For those of us who recall those heady days of elementary school grammar and spelling bees (quick -- here's a little party ice breaker for you: If you want to make an Italian crack up, just mention spelling bees), it would seem that landing in all-phonetic all-the-time Italy would be a cakewalk. Italians never have to spell except over the phone, in which case they use cities to call out the letters. Just when you have your cities down pat, up come the double consonants.
For another party conversation piece, try splitting hairs over the difference between capello and cappello (a strand of hair and a hat). Or, between tutta and tuta (everything and a sweatsuit). You'll have the guests heaving in peels of laughter at your sheer inability to hear the difference at all, let alone pronounce it.
[hint: just try to keep that consonant longer on the lips - I never can].But little did I consider (and I've been here quite awhile) that the Italian language also had its own share of homonyms, just when I thought it was safe to deliver Aqua as Acqua. I was astounded when, over dinner recently with friends, we came across the topic of - yes, pronunciation. I was baffled to hear how, in phonetic Italy, we've become lazy over the years, and now say Quattordici (14) as if it were written, Quatordici
[Note: not that any of us foreigners would have heard the difference in the first place, but play along just to amuse me].
To add insult to my sheer ignorance, I discovered that pesca (a peach) is a totally different word than pesca (fishing). It's all in the way that 'e' rolls off your tongue. [Not that I'd know which way is which].
Having gone down a list of such words, some with double consonants, some without...all I can say to you, dear readers is, Do as I say, not as I do.
and for real Italian tongue twisters...click here!