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Festa di Sant’Oronzo, the feast of the city’s founding Saint

Festa di Sant’Oronzo, the feast of the city’s founding Saint

Once a year between August 24th and August 26th, the city of Lecce celebrates la festa di Sant’Oronzo, the feast of the city’s founding Saint. This celebration literally shuts the city down, and allows its members, and any tourists that get caught up in the mix, to enjoy the festivities, including music, food and dozens of booths set up in the historic center.

During the months prior to the festa, strapping local men can be seen assembling huge light sculptures throughout the streets, stringing them down the main drags where everyone takes their passeggiata, or stroll, in the early evening hours. These lights are then used to illuminate the city and create a whimsical atmosphere, especially in Piazza Sant’Oronzo where most of the concerts take place.

Marco and I decided to spend our Saturday night wandering the streets and entertaining ourselves with sweets and live music on the streets, while we perused the vendors that sold everything from brooms to trinkets from Africa. We first bought a bright pink cotton candy from a vendor in Piazza Sant’Oronzo, we then made our way to one of the many crepe booths stationed near the square and picked up one of those as well. Marco’s love for all things spicy brought us to a booth that sold all kinds of sweets, (called caramelle), as well as crunchy snack items, from which we chose the one sprinkled with red pepper flakes.

We made our rounds at each of the booths, squeezing between the immense crowds of people, stopping to watch old Italian men with calloused hands, work warmed caramel, full of almonds, into bite sized shapes. Thankfully Marco and I share a passion for sweets, so we spent most of our time filling ourselves on licorice flavored candies and gummy worms, watching numerous demonstrations on useful household products.

When the crowds became too much we made our way back to Piazza Sant’Oronzo, and found a spot on a bench where we could relax and watch the parade march past, it was full of holy people chanting, all in honor of Sant’Oronzo. These types of festivals were once held at cities throughout all of southern Italy as each città has been given its own Saint, therefore each has its own Saint’s day. Most of the festivals were similar to Lecce’s, with the lights, food and music. I was fortunate enough to be crammed into Marco’s Fiat on trips to these kinds of feste. Events where bands would play and caramelle would always finish off the night.

Want to learn more about holidays and festivals in Italy?
Check out our Video Culture Class: Italian Holidays

6 Reasons to Learn a Language Before You Travel

6 Reasons to Learn a Language Before You Travel

There are plenty of destinations where you can get by with English, but sometimes you want to do better than just ‘get by’. Here are 6 reasons you should learn the basics of the language of your next trip destination.

What are the 6 reasons you should learn the basics of the language of your next trip destination?

1. You will be able to discover your destination better than other tourists.
Getting by is one thing, but actually experiencing a trip abroad is quite another. No amount of guidebooks and online research can compensate for a basic lack of language ability. Speaking the language of your destination permits you to explore that destination beyond the regular tourist traps. Your language skills will not only allow you to dig into all the hidden gems of your destination, but they will also allow you to mingle with the locals to get a true experience on your holiday. Think of it this way: you’re not restricted to talking to the people at the tourist desk anymore.

2. Knowing how to communicate with local police or medical personnel can be life-saving.
Before you leave for your destination, make sure you learn how to ask for help in that destination’s local tongue. Do you know how to ask the waiter if this dish has peanuts in it? Or tell your host family that you’re allergic to fish? Can you tell the local doctor where it hurts? Moreover, an awareness of an environment improves your chance of remaining safe inside it. For example, walking around a busy marketplace, dazzled by an unfamiliar language, signs and accents will instantly render any tourist a more attractive mark for pickpockets. Communicating with other people, asking questions and looking confident will make you look like a semi-local yourself, and will ward off potential thieves.

Click here for Italian Survival Phrases that will help you in almost every situation

3. It helps you relax.
Traveling is much less stressful when you understand what that announcement at the airport was saying, or if this bus line reaches your hotel. These things stress you out when traveling and they disappear when you understand the language. This allows you to focus on planning your trip in a better, easier way.

Speaking the language can provide you with a way to get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.

4. Speaking the language can provide you with a way to get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.
Sometimes those relationships turn into friendships, and other times they’re nothing more than a lively conversation. Either way, as Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” When you approach someone – even staff at a store or restaurant – with English, rather than their own language, an invisible divide has already been erected. Making even a small effort to communicate in the language of the place you’re visiting can go a long way and you’ll find many more doors open up to you as a result.

