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How to learn Italian and debunk the false food Italian myths

Updated on April 17, 2014

Getting in contact with Italy to debunk the false Italian food myths

Here is something you should know about Italian food: not everything you know should be real! Fettuccine Alfredo, Spaghetti with meatballs and much more are not so Italian as it may looks: discover what's wrong in the "Italy abroad" and learn Italian with the Italian Language school that we have selected for you in the Whole Italy...

How to learn Italian in Italy

Italian is without doubt one of the most musical languages of the world: known worldwide as the language of the poets, it is loved mainly because it refers to the very idea of Italy as a land of sun, holidays, hospitality, fashion, crafts and a really insuperable cuisine created from locally sourced ingredients.

Main reasons that explain why learning Italian.

The Italian language today is the one that rules music (think for instance to the opera or to reading directions on the music sheets), fashion, and it is found in many scientific terms derived principally by Latin. Learn Italian, then, is not simply an "emotional choice", but for some trades it may even become a necessity.

Most people, however, decide to learn Italian for personal reasons, which are related to the history of the family (ex. grandparents were of Italian origin), to emotional issues (the Italian language is often perceived as a sweetest one, and is associated with many positive connotations), to the fact that the Italian language is associated with art and culture; others decide to learn Italian to be good when they go on holiday to Italy.

According to what reported by a study carried out by the Torre di Babele (an Italian language school in Rome) there are few people who choose to study this wonderful language for real working needs.

The Italian as the language of good food.

A good percentage of people, then, choose the Italian language as a synonym of eating well, and it is genuinely hard to fault in those who associate the idea of a great meal to the Italian language. This happens because the Italian language is not very common, so it is easy to associate a Country that produces high quality food and a really healthy lifestyle (Italy), with his idiom.

Do the same would be unthinkable, for example, with English: this language does not bring all the flavors and the views of a nation simply because it is too prevalent in the world.

Everybody knows the following Italian dishes!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ananas and ham pizza is not ItalianItalians have never known about Caesar SaladWell, if you want to get an Italian angry, put ketchup on pastaPasta with meatballs: it is Italian only in Disney's Lady and the TrampWell, don't even think to consider it as an Italian dish...Spaghetti Bolognese: unknown in Italy, they seem to be considered as an Italian typical dishPasta with pollo: in Italy they are two dishes... pasta and polloPasta with lettuce: well, it is not italian at all!
Ananas and ham pizza is not Italian
Ananas and ham pizza is not Italian
Italians have never known about Caesar Salad
Italians have never known about Caesar Salad
Well, if you want to get an Italian angry, put ketchup on pasta
Well, if you want to get an Italian angry, put ketchup on pasta
Pasta with meatballs: it is Italian only in Disney's Lady and the Tramp
Pasta with meatballs: it is Italian only in Disney's Lady and the Tramp
Well, don't even think to consider it as an Italian dish...
Well, don't even think to consider it as an Italian dish...
Spaghetti Bolognese: unknown in Italy, they seem to be considered as an Italian typical dish
Spaghetti Bolognese: unknown in Italy, they seem to be considered as an Italian typical dish
Pasta with pollo: in Italy they are two dishes... pasta and pollo
Pasta with pollo: in Italy they are two dishes... pasta and pollo
Pasta with lettuce: well, it is not italian at all!
Pasta with lettuce: well, it is not italian at all!

To dispel some false myths about the Italian kitchen in the world

Italian cuisine is therefore one of the main spring that pushes people from all over the world to approach both the Italian language and culture, as well as one of the most renowned cookery in the world. From first dishes to condiments, from appetizers to main courses from desserts to wines there is no food sector in which Italy does not excel. Over the years, however, some social phenomena (such as migration) has created some of the false myths about Italian cuisine that absolutely must be dispelled.

