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Festa!

14 Jul
14 July 2016. Small town festivals were a part of the fabric of our youth: parades, bands, queens, community dinners, and carnival rides. Quite a different animal in Italy.
We arrived in Ortisei in time for the annual sagra, or local festival, complete with beer hall, folk-costume parade, and band concert. In Italy, many sagre (plural of sagra) are agricultural-based celebrating artichokes, chestnuts, truffles, and so on. Not so in Ortisei: They celebrate their Ladin culture.
Three of the more elaborate costumes.

Three of the more elaborate costumes.

The Ladin people are the historical inhabitants of this ethnically and politically confused region. Before WWI, this was Austria. They are still a part of the Tyrol, with which they share culture, history, traditions, environment, and architecture; However, they are Italian residents of the autonomous region of the Trentino-Alto Adige and have their own language. Luckily everyone speaks German and Italian, and most speak English as well as Ladin, so communication is interesting. It is not uncommon to hear three languages among four people in a single conversation. 
The band, smartly attired in Tyrolean costumes. Our hosts' daughter is one of the flautists.

The band, smartly attired in Tyrolean costumes. Our hosts’ daughter is one of the flutists.

As a community gathering, the sagra in Ortisei was remarkably simple and it seemed the entire town participated. We saw the beer hall go up in the piazza Friday night, forcing the buses and taxis to do their pick-up and drop-off on the highway 100 meters away. At noon on Saturday, several loud reports from a cannon and the vigorous ringing of church bells announced the start of the festival and drove LibbyJean into hiding.
The festival hall/beer tent on Saturday night. Teeming with people of all ages.

The festival hall/beer tent on Saturday night. Teeming with people of all ages.

Saturday night on our way to dinner we passed the beer hall — now encompassing the large bus-and-taxi piazza — where at least 2000 people were crammed tightly into picnic tables with little room for the beer servers to maneuver. We happily passed by to enjoy dinner at a relatively empty restaurant. The BIG day was to be Sunday.
Note the beer hall is set up in the bus piazza.

Note the beer hall is set up in the bus piazza.

Sunday morning at 9:45 the crowd began to gather outside the village church, awaiting the folk-costume parade, led by the town band. Many of the parade watchers also donned Tyrolean dress: boys large and small in lederhosen with women and girls in dirndl skirts. The rest of us were festively attired in hiking shorts and tee-shirts.
The short parade of extremely elaborate costumes depicted traditional dress associated with a Ladin wedding. From helpful neighbors to the “inviter,” the grandparents, and the woman with the keys to the wine cellar, everyone had a role and a costume with special meaning. The band was an assemblage of young and old musicians who after leading the parade also performed a two-hour concert during Sunday lunch. 
I nonni, the grandparents, of the bride and groomi n distinctive Ladin attire.

I nonni, the grandparents, of the bride and groom in distinctive Ladin attire.

Of course, after the parade passed everyone followed it down the street to the piazza where it was apparently not too early for wine, beer, or a spritz con Aperol. We tucked into elevensies and enjoyed the band along with our own spritzes.
Post parade parade of the uncostumed surges down ther main drag.

Post parade parade of the uncostumed surges down the main drag.

From our hillside aerie we could hear music on-and-off all afternoon and into the evening, as well as the continued firing of the cannon and overuse of the church bells. By Monday morning it was all swept away to make room for the weekly market. 

 

Sweet children in elaborate cosumes. These take an hour to put on.

Sweet children in elaborate cosumes. These take an hour to put on.

Even the tiniest participant has to have the right attire.

Even the tiniest participant has to have the right attire.

Tyrolean dress for all ages.

Tyrolean dress for all ages.

Horse drawn carriage for the wedding couple.

Horse drawn carriage for the wedding couple.

Smaller crowd Sunday after the parade. Note the street lamps and taxi station signs.

Smaller crowd Sunday after the parade. Note the street lamps and taxi station signs.

Elevensies! A spritz con Aperol with bocconcini di pollo and insalata di patate (chicken nuggets and potatoe salad). We hiked after....

Elevensies! A spritz con Aperol with bocconcini di pollo and insalata di patate (chicken nuggets and potato salad). We hiked after….

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More false friends

21 May
21 May 2016. As I continue to struggle with study Italian, I like to amuse myself with false cognates, or false friends: words that sound like an English equivalent but have a completely different meaning. We call them falsi amici in Italian. These are the bane of every foreign language student. If you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy my post from 2014. Here are a few more for your enlightenment or enjoyment.
Eventualmente is not something you’ll get around to, rather it means something you might do…possibly…maybe…if need be, as in “Maybe I’ll look for a new job” but you are not really motivated. If in the fullness of time something did or will happen, we say alle fine.
Attualmente is something going on at this very instant, not something that is “for real.” In Italian we might say per davvero, in realtà, or incredibilmente, depending on the context. 
A fattoria is a farm, not a factory. The place stuff is manufactured is a fabbrica. This is really confusing because fatto is the past participle of the verb for “make” so you’d think fatto=fattoria therefore “made.” Nope.
Italian sheep farm or fattoria. Not a factory.

