Let’s say you just landed in Milan and someone tells you pirla (pee-rla), would you get upset, thank him, or what?

You see, there are so many sayings and swear words that you really should know. And they are totally neglected by traditional Italian courses. This site might help. A note of warning, some words DO are offensive,  please use your discretion before visiting the swear page.

Italy is not a country. It is difficult to say where you can find the real Italian. This amazes most Americans, but it is just a fact. A person from Aosta (north west) has very little in common with a person from Palermo (Sicily, south). Different cultures, different dialects, different food, and so on. They both speak the national language but they both prefer to speak their own dialect (Valdostano and Siciliano) with friends and relatives.  Dialects are just different languages many time incomprehensible even for other Italians.

Chances are you’ll visit Rome, Florence, and Venice (if you got enough money).  In Rome they speak mostly Italian dressed with very colorful words, especially when it comes to course people. The ancient Romans took everything seriously, modern Romans take everything as a  joke. I don’t know why. Keep in mind that Rome is the political capitol and most of the people are public workers, which are known for their laziness.

Florence it’s the only place where the dialect is basically Italian. That’s where the Italian language was born after the Latin language started fading. If you are good, you can easily spot a person from Florence (or Tuscany) because they tend to omit the letter C and pronounce a H instead. They can’t say casa (ka-sa, home), they say hasa (ha-sa). Funny.

Driving. If you are planning on driving in Italy…good luck. Just kidding. But there are important things you need to know in order to survive the experience. First, it is possible you’ll be asked an International Driver License in order to rent a car. You can get one at any AAA Insurance office (at least it was possible up to 2 years ago when I got mine). In the northern territories people are more respectful of the signs and laws of the road. Not so below Rome.  We say that signs give only advises, and it is quite true. I would like to point out these important facts:

  • You cannot turn right at the red light, never.
  • The green arrow does not mean you have the right  of way, it means you can go AFTER yielding everybody else, cars and people.
  • Cars very seldom stop at the Stop sign. If there is plenty of visibility and no cars coming Italians will proceed without even touching the brake. If you try to stop without apparent need to do so, you are obstructing other cars that are following you, and this could be dangerous.
  • Freeway are far from being free. You can expect to pay around 10 cents/km or more.
  • Cities are wild. I can’t describe how stressful it is to drive in a big city. GPS 100% recommended!
  • As a pedestrian, keep in mind cars very seldom stops to let you cross the road, you must wait for the flow to end.

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