Tag Archives: italian language

Oh To Speak Like an Italian….


FullSizeRenderWhen I hear people speaking in Italy, I’m always amazed at how beautifully the words fall off their tongues.  I love the eloquence and the melody of their phrases.  Their words are so expressive and beautiful and I’ve decided that I  want to sound like that, too!  Even though I am pretty fluent in Italian (it was my first language and one I still speak all the time), I still have so much to learn in order to pull it off authentically.  I have hurdles to overcome, but hopefully with some diligence, I’ll be able to fit in like a native! Well, at least, a native once removed!

My first hurdle is learning the art of speaking formally!  My parents taught me Italian, but it was the Italian spoken between family and friends – not the Italian that I would use if speaking to the Prime Minister or the Pope!  (Even though, I don’t think Papa Francesco would mind if I spoke the familiar with him – he’s so cool that way!!)


In Italian, when differentiating between the formal and the informal, they use the terms “dare del lei” or “dare del tu” – where “lei” is the formal form of you, and of course, “tu” is the informal.  My mom always said she loved English because “you” was “you” and it didn’t matter who you were addressing, it was the same either way!  That is so true, and therefore, we English speaking folk don’t have to change our pronouns!  For me, this is a very difficult thing to handle in Italian.  I find that my speech is stunted because I’m afraid off offending someone because I am not giving them the “lei”.  It’s not natural to me, whereas the “tu” has no problem coming out of my mouth!  I’ve decided that my only solution for this is to practice and practice until it becomes second nature to me.  I will be speaking all my Italian in the formal from now on (at least until I have it mastered).  I’ve already begun speaking to my Italian cousin this way, and at first, he thought I was speaking about someone else instead of addressing him formally!  Ha! Ha!  But when I explained what I was trying to accomplish, he understood but said that he found it hard to address me with the “lei”.  I just told him to pretend he was speaking to the Queen 🙂


My second hurdle comes from some certain verb tenses – don’t ask me which ones because I have absolutely no clue what they’re called!  (All this business of linguistic terms like passato remoto, futuro anteriore, etc. mean absolutely nothing to me – heck, I don’t even know what they’re called in English!)  But they’re the ones which deal with the plural (we, they, them) of “should have”, “should be”, “could have”, and “could be”. I’m sure there are others, but right now those are the ones that come to mind.  I find myself getting stuck on those words and end up modifying my sentences to make it work!  A good recovery, but again, not spoken like a true Italian!


And finally, my last hurdle (again, probably not really the last one) is the pronunciation!  I’ve been told that my American accent is charming, but I think people say that to be nice – what they’re really thinking is “who is this hick trying to speak our language”?  Sadly, I think this all stems back to the fact that I was embarrassed that I spoke Italian when I was growing up . I felt like I was different and I didn’t want to be different.  Therefore, I toned down my pronunciation and Americanized it.  I didn’t want to stand out in any way, and so I got sloppy with the “r’s” and the enunciation of all the syllables.  I also learned to speak rapidly, which I believe doesn’t allow you to say the words in all their eloquence.  So….I…. am… going… to… try…. to… slow… down… my…. speech…. and pay more attention to those “r’s”!



Discovering Some Family Treasures


After falling back to sleep around 4:30 am, we slept until about 9. By the time we made it down to the “bar” for breakfast, they were almost out of goodies! Luckily, they still had my absolute favorite – a marmelade filled croissant. The pastries and the coffee here are uniquely good – there is no comparison to anything I have had anywhere else.

After breakfast, we crossed the street from our hotel to head to the bank for some currency exchange. On the way, we passed Il Nazionale, the establishment that my grandparents had during the War. It was a bar and restaurant, with a few rooms to rent upstairs. My dad grew up here, and I have a picture of him as a little boy standing on this same balcony.

The house is now owned by an old friend of my father’s…and while we were strolling in front of it and stopping to take pictures, he saw us and invited us in!!! What a treat it was! I was able to see furniture, light fixtures, floors, and other things that were in the house when my Dad lived in it.

He was telling us that they want to redo the house, and they are planning on THROWING AWAY some of these pieces of furniture! Can you believe that they are just going to toss them? I am determined to see what I can do about saving them! Hopefully, I can figure out a way to send them safely across the seas to find a new home in California!

After living some of my father’s family history, we strolled towards the home that my mom grew up in. Her family home is located in the historic center of town, and as a historic building, the exteriors cannot be altered. Therefore, the outside of her home looks just like it has for hundreds of years….but evidently, the interiors have all been modernized.

Unfortunately, I was not able to see the insides. The small cobblestone alleyway was the path my mom took on her wedding day that led to the Church.

Visiting some old family friends, I enjoyed listening to stories of the “old days”! They were reliving their youth, and saying that even though they were poor, they enjoyed life! Perhaps it is just the story of the elderly, but they all looked upon their youth with such good memories.