Italian sheep farm or fattoria. Not a factory.

Confrontare does not mean to confront, but rather to compare. If you want to confront someone, the verb is affrontare.
Parente is a relative while genitore is a parent, not sexual body parts.
Cane parkingYour cane (pronounced KHAN-ay) may greet you at the door, but not allow you to lean on him for stability. One day on the bus we overheard an American couple remark “Look, cane parking!” when they saw a sign saying such and a little metal hook planted in the wall. It was, of course, a place to park your dog  with a leash tie-up.
Pretendere is demand or insist. If you are dressing up as Wonder Woman you fare finta.
Crudo means uncooked, as in prosciutto crudo, not crude. A person who is crude is rozzo.
Attendere is to await something, such as to hold the line when on the phone or to wait for the ATM screen to load, while participare is what you do when you go to the opera.
Tastare is to touch, not to check the quality of your cooking. That’s assaggiare. When one goes to a winery one does un assaggio.
In Paris we did a wine and cheese tasting, un assaggio.

In Paris, we did a wine and cheese tasting, un assaggio.

A capitolo is a chapter in a book, but Roma is the capitale of Italy.
What may be conveniente to you may be expensive to me as conveniente means affordable or suitable. Comodo means convenient as well as comfortable.
At the bottom of a letter, there is a firma (signature). This is not a company. A company is an azienda or una ditta.
A most famous firma.

A most famous firma.

Occorrere is to need, succedere is to occur.
Baldo does not describe a hairless head, but rather someone who is bold. Calvo means bald.
Accidenti is not a fender-bender: that’s an incidente. Accidenti is an exclamation like “darn it!” Safe enough to say in front of grandma.
When your computer crashes you might shout "accidenti!" (or somehting stronger.)

When your computer crashes you might shout “accidenti!” (or something stronger.)

If you want to call someone an ass, a scumbag, or a bastard, try stronzo which clearly does not mean strong. When someone parks in the pedestrian crossing, they are a stronzo. (This is not a nice word, BTW.)
Eh basta! That’s enough for now! (Basta is a perfectly nice word although it sounds rather naughty.)

 

A walk in the park

19 Jan
Sometimes a park is just a park. Sometimes it is Italian. Sunday we took a long walk in Villa Ada, Rome’s second-largest park (Villa Doria Pamphilj is the largest) and happened upon some photo-worthy sites.
To look at a map, Villa Ada is close to our home, but it’s a bit of a PITA to get into on foot. We’ve walked along the periphery many times and waded into the shallows, but finally, we had time and good weather on our side so we ventured a bit farther.
One of the busier paths, Villa Ada. We stuck to the woodsy ones, while most of the Italians embraced the sun.

One of the busier paths, Villa Ada. We stuck to the woodsy ones while most of the Italians embraced the sun.

The grounds and house were once owned by the House of Savoy, Italian royalty. From this family sprang four kings of Italy and also beloved Queen Margherita. Eventually, the estate was purchased by a Swiss gentleman, Count Tellfner, who named it for his wife, Ada. The Savoys bought it back again in the early 20th century turning it into the royal residence until they were ousted in 1946. In the 1950s, it became a public park.
Today Villa Ada is a sprawling landscape of paths, frequented by dog walkers and runners, but it also contains some surprises.
Egyptian Embassy, Villa Ada.

Egyptian Embassy, Villa Ada.

The Egyptian Embassy occupies the old royal residence. It was given to Egypt by the Savoys as a token of their gratitude for the assistance provided during their exile in 1946. Imagine walking through Forest Park in Portland and coming across armed soldiers guarding a foreign embassy. Yeah, it’s that weird.
Rounding a corner in a distant end of the park, we came across an equestrian center, 3C – Country Club Cascianese. There were riding lessons in session in the lovely January sun, and it has an air of exclusivity about it, although I always think that when horses are involved. Quite a contrast to the Egyptian Embassy.
Equestrian center, Villa Ada.

Equestrian center, Villa Ada.

