Archive for the ‘Italian language’ Category

Christmas Star

December 24, 2016 Leave a comment
Our poinsettia in pride of place

Our poinsettia in pride of place

Our neighbours gave us this beautiful poinsettia for Christmas.

The Italian name for it is ‘Stella di Natale’ or ‘Christmas Star’.

It nails the shape but I’m not so sure about the colour.

Making mortal jumps

November 23, 2016 2 comments
A very young Florence making a 'mortal jump'

A very young Florence about to jump

The Italian ‘fare salti mortali’ (literally: making mortal jumps, or somersaults) means ‘moving heaven and earth’.

We did just that, and some, so we could go to the hospital on Friday morning for Clive to have his catheter checked with a view to possible chemotherapy.

Then this morning the hospital phoned and cancelled – no reason and no new appointment.

I honestly don’t know how many more mortal jumps are in me.


English soup

April 2, 2016 2 comments
Very like an ice cream

Very like an ice cream

The fruit blossom is coming out thick and fast.

This quince bud looks particularly yummy – like raspberry ripple ice cream or a flavour of Italian ice cream called ‘zuppa inglese’ (English soup) which is neither English nor soup but a kind of trifle.

Carabinieri on the job

March 31, 2016 Leave a comment
Fire beetles mating

Fire beetles mating on a warm wall

‘Carabinieri’ is the Italian nickname for fire beetles which share the colours of the national military police force’s uniform.

And by ‘on the job’ I mean having sex, according to the Urban Dictionary and Clive’s building site slang.

We saw some real Carabinieri  today, doing random paperwork checking. I’m pleased to say we weren’t pulled over.

Love graffiti

January 27, 2016 Leave a comment
Love under the road bridge

Love under the road bridge

I don’t ever recall seeing sweet, innocent sentiments expressed in graffiti in Britain.

Either I couldn’t read it at all, or it was angry and rebellious.

But in Italy (or this part of it) the defacers of public surfaces seem mostly to be love-struck young men (I assume they’re men).

The road bridge pier in the photo is scrawled with the words:

Amore ti amo (My love, I love you)

Above, on the road itself, is another phrase written likewise in red paint:

Ti amo tanto (I love you so much)

How does it work, I wonder? Does the lover roam around in the night, intoxicated with romance, and spray-paint his message intending for everyone to see and understand it, or is it more of a private tribute? Does his loved one appreciate it or want to drop through a hole in the ground?

Sometimes there’s the name of the intended; in the photo it’s just initials.

Sometimes the message is more descriptive: “Your eyes are like the summer sea” – tantamount to poetry.

Long may they live, I say, these written serenades on the public highways, conveying the impression that good and healthy feelings are the ones that ring out the loudest.

La Signora

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment
At least the dogs think something to me ...

At least the dogs think something to me …

I spent a long time last night taking my sprayer to pieces and cleaning all the little bits, but so as not to go the same way as yesterday, I phoned the family-run business where I bought it years ago.

As usual, they recognised my voice. (And advised me to use hot water to mix the ingredients, which worked.)

Is my speech that distinctive, though? Everyone always recognises my voice. I can never be anonymous even if I want to be.

There are few foreigners in this part of Italy, it’s true, and my accent starts peeping through after the first greeting or so. Also I have a slight lisp.

You’d perhaps expect people to know me by name – Damaris, or Signora West. But no-one can cope with either my first name (mangled variously as Daminus or Daramis if they even make the effort) or my surname because ‘w’ in Italian is virtually non-existent.

So who am I? I’m LA SIGNORA!! (The lady.)

(Add the epithet English, American, Dutch or German as the fancy takes you because people often mistake my nationality.)

Even Clive fairs better than me – probably because he’s less tolerant.

So ‘la signora’ phoned; ‘la signora’ will do it; give it to ‘la signora’.

People call out to me: “Signora!” Even people I’ve known for years have no other way of addressing me.

Ah well. The dogs think something to me. My smell, mainly …

Chicken soup

January 8, 2016 Leave a comment
"He who has his olives picked ..."

“He who has his olives picked …”

Yesterday I came across the Italian proverb:

Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo which means literally: “An old hen makes good broth”.

I asked Clive what the English equivalent might be and he came up with: There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

As a near sexagenarian myself, I find that one a bit more appealing!

This set the two of us writers off inventing our own satirical proverbs to illustrate recent thoughts and experiences. Here are a few examples of what we came up with:-

  • He who has his olives picked will never taste his oil.  [NB Our neighbour still hasn’t brought any of the oil deriving from our grove.]
  • One songbird in the pot doesn’t fill the belly. [Referencing a horrible practice that exists in Italy.]
  • A wise man will never admit to not knowing.
  • Vehicles grey and pasta each day keep all original thoughts away.
  • A promise today is the lie of tomorrow.

We found it a good way of letting off steam!