Picking up a few items it should be considered:

  • The ketchup on pasta: used in U.S. as a substitute for tomato, it hasn’t the same organoleptic features or taste... not an Italian would never put ketchup on his pasta!
  • Spaghetti Bolognese: in Italy you can only find the “lasagna alla bolognese”.... Such a sauce for spaghetti doesn’t exists, and were probably invented overseas.
  • Cappuccino and coffee: cappuccino and coffee should never be taken during the meal. Especially the first one, then, is taken in Italy only for breakfast, associating it with something sweet (cakes or something like that).

    For coffee instead, you should know that it can be taken after meals (never during meals) and that the espresso coffee and, in general, Italian coffee, it is much more concentrated and stronger than any other coffee (so it won’t be wealthy to have more than 4-5 coffees in a day!).

  • Rice and pasta as a side dish: pasta and rice abroad are often used as a side dish: never do such a thing in Italy! In Italy pasta and rice are main courses... and nothing else.
  • Fettuccine Alfredo: This type of pasta in the United States is synonymous with Italian spirit .... but is virtually unknown in Italy! Do not ask in restaurants, you would simply not be understood!
  • Caesar Salad: Caesar Salad is Italian as the McDonald's is... which is also the only place in Italy where you can find it! Designed by an Italian chef who emigrated to U.S., there the Caesar Salad made his fortune and is known only to the overseas;
  • Spaghetti with meatballs: one of the dishes that identifies us most in the world is also a hoax: while the meat sauce in Italy are varied and plentiful (think of the different “ragu”) there aren’t dishes where meatballs are laid on pasta;
  • Pasta with Chicken: In Italy, pasta is a first course, while chicken is a second dish: Italians do not use them together and therefore it does not constitute a dish of Italian culinary tradition;
  • Oil in pasta cooking water: Put oil in the cooking water of pasta is something that certainly does not help the Italian character of a good spaghetti dish!
  • Salt after cooking: salt should be placed in the cooking water of pasta, not after .... Otherwise it won’t be tasty;
  • No salad leaves or dressings on pasta: in Italy only sauces can dress a good pasta dish!
  • Only pasta on the dish: in some Country are used to fill the sandwiches with pasta or lasagna; this does not exist in Italy, so if you were told that the Italians do that ... someone’s told you lies;
  • Never use pasta cans: pasta is prepared in Italy at the time: never eat ready-made pasta in cans or boxes!
  • No pizza with pineapple and ham: this is a fine invention, maybe good, but it isn’t Italian;
  • Let's talk about coffee with a little note: in Italy there are no double, triple, quadruple coffee, but you can ask for caffé corto (short coffee), caffè lungo (long coffee), caffè al vetro (coffee in glass), caffè macchiato (coffee with a little of milk) and much more.

Your favorites Italian non-Italian dish

What's your favourite non-Italian Italian dish?

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How to dispel some false myths about Italian food: learn Italian in Italy

To dispel the false myths about Italy, to really know what is good and what is wrong in this small but well-known Country, to enjoy the wonders of La Dolce Vita and to taste the real Italian flavors, you surely need to live there for some time.

To gain an insight into the Italian culture, way of life, way of thinking and seeing things, then you need help: for this we recommend you to attend an intensive course of Italian language, which would allow you not only to learn the basic phrases for survival, but also how to move and how to relate better with Italians you meet.

The funniest way to learn Italian.... maybe!

Check out the best video to learn Italian mimicry made by two Englishmen going to Italy!

What do you need to know to choose the right language school?

Clearly, attending a good language course at school means to have a structure and a routine to follow, and this is probably the only real way to learn any foreign language. With a structured and full of grammatical rules and exceptions language such as Italian, then, attend language courses becomes essential to learn well.

Choose the right school, making sure that it is an authorized DITALS and try to understand if it is part of ASILS. If the school is a DITALS center, in fact, it means that it can train teachers who to make them able to teach Italian.

ASILS (Association of Schools of Italian as a second language) instead belong only to the best schools. Finally, be sure that the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR) recognizes the school.

Pay attention to the languages proposed: does the schools that you have selected teaches only Italian or other languages too? If it only teaches Italian to foreigners, is fine.

