The Best Restaurants in Verona

When I was in college, I did a six-week study abroad program in Verona, and this charming city will always be special to me because it was my first extended stay in Italy. See my Spotlight: Verona post to learn why this city is so amazing.

During the study abroad program, I was a part of a group of over 30 students, and with six weeks to explore Verona, we were able to go to all kinds of restaurants, trattorias, and pizzerias. There were a few in particular that really stood out. If you’re going to be visiting Verona in the future, I would highly recommend the following restaurants!

1 The Best Restaurants in Verona

Pizzeria Bella Napoli

Simply the best pizza in Verona! We would descend on this place in a group of 15 to 20 people about once a week, and the food was always great. The staff were also very friendly, and it was just a good experience each time we went there.

In the past year, I have recommended Pizzeria Bella Napoli to two different people looking for Verona restaurant recommendations, and both reported back that the food was great and thanked me for the recommendation.

So if you’re looking for pizza in Verona, Pizzeria Bella Napoli is the place to go.

logohome 2 The Best Restaurants in Verona

Bottega del Vino

If you’re looking for great food and great wine, Bottega del Vino is a great choice. They have a huge wine list and many wines by the glass. And the food is very classic and delicious. My favorite dish was the risotto all’Amarone, made with the great Amarone red wine from the area.

This place can be expensive, so I’d recommend going here if you’re looking to have a great night and splurge a little. I really enjoyed the ambiance as well. If memory serves, it’s located just off Via Mazzini about halfway between the Arena and Piazza Erbe.

storia 2 The Best Restaurants in Verona

Caffé Dante Ristorante

I always liked the Caffé Dante Ristorante because this is where we went on our very first night in Verona. From what I remember, the food is pretty good and reasonably priced. But the setting is the best past, as this ristorante is located in Piazza Dante. I have some really good memories of sitting outside and enjoying good food and good company on warm summer evenings.

So those are my recommendations for some of the best restaurants in Verona. There are probably many more that deserve mention, but I can’t remember any others in particular (I was there seven years ago, after all).

If you have a recommendation for a great restaurant in Verona that you don’t see here, leave a comment to let everyone know!

Getting over Frustration when Learning a New Language

Learning a new language is not easy. Anyone who has tried can tell you that. And I would bet that the number one stumbling block for new language learners is frustration.

When things don’t make sense immediately or you keep trying to achieve a specific objective and just can’t seem to do so, it’s easy for frustration to mount. And frustration can be dangerous because it leads to discouragement and possible abandonment of a goal you really value.

As someone who has studied Italian for about 8 or 9 years now, I’m no stranger to frustration when it comes to learning Italian. I can think of two specific examples that you may be able to relate to, and I’d like to share them here, as well as how I was able to overcome them and move forward with my Italian learning. Both of these examples occurred when I had a decent, but not great, proficiency with Italian, which I think shows that frustration can occur not just for beginners but with experienced language learners as well.

When I was in Verona for a six-week study abroad program, I wanted to take in as much of the experience as I could, and that included watching a national-level soccer tournament that was being shown over the course of two weeks while I was there. I have played soccer most of my life, and I love watching it as well.

I especially wanted to test my listening comprehension skills by listening to the announcers call the games. I was surprised to find that I could barely understand 10% of what the announcers were saying. I just couldn’t make out the words, let alone follow the conversation between the announcers. I couldn’t figure out why I was having so much trouble understanding the announcers. When I was walking around the streets of Verona, I was able to understand a fair amount of the conversations around me. But I couldn’t follow what was being said during the games, and I started to get really frustrated.

However, I kept watching the soccer games, if only because I enjoy watching soccer. And I as started to become more familiar with the names of the players, and I realized that at least 50% of what the announcers were saying were players’ names! Think about it: “Materazzi passes the ball to Figo, who passes it to Del Piero, who has it stolen by Gattuso…” etc. If you don’t know the players’ names and you try to make sense of the sounds you’re hearing as regular Italian words, it’s no surprise that you’ll feel lost.

After I realized this, I went from understanding 10% of what the announcers were saying to about 80 to 90%. My frustration disappeared, but I had to stick with it and keep watching the games to arrive at a breakthrough that allowed my understanding of the soccer broadcasts to take a big leap forward.

