Novità tra i musei di Torino… we go to Torino and beneath…

Italian Grinds Leaving CertAnd now, let’s stay in the city centre, here we can really breath, feel and see the history, the art and the culture of this town… even if we don’t know exactly when, how and what happened… we will be able to enjoy that feeling… believe me.

If you love museums… you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Let’s walk through Piazza Castello, Piazza San Carlo, Via Roma and let’s go to the museo Egizio. One of the greatest in the world, second only to the museum in Cairo. Recently renovated, it hosts famous mummies, artefacts, books, enormous statues (I don’t know how they managed to transport them over… probably it wasn’t a Ryanair offer) and much more including great documentaries which help us to better understand the history of ancient Egypt.Triad_of_Ramesses_II_with_Amun_and_Mut

Italian Grinds CorkLet’s keep strolling around the city centre… do you enjoy nature? Non c’é problema… ecco il ‘Museo Regionale delle Scienze Naturali’, I can’t wait to take my son Kevin there… you can see why! 

Italian Grinds Cork

If  you’d like to know more about Italian history, something completely new or maybe a subject that’s already close to your heart, we have several museums such as the Museo Storico Nazionale Dell’Artiglieria (artillery), the most ancient museum in Torino with exhibits coming from throughout the world or the Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento Italiano (Italian Resurgence) which is a true journey in Italian history from Italian unification to the 1st world war with artefacts, weapons, uniforms, documents and art on display.

Italian Conversation Cork

Talking about museums… there is something new and very exciting in Torino or rather underneath Torino. In fact, quite recently, during the construction of the parking garage for the Porta Susa train station they discovered a tunnel system which is more than 15 km long and consists of deeper main tunnels and service tunnels closer to the surface.

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Allora let’s go to the Museo Civico Pietro Micca and find out what happened to Pietro Micca in one of the tunnels. We can descend and discover the intricate underground labyrinth. I haven’t been there yet, but I read that it is cold regardless of the weather outside. The ceilings are so low that we can’t stand but we’ll have to hunch down to get through. Interestingly, there are bricks that stick out of the wall which helped tunnellers and soldiers to know where they were when lights had to be extinguished. These tunnels were built by duke Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia to protect la Cittadella. He wanted the Cittadella to be the most modern and effective fortification in the world when he decided to transfer the capital of his dukedom from Chamberry to Turin. It consisted of a pentagon with a strongholds at each of its five corners. All around was a wide moat… left empty as the ground was too porous. The Cittadella was started in 1564 and finished in 1577. Apparently, the duke didn’t hesitate to destroy a couple of churches in order to accomplish his project and legends say that the defensive walls were filled with the debris of monuments, headstones, antic Roman ruins and other antique treasures he tore down.Italian Advanced Cork Italian Fun

During the famous Spanish war of succession the Cittadella  was attacked by Louis XIV and his more than forty thousand soldiers.The Torinesi were able to repel the attack thanks to the strategic tunnel system.  Extra holes had been dug and filled with explosive. The tunnellers used slow-burning fuses to time the explosions with incredible precision in order to destroy the cannons of their enemies from below.  And now we’ll finally find out what happened to Pietro Micca.

Margherita Restelli tells us that:

On the night between 29 and 30 August 1706, a battery of French grenadiers found the entrance to the service tunnel and entered it. Micca knew he had to stop them. If they reached the lower tunnel, they would have had easy access to the heart of the Citadel and could have taken it from inside.

Italian Leaving CertHe was alone, and therefore unable to stop the enemy with force. Micca decided to ignite a short fuse, causing an immediate explosion that destroyed the stairs leading to the lower tunnel. The explosion prevented the French soldiers from entering the Citadel, but also resulted in the death of Pietro Micca, who was hurled into the air by the strong blast wave and choked by fumes.

A few days later, the steps where Micca had exploded the bomb were quickly bricked over. Micca’s body was buried in a mass grave. A year later his wife asked the duke for a pension and she was granted two loaves of bread per day.

