In Italian the conditional is used both in the present and the past tense. The present conditional is far more used then the past (or compound) conditional and it used:
to express a possibility, often seen in hypothetical sentences:
- Cucinerei sano se avessi più tempo.
- I’d cook healthier, if I had more time.
to express wishes that can be fulfilled:
- mi piacerebbe andare alle Maldiva la prossima estate.
- I would like to go the Maldives next Summer.
to make nice or polite requests (usually by using the verb potere)
- Potresti venire a prendermi a casa per favore?
- Could you come and pick at my place, please?
- Mi daresti una mano con la matematica?
- Would give me a had with the maths homework?
to give a piece of advice (usually by using the verb dovere)
- Mamma, dovresti imparare l’inglese anche tu!
- Mamma, you should learn English too!
- Signora, dovrebbe iscriversi al nuovo corso di francese, e’ bellissimo!
- Madame, you should sign up for the new French course, it is awesome!
The past conditional which is made out of the auxiliaries essere and avere and the past participle of the verbs, is instead used to express unfulfilled wishes in the past.
- Avrei voluto imparare a suonare il violino da piccolo!
- I wish I learned how to play violin as a child!
- Serei dovuto andare in vacanza in estate!
- I wish I went on holiday in the summer!