Famous Italians – the Answers

Posted on 21. Nov, 2014 by in Culture, History

Here are the answers to Monday’s quiz, Famous Italians. If you haven’t already had a go at it, you can find it HERE. I’ve added a few interesting facts about each of them which you may not already know.

1. Ennio Morricone, born in Rome in 1928, he has written music for more than 500 film soundtracks. In 2007, Morricone received the Academy Honorary Award "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music". The unforgettable whistle theme was written for Il Buono il Brutto e il Cattivo (the Good the Bad and the Ugly), the third and final film of the ‘Dollars Trilogy’.

2. Leonardo da Vinci, 1452 – 1519, is famous for his paintings, especially La Gioconda. However, he studied and wrote about many different subjects, including geology, flight, gravity, optics, and anatomy, the latter of which he used to depict the human body more accurately. He ‘invented’ the bicycle, airplane, helicopter, and parachute nearly 500 years before their time.

3. Marco Polo, Venice 1254 – 1324, travelled for over 20 years through Asia with his father and his uncle. Back in Venice, he took part in the naval conflict between Venezia and Genova, and in 1298 he was captured by the Genoese. During his captivity he recounted numerous stories from his travels, which were written down by a prison mate, Rustichello da Pisa. The resulting book is known as ‘The Million’ or the ‘Travels of Marco Polo’.

4. San Francesco d’Assisi, 1182 – 1226, was originally named Giovanni by his mother Madonna Pica, but his father, Pietro di Bernardone, a wealthy merchant who often travelled to France for business, nicknamed him Francesco, ‘the French man’. See this old post: San Francesco d’Assisi

Giotto, San Francesco predica agli uccelli

5. Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1807 – 1882, lived in South America as an exile between 1836 and 1848, where he volunteered in two independence wars: the first was the attempt by the Rio Grande do Sul republic to break free from the Brazilian Empire, and then, in 1842 he took part in the Uruguayan war of liberation against Argentina. Garibaldi’s involvement with independence wars both in South America and in Italy led to his nickname l’Eroe dei Due Mondi (the Hero of Two Worlds).

6. Amerigo Vespucci, 1454 – 1512, was a Florentine cartographer and explorer. In 1501, during his travels along the South Coast of America, Vespucci came to realize that what he had found wasn’t Asia but an entirely new continent, which he referred to as the New World. It was the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller who first used the word ‘America’ on his 1507 map of the world.

7. Miuccia Prada (real name Maria Prada). In 1978 she decided to enter into the family business, which had been started by her grandfather Mario Prada in 1913. Prada manufactured beautifully hand-tooled suitcases, handbags, and steamer trunks. After a few years she moved into designing women’s wear, and her debut collection in 1988 immediately received critical acclaim.

8. Benito Mussolini was born on the 29th of July 1883 in Predappio, Emilia Romagna. He founded the Fascist political party and was the Italian Duce (leader) from 1922 to 1943. He was captured by Italian partisans and shot on 28 April 1945. Mussolini’s youngest son, jazz musician Romano Mussolini, married Anna Maria Scicolone, sister of the actress Sophia Loren. Their daughter, Alessandra Mussolini, is a politician, and member of Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia.

9. Amedeo Modigliani was born in Livorno in 1884 and died in 1920 in Paris, where he had moved in 1906. A painter and sculptor, Modigliani died penniless and destitute, giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants. Ironically, in June 2010 Modigliani’s Tête, a limestone carving of a woman’s head, became the second most expensive sculpture ever sold.

Tête by Modigliani

10. Enzo Ferrari, Modena 1898 – 1988, started as a test and racing driver for Alfa Romeo. Despite growing up with little formal education in his final years he was often referred to as l’Ingegnere (the Engineer).

11. Sophia Loren was born the 20th of September 1934. Her real name is Sofia Villani Scicolone, but at the beginning of her career she changed it first to Sofia Lazzaro and then to the more exotic Sophia Loren. In 1961 she won the Best Actress Academy Award for the film La Ciociara (Two Women), directed by Vittorio de Sica, and in 1991 she received an Academy Honorary Award.

