Appunto is a word Italians use all the time in speech. It officially translates as “indeed,” or “exactly,” but often means, “like I was saying,” “more precisely,” or “as already stated.” The important thing to remember is that its function is to refer back to something that's already been mentioned. We could say it points to a word or an idea in order to call your attention to the fact that we’re already on the subject. It confirms a connection.
For starters, let’s see how appunto is used by itself, to mean something like, “that’s exactly what I’m talking about!”:
Lara’s aunt, in an episode of Commissario Manara, is helping out with the investigation in her own neighborly way. She suspects an acquaintance of hiding something, so she sets a trap for him to tell her more. If, as he says, “these things are difficult to forget,” then he can’t say he doesn’t recall! Appunto! One word says it all!
Se lo ricorda, vero? -Altro che! Sono cose queste che si fa fatica a scordare.
You remember it, right? -Do I ever! These are things that are difficult to forget.
Many Italians use appunto liberally, often making it difficult to find an English equivalent, and appunto (indeed), sometimes there is no equivalent without using many more words.
In the following video, Anna is explaining the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, so her use of appunto is a means of linking the Jewish Ghetto to the Jews being confined there.
Qui siamo a Roma, nel quartiere del Ghetto Ebraico, che è appunto la zona di Roma dove, durante la seconda guerra mondiale, venivano confinate le persone appunto ebree.
Here we're in Rome, in the Jewish Ghetto quarter, which is, to be precise, the area of Rome where, during World War II, the Jewish people, as the name implies, were confined.
Captions 1-2, Anna presenta: il ghetto ebraico e piazza mattei
Although there is no quick translation for the second appunto in this sentence, the important thing to know is that Anna is using it to make sure we get the connection.
Sometimes you have to search out the “missing” link. Gualtiero Marchesi is musing about his career, and starts out talking about developing a passion for his work:
Quando ho incominciato ad appassionarmi veramente a quello che facevo...
When I started becoming really passionate about what I was doing...
A bit later he’s still referring to the passione mentioned a few lines back, so he uses appunto to remind us.
Poi quando, appunto, è subentrata la passione, ero curioso, come sempre...
Then, when, like I was saying, passion entered in, I was curious, as always...
Francesca takes us with her to a ski lodge in the mountains. Since her subject is “going to the mountains,” she uses appunto when telling us where chalets can be found, as if to imply that it’s clearly obvious, but she’ll say it anyway.
Eccoci arrivati alla baita. La baita è un luogo che si trova, appunto, in montagna dove ci si va per rifugiarsi dal freddo.
Here we are at the chalet. The chalet is a place you find, logically, in the mountains, where you go to seek refuge from the cold.
Captions 20-21, Francesca: neve - Part 1 of 3
If you do a search in Yabla, you’ll see just how often and in how many ways appunto is used. You may be baffled in many cases. Pinning down a precise meaning is tricky business, but with time, you’ll see it’s actually quite a useful way to make connections with just one word, when in English, you’d need many. The WordReference forum can give you more examples and explanations.
Attenzione! The adverb, appunto is not to be confused with the noun appunto (note, criticism).
Learning suggestion: Don’t worry too much about actually trying to use appunto, especially if you’re a beginner. For now, just check out how it’s used in the Yabla videos and be aware of why it’s there: to make connections.