The second example has to do with Florence. Florence is an amazing city, one that I have been to many times, but many of my early visits were filled with frustration. The first three or four times I went to Florence, I tried to speak Italian in every bar, cafe, restaurant, shop, and hotel that I went to, but I was always responded to in English.

I got frustrated really quickly. Why won’t you stupid Florentines respond to me in Italian?! You must get countless American tourists speaking to you in English, and here I am making the effort to speak to you in Italian, and I get nothing in return! Frustration only scratches the surface, as I started to really dislike the city of Florence for this reason.

After these discouraging initial experiences, I went back to Florence six months into my nine-month stay in Milan. After having lived in Italy for six months, my pronunciation, intonation, and ability to speak natural-sounding Italian had improved dramatically.

As I came back to Florence and continued my so-far-fruitless attempt to have an Italian conversation in the tourist-filled city, I fully expected for the past trend to continue and for my Italian to be responded to in English. To my surprise, this time nearly all of the Florentines I spoke to responded to me in Italian.

I realized that in my earlier trips to Florence, even though I had a decent command of the Italian language and could understand a lot of what was being said, my pronunciation still wasn’t very good. Basically, even though I was speaking Italian, I still sounded like an American tourist, and that is what the Italian people I spoke to were responded to.

Think about your own native language: we instantly pick up on when someone is speaking with an accent, when they pronounce words and use intonations that don’t sound natural to us. Well, the same holds true when you’re learning a foreign language. In fact, this is probably one of the biggest hurdles you will have to overcome as you become more proficient: how to sound more natural in the target language, so that native speakers may not instantly realize that you are not a native speaker. This is difficult to do and takes a lot of time and practice, but when you get past this potential stumbling block, the effect is amazing and really encouraging.

So those are two examples of frustration I experienced as I tried to expand my Italian-speaking abilities, and I hope my illustrations of how I overcame them were illuminating in some way.

Here are some general tips I would recommend when you experience frustration in learning a new language:

  1. Perseverance. You’re not going to understand everything immediately, and sometimes it just takes time to sink in. This can be one of the most frustrating times, but if you stick with it and don’t give up, you’ll often be surprised and feel a lot of encouragement when a breakthrough finally occurs.
  2. Reach out and ask someone. As I think my examples show, I have trouble following this tip. I tried to figure out what was blocking me and causing me frustration on my own, but this requires a lot of trial and error and can prolong the frustration. If you can find a native speaker or someone who has found success in what you are trying to do, try asking them about the thing that is causing you frustration.
  3. Discouragement limits you and what you are capable of. I think virtually everyone is capable is understanding virtually anything or any subject, at least at some level. The human brain is an amazing device. But many people, at the first sign of trouble, give up, and they never grow because of this. Determination and confidence can be difficult to develop, but if you truly value the goal you are pursuing, the struggle is worth it. It’s much better on the other side. Believe me.

Blog Update January 2010

A word of advice for fellow blog-owners out there: don’t do what I did and update your theme without checking it out first. Bone-headed mistake on my part.

Since the inception of Dreaming in Italian, I had been using the Swift theme, and was generally happy with it.

Recently, I saw that an update to Swift was available, and I ran the update without thinking about. Due to laziness and time constraints, I didn’t check the front-end site to make sure the update didn’t mess anything up. I only realized today that my Google Analytics code was no longer working, and when I checked the front-end of the website, everything was gone (my old design that I had spent a lot of time tweaking).

There’s no one to blame but myself, and I apologize for not realizing earlier that the design of Dreaming in Italian was totally messed up. The bottom line is that it’s time for a total redesign. I’ve learned a lot about web design and WordPress since I originally set this website up, so I think I can make a lot of improvements.

My goal over the next week is to develop and unveil a new design for the website, hopefully one that will be a big improvement over the last design. I also have some plans to update the blog more frequently, including some new content ideas.

So the bottom line is that some very overdue changes are in line for Dreaming in Italian. If the design, navigation, or other aspects of the site don’t seem to be working during the next week or so, I apologize, but the new and improved version of Dreaming in Italian will be available soon.

Thanks for reading!

Italy-inspired Christmas Gift Ideas

With Christmas approaching soon, I thought it’d be a good idea to create a list of Italy-related gift ideas. I decided to revisit my post on modern Italian cinema, while also adding adding American films that prominently feature Italy. I also have some book recommendations. If you’re looking for some Christmas gift ideas for an Italy-lover in your family, hopefully this will help!