So now we know what happened to this brave tunneller and we can all go and visit this part of Turin.


Just don’t mention art… please… to give you just a little taste, I will just mention that we have  Leonardo Da Vinci’s self portrait…

I dare say that we might have enough of museums, our feet are sore and we are really thirsty… I have something in store for you, let’s go!


Andiamo a prendere qualcosa da bere!

Italian grindsNot too far from the Mole Antonelliana, we have an important ‘visit’ to pay to one of the most ancient cafés in Torino: Fiorio opened in 1780. It was also called caffè dei codini or “cafè ‘dle coe (in Piemontese dialect) as many intellectuals, aristocrats and political characters/personages used to meet up or find their inspiration there. Among the politicians who visited were Cavour, Rattazzie and D’Azeglio, who were all important figures of the Italian reunification. 

Florio’s speciality is gelato (everybody knows it in Torino) and the philosopher Frederich Nietzsche used to love it. We will definitely be able to find a great coffee, an aperitivo or that wonderful gelato… one for everyone in the audience!Italian leaving cert

For those who’d like to try a typical drink that was born in Torino… let’s go to the Bicerin café. It was opened in 1763 and right here was born the drink Il Bicerin, a combination of coffee, milk and chocolate served in a small glass with a metal handle (bicer in Piemontes means glass… from here the name bicerin –> small glass, in Italian we say bicchierino).

And then, let’s go to one of the beautiful restaurants in the city centre… maybe one which offers traditional Piatti piemontesi such as Il fritto misto alla piemontese (do you like fried brain? It is usually veal brain, delicious), la lingua in salsa verde (veal tongue with a great green sauce, buonissima) o la bagna caoda. If you’d prefer a more international type of restaurant or a pizzeria… you’ll be spoilt for choice and I will see you later… I will definitely go to the Piemontese one!

lingua-salsa-verde FrittoMisto

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Italian Is

Ciao a tutti!

Are you just back from your beautiful Italian holidays and you’d like to speak this melodic language? Or do you speak Italian fluently or almost and you’d like to perfect your skills? We are about to start 4 new Italian courses in the College of Commerce, a class to suit every level from Beginners all the way up to Advanced. To know more you can visit


L’Italia in miniatura

IMG_5889Il giro d’Italia in … 2 ore!!

Have you seen the pictures? Aren’t they spectacular? This is a wonderful place for grandi e piccini (little people and grown ups)… it is called ‘Italia in miniatura’ and is in Rimini. You can read more about it on their website qui. You’ll be amazed at the detail that these miniature monuments can actually show. There are also reproductions of European monuments and it’s not finished, yet! Go to see Venezia in ‘Italia in miniatura’. It is beautiful and it is a great experience. Plenty of activities and rides for children and you can have a refreshing fight in the Castello con I cannoni ad acqua (castle equipped with water cannons)… you’ll have a ball!

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La Costa dell’Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna, the coast

Italian Conversation CorkItalian tourists are used to saying that ‘I Romagnoli hanno saputo tirare fuori il meglio dalla loro terra’ (Romagna people were able to get the best out of their land. This is to say that la Romagna (the part of the coast of the Emilia Romagna) is not as beautiful as many other Italian regions and coasts, but they transformed this place into a wonderland for children and their families… Alice (8 years old) back to her holiday home in Lido Adriano (half an hour from Italian Conversation CorkRavenna) from two weeks of holidays in the south of Sardinia with its crystal clear sea and its unspoiled nature said ‘Finalmente, questo si che è mare!’ (Finally this is the sea!). Of course, in Sardinia she didn”t have the parchi giochi (play grounds), I gonfiabili (the park with the Inflatables), the fun swimming pools and, above all, all the friends that she meets here in Lido Adriano! Il versante adriatico (the Adriatic coast) has so much to offer for an unforgettable holiday for grandi e piccini!