12. Maria Montessori, 1870 – 1952, was a very determined young woman who decided to become an engineer, but at that time such a career wasn’t open to women, so she changed direction and studied Medicine and Psychiatry instead. Montessori graduated in 1896 from the Università La Sapienza di Roma, becoming the first Italian female doctor! You can read more about her in this post: Maria Montessori.

Helpful Labels – The Bathroom

Posted on 19. Nov, 2014 by in Vocabulary

Here’s the second part of our ‘Helpful Labels’ series. If you missed part 1 ‘The Kitchen’ you can find it HERE. The bathroom is very interesting from the point of view of the actions described on the labels as the majority of them, being actions that we carry out on ourselves, are reflexive.

Istruzioni per l’uso (How to use): simply copy each phrase onto a sticky label and place it where you will see it regularly. For many of the bathroom labels you may want to group them together onto one big label, or choose those that you find most relevant. E.g. if you don’t have a bath there’s not much point in using the label mi faccio il bagno = I’m having a bath’. And for those of you who don’t floss regularly … start now! Winking smile 

vado in bagno = I’m going into the bathroom (place this outside the entrance to your bathroom if possible)

esco dal bagno = I’m leaving the bathroom (place this inside the entrance to your bathroom if possible)

vado a lavarmi = I’m going to wash myself (as above)

mi faccio la doccia = I’m having a shower

mi faccio il bagno = I’m having a bath

hand wash
mi lavo le mani
= I’m washing my hands – Photo (CC) by
Evan Blaser

mi asciugo le mani con l’asciugamano = I’m drying my hands with the towel

mi lavo i capelli = I’m washing my hair

mi faccio lo shampoo = I’m shampooing my hair

mi do il balsamo = I’m putting the conditioner on

mi faccio il fon = I’m drying my hair with the hairdryer

Degas woman combing her hair
mi pettino
= I’m combing my hair – Degas: woman combing her hair

mi spazzolo i capelli = I’m  brushing my hair

mi lavo i denti = I’m brushing my teeth

passo il filo interdentale = I’m flossing my teeth

mi faccio la barba = I’m shaving

mi trucco = I’m putting the make-up on

mi specchio/mi guardo allo specchio = I’m looking myself in the mirror

mi faccio la ceretta alle gambe = I’m waxing my legs

mi spoglio = I’m undressing

mi vesto = I’m getting dressed

tiro l’acqua = I’m flushing the toilet

apro il rubinetto = I’m opening the tap

chiudo il rubinetto = I’m closing the tap

Finally, here’s another one you can put outside the bathroom:

mi scappa la pipì! = I desperately a wee!

Famous Italians – a Quiz

Posted on 17. Nov, 2014 by in Culture

It’s been a while since we’ve had a quiz. So before you all go into letargo (hibernation) for the winter we thought we’d give you a bit of brain exercise to do. In this quiz you need to identify the twelve famous Italians described below. We’ve tried to make the quiz accessible to everyone by giving the clues in English, and with a little bit of investigation on the internet you’ll soon have them all identified. Please post your answers in the comments section. Here we go:

1. Italian composer famous for his memorable, highly atmospheric spaghetti westerns soundtracks (remember the whistle?)

2. Renaissance polymath from a little Tuscan village near Florence. In order to read his notes you need to hold them up to the mirror.

3. Avid traveller, explorer, and storyteller, from a family of Venetian merchants. For many years he was a diplomat for the Kublai Khan.

4. The original fricchettone (hippy), he talked to the animals, lived in a grotto in Umbria, and created the first presepe vivente (Nativity show).

5. Known as l’Eroe dei Due Mondi (the hero of two worlds), he led Le Camicie Rosse, an army of a thousand men dressed in red shirts.

6. Florentine Renaissance cartographer, who gave his name to a new continent.

The Devil Wears-001
What is the first name of the female fashion designer, whose surname is used in the title of this novel/film?

8. For twenty years he ruled Italy with his Camicie Nere (Black Shirts), and succeeded in making the trains run on time.

9. Artist and sculptor from Livorno who lived in Paris at the beginning of the Twentieth century. His style is characterized by the long faces and necks of his subjects.

10. Car manufacturer from Modena whose famous products carry a horse logo.

11. Iconic Italian actress who celebrated her eightieth birthday this September.

12. Influential educator whose portrait appears on the other side of this bank note.

Buon Divertimento!