Movies

tuscan sun Italy inspired Christmas Gift IdeasYes, I know some people don’t like this movie, but I think Under the Tuscan Sun Italy inspired Christmas Gift Ideas captures a lot of what people do like about Italy. The scenes in Tuscany are great, as are the ones on the Amalfi coast. This can definitely get someone in the mood for a trip to Italy.

talented mr ripley Italy inspired Christmas Gift IdeasThe Talented Mr. Ripley Italy inspired Christmas Gift Ideas is pretty much the opposite of Under the Tuscan Sun, as far as storyline is concerned. This movie has violence and sexuality, so keep that in mind. But the settings are great (Amalfi coast, Rome, Venice, San Remo), and the acting is great (Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman).

cinema paradiso Italy inspired Christmas Gift IdeasI covered this film in my Guide to Modern Italian Cinema post, but Cinema Paradiso Italy inspired Christmas Gift Ideas is so good that I wanted to mention it here. Seriously, anyone would love this movie. It’s a classic coming-of-age story, but the setting in Sicily gives it something extra.

Books

rick steves italy Italy inspired Christmas Gift IdeasIf you’re looking for a gift idea for someone traveling to Italy soon, then look no further than Rick Steves and his Italy 2011 guidebook Italy inspired Christmas Gift Ideas. We used his guidebooks to make it through Italy, France, and Spain this past summer, and I think his books are simply the best available.

100 places Italy inspired Christmas Gift IdeasMost guidebooks take a generic approach to their audience, but not 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go Italy inspired Christmas Gift Ideas. This is written specifically for women who want to fulfill their Italian travel fantasies, and it would make a great gift for any woman planning on visiting Italy or simply dreaming of Italy.

Why I fell in love with Italy

Back in 2000, I was a freshman in college. I remember coming back home for Thanksgiving, sitting in my old room after everyone else in the house had gone to sleep (I have always been a night owl), and wanting something that I couldn’t quite identify at the time.

I was craving more of the freedom and independence that I had recently obtained being on my own for the first time. More than that, I was craving adventure. Adventure, mystery, and the exotic. It was a funny feeling that I couldn’t get rid of.

As I was sitting there, a memory came to mind, and I pulled out my literary anthology from one of my high school English classes. I flipped to a short story I remembered by Ernest Hemingway. I remembered that the story took place in Africa and had to do with safaris. It seemed that such a story might satisfy the craving for adventure I had, so I sat there and reread the story.

The story was “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” It did satisfy that weird craving for adventure I had, and I was intrigued. I thought to myself, I get this. A dude has no self-confidence, can’t stand up for himself, and let’s his wife walk all over him. He finally decides to stand up for himself, and he feels like a new man. Then his wife offs him because she doesn’t like the change. I get that. It was one of the first times I really connected with a piece of literature.

The next day, I went to the book store and bought a few of Hemingway’s other books. It was like I had discovered a new world, and I was enthralled. And then I read The Sun Also Rises Why I fell in love with Italy, and everything changed.

sun also rises Why I fell in love with Italy Why I fell in love with Italy

At that point in my life, the only places I had been to outside the U.S. were Canada and Japan. Europe seemed like a mystery, and all of the sudden Hemingway shed a little light on that mystery for me, just enough to get me hooked on the idea.

The Sun Also Rises Why I fell in love with Italy intrigued me immediately. Cafés in Paris, the Spanish countryside, bull fights, raucous partying: this was the adventure I was looking for. I wanted to know more. I was hooked, and I hadn’t even been to Europe before.

Luckily enough, after the school year ended, we took our first family trip to Europe, a 10-day jaunt through London, Venice, Florence, and Rome. I became convinced more than ever that I wanted to do a study abroad program, but I still didn’t know where.

We had dinner in Florence one night, and as we were sitting there on the banks of the Arno watching the sunset colors wash over the Tuscan hillside, that was when I knew: this is where I want to study. I want to learn Italian, and I want to experience and learn about everything I can in this country. I fell in love with Italy right then and there.

