This product is not an attempt to teach you to MASTER Italian, but to give you a good foundation in the language, with a focus on travelling/tourism. As such, it's great and offers a surprising amount of material--much more vocabulary, for example, than you normally get in your 'quickie travel' language items. The lessons are each broken up into five mini-units, really quite bite sized pieces, that introduce a few new items while reviewing old ones.
At first, jumping back and forth between the CD and the book seems like it's going to drive you crazy, but it really doesn't--both the book and the CD prompt you when to switch and what to do. And the CD track format makes it easy to relisten to a dialogue.
However, the CD format also makes it a pain in the booty to *FIND* a certain track. There is no 'key' to the track listings, so if you want to start lesson three, you have to poke and poke till you find the right track. Ruinous? No. Annoying because it's so easily avoidable? Yes.
This is a British product, so SOME of the translations (calcio = football 'soccer' to us US types) may need a little tweaking, and the narrator (a native Italian speaker)'s British accent is a bit wonky--sometimes it sounds posh-London, sometimes almost Cockney.
The online support includes all new dialogues and activities for the units, neatly broken down; but does slow a computer down if you're on dialup.
There is no visual support to this item, which seems a lackluster use of online supplements, so if you're a visual learner, this might not be the ticket for you. Auditory learners will be in heaven, and the activities switch up enough--you repeat phrases, then you ask questions, then you write a few answers, etc--keep even the shortest attention span engaged.
I took a year of Italian in college, (egad, almost twenty years ago!!) so I'm not a 'new' learner. I figured this product would refresh what I had forgotten to allow me to pick up where I left off, as if I'd just left off, and move on. I've found it, with that purpose in mind, to be fun and engaging; challenging, but also allowing me to build confidence in the language. Is it going to replace Rosetta Stone? No, especially not for visual style learners. Is it a DARN good budget friendly and fun option? Definitely.