When the English -ing form is used as a noun, in Italian we generally use an infinitive form.
Mangiare la gente è sbagliato;Eating people is wrong
Fumare provoca il cancro;Smoking causes cancer
The Italian past participle is sometimes used where the -ing form is used in English:
essere disteso → to be lying essere seduto → to be sitting essere appoggiato → to be leaning
Sono disteso sul divano;I'm lying on the sofa
Chiara è seduta accanto a me;Chiara is sitting next to me
La scala è appoggiata al muro;The ladder is leaning against the wall
In English the –ing form can follow other verbs, but in Italian the gerund can't be used in this way. We use a preposition and the infinitive form instead.
Ho cominciato a ridere;I started laughing
Hai finito di mangiare?;Have you finished eating?
In English you use the -ing form after prepositions and adverbs. In Italian we don't do this. In these cases we generally use an infinitive, sometimes preceded by a preposition.
Mastica senza aprire la bocca!;Chew without opening your mouth!
Elena è brava a cantare;Elena is good at singing
In English the -ing form is often used as nouns, but in Italian you cannot use the gerund form like this.
The gerund can be used by itself to say when, why or in what circumstances something happened or would happen.
Entrando, ho sentito odore di pesce;When I came in I could smell fish
Sentendomi male, sono andato a letto;Because I felt ill I went to bed
Volendo, potremmo andare al cinema;If we wanted to, we could go to the cinema
In English you can put an -ing word in front of a noun, for example, skating rink (pista di pattinaggio). In Italian we don't do this.