When you learn Italian for beginners, it will not take you long to work out that it is much more than just a language. Italy is rich in culture, history, fashion, art and music – and when you consider how to learn Italian basics, you could combine it with one of these national treasures, so to speak.

While Italy is well-known for its beautiful melodic language, there is much to discover when it comes to its other aspects of extraordinary culture too.

Learning any new language includes practicing greetings, learning the alphabet and doing endless comprehension exercises, but it can also include fun things like watching films for instance. When it comes to how to learn Italian for beginners, a lot of this can be paired with just about everyone’s enthusiasm for Italian food!

Whether you want to learn Italian basics or progress in your fluency, there is no doubt that anchoring your language study to the gourmet experiences offered by Italian cuisine, can make your learning more fun and more memorable.

One of the ways to truly do this effectively is to immerse yourself in both the language and culture by consider signing up for an Italian food course in Italy itself. Not only will you pick up new words and phrases that actually interest you through learning Italian dishes, but your overall conversational skills will improve too.

In fact, Italian dishes are so world-famous that everyone knows a little bit of Italian whether they know it or not!

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 Is Pasta Even Italian?

‘Should we go to an Italian restaurant?’

‘Do you feel like pizza?’

Here are just two phrases that are commonly asked throughout the world – it is, therefore, fair to say that Italian cuisine has conquered the gastronomic world.

One of the reasons for this could be that Italian dishes have a way of setting a convivial and colourful theme for even the simplest meals.

Pizza, which makes for a cheerful atmosphere is usually shared between friends and family at informal or celebratory gatherings. Perhaps this is why Italian dishes which are so sociable have ingrained themselves so well into South African culture too.

Take pasta for instance, regardless of age or social demographic, it is one of the most popular, inexpensive and convenient of all Italian dishes. From the most simply prepared meal to something more in tune with the hallmarks of Italian cuisine, pasta is probably the most versatile food on the planet!

While Italians may have perfected pasta making and preparation, it may be a myth that this Italian food actually originated in Italy! There is a legend that says that Marco Polo imported pasta into Italy during the 13th century after his travels to China!

So, are the Chinese the inventors of pasta? The answer is no!

Evidence suggests that the Romans and the Greeks were the first creators of lasagne sized ribbons that evolved into all the different types of noodles available today.

So while Italian cuisine is inspired by early Roman dishes, it has other influences too!

Italian food sparks a passion for Italy in many people
Food brings people together - especially pizza! ¦ source: Pixabay - Engin_Akyurt

How Italian Food Conquered the World

We could certainly debate the four great cuisines of the world and the reason for this debate is certainly subjective. It is after all a matter of taste!

Regardless, in terms of its widespread adoption, there is little doubt that Italian, Chinese, French and Japanese, which boast restaurants on every continent are the most popular in the world today.

To a lesser degree, Spanish, Middle Eastern, and American food is noteworthy. Amongst all of these contenders, however, it is still Italian food that is the most accessible and widely enjoyed.

Just think about the enormous amounts of pizza, pasta and cheese that is consumed all over the world on a daily basis.

To support this, even though it may be an assumption, in January 2015 France Info TV broadcast a report about the unsurpassed taste of Italian dishes.

But here’s the crazy part:

Nearly 14 billion pasta dishes are consumed worldwide every year!

The French media also claimed that the famed pasta carbonara, that many of us attempt to cook with cream rather than eggs which are cleverly mixed with the pasta, is probably the most frequently cooked recipe in the world.

Italian recipes have become even more popular as people have adapted the recipes
Even though recipes have been borrowed and adapted, Italian cuisine certainly hasn't lost its essence ¦ source: Pixabay - greekfood-tamystika

Learn Italian Basics through Italian Food Recipes

When it comes to debating gastronomy as well as cinema, art history, and music, Italian has become so widely adopted throughout the globe that most people don’t even realise that they have more Italian vocabulary than they realise.

It is not dissimilar for musicians who use Italian to advance their music theory. Just consider words like piano, forte, adagio, crescendo, allegro and meno mosso!

When it comes to art, you are probably more familiar with Italian painters than you realise. Have you heard of You may not even realise it, but you might also be familiar with Italian painters such as Raphaël, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci.

But back to Italian cuisine, there is no doubt that you have tried traditional recipes like gelato, lasagne, and cannelloni too.

So as you can see if you want to learn Italian for beginners, you probably have more of a head start than you realise.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous Italian dishes around and how you include them when you want to learn Italian basics!

  • Pizza

Together with pasta, pizza is a strong symbol of Italy’s cultural heritage.

It would be difficult to find urban people who haven’t tried pizza, but next time you look at a pizza menu, take a closer look at the language and you will notice words like Napoli or Margarita which have filtered into commonly used words for the whole world.

The basic, modern pizza recipe originated in Naples, a city in Southern Italy. While its original dimensions are 35cm in diameter with a 2cm crust, today it has many size and topping options

  • Carpaccio

Carpaccio is a great word to learn how to pronounce when you learn Italian for beginners! Make sure that you pronounce the two middle “c’s” as “cha.”

As one of the most famous Italian dishes, delicate slices of meat are usually served with a little olive oil and parmigiana cheese.

  • Mozzarella

One of the most enjoyable things you will encounter when you learn Italian basics is which syllables to place emphasis on your pronunciation. It is this rather dramatic way of pronouncing Italian words that makes it so melodic and fun to speak. Mozzarella, which is one of the most popular Italian cheeses is a great word to practice.

As a dish, mozzarella and tomato are a heavenly combination which is why it makes such a brilliant pizza topping.

For those who frequently eat this cheese without knowing too much about it, it may interest you to know that is actually made from buffalo milk!

  • Veal Milanese

This is yet another delicious and typical, Italian dish.

Veal Alla Milanese, which is made from breaded veal escalopes and covered with parmesan is browned in a frying pan.

This recipe has been adapted by many nations around the world to such an extent that the ‘alla Milanese’ part of the name is now used to define any recipe cooked with parmesan in this way.

  • Risotto

Like veal Milanese, pasta, and pizza, risotto is a staple Italian dish used by many as a side or main course.

Rice which is fried in oil or butter, is then cooked in a tasty broth.

Following this, you can add whatever you like to the recipe! This could include meat, mushrooms, prawns, vegetables, or cheese.

  • Lasagne

If you’ve taken a journey of any kind to Italy, you probably sampled some of its local lasagne.

Not unlike pizza and pasta, lasagne is always on the menu of Italian restaurants and is a popular export and symbol of Italy!

There are also diverse ways to prepare lasagne which can be made with beef, salmon, vegetables or chicken.

Italian food is not only delicious, it is incredibly easy and versatile
Mozzarella and tomatoes: a classic combination ¦ source: Pixabay - RitaE

As you can see, when you learn Italian for beginners is not simply about mastering verbs, tenses, and pronunciation, but it most certainly includes finding your way around popular Italian dishes like these.

Of course, if you are serious about how to learn Italian basics, participating in a little Italian culture and learning some of the vocabulary associated with Italian dishes will not be enough to advance even conversational Italian. To do this, why not consider the help of a private Italian tutor like those found on Superprof?

Of course, you could sign up for a language school in your hometown if you can find one that offers Italian lessons, however, there is little doubt that one-on-one tutoring is the most effective way to learn any foreign language. Not only can you learn at a time and pace that suits you, but you can tailor-make your lessons to suit your hobbies and interests too. For instance, bearing in mind that designer clothing is one of the mainstays of the Italian economy, learning Italian for your fashion design career could truly set you up for success.

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.