While we Americans celebrate Father's Day in the month of June, Italians honor their Padri on the 19th of March, known as St. Joseph's Day, to commemorate San Guiseppe, the father of Jesus - a fatherly symbol of love, compassion, kindness, generosity and acceptance. So, to all you Dads out there, and to the memory of my own, a belated Buona Festa di Papa!
St. Joseph's Day in Italy is celebrated with a feast... families prepare traditional spreads of special Italian breads and cookies. This is the day when families show their gratitude to their fathers with favors and gifts. This day is a big deal in many parts of the Italy, especially in the North. In Florence and Rome, this festivity is marked with several days of live music and dancing, and of course, food and drink. While we most likely won't be dancing for Father's Day, we will be feasting on ribs, Lisa's herb roasted potatoes and perhaps take in a funny film with Lucas.
Saverio (Sal) Finzi: My Dad
"Italians will show up late to an appointment and know they are on time. No one says anything. Americans frantically run to their appointment and always feel like they are late even if they are on time. We Italians are always thinking 'Domani... Domani.'"
I hope you have all read my recent post about Bocce Ball. I'll be honest, I've heard all sorts of explanations about the rules of the game and I've come to the conclusion that there are a lot of variations in the way people play. But then I came across this video, which is one of the best tutorials of how to play the game, scoring and various techniques used in the game. Enjoy...
"We Italians don't understand what Americans have done to our cuisine. Pasta with chicken, Caesar salad, Alfredo sauce and pepperoni pizza may be commonplace at 'Italian' restaurants in the US, but are nowhere to be seen on traditional Italian menus. Having milk in coffee any other time of the day but in the morning is pazzo!"
Some think the world is made for fun and frolic, And so do I! And so do I!
Some think it well to be all melancholic, To pine and sigh; to pine and sigh;
But I, I love to spend my time in singing, Some joyous song, some joyous song,
To set the air with music bravely ringing Is far from wrong! Is far from wrong!
Harken, harken, music sounds a-far!
Harken, harken, with a happy heart!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Joy is everywhere, funiculì, funiculà!
Ah me! 'tis strange that some should take to sighing, And like it well! And like it well!
For me, I have not thought it worth the trying, So cannot tell! So cannot tell!
With laugh, with dance and song the day soon passes Full soon is gone, full soon is gone,
For mirth was made for joyous lads and lasses To call their own! To call their own!
Harken, harken, hark the soft guitar! Harken, harken, hark the soft guitar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Hark the soft guitar, funiculì, funiculà!
These are the English words to Funiculì, Funiculà! And here is a video of Rodney Dangerfield's wonderful rendition of the song in the film Easy Money.
But the original Neapolitan words are very different:
Aissera, oje Nanniné, me ne sagliette,tu saje addó, tu saje addó
Addó 'stu core 'ngrato cchiù dispietto farme nun pò! Farme nun pò!
Addó lu fuoco coce, ma se fujete lassa sta! Te lassa sta!
E nun te corre appriesso, nun te strujesulo a guardà, sulo a guardà.
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà, Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà,
'ncoppa, jamme jà, funiculì, funiculà!
Se n'è sagliuta, oje né, se n'è sagliuta,la capa già! La capa già!
È gghiuta, po' è turnata, po' è venuta,sta sempe ccà! Sta sempe ccà!
La capa vota, vota, attuorno, attuorno,attuorno a tte! Attuorno a tte!
Stu core canta sempe nu taluorno: Sposamme, oje né! Sposamme, oje né!
I went up this evening, Nanetta Do you know where? Do you know where?
Where your hard heart can't reach With scornful wiles! With scornful wiles!
Where the fire burns, but if you run You can escape it! You can escape it!
It doesn't chase you nor destroy you Just by a look. Just by a look.
Come on, come on! To the top we'll go! Come on, come on! To the top we'll go!
Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!
To the top we'll go, funiculi, funicula!
It's climbed aloft, see, climbed aloft now,Right to the top! Right to the top!
