Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region

Learn to speak Italian and explore the passion and brilliance of Italian culture in this ingenious course that teaches you the language through a grand tour of Italy's 20 regions.
Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 55.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course I enjoyed this course a great deal. Is there any news on Learning Italian 2?
Date published: 2021-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! I have taken two semesters of Italian in college. My instructors were native speakers, and Dr. Olsen teaches as good as any of them! For the reviewers complaining that there's too much focus on grammer, you must understand that Italian is a very "grammer heavy" language with lots of rules (and exceptions to them), MANY verb forms for each verb, and a new type of pronoun seems to accompany each new lesson. I think Dr. O does an awesome job of giving her students a solid beginning foundation for continued learning. Also, her hand gestures, pronunciation, and smile are very charming! Ben fatto!!!
Date published: 2021-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Am enjoying this class I like this class. I plan to watch it again. The instructor is super good with her enunciation and clear and upbeat with her descriptions.
Date published: 2021-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Serious but fun course I watched this course with my family it gave us a serious, that is a first two years at the university level, presentation of the language through a tour of Italy's many regions. Even the Italians don't visit all the regions of their own country, so this was a great tour! I very much appreciated this approach. Learning any language requires much study and time and many basic coures are repetitive and focus on simple conversational skills that wont get you further than expressing basic information wants and needs. There are few courses that break out of this mold for the beginner. I very much appreciated a fresh approach thematically based on Italy's many regions. Take this course after you've tired of the typical introductory materials or want to refresh an elementary study or if you are interested in Italy and planning a trip, you get to learn about Italy in Italian!
Date published: 2021-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A very good course It is a very good course giving a good background of the language and the country. There is a large amount of text and new words. I think that it will be easier for the student if a literal English translation will be attached to all the texts and not only to the initial ones. Right now you really need some basic knowledge to begin with and it may frustrate the completely new beginner.
Date published: 2021-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love it I was waiting for this language for a while i’m planning on going Italy at some point and I know I am prepared to absorb the culture now. the great courses has great videos on helping me learn new languages hope they keep up
Date published: 2021-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic learning materials I learn Italian since I am learning how to sing arias, and they are mostly in Italian. Professor Olson's classes are so interesting and helpful in mastering the grammer. Then all the sentences in the arias start to make sense, especially those changes in verbs. Without knowing the grammer, I may never know what 'vo' is, and it actually a change of 'volere'. In the sentence "vo'andare in Porta Rosa". Grammer helps me a lot in understanding the language, and of course, my singing could be more fluent. Without fully understand a language, it may be very easy to forget the texts when singing, and the performance cannot be genuine.
Date published: 2021-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Challenging, but worth it. If you're expecting to breeze through this course like many of the other Great Courses programmes, you'll be in for a bit of a nasty shock. The course is very dense, with plenty (though not too much) vocabulary and the reading passages will perhaps be intimidating in the beginning. However, if you have patience and you consecrate due time and attention to this course, you'll reap grand benefits. I'm going to be very honest: I didn't actually watch the videos. I already speak English, French and Spanish, and so I more or less know what I'm doing and I just need the structure of the workbook. My review is more on the progression of the course workbook than the content of the videos themselves, so take both my experience and my relationship with the course into account with this review. When I saw that the course would be structured around Italy ajd her regions, I was very sceptical to say the least. However, this approach is integrated very smoothly into the vocabulary and reading passages and is a pleasant compliment rather than a tricksy gimmick. The addition adds a sense of abundance and showcases the genuine passion of the instructors, rather than distracting from the learning outcomes. Indeed, many of the vocabulary targets fit very organically with the region. If this is your first time learning a language, and particularly if you don't have an awareness of the grammar of English (such as gramattical terms), this might be a bit of a struggle at first. However, as long as you don't lose courage, and are willing to review the video content and read the lessons, you'll have all the tools that you need to succeed. The workbooks is written so comprehensively that it covers all the main points from the video (as far as I can tell from what little that I did watch) and in itself as a standalone document is an incredibly efficient structure for learning, however I'm certain that the instructors would not recommend learning from it alone. Very thoughtfully constructed, albeit demanding, course. Highly recommended (but be patient and take your time).
Date published: 2021-03-05
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In this exciting course on Italian, you'll learn to speak about the present, the past, and the future through detailed work with verbs, nouns, and adjectives, plus you'll learn vocabulary on numerous, useful subjects. Among Italy's richly diverse regions, you'll discover the romantic beauties of Campania, The Marches", Il Veneto, and Tuscany, in an unforgettable immersion into Italy's splendorous language and culture."


