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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 114.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Like it so far Just a few lessons in and I like it and the approach so far. Trying to get extra exposure to Italian thru other sources as well. The academic approach helps make sense of the conversational systems other resources use.
Date published: 2024-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow, what a truly gifted teacher!! I'm nearly 66 years young and a lifelong learner so of course I've encountered all kinds of teachers and professors, the good the bad and the ugly so to speak. Prof Olson is outstanding. She speaks with conceptual clarity born of a deep knowledge of the language, the culture, and the history of Italy. She has a speaking style that is lively but not overdone. She provides insights about the language that I cannot get from the language gaming software that I'm also learning from. I'm about halfway through the course and very inspired to visit Italy based upon what Professor Olson has shared about the country. I hope she produces subsequent, more advanced courses in Italian after this one. I can't find any negatives about this course at all.
Date published: 2024-03-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Courses via Amazon Prime I subscribe to Great Courses as an Amazon Prime Channel. I'm enjoying this series, but I feel at a disadvantage without the workbook. Is it available to subscribers in Prime?
Date published: 2024-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning Italian Il dottor Olsen è un insegnante meraviglioso. Mi sono piaciute le sue presentazioni e mi sento molto esperto nella comprensione della lingua italiana e mi hanno indirizzato sulla strada giusta per padroneggiarla.
Date published: 2024-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning Italian Back in 2010 I reread Dante (the entire poem, not just Inferno) in numerous English translations. I decided that I had to read it in the original. Shortly after that I read everything Niccolò Machiavelli wrote (in English translation) and decided I needed to read him in the original too. I had been to Italy three times before this reading odyssey. But since then I have had fits and starts learning and relearning this beautiful language. I was not very successful learning Italian and the fault is mine alone. I still traveled to Italy many more times, totaling about 20 now. I have been to most of the 20 regions, and I have visited many of the sites that Professor Olson discusses in her lectures, including i nuraghi in Sardegna (Lecture 17). The course, and Professor Olson's approach to the history and culture of this complicated country, is absolutely wonderful. It's hard to believe that she packs so much in just 24 lectures. I supplement her lectures and activities in the workbook with movies, shows, and lots and lots of Italian music. I also use Babbel. Professor Olson provides many supplements of movies and poetry to enhance the learning. This is all absolutely wonderful. She knows the country and the language extremely well. She is an excellent teacher. I watched all the films that she recommends. Some I have seen before. I am finally all in on mastering this language, after years of "imperfect" and "incomplete" study from the past. It takes time, practice, immersion and perseverance. I will go through the course more than once or twice. For those of you struggling, keep going! Don't give up. I want to thank Dante, Machiavelli, Professor Olson, and Annalisa (E Poi Siamo Finiti Nel Vortice) for getting me back on track. Grazie mille professoressa!
Date published: 2024-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Grazie! Only four lessons in, I'm so grateful to Professor Olson for her lively, approachable delivery. I struggle to understand and speak languages other than English, so her careful enunciation helps me grasp most words. The guidebook is also helpful. Her class is so much better than working on my own with Rocket Languages or Duolingo. I feel like I'm part of her class.
Date published: 2024-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! A comprehensive look at basic grammar and useful vocabulary in the context of looking at the 20 Italian regions. The explanations of the grammar are very clear, and the whole course is informative, educational and fun! A follow on course would be great!!
Date published: 2023-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Online Course I am so happy I found this Italian course. I also bought the workbook to go with it. Together I found the classes informative and the workbook a great support. I love the way Professor Olson lectures. She makes you understand the "behind the grammar scenes" of learning a language. It is also wonderful how you learn about the different regions in Italy, which is a refreshing change from the typical format of language classes.
Date published: 2023-11-16
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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

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
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.

33 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.

28 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.

35 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.

31 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.

31 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.

30 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.

32 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.

30 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.

29 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.

30 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.

28 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.

30 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.

32 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.

32 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.

32 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.

29 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.

30 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.

29 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.

28 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.

30 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.

28 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.

30 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.”).

31 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”).

35 min