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Post A-Level Course

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Summer Preparation: Italian Post A-Level

Your summer preparation must focus on both the study of language and the study of literature, culture and history.

Preparation for language work

Although there is no set language course book for Part IA option B students, it is highly advisable that you get hold of the following reference grammar book:

  • Soluzioni, A practical Grammar of Contemporary Italian, De Rome, D., Hodder Education, 3nd edition, 2015. This is the recommended course book for the ab-initio level, and is a very comprehensive grammar book that will work very well as a reference grammar book all through your time at Cambridge.

Below is a list of suggested reading that you might find of interest and helpful in your work of revision. All titles recommended in the list below are available from The Italian Bookshop. Students of the Department of Italian are entitled to a discount:

  • English Grammar for Students of Italian, Primorac, K. and Adorni, S., 2011, Olivia & Hill Press, 3rd edition. This is a particularly helpful reference book that can help in dealing with the grammatical and syntactical terminology involved in the teaching of language at Cambridge. 
  • For further practice, have a look at the exercises available on
  • A reference grammar of modern Italian, Maiden, M. Robustelli, C., Hodder Education, 2007, 2nd edition.
  • Practising Italian Grammar - a Workbook, Bianchi, A., Boscolo, C., Hodder Education, 2004. This is a very comprehensive grammar reference book accompanied by its workbook, ideal for revision and expansion.
  • Modern Italian Grammar, A practical guide, Proudfoot, A., Cardo, F., Routledge, 2005, 2nd edition. This grammar book looks at language from a functional point of view (language in specific situations, rather than rules), and can be helpful to look at language in use.
  • Any title of your choice from Italiano facile, second livello (intermedio), Alma Edizioni, You are invited to refresh your Italian by enjoying reading and listening to any of the titles on the list. The stories use about 1000 words of vocabulary and are a great way to revise and start expanding your language skills.

Preparation for the study of literature, culture and history, for paper IT1: ‘Texts and Contexts’:

A. General introductory and background material

For general background on Italian literature, culture, language and history, see:

  • The Cambridge History of Italian Literature, ed. Peter Brand and Lino Pertile (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996; 2nd rev. edn 1999)
  • Oxford Short History of Italy, general editor John Davis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 7 vols, 2000-2004)
  • Italian Cultural Studies: An Introduction, ed. by David Forgacs and Robert Lumley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

B. Set texts for the first-year course ‘Texts and Contexts’ (IT1)

These are the topics that you will study during your first year. Before arriving in Cambridge, you can best prepare for this course by getting to know some or all of the core texts:

  • Dante Alighieri, Commedia (early 14th century; selected canti only: Inferno 5, 10, Purgartorio 11, Paradiso 33)
  • Niccolò Machiavelli, Il principe (1513)
  • Assunta Spina (directed by Guastavo Serena and Francesca Bertini, 1915)
  • Natalia Ginzburg, Lessico famigliare (1963)
  • Linguistics. *Course material will be provided in lectures

For each of the first four texts students will be provided with a course handbook (handbooks contain contextual material, further reading and suggestions for supervision work).

Additional resources for Italian students

Online dictionaries

Web resources for language work

Web resources of general interest

Obtaining Italian books

The main and most efficient source of language books is the Italian Bookshop in London ( Cambridge students are entitled to a discount.