It went, and turned, and came back down, And now it's stopped! And now it's stopped!
The top is turning round and round, Around yourself! Around yourself!
My heart sings that on such a day We should be wed! We should be wed!
The Song and Italy's Real World Funiculars
The song is about a man caught up in the volcano of love, while he and his love are taking a ride up to the top of Mount Vesuvius on a funicular... an inclined, gear driven rail car. As the funicular rises up, so does his courage to ask for her hand in marriage. There actually was a funicular that went to the top of Vesuvius and this song was written as a metaphor about the ups and downs of love and its volcanic nature. The funicular that went up to Mount Vesuvius in 1880 cable car was later destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 1944. Coincidentally, the song was written in nearby Castellammare di Stabia, itself a town which--while doesn't have a funicular--has a dramatic cable car taking visitors up to the top of a mountain with breathtaking views of both the Bay or Naples and Mount Vesuvius.
A Funicular, also known as an inclined plane, is a cable railway system in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles moves up and down a steep slope on rails. Since they are connected to cables, in essence both the ascending and descending vehicles function as counterweights to one another. When I was a kid growing up in Hudson County, New Jersey, there were the concrete track remains of a funicular that carried people and horse drawn wagons from the river level in Hoboken up to the Jersey City cliffs. It always fascinated me when I heard stories from my Father about both people and horse-drawn wagons being lifted up the cliff by the cables. The unique thing about funiculars is their cars are built at the same sloping angle as the angled tracks. They are very cock-eyed looking trolleys indeed.
Funiculars are still in operation all around Italy and offer visitors to Italy unique views of the countryside, superb visits to the "alto" (high) parts of towns throughout the country. Some are in small towns, some go to the tops of mountains, while others simply are an everyday part of commuting from the low town to the higher: the alto.
So, there you have it... a little tour of Italy's funiculars. Perhaps you will search out a funicular when you travel to Italy and enjoy a ride on one or two. Enjoy the view, but more important, your feet will thank you for finding a way around all those steps in the hill towns of Italy...
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While researching another topic on Google Earth I came across an amazing sight... this very expensive, over-engineered monster of a rotary (rotante in Italian) in Catanzaro, Calabria. Rotaries in Italy are commonplace and (believe it or not) are simple to use, unlike the "circles" as we call them in the States, where everyone tries to jockey for position entering or exiting the "circle", cutting across lanes and causing fender benders all over the country. They are not for timid drivers.
But in Italy, the rotary is one of the few things Italian engineers and Italian drivers got right. I never had a problem going around one. The exits and entrances are simply and clearly marked, for the most part they are single lane (except for the big one in the photo above) and drivers slow down when entering and give leeway to the car entering first. It's a smooth flow of traffic around them.
They are also are also usually built at ground level with simple engineering and similar layouts... pretty much every rotary looks like every other one. There are no surprises when entering and the signs for the roads coming from them are clearly marked. The elevated highway rotary in Catanzaro is the first massive one I've seen... and the first elevated 75 feet into the air on all sides!
"We love your music, your movies, your TV shows, and so we admire your country. I admire, for example, your fleets around the world, but I ask myself how was it possible that American fighter planes were not able to destroy 9/11 civil airplanes?"
Even if you study Italian you might find yourself scratching your head wondering what in heck they are talking about when hearing unusual or seemingly out of context expressions. As in English, Italians also use a lot of slang, idioms and other odd ways of saying things or conveying emotions. And just as an American might use an odd, nonsensical sounding phrase such as "He has a chip on his shoulder today" or "He got up on the wrong side of the bed". Both mean the person is in a bad mood and neither would be taken literally... unless that person is a newcomer to speaking fluent English.
Now turn this situation around and consider how you will look with blank stares at people in Italy, not knowing what in heck they are talking about, even though you might be interpreting the individual words correctly.
You might hear someone say "Stefano is cornuto." or "Poor Maria has become cornuto" or "Stefano has put cornuto on Maria". Cornuto means horns, or more precisely, horned. But this common idiom means that Stefano is being cheated on by his wife... or Maria is being cheated on by Stefano... or Stefano is cheating on Maria. The person with the horns is the one being cheated upon.
