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Learning Italian: Vocabulary, Art and Learning about the Italian Renaissance

written by: Sonal Panse • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 9/11/2012

It would be almost a sacrilege to learn Italian without learning about the Italian Renaissance. Here is the vocabulary to let you describe this epoch in Western Art in its own language.

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    Learning a language ought to include learning about the culture in which the language evolved. If you are learning Italian, immersing yourself in Italian culture will go a long way in helping improve your language fluency. Given the scope and depth of Italian culture, it will also be a particularly enlightening and enlivening experience.

    A good place to start is 'l'Alto Rinascimento italiano' (the Italian High Renaissance). The Early Renaissance and the Late Renaissance periods stretch on either sides, but it was during the High Renaissance that the most well-known heavy-weights of art reigned - 'gli artisti' (the artists) and 'gli scultori' (the sculptors) like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Benevunuto Cellini, Fra Bartolommeo, Donato Bramante, Titian Giovanni Bellini and a host of others. Much of the Renaissance art was on religious themes, and many of 'le pitture e le sculture' (the paintings and sculptures) can be found in 'le cappelle' (chapels), 'le chiese' (churches),' i palazzi' (palaces) and 'i musei' (museums).

    If you are lucky enough to be able to visit Italy, you can arm yourself with 'libri d'arte' (art books), 'l'arte guida' (art guides), 'una mappa della città' (city map), 'alcuni opuscoli di turista' (some tourist brochures) and 'gli elenchi di musei e le gallerie' (lists of museums and galleries). There's nothing quite like viewing the actual art and practising your Italian on the actual natives. Still, it doesn't matter if you can't get to Italy. You always have art books, Google Maps, 'siti web di arte' (art websites) and you can find Italian 'amici' (friends) online.

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    Let's look at some Italian terms and phrases that you might use whether you land up in Italy or on the Internet -

    1. Ciao - Hello

    2. Buon giorno - Good morning

    3. Buona sera - Good evening

    4. Come stai? - How are you?

    5. Bene - Fine

    6. Yo mi chiamo XYZ - My name is XYZ

    7. Piacere di conoscerti - I'm pleased to meet you

    8. L'Italia ha una grande cultura - Italy has a great culture

    9. Sono uno studente - I am a student

    10. Amo visitare i musei d'arte - I like to visit art museums

    11. Amo i dipinti di Rinascimento - I like Renaissance paintings.

    12. Vorrei acquistare libri su artisti italiani - I would like to buy books on Italian artists.

    13. Sono interessato nell'arte italiana - I am interested in Italian art

    14. Inoltre sto imparando parlare italiano - I am also learning to speak Italian

    15. So soltanto un po' di italiano - I only speak a little Italian

    16. Mi dispiace, ma non parlo bene l'italiano - I'm sorry, I don't speak Italian very well

    17. Sono andato a vedere la Cappella Sistina - I went to see the Sistine Chapel

    18. Yo vado a Venezia - I’m going to Venice

    19. Sto rimanendo in un hotel per una settimana - I'm staying/remaining in a hotel for a week.

    20. Penso che sia perso - I think I am lost

    21. Mi scusi - Excuse me

    22. Per favore - Please

    23. Parla inglese? - Do you speak English?

    24. Qual è la strada per il museo? - Which is the way to the Museum?

    25. Lei può dirigermi alla Galleria d'arte? - Can you direct me to the Art Gallery?

    26. Dove posso vedere le opere di Michelangelo? - Where can I see works by Michelangelo?

    27. Lei può dirmi qualcosa di questa scultura? - Can you tell me something about this sculpture?

    28. Che bello! - How nice!

    29. Grazie - Thank you

    30. Prego - You're welcome

    31. Di dove sei? - Where are you from?

    32. Provengo da XYZ - I am from XYZ

    33. Ci vediamo - See you

    34. Buona notte - Good night

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    Art Related Italian Vocabulary

    1. Arte - Art

    2. Artists - Artisti

    3. Dipinti di affresco - Fresco Paintings

    4. Dipinti di tempera - Tempera paintings

    5. Oliare i dipinti - Oil paintings

    6. Painters - Pittori

    7. Pensatori - Thinkers

    8. Pitture/Dipinti - Paintings

    9. Religione - Religion

    10. Rinascimento italiano - Italian Renaissance

    11. Sculptors - Scultori

    12. Scultura - Sculpture

    13. Scultura di marmo - Marble sculpture

    14. Storia di arte - Art History

    15. Storia italiana - Italian History

    16. Un Museo di Arte - An Art Museum

    17. Un pittore - A Painter

    18. Una artista - An Artist

    19. Una galleria di arte - An Art Gallery

    20. Uno scultore - A Sculptor

    You can download the Italian Vocabulary used in this article and some additional phrases.

    Some resources for learning about the Italian High Renaissance