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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


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


Il ragù di papà… in 30 minuti!

Il ragù di papà… 30 minuti

Italian recipe

Papa’ il cuoco

You’d like to make a lovely ragù but you’re a bit discouraged as it usually takes between two and four hours? Here is something that you might like!

This is a recipe that I learned only a year ago after a phone call with my father who is a great cook.

Ingredienti per 4 persone

8 sausages or the equivalent of sausage stuffing

500 grams of pork mince meat

one onion or one leek

some fresh sage


chopped or sieved tomatoes (canned or jarred)

pinch of salt

Get a non stick pan (we usually use a ceramic one) and put in it a good slice of butter

Italian in Cork

Una bella fetta di burro ed alcune foglie di salvia

(as thick as your index finger). Add the sage and let them cook a few minutes. Add the onion or the leek finely chopped. When they become a nice golden colour you can add the stuffing of the sausages. Steer to break all the lumps (you can take out the sage if you wish, I usually leave it in) and let it cook. Once cooked (you can’t see any raw meat), you can add the mince meat and stir again to break up all the lumps. When you can’t see row meat any more you can add a can of

Italian Beginners

Aggiungete i porri

tomatoes. Stir until the mixture is well combined and let it cook with a lid on for about 5 minutes. If you think that it is too watery, you can let it cook down for a few minutes without the lid. The ragù is ready! Add it to your pasta and remember to save a bit of water of the pasta (you remember our previous post?). Allora BUON APPETITO and be ready the next one will be il PANE DORATO una ricetta della mia mamma… una ricetta dalla Sardegna.


Italian Conversation

Aggiungete il ripieno delle salsiccie


Italian in Cork

Aggiungete i pomodori in scatola


Italian cuisine

il sugo pronto



Salento la terra de lu sule, lu mare e lu ientu

Salento la terra de lu sule, lu mare e lu ientu

Let’s cheer up our grey days by thinking about our next Italian holidays. A good friend of mine sent me to her region in the south of Italy years ago. I have been thinking of writing about this wonderful place for a long time, but I didn’t have enough material… Now my friend Marcella has helped me to put together this short introduction….

I’m very happy to introduce you to Salento ‘la terra de lu sule lu mare e lu ientu’ (this is in the local dialect and it means the land of sun, sea and wind). This magic land can offer a truly unique and unforgettable experience with its fascinating history, breathtaking landscapes, hypnotic dance and music and… off course great food. Here you will also find unchanged religious traditions and their famous and spectacular processions as well as many other ‘sagre’ (festivals) which have a more pagan origin to celebrate a particular crop, fruit or wine.Italian leaving cert

As you can see from the map, Salento is located in Puglia, the heel of our Italian boot.

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A few words about Salento’s history

Salento is the most eastern region of Italy, a border land, like a balcony that faces two seas, called in the past Messapia, that means land between the seas.

Salento’s history always met with the Eastern one, starting with the legend that sees in the inhabitants of Crete the founders of Lecce, the main city of Salento.

During the Bronze age the Salento peninsula was inhabited by Indo-European populations. Testimonies of this period are dolmens and menhir, in the lower part of Salento.

The first inhabitants of this land were the Messaps, who were dedicated to agriculture, horse breeding and pottery. This population inspired the construction of cities with imposing walls.

The Greek Influence

During the VII century, Greek settlers founded, along the coast, cities such as Gallipoli, Otranto, Castro, small prestigious cities that would become landmarks of Greece.

Regarding the Greek presence in Salento there is still a linguistic area named Greece of Salento.

This ethnic and linguistic minority embraces nine communes located at south east of the Salento peninsula, while the whole peninsula is made of 110 communes.

Italian in Cork

Immediately after Greece, Salento became a Roman province.

Romans, conquering Salento, discovered painting, sculpture and a taste for poetry. Because of the strategic position of the land, facing the east, they built many harbours.

After the fall of the Romans, under the Byzantines and Normans’ rule, Salento became the centre of the world.


The XVI century and Lecce’s Renaissance

During this period Lecce became one of the most beautiful and important cities for cultural and artistic activities. Besides attracting nobles and scholars, the Baroque found in this city a proper home. Lecce is still the main city of the Salento peninsula which is called the “Florence of the south”.Italian south


Every town and village has a yearly festa, so during the summer you’ll be spoiled for choice: so many feste or sagre to attend every night.

