First, lets get one thing right out on the table: Italian is very sexy mistress. She has you feeling on top of the world one moment. And the next moment, she’s disgustedly stamping out her cigarette. On your face.
ITALIAN CLASS, Portland, Maine – “Well, Stew, did that adventure have a happy ending?” Prof Sandro of Sardina wants to know. I’ve told my story (in Italian) and I’m almost off the hook. One more word from me and it is the next person’s turn in the white hot spot light. All eyes still on me, I think: I can do this. A simple “Yes” would work fine. But I feel expansive and try to geld that lily and say “eventualmente” Felt right at the time, but long suffering Sandro shook his head and muttered “False Friend.” By complete accident, I knew what he meant.
We were in Italy and all our good intentioned dictionaries were not. We ducked into the book store on the main drag in Castiglion del Lago. They say Italian to English. We say English to Italian. Pot-ate-o / Pot-ah-toe. it all comes out in the same wash, no? No. Almost, but still no. Once I saw the difference I realized this could be a very good thing.
First, lets get one thing right out on the table: Italian is very sexy mistress. She has you feeling on top of the world one moment. And the next moment, she’s disgustedly stamping out her cigarette. On your face. It happens to everyone. You are so dazzled by the romance and the soft vowels. It seems almost too easy. Pizza, spaghetti, ciao, buon viaggio, piano, volcano. It’s hardly Mandarin Chinese or Arabic. We’re using the same alphabet and we’ve heard so much Italian in music and the arts that it feels comfortable, approachable. That’s where we get complacent and let down our guard. And start making up words on the fly. If rapidamente is rapidly (which it is) then surely eventualmente is eventually. But therein lies the rub. Eventualmente cruelly IS an Italian word. It just doesn’t mean what we (ok, what I ) think it means. Prima or poi would have been a better answer if I had to go past the simple answer of Yes, Sandro.
Unlike any dictionary I’ve ever used this Italian one (who knows, maybe they all do) highlights all these bad boys. And trust me there is a “Nota” or a “False Friend” on almost every one of the 600 pages here. Accident (accidente) really means incident (incidente)? And vice versa, for good measure. In what world would that happen? Ah, but it does and “Quando a Roma” we need to step up to that ancient plate and do it the way the Romans would want us to. Wonderful dictionary. Highly recommend picking one up the next time you are in Italy. Whole new perspective. I’m sure Italians look at these FF’s and throw up their hands and say, those crazy English speaking people. THEY’VE got it all backwards. Just like we do going the other way. Allora, relax and enjoy the ride. False Friends is better than no friends at all.
See you in Italy,
CITTA DI CASTELLO, Umbria– It was a dramatic kind of day and night. Of course I enhanced the photo “a bit” but omg, we had never been to this lovely city and we’d been wildly turned around on mountain roads getting here.
CITTA DI CASTELLO, Umbria– It was a dramatic kind of day and night. Of course I enhanced the photo “a bit” but omg, we had never been to this lovely city and we’d been wildly turned around on mountain roads getting here. Seemed easy enough. Next time. When the thunder and lightning started, we were just coming out of a Signorelli exhibit. We’d been wandering through that castello for a couple hours and were on the far, far side of town. “Umbrella? I thought YOU had the umbrella!” we both said in unison. Shoot. Must be in the car. ooOK. But, a tiny, further “degree of difficulty” as they say in Olympic diving, was this: We didn’t know which way to run.
No idea WHERE the car was. Or, maybe you could say we knew where the car was but we didn’t know where WE were-relative to it. We had to duck into a doorway (luckily, doorway to an aces gelateria) and show a lady there a photo I had taken of the city gates that we walked thru next to where we’d parked. THEN we could start to run. At least at that point we were running the right direction. Memory. Must remember to use it sometime.
Shown here, above, parking lot view looking back at city. And to the left, yet another castle (ho hum) we past outside of town on the way back. Had to pull off the road to soak it all in. Out in the middle of the wild woods south of the city. We’re planning a return trip to this town. Obviously, lots more castles to see near Citta’ di Castello.
See you in Italy,
Want to see more pictures of Italy? See our instagram gallery. It’s growing daily as we sort thru photos of our most recent trip.
CHE PICCOLO MONDO. And it just got smaller. I’m daily amazed at our iPhone. Nature’s most nearly perfect product. Today, it is the TuneIn app that is rocking our known world. Have you gotten this yet? How did we live without this?!
I know you can find almost any radio station on the web and get its icon on your phone and listen away. I’ve done that with a few favorite local stations for years. But it takes up space on my desktop and results have been clunky, sketchy. TuneIn really has me tuning in. To Italian Radio. There are dozens and dozens of stations and all the ones I’ve tried are clear. And it is FREE. (Full disclosure: Yes, this is a rave. But like the cost of the app. no money has changed hands to influence this blog. Darn it. Tune In does not know we exist)
This weekend, we accidentally landed on 103.3 Radio Popolare Roma. Been on it inside and out, day and night, even in our car, driving down the road. Doesn’t seem to be wi-fi related. The station, when I first got there last night was all cool jazz and now I’ve seen there are day parts where it is talk radio. But even when the Italian music dies down the music of the Italian language is there in News and Interviews. Regardless of what is on, because it is Italian, it puts us in a brave new world. A kind of heaven where Italian is spoken all the time.
See you in Italy,
PANICALE & NEW ENGLAND¬–-It is interesting how things work out. In ways you never expect. James and Elizabeth from nearby NH wrote us here awhile ago and we went back and forth the way we do in email. As often happens when the subject is Italy, it seemed we had a lot in common and so naturally we were happy to find our spring trips overlapping. We found them in person at Aldo’s almost as soon as we rolled into town. Just one more reason to love life in a small Umbrian town.
Both James and Elizabeth artists and “Lets keep this party going. We’ll see you in Massachusetts! That show opening was yesterday. The gallery was mobbed, the work was breathtaking, and it was selling like hot cakes.
SEE THE WORK. HUGE, HIGH CONCEPT SHOW. He did a master work once a week, for a year, blogging about it the whole time. And the carrot was: when the work was done, they would treat themselves to several well-deserved weeks in Panicale. When we were there, they were done with the art part, but going back to prepare for the show.
They had several friends there at the show who had been to Panicale and at a certain point some of us were standing in front of this painting shown here. We were admiring it and saying “Isn’t that Lake Trasimeno? And the view from Masolino’s balcony? We were all locked in that guessing game when Elizabeth said “I’m not sure about the view. But I do know the artichokes are from Panicale.” “We got them at Linda’s!” Linda’s Bottega Marconi is just steps from our house, her husband Bruno just fixed our rental Lancia, (scroll down one blog) and their daughter Diletta is coming to stay with us in a few weeks. Yes, we sure did know who she was talking about. And there were Linda’s artichokes immortalized forever in oil on canvas. Che piccolo mondo.
One of the great joys and unexpected surprises of doing what we do here, is the people we’ve met over the years. This weekend just proved the point once again.
See you in Italy!
Australia–Tony Tardio is a newsman on 3AW down there, we connected by Twitter, got to talking back and forth and he asked to interview us about our favorite subject, Italy and of course we said yes.
MELBOURNE, Australia–Tony Tardio is a newsman on 3AW down there, we connected by Twitter, got to talking back and forth and he asked to interview us about our favorite subject, Italy and of course we said yes.
HERE IS OUR BROADCAST INTERVIEW FROM A FEW HOURS AGO. Tony was in Melbourne, we were in Maine, but the interview was 100% Italy.
See you in Italy,