Click here for the Top 25 Italian Questions you need to know to start a conversation with anyone

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

5. You’ll be a better ambassador for your country.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we know very little about other countries and cultures, especially the local politics. And what we do know is often filtered to us by the media, which tends to represent only certain interests. When you can speak the local language, you’re able to answer questions that curious locals have about your country and culture. Are you frustrated with how your country is presented in global news? Are you embarrassed by your country’s leaders and want to make it clear that not everyone is like that where you’re from? This is a very good opportunity to share your story with people who have no one else to ask. We all have a responsibility to be representatives of the place we come from.

6. Learning another language can fend off Alzheimer’s, keep your brain healthy and generally make you smarter.

5 Tips To Motivate Yourself While Learning A Second Language

5 Tips to Motivate Yourself

1. Schedule your time.

One of the most important factors in keeping your motivation up is developing it into a habit. Whether it be 20 minutes or 3 hours, schedule time to study every day and stick to it. Regular exposure solidifies what you learn and keeps you progressing. To make sure you stick to your routine, a great idea is to build a schedule for your day and decide that every day/Monday/weekend, you study from 6pm to 8pm. Just remember that 30 minutes a day, every day, is better than a binge 8-hour study session at the end of the week (though it’s obviously better than nothing).

2. Learn a word a day with our great Word of the Day learning tool.

Trying to learn everything at once and getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of words in your new language is not a good idea. Sometimes, even if you do learn new words, you forget them quickly because you haven’t heard them enough in context. As mentioned above, daily exposure to new words is an important factor in solidifying your target language. Our Word of the Day tool delivers you daily words and phrases, shows you how to pronounce them and use them in different contexts. Since you can get the WOTD via email, Facebook, or Twitter, this is a passive way of learning a language that fits into your existing daily social media routine. It only takes 3 minutes to review a word and practice its pronunciation, so you can do it on the way to work, in the gym, or even before you go to bed.

Click here to get the Italian Word of the Day for FREE!

3. Make friends!

Make friends!

If there’s a community of people who speak the language you want to learn in your city, start attending those events! Friendship is the easiest way to get comfortable with the slang, intonation, and mannerisms of a new language. The key to learning any language is speaking a lot, so try to find a native speaker who can be your conversation partner. Having friends that speak your target language means that you will find yourself in situations where you have no choice but to speak that language. But since they are your friends, you will be doing things you enjoy with them. So these situations will probably have little or no stress. These friendships will also mean that you have someone you can ask about language, culture, and so on.

4. Take a break!

Break time

If you’re having an off day or if your brain is already tired of studying, see if you can take a break and do something fun AND useful. Comic books, illustrated stories, and cartoons are a fun way to keep learning while reducing the target language text load for weary eyes. Plus, the images help you plant lasting seeds of memory, as researchers say humor opens up cognitive doors. This is a way to keep the target language active in your brain without the strain of studying a textbook.

Don’t get stuck with the same content though. When things start to bore you, move on. Change up your books, movies, anime, music, dramas, and so on when they start getting old.

5. Don’t give up!

As with any goal, there are going to be pitfalls along the way. You’d have to be incredibly determined to never have an off-day or consider giving up. And when you do it’s ok, but the important thing is to pick yourself up after this temporary setback and keep going. Knowing you’ve overcome a few obstacles is only going to make the moment you have your first conversation in another language that much sweeter. Like the Italian proverb says, ‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight.’

If you need more motivation, check out this list of the Top 10 Inspirational Quotes in Italian.

Do People Understand Where You’re Coming From in Italy?

Imagine you have landed in Italy and are out and meeting people and exploring your surroundings. After you say “Ciao!” ( the equivalent to ‘Hello’ in English), your Italian friend may become more curious about you and your origins. And if your new friend asks you:
Da dove vieni? 

Don’t be surprised! Your friend just wants to know where you come from. Da dove vieni? (informal) or Da dove viene? (formal), translates to “Where do you
come from?” 

In this case, you should answer with your country of origin. For example:
Vengo dall’Italia (I come from Italy)

You may also hear Di dove sei?, which also means  “Where do you come from?” , with the small difference that Di dove sei? requires a more specific location, and you should answer with the name of your hometown or the most famous city you can think of that can give your Italian friend an idea of the location or environment that you come from.

And you can be sure that there will be many different countries of origin around you. With its historical heritage and panoramic views (not to mention its world-recognized cuisine!), Italy is is a very popular destination for travelers all around the world, attracting over 4 million tourists every year!

First Impressions can last a lifetime!