Before being whisked off to dinner with another cousin, we took a walk down to the “lungolago” – the beautiful lakefront promenade. We sat on a bench, happy to take in the gorgeous panorama in front of our eyes!

Dinner tonight was at a town festival in an adjacent town, Sesto Calende, where my cousin lives. They were celebrating the feast of the “oratorio” – a sort of boys and girls club run by the town priests. My cousin used to hang out here as a boy, and now his son does. Rows and rows of tables were set up under some tents, and volunteer cooks made the meals. We had a choice of spaghetti with clams, codfish with onions, polenta with ragu sauce, tripe, or polenta with gorgonzola cheese! It was all delicious (except I didn’t try the tripe – a little too adventurous for me). And of course, a little bit of wine! Even though they were cooking for hoards of people, the food was prepared with such care and it was phenomenal. And the 5 Euro fee was a steal!

Time for bed now….we shall see what tomorrow brings us!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


I Fiori d’Amore – La Camelia


Another “flower of love” is the Camelia.

Morbido e romantico, la camelia è un fiore che può assumere molti colori e molti significati in amore. Quelle bianche indicano sentimenti puri di ammirazione e adorazione, quelle rosa una certa nostalgia romantica, quel “mi manchi” che a volte è si spera di sentirsi dire, anche se ci si è salutati da appena 5 minuti. Se invece cerchi la passione – quella che brucia nel cuore e nel corpo – la potrai trovare in una camelia dalle sfumature rosse.


Soft and romantic, the camelia is a flower that can assume many colors and meanings in love.   White ones indicate pure sentiments of admiration and adoration, the pink ones a certain nostalgic romance, and that “I miss you” that at times we wish to have someone tell us, even if just 5 minutes have passed since the last goodbye.  If, instead, you are seeking passion – the kind that burns in the heart and in the body – you can find it in a dusty rose colored camelia.

Una Passeggiata al Mare (A Walk at the Sea)


L’altro giorno, dopo aver letto il post della Valerie, l’autrice di Living Out of the Box, che era andata a fare una passeggiata fra la bellezza dei Rocky Mountains, mi ha fatto venire la voglia anche a me a fare una bella caminata in posti incantevoli della California!  Allora, con il marito a dietro, sono andata al mare poco lontano da casa mia.  Abbiamo deciso da fare questa passeggiata nel Point Lobos State Park – un parco che costeggia il mare  e con viste stupende del mitico Pacifico. 

Il giorno era glorioso, con il sole che brillava sul acqua.  Abbiamo passato “middens” dove gli indiani del nord america buttavano i scarti delle guscie delle orrechie di mare (abalone);  bucchi nei sassi dove ancora l’indiani schiaciavano i loro grani; diversi tipi di rocce – dal sedimentario al granito e con l’evidenza della erosione che la forze del mare ha lasciato su questi sassi.  Per una sorpresa inaspettata, abbiamo anche visto i beccucci delle balene che facevano la sua migrazione al sud. 

E poi non si parla delle viste spettacolose – una piu` bella dell’ altra.  A pensare che passeggiavo proprio al confine del continente – e` sempre un’emozione incredibile per me a sapere che io, cosi` piccola in confronto alla grandezza del mondo, sono proprio alla fine di un immenzo pezzo della terra.  Incredibile!


The other day, after having read Valerie’s post, the author of Living Out of the Box, where she took a hike amid the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, it made me want to take a nice hike myself in enchanted places of California!  So, with my husband in tow, I went to the sea not far from my home.  We decided to take this hike in Pt. Lobos State Park – a park that hugs the coast with stupendous views of the awesome Pacific.

The day was glorious, with the sun shining off the water.  We passed “middens” where North American Indians used to toss their abalone shells; holes in the rocks where they used to crush their grains; different types of rocks – from sedimentary to granite – with the evidence of erosion brought on by the force of the ocean that left their marks on these rocks.  As an added surprise, we also saw the spouts of the whales as they made their migrations south.

And then, let’s not speak of the spectacular views – one more beautiful than the other.  To think that I was hiking right at the edge of the continent – it’s always an incredible emotion for me knowing that I, so small in comparison to the size of the world, am right on the edge of an immense piece of land.  Incredible!

Sayings and things….


Italian, like any other language, has some pretty interesting sayings to explain many of life’s experiences.  Recently, my husband found a book which listed some of these.   Most of these sayings were new to me, but some were familiar because I remember my parents saying them. What’s interesting to realize is that different parts of Italy have their own sayings or ones that they use frequently – I guess much like our American versus British versus Australian sayings – each one has little quips that are particular to their own region! 

Here were some of my favorites:

1.  Le bugie hanno le gambe corte = lies have short legs! (I used to get this all the time when I was a little girl!!)

2.  Occio il tram = watch out for the tram = watch out!  (this is Lombardian dialect and who knows if I spelled it correctly!!!)  I used to get this all the time, too!