We came back to the states, and I signed up for Italian class when the next school year started, and the rest is history. I did do a study abroad program (in Verona), I kept taking the Italian classes, and eventually I moved to Milan for nine months. And everything stemmed from that one magical dinner on the banks of the Arno in Florence.

So that is why I fell in love with Italy, and I have Ernest Hemingway and The Sun Also Rises Why I fell in love with Italy to thank for that.

What about you? What made you fall in love with Italy?

Recent posts at “How to Say in Italian”

I’ve got a lot of projects going on right now, and one of them is “How to Say in Italian,” located at http://www.how-to-say-in-italian.com.

Have you ever been searching for a particular word in a language you are studying, and you just can’t seem to find a good explanation of how to use the word correctly? Maybe you find the word, but you’re not sure how to use it in the right context.

This has happened to me a number of times, and I wanted to create a website that would help Italian learners find the words they were looking for. Besides the word itself, I also wanted to provide guidance on how to use the word properly, so that the Italian learner can start using it correctly and with confidence.

Here’s a list of some recent content at “How to Say in Italian”:

This isn’t an easy website to do by yourself, but I really like the idea and plan on adding as much content to it as I can. I hope you find it useful.

The Wonders of Focaccia

Following my recent trip to Cinque Terre, I’ve been having a hard time getting the food I had on that trip off my mind. In particular, the pesto and the focaccia were simply amazing. Pesto was invented in Liguria, the region which Cinque Terre is in, and the pesto I had in Monterosso was simply amazing.

But the focaccia in particular has stayed on my mind. Focaccia bread is also a specialty of the Liguria region, and it’s easy to find in many towns throughout the region.

I’ve come to realize that the combination of bread, salt, and olive oil is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s just ridiculously good. My favorite type of focaccia is onion, but I know there are many excellent kinds. What’s your favorite?

focaccia The Wonders of Focaccia

I’ve been thinking about focaccia so much that I’m thinking of trying to make some. Now, I’ve never made any kind of bread, and I’m pretty clueless in this area. Luckily, there are a ton of recipes out there, and I found one that seems pretty simple.

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/easiest-focaccia-recipe/Detail.aspx

Have you made focaccia at home before? Any improvements you would make to the recipe? Let me know in the comments. And if you know where I can find some good focaccia bread in the Seattle area, let me know as well icon smile The Wonders of Focaccia .

Italy 2010 Trip Review: Milan, Dolomites, Cinque Terre

I recently returned from my 3 week trip to Europe, and it was a great experience. As I mentioned in my Spotlight: Dolomites post, I was excited to see the Italian Alps and to see if the beauty would match some of the incredible photos I had seen. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The hiking up there was great and the scenery was amazing. If you’re looking for a different type of Italian experience, this may be a good bet.

DSCN0075 Italy 2010 Trip Review: Milan, Dolomites, Cinque Terre

Before heading up to the Dolomites, we entered Italy in Milan and spent two days there. This was my first time visiting my former home since I returned from my nine-month stay there, and it felt great to be back. It still felt familiar to me, and it was great to be able to share it with some friends I was traveling with. When I was there, in 2005, the Duomo was covered in scaffolding and I never got to see it in its full glory. I’m happy to report that the Duomo is uncovered now and looks great.

Photo Sep 27 2 23 08 PM Italy 2010 Trip Review: Milan, Dolomites, Cinque Terre

My friends and I had a great time people-watching on Corso Vittorio Emmanuale II and partying in the Navigli area, and I just want to put in a plug again that Milan is a great place to visit!

Our last stop in Italy, before heading to France and Spain, was Cinque Terre. The first time I went to Cinque Terre, in 2003, it was just starting to register as a hotspot for tourists in Italy. Today, it is well known as a tourist hotspot, as evidenced by the frequent American English I heard while there. I guess it was inevitable, as it is a truly unique and beautiful area. If you go there, be sure to try the pesto, which was invented in the region, and the focaccia. I promise, you will not be disappointed. icon smile Italy 2010 Trip Review: Milan, Dolomites, Cinque Terre

DSCN0144 Italy 2010 Trip Review: Milan, Dolomites, Cinque Terre

Musica italiana: “L’appuntamento” by Ornella Vanoni

I’m getting ready for my trip to the beautiful Italian Dolomites at the moment. I’ll be gone for three weeks, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to post during that time, so I wanted to do a quick Musica Italiana post before I go. And this song certainly gets me in the mood to go to Italy. icon smile Musica italiana: Lappuntamento by Ornella Vanoni

