Originally Posted by TQA
One thing to factor in is the traffic congestion and Italian driving. People used to the wide open spaces and generally defensive driving practiced by most US drivers will face a baptism of fire in Italy in big cities, you just wont believe the aggression and horn use and the hordes of Vespas making use of any gaps.and the pavements.
Possibly reconsider driving to Napoli on your trip south. I've only viewed it from the sidewalk and it's an impressive mess. Language classes there would be southern dialect likely. Actually more in line with what a lot of Americans in the east kind of know words of though they butcher it beyond hope.
I still remember getting off the train in Firenze (Florence). The woman announcer was speaking clear as day in school book, standard, Italian. I could even understand some of it. It was shocking coming from Nyc, where you couldn't understand what the hell they're saying in the subway due to diction and sound system.
South cuts off those vowels at the end and does a lot more. There's much more of a difference than an accent in American English southern.
like mozzarella: mohz-zah-REL-lah in standard Italian becomes mozh zah rel
Then it's butchered to, particularly in Connecticut, "mutz'. I find it painful. manicotti - mahn ee Cot ee, becomes like man ne gauwt.
The accent in standard Italian is usually on the penultimate syllable which is what gives the language it's lyrical quality. And makes it very suitable for pleasant histrionics.
Anyway, advice is to learn standard Italian in the north. Then go south to learn to recognize the difference. If you travel to eastern US, you'll encounter more southern Italian, especially in food words.
Well staying in Venice would be something special that's for sure. Not sure about language there but I'm sure you'd find a classic standard Italian class as opposed to Venetian dialect.