10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Italian — and Italy (Part 2)

Feb 27, 2011

  Fall in Love with Italy


 to fall in love

Italian embodies its native speakers’ greatest genius: the ability to transform anything—from marble to melody, from the humble noodle to life itself—into a joyous art While other tongues do little more than speak, Italian thrills the ear, beguiles the mind, captivates the heart, and enraptures the soul. 

Here are five more reasons to fall in love with Italian. 

6. You can immerse yourself in an Italian masterpiece. You can’t sculpt like Michelangelo, paint like Leonardo or design like Armani. But you can read and speak the language that 14th century poets—Dante first and foremost—crafted from the effervescent Tuscan vernacular. Handpicked by writers and scholars in the first official Vocabolario in any Western tongue, Italian words represent “i più bei fiori” (the most beautiful flowers) in the language.

 7. Speaking Italian may be the closest many of us get to singing. What makes Italian so musical are its vigorous vocali (vowels): An Italian “a” slides up from the throat into an ecstatic “aaaah.” Its “e” (pronounced like a hard English “a”) cheers like the hearty “ay” at the end of hip-hip-hooray. The “i” (which sounds like an English “e”) glides with the glee of the double e in bee. The “o” (an English “o” on steroids) is as perfectly round as the red circle Giotto painted in a single stroke for a pope demanding a sample of his work. The macho “u” (deeper, stronger and longer than its English counterpart) lunges into the air like a penalty kick from Italy’s world-champion soccer team, the Azzurri (Blues). 

8. Italian may be our universal mother tongue. Dating back almost three millennia, its primal sounds—virtually identical to those that roared through Roman amphitheaters thousands of years ago—strike a chord in our universal linguistic DNA. According to some scholars, Italian may come closer than any other idiom to expressing what it means to be human. 

9. You’re never too young—or too old—to learn Italian. As brain scans have shown, groping for even the simplest words in a different language sparks new clusters of neurons and synapses. Within weeks in an all-Italian class, preschoolers understand everything happening around them. It takes longer as we get older, but learning a second language later in life provides a different advantage: It helps stave off dementia. 

10. Italians. The more you know of their language, the more you’ll realize how right the British author E.M. Forster was when he urged visitors to drop “that awful tourist idea that Italy’s only a museum of antiquities and art.” His advice: “Love and understand the Italians for the people are more marvelous than the land.” Indeed they are. And if you’re of Italian descent, cherish Italy’s language as a marvelous part of your heritage. 

This may be your last chance to enter our "Fall in Love with Italy" contest, which runs through Monday, February 28, until midnight Pacific time.  Click below to hear me talk about how I fell in love with this luscious language.

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La Passione
Mona Lisa
La Bella Lingua