Blessed cherubs! No doubt you’ve passed with flying colors my other lessons – now, let’s get cracking on some of the harder words you’ll come across in the course of your delightful stay in Italy.
(A note about the vowel, “e” – in my pronunciation guides, I write it more like “ay” than the “eh” it might sound like to your ears. That is because we as American English speakers tend to make the soft “e” sound like “ih” as in “hit” to Italian ears. So, I’m giving you the automatic overcompensation.)
gnocchi = nyaw-key
A hearty pasta, also known as “belly bombs” in my circle; best eaten in winter.
sfogliatella = sfole-ya-tell-ah
A pastry from Napoli, crunchy yet flaky with cream inside. Do not eat when wearing black, as the powdered sugar will be your demise.
Termini = TAIR-mee-nee
Rome’s train station. The emphasis is on the first syllable. Yes, really.
un’uovo = oon-wo-vo
le uova = lay-wo-va
Eggs, plural. This is one of those words that does not follow the usual singular/plural agreement in terms of the vowels on the end of the word.
olio = ohl-yo
Oil. As I learned to my dismay during a particularly heated political discussion, this is not the same as war-causing oil – that’s petrolio (pay-troll-yo).
aglio = ahl-yo
Garlic. Aglio e olio? Best pasta dish ever. (And no, people from my family: not pronounced “eye-yoy” unless you’re in our great-grandfather’s town.)
pesce = pay-shay
Fish, singular. Plural is pesci (pay-shee).
pesca = pay-scah
Peach. Plural is pesche (pay-skay). Do not confuse fish and peaches when ordering juice – the waiter will look at you funny. Trust me on this one.
ceci = tchay-tchee
Chickpeas. You’ll see this word more than you expect.
stazione = stahtz-YO-nay
Station. In Rome, if you pronounce the “z” as in fizz instead of as in “pizza” they will think you are from up north and give you wrong directions.
tiramisu = teer-ah-mee-SOO
The dessert we all know and love. Yes, the emphasis is on the last syllable.
cena = tchay-na
lo sci = low-shee
Skiing. No, you will never get used to saying this word. It just plain sounds weird.
Il Papa = eel-PAH-pa
Papa = pa-PAH
pappa = pohp-ah
Yes, I learned that the hard way.
spiaggia = spee-YA-jah
I think I’ve given you enough for today. Check back soon for more! And remember, if you’ve forgotten the basics, simply go to my earlier posts for more pronunciation fun!