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.
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
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
Some resources for learning about the Italian High Renaissance