As you may have seen in Italian movies or during your stay in in Italy if you had the chance , you will notice that ciao is the easiest and most common Italian greeting people use to say “hello” or “goodbye.”
Usually though, you should only use this greeting with people whom you are well acquainted with, such as friends or
relatives.

As a special case, you may notice that it is common to address foreigners entering into Italy with ciao. The reason for this is that it’s
a friendly and easy way to greet them. Sometimes owners of casual, modern shops may greet customers with ciao as a way to keep social distances at a minimum and make talking easier and faster,thus making you feel more comfortable (and this way making their patrons feel relaxed and at home).

For first time meetings though, you may use buon giorno (also written buongiorno) with anyone. Literally, buon giorno means “good day,” however, you may also interpret it to mean “good morning” or “good afternoon.”

As a rule of thumb you can use buon giorno only during daytime-from morning until evening-or from before daybreak to before dusk. If we want to express “good morning” clearly, we may use buon mattino, but this expression is very rare. As for “good afternoon,” we sometimes use buon pomeriggio.

Yet, we are sure that if there was to be any confusion with greetings, your Italian hosts will be kind to you no matter what. Italians are known for their friendliness and warmth, so even a simple “Ciao!” will bring about a smile and maybe a long lasting friendship!

Italian Culture - Assumption Day/Assunzione or Ferragosto – Italian

Assumption Day/Assunzione or Ferragosto – Italian

Assumption Day observes that Mary, the mother of Jesus died and her body was united with her soul and ascended to heaven instead of enduring the physical decaying of the body through normal death. It has been a belief of the Roman Catholic faith since the fourth century CE and is celebrated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Harvest.

This day was once a pagan holiday until it was decided to be Christianized and make it solely about the Virgin Mary. Before, it was first celebrated in honor of the goddess of the Isis of the Sea who was said to be born on this particular day according to myths that have been spreading.

Ferragosto (Assumption Day) is celebrated on August 15th in Italy. The Italians will hold festivals locally throughout the cities where their regional and low priced cuisine is available for sampling. There are many who use this time to go on their seasonal vacations to the seaside where there are some festivals ongoing there. There are sometimes festivals with a medieval theme and people dressed in such costumes. Performances outdoor during that time is filled with music and dancing.

The Italians in Italy and all over the world go all out with their celebration with fireworks and bright processions in the streets. The main event on that day in Sicily, Rome is a bowing procession. The Virgin Mary’s statute is carried through the streets dressed with flowers and a statute of Jesus waits for her at a different location. The procession heads back to the church where an important benediction takes place.

In the past, people would flood the Italian plazas and go for carriage rides through lakes that were temporarily constructed. They would carry rose scented water in bowls that they use to sprinkle on themselves.

Italians extend their celebration to superstitious believe of throwing coins through their windows on to the streets. The color blue is used to symbolize the truth about the Virgin Mary and as an indication that the color of the sky is blue, which is symbolic also of heaven.

Italian Culture - Republic Day/Festa della Repubblica in Italy

Everyone knows how important holidays are especially when they symbolize a specific event in your life. In Italy, for example, there are people who experienced the change in their government and use this public holiday, Republic Day, as a reminder of how important that occasion is.

This holiday is also known as Festa della Repubblica and it was created after a referendum in 1946 was filed by the Italian government to change from being a Monarchy to becoming a Republic government. The House of Savoy ran the monarchy. The entire population of Italy was asked to vote on this referendum and the majority ruled.

The Italians celebrate this holiday on the second day of June each year and they treat it just as important as the United States treat their Fourth of July holiday. It is considered to be the National Holiday of Italy.

After World War II, the Italians saw the fall of Fascism take place in their country, which made it quite clear that the eighty five year old Monarchy government would fall with it. The Monarchs were exiled and a rebirth of a nation took place.

On June second of each year, the Italians hold a large military parade that takes up the streets of Central Rome. This event is attended by the Prime Minister of Italian and other Political dignitaries and authorities.

The holiday parade lasts for about an hour and ends with fighter jet planes flying over the area leaving a colorful smoke behind that represented the colors of the Italian flag. The parade consists of different military branches and personnel as well as firefighters, police and the Red Cross following behind the motorcade with the Italian President in it.

Italians look forward to celebrating the Republic Day every year because of the reminder of how fortunate and liberated they are today and how the past has shaped their country. When they look back at the Monarchy and its rule, fascism leaves a bad taste of the government rule at that time. Now that all that is behind them, Republic Day seems a welcomed change.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From ItalianPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at ItalianPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Italian together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Italian with ItalianPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the ItalianPod101.com team!