Chi siamo noi?

Judy Cohen and  Taxi Driver  poster

Judy Cohen and Taxi Driver poster

I'm an Italian language student who loves movies!

I guess I was about ten in the early 1960s Midwest, when I started watching movies every day after school. The Noirs that I watched set me on the road to movie obsession.  

I mixed it up a little with some cheery classics (like Jane Eyre); little girls I wanted to be (like Margaret O'Brien); and grown-up movies (like The Marrying Kind) that I grew to understand and love more each time I saw them.

Later, as a teen loner in Milwaukee, I haunted used bookstores and movie theaters, where I caught repeated viewings of Midnight Cowboy. I never imagined that I’d end up in New York City myself! 

I teach English as a Second Language to people from all over the world, who often tell me about movies from their country that I haven't heard about before! Lucky me!

This blog brings together two exciting adventures in my life: learning Italian and watching movies.

I started learning Italian in the summer of 2015 to prepare for a trip to Sicily.

But there was another reason, too. I love old Italian movies and I had always felt I was missing something by not connecting with the actors’ lines directly as they spoke. Plus, there are a lot of gaps in the subtitles of these old films. Since I’ve been learning Italian, I’ve also noticed that there are a fair number of mistakes in the subtitles. So: all good reasons to learn Italian if you are crazy about these films as I am. Of course, there’s also a lot of dialect spoken in the old films, so knowing Italian might not help you so much there...

The blog name is adapted from the title of the movie Io la conoscevo bene (Antonio Pietrangeli, Dir. 1965), which means "I knew her well." The blog name is changed to mean "I knew them well," because I talk about the films that I know – and love – the best.

Each month, I choose one of my favorite movies (that I’ve already seen five or ten times). I watch it again, making screenshots and writing a cineracconto about it in intermediate-level English. It takes a long time; about 5 minutes for each hour of film – and that’s just writing the English version! Then I translate it into Italian, keeping it simple, to be sure that Italian students (like me) can understand it. When I come to difficult words, I look them up if I have to and I put them in bold; these become the glossario at the end of the fotoracconto. Next, our editor, Alberto, checks what I've written, making corrections and making sure it all actually sounds Italian. We go over it together, which is a great learning experience for me. During this time, I'm also writing the grammar exercises, which my teacher, Michela, corrects. Finally our proofreader, Lucrezia, goes over everything, always finding things to tweak. It's a process!

Why this blog? I love movies; I love Italian. I’m excited to share them both with you!

This blog could not happen without the help and support of these native Italian speakers who make sure that everything I write is corretto. Alberto edits my photo-essays and he checks my Italian tweets – for example, this one – to make sure they capture the spirit of what I’m trying to say. I write sentences for homework or adapt them from the cineracconti to write the Vertigo grammar exercises and then Michela goes over them with me – to make sure they're correct for you and as part of my language-learning process. We hope you will enjoy your time here!  

Alberto Maio eating pizza in China

Alberto Maio eating pizza in China

Corso Salani in a scene from  Il muro di gomma,  by Marco Risi

Corso Salani in a scene from Il muro di gomma, by Marco Risi

Benigni and Troisi in  Non ci resta che piangere,  writing one of the  funniest letters  in Italian cinema history.

Benigni and Troisi in Non ci resta che piangere, writing one of the funniest letters in Italian cinema history.


Alberto Maio, Editor

I’ve always been obsessed with true stories. When I go to the movies, it’s often to watch a documentary. When I was little I’d watch “Il muro di gomma” (The Rubber Wall) over and over. It’s the story of a great work of investigative journalism into a terrible massacre that took place in Italy in 1980.

I was born in Sicily and now I live in Bologna. I work as a professional journalist for radio, local and national television. I have reported from China, Lebanon, India, Ukraine, Serbia, Tanzania and Nepal. I produce and host a daily one-hour news and interview program on regional TV here in Emilia Romagna. It’s named “AriaPulita” and it’s in Italian!

Whenever I have time, I travel. So far, my favorite parts of the world are Southeast Asia and the Middle East, but I have so much left to explore! I love to go hiking, hang out with locals and taste typical food, but I also enjoyed just sitting and watching life taking place in a square in Tehran, in a market in Yangoon, in a temple in Zhejiang.

You can find me on Instagram and on Italki.

If I had to recommend a movie to someone who’s learning Italian, I’d recommend comedy! My favorite is Non ci resta che piangere (Nothing Left to Do but Cry), written and directed by two of the best Italian comedians from the ‘80s and ’90s: Massimo Troisi and Roberto Benigni. The story is kind of dumb and maybe the lines are not the easiest to understand, but you get to hear how colorful Italian can be if spoken by a guy from Tuscany or from Campania.

Michela Badii at her home in Pulicciano, Tuscany. The Florentine hills are in the background.

Michela Badii at her home in Pulicciano, Tuscany. The Florentine hills are in the background.

Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu in 1900

Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu in 1900

The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits


Michela Badii, Teacher

I have always loved stories. All stories. Even as a child, I liked to lose myself in the pages of books, cartoons or stories that adults told me. Those plots fascinated me and at the same time intrigued me.

I believe that this is how my passion for cultural anthropology and for teaching was born..Teaching and doing anthropological research are for me two indispensable ways to stay in the world, to satisfy my curiosity and my need for discovery.

I graduated from the University of Siena with a degree in Modern Literature. My thesis was on Ethnology and Semiotics. In 2008, I obtained a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Currently I teach Anthropology of Food at the university and I give lessons in Italian language and culture to foreigners. This last activity allows me to combine the love for my language with the one for the exchange with other cultures, thanks to the many students from all over the world that I have been able to meet over time. You can find my Italian teacher profile here.

I can’t say that I’m a film expert, even though I have seen many films, like many people; and I don't even know what my favorite movie is, since there are so many films I've loved (1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci or the House of the Spirits by Bille August, to name two).

In any case, as for the idea of watching a film, in front of the fireplace or to the summer song of the cicadas in my beloved Tuscany, I’ll never give up!