Kristina Olson
Kristina Olson

Italian is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. To learn Italian is to open a door to a people and a culture that have produced some of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists, and innovators.


George Mason University

Kristina Olson is an Associate Professor of Italian and the Italian Program Coordinator at George Mason University, where she has taught Italian language, literature, and cinema since 2005. She earned her PhD in Italian from Columbia University.


Professor Olson is the author of Courtesy Lost: Dante, Boccaccio, and the Literature of History and several articles on Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. She is the coeditor of Open City: Seven Writers in Postwar Rome; Boccaccio 1313–2013; and the second edition of Approaches to Teaching Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with the Modern Language Association.


Professor Olson is the president of the American Boccaccio Association and previously served as vice president and treasurer. She was also the vice president of the Dante Society of America for two years and a councilor for three years. She serves on the editorial boards of Bibliotheca Dantesca, an international journal dedicated to Dante studies, and Dante Studies, the annual publication of the Dante Society of America, and she is an executive committee member for the Modern Language Association’s Languages, Literatures, and Cultures forum on Medieval and Renaissance Italian. 

By This Professor

Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region


Benvenuti to Italian and Italy’s 20 Regions!

01: Benvenuti to Italian and Italy’s 20 Regions!

Begin with a preview of the content of the course, as you will study the Italian language within the cultural context of Italy’s 20 geographic regions. Learn about vowels and consonants in Italian, and important principles of pronunciation. Study the subject pronouns, the verbs essere and stare (both meaning “to be”), daily greetings, and practice the elements of a simple conversation.

34 min
Nouns and Articles / Sicily

02: Nouns and Articles / Sicily

Discover the island of Sicily, as you build knowledge of Italian grammar and vocabulary. Dive into a text describing Sicily’s topography, history, and ancient treasures. Using the text, explore Italian nouns as they express gender and number. Then look at indefinite articles in Italian (“a” and “an” in English) and definite articles (“the” in English), and learn a practice dialogue.

30 min
Nouns and Adjectives / Sicily II

03: Nouns and Adjectives / Sicily II

Delve further into the history and culture of Sicily in this lesson. Study the plural forms of nouns, and how numbers are spoken in Italian. Practice both elements using an imaginary dialogue concerning a Sicilian literary character. Learn how to describe people, places, and things with adjectives; how adjectives reflect gender and number; and practice describing a Renaissance painting.

37 min
Verbs Ending in -are / Lombardy

04: Verbs Ending in -are / Lombardy

Take an overview of the region of Lombardy; its geography, culture, and food traditions. Learn the present indicative conjugation for “-are” verbs, covering a group of highly useful verbs. Use your new knowledge in talking about daily routines and discussing a classic Italian film, Il Posto. Review numbers in Italian, and look at one of Lombardy’s gems, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

32 min
Verbs Ending in -ere / Lazio

05: Verbs Ending in -ere / Lazio

The region of Lazio contains the city of Rome, and much history regarding Italian art, politics, and society. Take in its cultural highlights as you practice “second conjugation” verbs, ending in “-ere”. Build facility with these verbs in the present indicative, using a text about the iconic film La Dolce Vita. Learn idiomatic expressions using avere (to have), and ways of forming questions.

33 min
Verbs Ending in -ire / Aosta and Trentino–Alto Adige

06: Verbs Ending in -ire / Aosta and Trentino–Alto Adige

Start this lesson by reading texts describing two of the northernmost regions of Italy, the Valle d’Aosta and Trentino-Alto Adige, focusing on their mountainous geography and beautiful landscapes. Then study “third conjugation” verbs, ending in -ire, taking note of important irregular -ire verbs. Also learn the calendar, seasons, days of the week, and vocabulary concerning sports activities.