Italian Conversation Cork


La Prima Destinazione

North ItalyI’m neither an expert on Torino nor a travel agent, but it is my town and I love it, so if we were to go to Turin for a week (hopefully soon), I would like to take you to see so many beautiful places…
Italian grinds leaving certFirst of all, we’d stay in a lovely place near the river Po and the city centre so we could get around using these great and very handy bikes (PICTURE OF THE BIKES) that are everywhere in Torino. in addition to using the bike in Torino’s many parks, we could also cycle along bicycle paths which cover much of the city centre, surrounding areas and suburbs.


Our first destination… La Mole Antonelliana.

Italian conversation CorkIn my primary school I studied that the Mole Antonelliana was the tallest brick building in Europe, but I’ve recently found out that during the 20th century, it was reinforced with concrete and steel. It was built by the architect Antonelli between 1863 and 1889, and named after him. Apparently it was supposed to be a synagogue, but as it became taller and taller it also became more and more expensive and the Jewish community withdrew their interest and the city of Turin dedicated this monument to their king Vittorio EmanueleI II. It is not only a great piece of architecture (I think, but I’m not an expert!) but it is definitely the best place to have a beautiful and impressive view of Torino and its surrounding mountains. Last but not least, it also hosts the ‘Museo del Cinema’…. So, now, we can say that we have the tallest museum in the world, right in Torino! I was there a couple of times and I can’t wait to go back again with you all. For now I’ll take you there for a virtual tour. It is a wonderful multi-sensory experience, highly entertaining and educational (a bit like our Fluency classes!) for adults and children. Here is the I hope you get the idea. Let’s allow plenty of time for this visit, it is so enjoyable, relaxing and interesting (the Italian interessante, not weird!).            Il north Italia                                               North Italia Torino



Discovering Torino

Italian lessons in Cork

I was born in Torino, but this is not an enough good reason to be in love with a town and to recommend all my students, friends and family to visit it. Many of them, my husband included, look at me in a funny way as they think of Torino as a big, industrial and chaotic city with a lot of traffic… I can’t deny that this is an aspect of this town but this is only one of many.

About this cliché, you can see this image of Torino which the Parliamo Italiano book displays. This is one of the books I use during my lessons… many times I thought of throwing it away, only Italian grinds Corkbecause of this picture. Besides this, though, it is a pretty good book.

In spite of this image, Torino is one of the most beautiful Italian cities with its art, culture and parks. So much so this year the New York times selected Torino among their 52 travel destinations for 2016… I’m getting taller as I’m writing it, much taller! Finally, my non Italian friends, my students and hopefully my husband we’ll start to believe me and consider a trip to Turin. Click here to see the article on the New York times. More facts about Torino are coming soon… stay tuned!

Turin has earned a place in the New York Times’ list of must-see destinations, thanks to its successful transformation from Italy’s former industrial capital into a tourist destination.


Benvenuti alla sezione ‘I modi di dire italiani’

Idioms (modi di dire in italiano) are essential parts of any language. They are ingrained in people’s history, culture and life and they reflect the way we perceive and express reality through our language. They are not essential, but they really make a difference in the way you master a language and how integrated you feel in the country you are living. When I first came to Ireland, eight years ago, I could barely survive with my English, idioms where the last of my problems. As my English improved I studied and got accustomed to several idioms… not all of them, of course! With an idiom we say things, we hint things and we understand things in a more immediate way without need of as many words.

Here in this section, we’ll see a few Italian ‘modi di dire’ … but, remember, they will never finish!




This is very funny. Many of you know that we have the verbo piantare which means to plant. La is an object pronoun and stands for it. So, literally, it means: plant it! We actually use it when someone is annoying us (ci dà fastidio) and after a few warnings (smettila, lasciami in pace and so on) we raised our voice and we say Piantala!

We can also say: Vuoi piantarla?

In English you’d just say: stop it!

So, now you know… when an Italian person is annoying you… just go for Piantala!

In bocca al lupo! Never heard of this one… check here!

Italian idioms


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