Many of them involve old religious rites, like the carrying of the statue of the Virgin Mary around Lecce (August 24-6) or into the sea in Otranto (September 6). Others, like in Novoli, have bonfires and spectacular fireworks (January 16-17). Almost all will include the Pizzica , a fast and compelling rhythmic dance done with the accompaniment of the tambourine, accordion and violin. The atmosphere is pulsing and hypnotic, whether it’s a festa in a modest village or the August event in Melpignano, which has international guest stars and attracts audiences of 15,000.Italian language conversation

Pizzica is a popular folk dance, originally from the Salento peninsula and later spreading throughout all the Puglia region.

This might be explained by Pizzica’s origins: though once associated with dancing out the poison of a spider-bite, the Pizzica actually arrived in Salento from ancient Greece, and its function appeared to be therapeutic. Women working hard in the fields and living restricted lives would dance themselves through the night into a cathartic trance grabbing a tambourine and dancing without inhibition. The next day they would go to be blessed at the chapel of St paul in Galatina – a Pizzica and special mass is still held there every JuneItalian private tuition

This dance is absolutely not to be missed. Some of my Italian friends from the north of Italy went to Puglia on holidays and they loved the Pizzica so much that they wanted to learn it.

We’ll let you enjoy the presentation and the pictures that my friend Marcella sent me and feel free to contact her if you’d like to have more info about Salento and Puglia… she’s the best advisor!

Italian in Cork

Grazie a tutti e grazie Marcella per il tuo aiuto!

Marcella Ciullo
Mobile No. 0039 3472546055


Ultimo lettorato al Dante… De Chirico and his Metaphysical Art

Italian art and culture in Cork

Giorgio de Chirico (1888- 1978), Self-Portrait [Et quid amabo nisi quod aenigma est?], 1911, oil on canvas

Last Monday evening saw Prof. Catherine O’ Brien giving a wonderful lecture on De Chirico.

De Chirico (July 10, 1888 – November 20, 1978) was the father of Metaphysical art which inspired the surrealists and was in contraposition with Futurism. In fact, while Futurism cuts all bridges with the past and also denies it any importance, De Chirico finds in the past the foundations of his art.

Many of us had never heard much about this painter with Italian origins or about his Metaphysical art, not even those who are actually Italian (like myself), but Prof. O’Brien took our hands and led us picture by picture through the metaphysical journey that De Chirico would have liked us to undertake.

A journey through metaphysical expressions which takes off from physical entities which have their origins in the real world, such as la Mole Antonelliana (located in Torino), the arches of many Italian towns, several statues of Arianna, mannequins, trains and so on, and it will take us to something that is not physical, but nonetheless real and always present in our life: the enigma… ineluctable part of human existence.

It is not by chance that one of the pieces showed by Prof. O’Brien on Monday night was ‘Nostalgia dell’infinito’ (nostalgia of theItalian in Cork infinite) which she linked to one of my favorite Italian poems ‘L’infinito’ (1818-1819) written by Giacomo Leopardi. Here you will find the Italian copy and its English translation. Leopardi feels that there is ‘more’ beyond what we see, probably much more and the thought of it almost scares him… his and our limits are in Leopardi’s poem represented by an edge (la siepe) which also helps him to feel that there is something beyond it. In fact, without it, he might have not been able to have such a perception and to enjoy it (dolce naufragare in questo mare – sinking in this sea is sweet to me). As in Leopardi’s poem the edge has the fundamental role of the limit which allows us to perceive somehow the infinite, so in De Chirico’s painting we have the tower to allow us to feel the ‘whistle’ of the infinite… the enigma.

Many thanks to Prof. Catherine O’Brien for having led us through this wonderful journey and allowed us to hear the ‘whistle’ again… it is always more and more difficult in our busy lives.

Italian art and culture in Cork

Giacomo Leopardi



Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,

e questa siepe, che da tanta parte

dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati

spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani

silenzi, e profondissima quiete

io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco

il cor non si spaura. E come il vento

odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello

infinito silenzio a questa voce

vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,

e le morte stagioni, e la presente

e viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa

immensità s’annega il pensier mio:

e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

English translation

Always dear to me was this solitary hill

and this hedge, which, from so many parts

of the far horizon, the sight excludes.

But sitting and gazing endless

spaces beyond it, and inhuman

silences, and the deepest quiet,

I fake myself in my thoughts; where almost

my heart scares. As the wind

I hear rustling through these trees, I, that

infinite silence, to this voice

keep comparing: and I feel the eternal,

the dead seasons, the present,

and living one, and the sound of her. So in this

immensity drown my own thoughts:

and sinking in this sea is sweet to me.



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