1991 Palazzuolo won the designation of “Villaggio Ideale d’Italia”, awarded by the magazine Airone and by the CEE.

Another captivating hamlet in the hills of Romagna is Bertinoro, the “land of Ruby and Gold”. A little town with an illustrious history dating back to the 4th century, it boasts a fortress in which famous guests resided for various amounts of time, including Dante, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Cardinal Albornoz, and others. The name itself comes from the Italian verb “bere” (to drink) and the noun “oro” (gold), and it means “drinking from a golden goblet”. The Fortress still offers hospitality in 21 rooms, as does also an ancient seminary not far from the town center.

Bertinoro is in the midst of olive oil and wine country, so a stop at some tasting establishment hidden away in the countryside is a must. Once in the village itself, a terraced restaurant offers breathtaking views of the rolling hills with manicured rows of vines and fruit trees. Across the narrow street another restaurant provides top notch typical Romagnole fare. A low-cost alternative is the neighbouring fresh pasta shop, where you can not only buy various kinds of pasta to take home, but ask them to cook you a plate right then and there and serve it to you with their excellent Bolognese ragu’.