Che Palle: Literal, What Balls
This one is similar as saying "What balls he has" in English, but Italians use Che Palle in other ways too. It can also mean a person is bored when they declare "Che palle!" along with an exhaustive breath. A Person being annoyed might suddenly declare "Che palle!" when they are getting fed up with the person or child bothering them. If something is being repeated or becoming redundant to the point of annoying, like when someone has his car break down for the 3rd time that week, "Che palle" is appropriate. You might hear this a lot... it's like saying "damn!" You might hear a lighter version of this... "Che Pizza!"
Buono Come il Pane: good as bread
This can refer to a person, a thing or a situation.
Brutto Comme la Fame: As Ugly as Hunger
In English we might say something is as ugly as sin, but in Italian one of the ugliest things in their history is hunger itself.
Stomaco da Struzzo: Stomach of an Ostrich
We might say someone who can eat anything without getting sick has got a cast iron stomach, but in Italy he's got the stomach of an ostrich.
Fa un Freddo Cane: It's dog cold
Used to described a bitterly cold night.
Un Coniglio: A rabbit
Use this to describe a coward, someone who always run or hides from confrontation.
Una Volpe: A Fox
A sly, clever person. Someone who can work a way around the rules or easily solves problems.
Tutto fa Brodo: Everything Makes Broth
If someone offers you a hand lifting something heavy, you might say Tutto fa Brodo, every little bit helps
Botte Piccola Fa Vino Buono: A Small Cask Makes Good Wine
A way of paying a compliment to a short person.
Inghiottire il Rospo: Swallow the Toad
We say suffer indignity or embarrassment without complaint, Americans say you Eat Crow, but an Italian will say that you Swallow the Toad.
Un Pollo da Spennare: Chicken Waiting to be Plucked
A stooge, someone who can be taken advantage of, fooled or robbed.
In Bocca al Lupo: Into the Mouth of the Wolf
You say this when you want to wish someone Good luck! This saying finds its roots with hunters.
In Culo Alla Balena: In a Whale's Ass
Crude way of saying Good Luck, perhaps referencing the good fortune of a whaler harpooning a whale.
O Bere o Affogare: Drink or Drown
Similar to the American expression, to sink or swim, either there will be great success or an absolute failure.
Qualcosa Bolle in Pentola: Something's Boiling in the Pot
This means there is something in the works, usually something not pleasant, similar to Trouble is Brewing.
Che Cavolo!: What the Cabbage!
Often just Cavolo! Cavolo literally means Cabbage. Casual, not very offensive, similar to Damn it!, Darn!, Dang!
Buona Notte al Secchio: Good Night to the Bucket
When all is lost and you are going to be in big trouble, but not quite as finite as our Kick the Bucket expression. Refers to when a bucket drops into a well and there's no way to get it back.-- All is Lost.
Un Pezzo Grosso: a Big Piece
Referring to a Big Piece (i.e., a big caliber gun), in Italian this is slang for a Big Shot and used to refer to someone who carries a Big Gun (or piece), but is commonly used for anyone who is a Big Shot... politicians, crime bosses, CEOs, etc. In Sicily (and in the Godfather books) Pezzonovante is used the same way.
Ad ogni morte di Papa: For Every Death of a Pope
We would say Once in a Blue Moon. Italians say this because Popes usually hold their positions until they die, in essence, it describes something that happens rarely--once in a lifetime.
Sogni d'oro: Golden dreams
Used just like Sweet Dreams in English.
Cercare I Peli Nell'Uovo: to Look for Hairs in the Egg
In English, this means to be fussy, overly picky, in other words, a real PITA.
Caduto dalle Nuvole: Fallen from the Clouds
Completely taken by surprise, or pretending to be.
Avere le Braccine Corte: To Have Short Arms
Having short arms means being too cheap to reach into your pocket... short arms mean they can't reach their wallet and rely on others to pay (for dinner, drinks, etc.).