3.  Un caval donato non si guarda in boca = don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

4.  Il contadino non puo sapere quant’e buono il formaggio con le pere = Don’t let the peasant know how good cheese is with pears!  I don’t really get this one, but I hear it alot.  Why can’t the peasant know?  Perhaps then he would keep it all to himself?

5.  Can che abbaia non morde = the dog that barks does not bite!

6.  A tavola non s’invecchia = you don’t get old at the table! 

7.  Amici e vini sono meglio vecchi = Friends and wine are better old!

There are lots more, and as they come to me, I will post some more 🙂  But in the meantime, if you hear any of these, you will know what they mean. 

Forewarned is forearmed….hmmm, I wonder how they say that one in Italian?

A fare l’arte – Una cosa bella o brutta?


Ho deciso di scrivere questo post in italiano perche` mi voglio sfogare in qualche posto, e siccome il tema del mio blog e` “tutto italia” non potevo scrivere di qualche cosa non italiano in inglese!!! 

Come sapete, io disegno e pitturo le piastrelle.  Mi piace farlo tantissimo…mi rilascia ed e` una espressione della mia creativita`.  Ma delle volte mi fa` anche diventare matta!!!  Tutti mi dicano che l’arte non dev’essere perfetto – sono queste qualita` che da il fascino artistico alle cose fatte a mano.  Ma quando, dopo aver speso TANTE ore a creare dei pezzi molto belli, finiscano male, vuoi spattere via tutto!  Questo e proprio cosa mi e` successo questo weekend.  Forse sono stata stupida anch’io a voler provare nuove piastrelle e nuovi smalti.  Quelli di prima erano OK…ma sai, si vuole sempre cercare quel elemento che ti porta alla perfezione.  Allora ho deciso di provare con queste nuove cose….e, purtroppo, ho pagato bene il prezzo.  Sarebbe stato una cosa se facevo le prove con solamente una piastrella ….o no, io ho deciso di fare un arsenale di piastrelle con, per la paga, disegni molto complessi.  Cosa pensavo?  Ovviamente, pensavo che avevo trovato la formula ottima e che queste piastrelle sarebberano le piu` belle che mai.  Potete solo immaginare il mio dolore quando le ho levate dal forno ed ho visto tutte le imperfezioni.  Mi sono demoralizzata completamente.  Con le piastrelle disastrose in mano, sono persino andata allo studio di ceramica dove compro tutti i miei attrezzi per chiedere consigli.  Uno disse che il forno era troppo caldo…l’altro disse che il smalto era messo troppo pessante….poi un altro che le piastrelle di terra cotta hanno troppe inperfezioni….Uffa!!!  Qual’e` giusto?  Per conto mio, e` stata la colpa dei nuovi smalti.  Purtroppo, quando mi succedano questi grattacapi, mi lascia disgustata di tutto che non voglio piu toccare l’arte per tanto tempo. Anche che, per remedio,  dovrei incominciare a fare tutte le prove per trovare la soluzione giusta.  Ma c’e lo la pazienza per tutto questo?  Per ora, sicuramente NO!  Mi devo lasciare calmare per un po e poi spero di aver la volonta` di proseguire con quest’arte che usualmente mi porta tanta gioia.


I decided to write this post in Italian because I have to vent, and since the theme of my blog is “everything Italian”, I couldn’t write about something non-Italian in English!!

As you know, I design and paint tiles.  I enjoy doing this immensely….it relaxes me and it’s an expression of my creativity.  But at times it also makes me crazy!!  Everyone tells me that art doesn’t need to be perfect – it’s these qualities that add artistic charm to pieces made by hand.  But when, after spending MANY hours creating beautiful pieces, these pieces turn out bad, you want to throw everything away!  This is exactly what happened this weekend.  Maybe I was stupid to want to try out new tiles and new glazes. The ones I used before were OK….but, you know, we are always searching for that one element that will bring you to perfection.  Therefore, I decided to try out these new things…and, unfortunately, I paid the price dearly.  It would have been one thing if I did a test with only one tile….oh, no, I decided to make a whole arsenal of tiles with very complicated patterns. What was I thinking?  Obviously, I thought that I had found the perfect formula and that these tiles would be the most beautiful ones I have ever created.  You can only imagine the heartache when I removed them from the kiln and I saw all the imperfections. I was completely demoralized.  With the ruined tiles in hand, I went down to the ceramic studio where I buy all my supplies to ask for advice.  One said that my kiln was too hot…the other said the glazes were put on too thick…yet another said that terra cotta tiles have imperfections…Darn it!!!  Who is right? In my opinion, it was the new glazes’ fault.  Unfortunately, when these headaches happen to me, I get disgusted and I lose interest in doing any art for a long time.  Even though, as a remedy, I should start doing test tiles to find the solutions.  But do I have the patience for all this?  For now, certainly NOT!  I have to let myself calm down, and then I hope to have the desire to continue this art process that usually brings me so much joy.