How many years of experience have teachers? Do you know if they are real teachers or simply mother tongue people without any official recognition that makes them suitable for teaching the Italian language to foreigners?

You will have to find out later whether the selected schools offer courses for your level.

Once you know all of this, you can decide which school to attend and, therefore, the place where to live for a while. These are our recommendations:

  • Choose to live in a place frequented by young people: find out Italians meeting points is essential for those who want to learn the language.
  • Avoid your countrymen that will surely meet: you would end up not speaking Italian for convenience and laziness.
  • Make use of all proposals for social gatherings made by the school you attend: are they offering art classes? Well, get involved. Do they recommend pub nights all together? Do not be shy; go ahead. Do they offer courses in Italian cooking? Well, what are you waiting for?

Italian language schools in Venice:

  • Venice Italian School is a language school that offers many social activities to be added to the “canonical” Italian courses; for example you can find Venetian cooking lessons, to learn how to cook and how to speak Italian at the same time.
  • Istituto Venezia is a good language school offering many different ways to learn Italian with different courses and social activities.

Italian language schools in Milan:

  • In Milan Spazio Lingua, a newly formed school, offers a pleasant environment, the experience of the founders of the school and a truly remarkable series of excellent Italian language courses for foreigners, times and methods that help to personalize your experience.
  • The school ELLCI is recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A few steps from Corso Buenos Aires, it is situated in the center of Milan. It offers a good range of courses and qualified teachers.

Italian language schools in Florence:

  • Scuola di Italiano Leonardo Da Vinci offers Italian language courses of different duration and intensity, while also providing specific programs dedicated to the study of Italian art, fashion, history and civilization, with a few hours devoted to the study of Italian used in the language of business.
  • Istituto Italiano offers both group and individual courses, but also extra-curricular activities such as excursions, dinners with teachers, visits to vineyards of Chianti and Museums in Florence, as well as a series of activities focused on art, films and music.

Italian language schools in Rome:

  • How to learn Italian in Rome? It’s easy: Torre di Babele is the Italian language school in Italy accredited ASILS and DITALS and recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR); it offers great Italian classes, a lot of social activities, discounts and deals, but also individual courses, non-intensive, intensive and super intensive courses.
  • Take a look at Koiné, the Italian Language Centre that offers a humanistic-affective learning, that is challenging and dynamic.

Italian language schools in Naples:

  • Centro Italiano is undoubtedly one of the best schools in Naples to study the Italian language. Accredited by the Italian Ministry of Education and ASILS, offers a good variety of language courses focusing on the "Neapolitan" part of the school with Italian cooking lessons.
  • Since 1992 Apple Languages - international school that offers courses in various languages in many parts of the world - teaches Italian in Naples, with an experienced team and different levels of learning.

Books to help you learn Italian

Here is something useful to let you improve your Italian... take a look!

Complete Italian: The Basics (Book and CD Set): Includes Coursebook, 4 Audio CDs, and Learner's Dictionary (Complete Basic Courses)
Complete Italian: The Basics (Book and CD Set): Includes Coursebook, 4 Audio CDs, and Learner's Dictionary (Complete Basic Courses)

One of the best products I've ever seen: easy to understand and very useful to those interested in learning Italian

BBC Language Course for Kids - Muzzy Italian - Level 1 DVD Set
BBC Language Course for Kids - Muzzy Italian - Level 1 DVD Set

Great and very useful DVD set to let kids learn Italian


Have you ever been in Italy? What do you think about Italian language? Are you going to attend a language course together with an Italian cooking course?

What do you think about learning Italian?

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    • federico-biuso profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @Merrci: Dear Merrci, I'm happy you enjoyed my lens! So, now you know that many dishes you probably ate weren't Italian at all.... hope you will taste the real Italian cuisine!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Enjoyed your lens! It's funny how many "Italian" dishes aren't really Italian! I think it would be great fun to learn Italian!


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