Today, we look at “L’appuntamento” by Ornella Vanoni. Now, I have to admit that the only reason I have heard this song is because of the movie Ocean’s Twelve Musica italiana: Lappuntamento by Ornella Vanoni. I was intrigued the moment I heard it, and I think it’s an amazing song. Ornella Vanoni is a well-known Italian pop singer, and this song was released in 1970. Following is a Youtube video of “l’appuntamento,” followed by lyrics in Italian with my English translation. Enjoy!

Ho sbagliato tante volte ormai che lo so già
I’ve screwed up so many times by now that I already know
Che oggi quasi certamente
that today, almost certainly,
Sto sbagliando su di te
I’m wrong about you
Ma una volta in più che cosa può cambiare
But once more what can change
Nella vita mia
in my life
Accettare questo strano appuntamento
To accept this strange appointment
È stata una pazzia
has been madness
Sono triste tra la gente che mi sta
I am sad among the people that are
Passando accanto
passing me by
Ma la nostalgia di rivedere te
But the nostalgia of seeing you again
È forte più del pianto
is stronger than the tears
Questo sole accende sul mio volto
This sun shines on my face,
Un segno di speranza.
a sign of hope.
Sto aspettando quando ad un tratto ti vedrò
I’m waiting, when suddenly I see you
Spuntare in lontananza
appear in the distance
Amore, fai presto, io non resisto
My love, hurry, I won’t resist
Se tu non arrivi non esisto
If you don’t come, I don’t exist
Non esisto, non esisto
I don’t exist, I don’t exist
È cambiato il tempo e sta piovendo
The weather has changed and it’s raining
Ma resto ad aspettare
But I stay and wait
Non m’importa cosa il mondo può pensare
I don’t care what the world can think
Io non me ne voglio andare.
I do not want to go.
Io mi guardo dentro e mi domando
I look inside myself and ask
Ma non sento niente
but I don’t hear anything
Sono solo un resto di speranza
I am only a remain of hope
Perduta tra la gente. Amore è già tardi e non resisto
lost among the people. My love, it’s already late and I won’t resist
Se tu non arrivi non esisto
If you don’t come, I don’t exist
Non esisto, non esisto
I don’t exist, I don’t exist
Luci, macchine, vetrine, strade tutto quanto
Lights, cars, shop windows, streets, all these things
Si confonde nella mente
swirl in my head
La mia ombra si è stancata di seguirmi
My shadow is tired of following me
Il giorno muore lentamente.
The day dies slowly
Non mi resta che tornare a casa mia
I just have to go home
Alla mia triste vita
to my sad life
Questa vita che volevo dare a te
This life that I wanted to give to you
L’hai sbriciolata tra le dita.
you have crumbled between your fingers
Amore perdono ma non resisto
My love, I forgive but I won’t resist
Adesso per sempre non esisto
Now and forever, I don’t exist
Non esisto, non esisto
I don’t exist, I don’t exist

Spotlight: Dolomites

Well, my new project, How To Say In Italian, in addition to a trip I will soon be taking, has reinvigorated my desire to blog, so here I am writing a new post. In less than a week, I will be leaving for Italy and Europe for the first time in over 5 years, and I’m very excited. My trip will be about three weeks, and the first week will be spent in the Italian Dolomites, part of the Italian Alps and located in the Trentino-Alto Adige and South Tyrol regions. Check it out:

dolomites Spotlight: Dolomites

Not bad, right? We’ll be staying in the village of Seis (Seis am Schlern in German, Siusi allo Sciliar in Italian) for a couple of days, then heading up to a lodge in the Dolomite mountains for a couple of days.

The South Tyrol/Alto Adige region is an interesting one. It used to be part of Austria, and many people here speak a dialect of German. The culture is much more Germanic than Italian. In fact, when I was taking an Italian class in Milan, one of my classmates was a girl from this area who spoke only German and needed to learn Italian to become a teacher.

After our Dolomites expedition, we head to Cinque Terre, and then through the south of France and into Barcelona, so the trip should provide some interesting contrasts. I haven’t been into France or Spain before, so I can’t wait!

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