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(Courtesy of Michelin Guide, Maly, 10th Edition—reprined with permission) Italian is a ‘‘Romance"’ language, along with French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Rumanian, to mention the most widely spoken ones. This is because they all derive directly from the language of Rome—Latin. Most of the approximately 56 million inhabitants of Italy speak Nalian. There are also many immigrants of Italian origin in North America who continue to speak Italian, especially in the home. Italy is a peninsula in the shape of a “boot.” There are also two islands on its western coast; Sardinia (Sardegna) and Sicily (Sicilia). It is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea (Mar Mediterraneo), which takes on different names, as you can see on the map. The Alps (le Alpi) and the Apennines (gli Appennini) are the two main mountain chains in Italy. Politically, the country is divided into regions—each with its own dialect and local traditions, The capital of Italy is Rome (Roma). You will enjoy visiting many interesting spots. ‘You might, for example, want to see Venice's famous San Marco church and square, Florence’s breathtaking Piazza de] Duomo, Rome’s immortal Colosseum, Naples’ famous San Carlo theater, You might also want to shop in Milan’s world-famous Galleria. Or, you ight want to enjoy the tranquil surroundings on the island of Capri. Other famous cities you might want to visit are Trieste, Turin (Torino), Genoa (Genova), Bologna, Pisa, and Palermo—to mention but a few. Italian painting, sculpture, literature, and music are famous all over the world. Who has not heard of the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo or of the great scientist Galileo? The names Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch (Petrarea), Leonardo da Vinci, Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Paganini, Marconi are forged into history, as, of course, is that of Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo). Today, Italy is famous for its artisanship and design, especially in the fields of clothing, furniture, and automobiles. Its cinematography is internationally acclaimed. Italy's cuisine also enjoys a worldwide reputation, notably with spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna (lasagne), gnocchi, and macaroni (maccheroni). By learning the language of Italy, you will acquire a valuable key to many of its cultural treasures. Just put in 15 minutes a day at a pace comfortable for you. Some days you'll cover many pages, some not so many. Now, let's get started. PRONUNCIATION It is thought by many that Italian is an easy language to speak, that it is written as it is spoken. This is generally true. The following charts will help you with the troublesome letters and sounds. First we give you the vowels, then the consonants. You'll need to familiarize yourself with these sounds, even though each time a new phrase is introduced in this book, the pronunciation is also shown. VOWELS ITALIAN ENGLISH VOWELS EQUIVALENT SYMBOL casa father ah (house) bene bet eh (well) riso ease ee | (rice) | | volo bone oh (fight) scusi rule 00 (excuse me) NOTE: Speakers in different parts of Italy will pronounce ¢ and o slightly differently, but not enough to make a substantial difference, The j and u may stand for “ty” and “*w"" sounds respectively. This has to do with syllable considerations. For your own practical purposes, just follow the pronunciation aids provided throughout the book.