32 min
Possessive Adjectives and Pronouns / Puglia

07: Possessive Adjectives and Pronouns / Puglia

Grasp how possessive adjectives (“my,” “your,” and “our” in English) and possessive pronouns (“mine,” “yours,”and “ours”) function in Italian. Explore their use in text describing the geography, scenic landscapes and coastline, and traditional houses of the Puglia region, and add important vocabulary about the family. Practice what you’ve learned in discussing Tre Fratelli and Le Mine vaganti, two films set in Puglia.

33 min
Prepositions / Abruzzo and Molise

08: Prepositions / Abruzzo and Molise

Travel to the beautiful regions of Abruzzo and Molise, which feature stunning natural scenery, fine cuisine, and much history. Dig deeply into the use of prepositions in Italian (as in “from,” “with,” and “about” in English), which connect all the parts of speech. Also, note how prepositions express unspecified quantities, and learn vocabulary about the weather and seasonal activities.

32 min
Modal Verbs, Sapere, and Conoscere / Liguria

09: Modal Verbs, Sapere, and Conoscere / Liguria

“Modal” verbs are verbs that precede another infinitive, as in “I want to eat.” Work with dovere (to have to), potere (to be able to), and volere (to want to), as you discover Liguria’s natural beauties, picturesque towns, and culinary and artistic riches. Then investigate the verbs conoscere and sapere, which relate to knowledge, and look into the creations of Genoese architect Renzo Piano.

31 min
The Imperative Mood / Campania

10: The Imperative Mood / Campania

The imperative mood expresses commands, as in, “Repeat after me,” in English. Explore the two types of imperative verbs in Italian, the informal and the formal, and when to use each. Also, study irregular forms of the imperative. Practice the imperative by describing the popular Campania region, famous for its capital of Naples, its ancient sites, beautiful islands, and the scenic Amalfi Coast.

32 min
Direct Objects / Emilia-Romagna

11: Direct Objects / Emilia-Romagna

Here, your subject matter for practice is the beautiful central region of Emilia-Romagna, which boasts the medieval city of Bologna, stunning Adriatic beaches, and a wealth of famous food specialties. Study direct object pronouns (as in “it” and “them” in English, standing in for nouns), as well as two vital adjectives, buono and bello, and use them in describing the sights of Emilia-Romagna.

30 min
Indirect Objects / Friuli–Venezia Giulia

12: Indirect Objects / Friuli–Venezia Giulia

Continue your study with the indirect object pronouns, which function as in “I give the book to him” in English. Also explore double object pronouns, as in “I give it to him.” Then practice the verb piacere, which expresses likes and dislikes, as you explore the multilingual region of Fruli-Venezia Guilia, highlighting its beautiful and diverse scenery and the fascinating city of Trieste.

32 min
Irregular Nouns / Basilicata

13: Irregular Nouns / Basilicata

The less-visited southern region of Basilicata contains rich treasures of history and culture. Discover its ancient rock-carved houses and lunar landscapes as you return to Italian nouns, working with their plural endings and irregular forms. Then add the interrogative nouns and pronouns (“who,” “what,” “why”), as you learn about Carlo Levi’s celebrated novel which made this region famous.

34 min
Reflexive Pronouns and Verbs / The Marches

14: Reflexive Pronouns and Verbs / The Marches

Reflexive verbs direct the action onto the subject, as in “I wash myself.” Practice key Italian reflexive verbs along with their pronouns for talking about daily routines and wellness. In the Marches region, reflect on its picturesque scenery, Renaissance and medieval architecture, and the legacy of Raphael and Rossini, and learn the vocabulary of the body as well as how to tell time in Italian.

33 min
Reciprocal Verbs and Negatives / Veneto

15: Reciprocal Verbs and Negatives / Veneto

The splendors of the Veneto region are your material for this lesson, from its iconic visual artists and the glorious city of Venice to its traditions of literature and theater. In speaking about the region, add reciprocal verbs, which describe actions that are shared reciprocally, as in, “They love each other.” Also, explore negative constructions and the expressive range of Italian adverbs.

