Just when you think you've got your ear attuned to when one ought to drop a note/ tone (or whatever it should be called) when speaking an Italian sentence, you listen to words that don't seem to follow this "pattern". Can anyone give a concise explanation of when one "dips" in sentences such as the one below (Many apologies - I cheated and simply used GT! - correct at will, please!)

Vado a Roma in estate e mi piacerebbe davvero vedere il Colosseo la mattina presto, prima che le folle arrivino.


  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @Dan!
    – Charo
    Mar 13, 2016 at 16:28
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    I am not sure what you are asking: do you refer to so-called prosodic stress?
    – DaG
    Mar 13, 2016 at 16:46
  • Hi, Yes, I suppose I do! I'm thinking of sentence-level stress patterns that apply at a higher level than the individual word - a natural stress pattern characteristic of Italian, if you like (as opposed to contrastive stress)
    – Dan
    Mar 13, 2016 at 16:58
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    Not an easy answer, because prosody depends on context and intended emphasis on the various parts of the sentence.
    – egreg
    Mar 13, 2016 at 17:32
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    I suspected as much! It's all about really understanding exactly which bits of a sentence you need/want to emphasise, I suppose. There are plenty of examples of a simple(ish) English sentence that can have each and every separate word stressed, depending on what exactly you mean. Thanks, anyway.
    – Dan
    Mar 13, 2016 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


I'm going to give it a try, but I'm still unsure if this is what you are asking.

In your example sentence

Vado a Roma in estate e mi piacerebbe davvero vedere il Colosseo la mattina presto, prima che le folle arrivino.

There are 3 points that one could be able to stress / put emphasis on according to what he wants to emphasize (any single or combination of them):

Vado a Roma in estate e mi piacerebbe davvero vedere il Colosseo la mattina presto, prima che le folle arrivino.

  • In estate: You want to stress that you are not going "soon", but in summer time. Maybe used for example because you want to stress that you are not conflicting with work (summer is usually a more relazed period for most professions), or because it's warmer, or whatever.

  • davvero: You don't want to just visit the Colosseo, you crave it, you really can't wait to see it.

  • la mattina presto (or just presto): you stress that timing is crucial, subsequently explaining in the subordinate sentence why that's the case.

I don't think one could stress any other part of your example sentence, lest sounding a bit unnatural.

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    I think you could also stress the sentence on Roma rather than estate if you want to emphasize the place you are going to and not time (e.g. Che piani hai per le vacanze? Vado a Roma in estate e...)
    – Denis Nardin
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:14
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    @DenisNardin unsure. You use the stress to add additional implied meaning, there is none in Roma, you ahve already given all the information by just the content of the sentence. Try saying it out loud, can you really stress Roma? I don't think I can Oct 7, 2016 at 13:23
  • I just tried and I think I can. It might be a regional difference, but I don't think the stress in this sentence is as locked on as you say (for example I can also put the stress on folle, if I wanted to convey an attitude of slight disgust towards them).
    – Denis Nardin
    Oct 7, 2016 at 13:30
  • I'll give you the Folle one :) Still unsold on the Roma one Oct 7, 2016 at 13:42
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    As for the stress on “Roma”, imagine this sentence comes as a reply after one told you something like: «Mi sembra di aver capito che a luglio vai a Firenze, no? Che ti interessa vedere?».
    – DaG
    Oct 7, 2016 at 19:37

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