ES.S41 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate
Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full
Lesson 5

Lesson 5: Language Instruction

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Lezione Numero Cinque/Lesson Number Five

Watch a video:

Lesson 5, Part 1: Language Instruction

La Festa Della Donna/International Women’s Day

  • Oggi è giovedì otto marzo duemiladodici (8/3/2012). È un giorno importante, è la festa della donna!!!! (International Women’s Day, literally “woman celebration.”)
  • L’otto marzo è (is) a day to honor all the women and to remind ourselves of the continued awareness and action required to ensure equality in every aspect in life.
  • La Festa Della Donna is recognized in many countries, including the U.S., but it is not very popular here; I find it ironic. Living in Cambridge, I had the opportunity to appreciate how much more fair the working conditions are here than in Italy. Moreover, all the institutions in the U.S. are discussing and working actively to reach a more complete and real equality. Yet in this same country nobody today told me _Auguri/_Felicitations! (Literally “wishes!”). Buona Festa Della Donna/Happy Women’s Day!!! (Literally “good celebration of the woman”). Buffo/funny.

Anyway, at school in Italy we learn that the origin of this day is rooted in two events that happened outside Italy:

  • L'8 marzo 1857 (milleottocentocinquantasette) uno sciopero (a strike, very important word if you travel in Italia!!) by garment workers in New York lead to the formation of the first women’s union in the U.S. Some historians say that this sciopero never happened! What is true? Non lo so.
  • L'8 marzo 1917  (millenovecentodiciassette) (il 23 febbraio according to the Julian calendar), Russian women started a sciopero in St Petersburg, per il pane e per la pace/for bread and peace.
  • L'8 marzo was declared Women’s Day in Italy in 1945, and on this day men and women bring to women in their lives a traditional gift: a small branch of mimosa (acacia dealbata—native to Australia). The mimosa is a reminder of the constant struggle for equality, justice, peace, and development. On a more trivial level, the bright yellow and the sweet smell of mimosas are telling us that spring has arrived. Ah! _Mi mancano le mimose/_I miss mimosas.  (Literally “mimosas are missing to me”).

Now you can relax and listen to a couple of popular Italian songs about women!


  • "Donne" by Zucchero Fornaciari. March 8, 2008. YouTube. Accessed May 13, 2013. 
  • Una Donna Per Amico by Lucio Battisti. July 14, 2011. YouTube. Accessed May 13, 2013. 


Leggi ascolta e ripeti./Read, listen, and repeat.

Leggi ascolta e ripeti (MP3 - 4.7MB)

Text to use for exercise:

  • Oggi è giovedì otto marzo duemiladodici.
  • Oggi è un giorno importante, è la festa della donna!!!!
  • Auguri/Felicitations! (Literally"wishes!" We use it in every happy occasion/celebration.)
  • Buona festa della donna/ Happy Women’s Day!!! (Literally “good celebration of the woman”)
  • 1857 (milleottocentocinquantasette)
  • 1917 ( millenovecentodiciassette)
  • il 23 febbraio
  • Mi mancano le mimose/I miss mimosas. (Literally “Mimosas are missing to me.”).
  • Mi manca il cappuccino/ I miss cappuccino. (Literally “Cappuccino is missing to me.”).

La Mia Giornata Tipica/My Typical Day

Oggi in class we talked about our typical day (giornata tipica). Why giornata and not giorno? They are both ok, but we use giornata mostly to emphasize the day as a long event: e.g. buongiorno! (formal hello, in the morning/afternoon) buona giornata (have a good day!). The same is true for sera and serata: buonasera (good evening), buona serata (enjoy the rest of the evening).

Com’è la tua (your) giornata tipica?

These are some of the answers we came up with durante la lezione (during (the) class):

Mi sveglio.

I wake up. (Literally, “I wake myself up.”)

(Mi sveglio is the 1st person sing. of the reflexive verb svegliarsi)

(Mi) faccio la doccia. I shower. (faccio is the 1st person sing. of the irr. verb fare)
Faccio colazione. I have breakfast.
Vado al lavoro. I go to work. (vado is the 1st person sing. of the irr. verb andare= to go)
Vado a scuola.

I go to school.

In Italy we say I go to school to refer to elementary, middle and highschool. If you are going to college you would say … )

Vado all’università. I go to university.
Come vai al lavoro? How do you go to work? (Vai is the 2nd person sing. of the irr. verb andare)
Vado a piedi/in bicicletta/in auto or in macchina/in bus. On foot/on bicycle/by car/on a bus.
Pranzo. I have lunch. (1st person sing. of pranzare).
Dopo avere mangiato bevo il caffè After drinking coffee (Literally, “After having eaten, I drink coffee.”)
Faccio i compiti. I do the assignments.
Vado in palestra. I go to the gym.
Cucino e mangio la cena. I cook and eat dinner.
Mi lavo i denti. I brush my teeth. (Literally, “I wash myself the teeth.”)
Dormo. I sleep.

_Durante il fine settimana/_During the weekend

Dormo tanto. I sleep a lot.
Leggo. I read.
Ascolto musica. I listen to music.
Faccio la lavatrice. I do laundry. (Literally, “I do the washing machine.”)
Esco con gli amici.

I go out with friends.
(esco, 1st person singular of the irr. verb uscire, to go out)


Listen to the dialogue (between me and me with my voice transformed in Garage band):

La giornata tipica

A typical day (MP3 - 6.5MB)

Food in Italian Culture

Food plays a central role in the Italian culture: ci (= a noi) piace mangiare (to eat), cucinare e parlare (to talk) di cibo (about food) all the time.

The daily activities are all organized around meals, when you take a break, and when meet with friends and family and eat.

This is a list of the main meals:

  • La colazione ((the) breakfast)
  • Il pranzo ((the) lunch)
  • La merenda ((the) mid-afternoon snack)
  • L’aperitivo ((the) aperitiv)
  • La cena ((the) dinner)

Ascolta e ripeti./Listen and repeat.

Ascolta e ripeti (MP3 - 1MB)

If you are invited for a meal by an Italian family, beware. Leave space in your belly for all the courses! Il pranzo e la cena tradizionali hanno many courses (molte portate), but nowadays many families prepare un piatto unico per pasto/one single dish per meal.

The traditional meal is composed of:

  • L’antipasto (the starter)
  • Il primo (the first course: pasta, rice, soups)
  • Il secondo (the second course: meat, fish, eggs, etc.)
  • Il contorno (the side dish: lots of veggies, cheese)
  • Il dolce (dessert Literally l"the sweet" )

Ascolta e ripeti./Listen and repeat.

Ascolta e ripeti (MP3 )


Lesson 5 Assignment (PDF)


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