We’ll have to go back to explore a few more paths, and there’s an entire quarter of the park we didn’t get to. Much like our beloved Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, after a few visits we should know our way around. 
In the category of NOT a walk in the park, we had an interesting visit to our bank this week. In fact, we had three visits in two days. Ric’s debit card was cracked and required replacement, so we ventured into the main branch of BNL on Via Bissolati. We had to wait about 25 minutes to be served (there’s a take-a-number machine), but the teller was able to give him a new card and PIN on the spot. We were impressed! No waiting for the mail to deliver it to our flat! Who says Italian systems are inefficient?
All’s well until we stopped at the market on the way home. With a huge line at the cashier, my BNL card wouldn’t work.  We trotted down the street to the Parioli BNL and tried my card in the ATM. The ATM took my card! Said it was deactivated! A very nice teller in this branch retrieved it only to tell me my card was no good, that I had to go back to the branch in the center to get a new one and that she needed to destroy my card. She cut it up. 
So off we went the next day to BNL on Via Bissolati. Here the teller told me that my card was perfectly good, according to the system. “It didn’t work yesterday,” I said. He asked to see it. “No, I told you, the woman on Viale Parioli took it and cut it up.” He told me she was wrong, and since I did not bring the card to him, we should file a denuncia (a formal complaint about the “lost” property) with the Carabinieri!
I was doing this in Italian, and I hate it when they tell me “no” because then I have to enter into the realm of the Italian argument, and my skills really suffer. I am just not that eloquent and my pre-rehearsed sentences collapse in a useless heap around me. But one has to push back. If you take the first no and walk away, you absolutely will make things harder for yourself. So I pushed back. “Just because his colleague at the other branch made an error, it should not be my problem,” I told him in grammatically incorrect Italian. Much to my surprise, he agreed and said “Well next time, bring the card here if it doesn’t work,” and he went on to issue me my new card and PIN. Thank God he backed down because I am no match for an Italian who is up for an extended negotiating session!
I am pleased to report that both of us now have access to our funds, but it certainly was not a walk in the park.
Click on the photos below for a better view.

Signs

12 Dec

So many interesting and amusing signs. Thought I’d share a few.

Add for an English-language school. What does this have to do with learning English?

Add for an English-language school. What does this have to do with learning English?

 

Gives new meaning to multilingual. The Italian word "lingua" means tongue.

Signboard advert: Gives new meaning to multilingual. The Italian word “lingua” means tongue. 

 

Fleece Navidad...Get it? American Christmas music is huge here, considering there is not a lot of Italian seasonal music, but I don't know if non-Englosh speakers would really understand this pun. In Italian fleece, as in a jacket, is "pile."

Fleece Navidad…Get it? American Christmas music is huge here, considering there is not a lot of Italian seasonal music, but I don’t know if non-English speakers would really understand this pun. In Italian fleece, as in a jacket, is “pile.”

 

I know this was a favorite from a blog I posted recently. Worth another share.

I know this was a favorite from a blog I posted recently. Worth another share.

 

Land of many languages

11 Jul
The Val Gardena is home to the Ladin people, an ethnic group of the South Tyrol with their own language, culture, and traditions. Repressed under Fascism, the language and culture is now embraced and celebrated in this small region. The language is spoken by an estimated 84% of the people in our favorite town of Ortisei and is spoken in the home as a means of  keeping the language alive. But as one cannot communicate outside the small Ladin region without other languages, almost everyone speaks German and Italian (education is all in Italian), and many people also speak English fluently, which is helpful with the numbers of non-German and non-Italian tourists.
Embracing this linguistic variety can cause confusion among visitors. We have been here five times now, and the other day got into an argument about the name of the main piazza in Ortisei. I said it’s Piazza San’Antonio and Ric said, “No, it is Piazza San Antone.” How could we not know that? Here’s why:
Sign in the piazza: Italian, German and Ladin names for the same piazza in Ortisei.
Sign in the piazza: Italian, German and Ladin names for the same piazza in Ortisei.
Even the town itself has three distinct names. In Ladin, it means “place of nettles.” Luckily we have not encountered any of the stinging variety.
Does trail #9 lead to 3 places? No. All are names for the same cute town.
Does trail #9 lead to 3 places? No. All are names for the same cute town.
Some place names are vastly different. The other day we were taking a trail we had not intended to hike. We were not really lost, just a bit off course. At a junction where we had to make a decision, we saw a couple descending so I waited to see if they could clarify our choice. First try, in Italian I asked, “Parla Italiano o Inglese.” Blank stare, then the man says, Deutsch.”  “Do you speak English?” I ask. “A little,” he responded. When I asked where they had come from, he answered with “Langkofelhütte.” Luckily I knew that was the German for Rifugio Vicenza and not our destination, that we should take the other path. How can the same place have such wildly different names?
A final note, many signs at restaurants, etc., are in Italian, German and English to help the majority of travelers. But translations being what they are, sometimes they are amusing. At this rifugio (one of the nicest we have seen) the hills were steep, but what we really needed was some coffee.
IMG_4947
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