34 min
Present Progressive and Suffixes / Piedmont

16: Present Progressive and Suffixes / Piedmont

Study text describing the rich attractions of the Piedmont region, its alpine geography, the beautiful capital of Torino, and famed artisanal products. Work with the present progressive construction, which describes actions occurring in the present moment, as in “I’m eating lunch.” Learn about Italian suffixes, word endings that convey extra meaning, and about expressive Italian hand gestures.

31 min
Indefinite Pronouns, Ci, and Ne / Sardinia

17: Indefinite Pronouns, Ci, and Ne / Sardinia

Indefinite pronouns describe nonspecific qualities or quantities, as in “some,” “any,” or “many” in English. Study how these work in Italian, as you discuss ancient sites, agriculture, and tourism on the scenic island of Sardinia. Also, explore the unique pronouns ci and ne, which replace phrases within sentences. Then see how the beauties of Sardinia have been depicted in Italian films.

32 min
Passato Prossimo with Avere / Umbria

18: Passato Prossimo with Avere / Umbria

The verdant region of Umbria is known as “The Green Heart of Italy.” Read text about its natural beauties, art and architecture, artisanal industries, and religious history. Work with the basic past tense, the passato prossimo (“Have you eaten?”). Learn to form this compound tense with avere (to have), and use it in discussing Umbrian culture. Also, study regular and irregular participles.

31 min
Passato Prossimo with Essere / Tuscany

19: Passato Prossimo with Essere / Tuscany

Tuscany is perhaps Italy’s most celebrated and popular region, and the cradle of the Renaissance. Learn about its breathtaking medieval cities, beloved food specialties, and its iconic artists and writers. See how the passato prossimo tense is used with the auxiliary verb essere. Study expressions of time, and practice your skills in describing the life of Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli.

30 min
The Imperfect Tense / Calabria

20: The Imperfect Tense / Calabria

The imperfetto (the imperfect) describes actions in the past that were ongoing or not completed, as in “I was reading.” Read text about the untamed beauty, prehistory, and Greek/Byzantine legacy of Calabria, noting the use of the imperfetto. Learn to conjugate the imperfetto, and practice choosing where to use it, as opposed to the passato prossimo, in text on the treasures of ancient Calabria.

31 min
The Impersonal Voice / Liguria II

21: The Impersonal Voice / Liguria II

Take a second look at the natural beauty and artistic culture of Liguria. Study the impersonal voice, which is used to refer to an unspecified subject, as in “One should” or “Everyone knows.” See how this voice expresses what people can do, see, or experience. Then return to modal verbs, as well as conoscere and sapere, and see how these verbs take on different meanings based on the tense used.

30 min
The Imperative with Pronouns / Campania II

22: The Imperative with Pronouns / Campania II

Return to the culturally rich Campania region as you review the imperative mood (commands), and learn how the imperative functions with pronouns (where “Eat the pizza!” becomes “Eat it!”). Explore both the informal and formal imperative, double pronouns (“Give it to her.”). Then practice them in describing Campania’s ancient cities, scenic beauties, and beloved culinary specialties.

32 min
The Future Tense / Lazio II

23: The Future Tense / Lazio II

Speak about the sights and history of Rome, the eternal city, as you learn the future tense in Italian (“I will go.”). Practice the conjugation of the future tense, and explore the verb stem changes that characterize it. Take into account the different meanings of the future tense, including its use to express probability, as well as the future perfect construction (“I will have gone.”).

32 min
Comparatives, Superlatives, and Arrivederci! / Tuscany II

24: Comparatives, Superlatives, and Arrivederci! / Tuscany II

Conclude the course with a return to the beloved region of Tuscany. Expand your knowledge of the past tense in discussing Tuscany’s topography; food culture; and literary giants Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Learn to make comparisons, of equality (“as good as”) and of inequality (“better than”). Finally, explore Italian superlatives (“the worst”, “the best”).

34 min