Avere le Mani in Pasta: to Have your Hands in Dough:
In English, you'd say you are spreading yourself too thin.
Un Libro _______ (color): Varied meanings
Un libro giallo (A yellow book) is a detective story or mystery; Un libro rosa (A pink book) is a romance novel; .
Un libro nero (A black book) is a blacklist.
C'è un giudice a Berlino: There's a Judge in Berlin
Used to say that justice will win in the end.
Non Mi Rompere i Maroni: Don’t Break My Chestnuts!
Similar to the U.S. expression, Don't Break My Balls.
Farò le polpette di voi: I'll Make Meatballs out of You!
This is a threat, similar to "I'll make mincemeat out of you!"
C’ho il Dente Avvelenato: I've Got a Poisoned Tooth
This means I've got a Grudge. You would say this when asked to voice your opinion... if you're opinion is tainted or biased strongly, you would warn that I've Got a Poisoned Tooth on this subject.
Dalle Stelle alle Stalle: From the Stars to the [horse] Stalls
To fall from grace. After having great success to lose it all.
Capita a Fagiolo: It Happens at the Bean
It happens at exactly the right moment, as with poor people of the past, when beans were their main meal... as in it happens just when we need it (the bean) most.
Essere al Verde: to Be At the Green
This means someone is broke, out of money. Some say this comes from gambling at casinos--when all your chips are gone, you look down at the bare green felt of the table. Others think it refers to peasants who were so poor they would pick greens and roots from the fields in search of food. Another theory is that it refers to auctioneer candles that were painted green in the bottom half--when the candle reached the green, the flow of money would come to a stop.
Vai a Farti Benedire or Vai a Quel Paese: Go Get Blessed/Go to That Country (or town, can be specific)
Italians have many ways of saying Get Lost! Two milder forms are Vai a Farti Benedire (Go Get Blessed) and Vai a Quel Paese (Go to That Country).
Fari i Salti Mortali: Make a Mortal Jump
This means to Bend Over Backwards for someone... to make an extraordinary effort.
Tra il Dire e il Fare c'è di Mezzo il Mare: There is an Ocean Between Saying and Doing
The English equivalent of There's a Big Difference Between Saying Something and Actually Doing It. Or... There is many a slip between cup and lip. This idiom is a commentary on good intentions and the idea that they often don't always happen the way they are promised.
Peli Sulla Pancia: Hairs on the Belly
Usually used in the negative form: not having hairs on one’s stomach means to be tough, able to stand up to criticism.
Un Cane in Chiesa: A Dog in Church
It is used as "He's as welcome as a dog in church" or simply to refer to An Unwelcome Guest.
Dormo come un ghiroun ghiro: I Sleep Like a Doremouse
In the U..S. we Sleep Like a Log, but in Italy you sleep like a doremouse.
Essere in Un Bel Pasticcio: to Be in a Nice Pie:
This expression is equivalent to being in a pickle.
Alla Come Viene, Viene: How it is, so it is.
Similar to It is what it is, usually referring to something that turned out poorly.
Acqua Passata: The Water Passed
We would say It's Water Under the Bridge about something in the past that shouldn't be a concern any longer.
Mettere il Bastone tra le Ruote: To Put a Stick into the Wheel (as in a wagon wheel)
To bring something to a stop... Put a Monkey Wrench in the Works.
Avere la Botte Piena e la Moglie Ubriaca: To have the wine cask full and the wife drunk
Used just like To Have your Cake and Eat It, Too.
Acqua in Bocca: Water in the Mouth
This is equal to Mum's the word, don't say anything about it!
Dio li Fa, poi li Accoppia: God Makes Them, Then He Mates Them.
Said of any unlikely couple paired together by nature or fate... similar to There's a Match For Everyone.
Tirare il Pacco: To Pull the Pack
When you “Pull the Pack,” it means you didn’t show up to a date or meeting with a friend, you're a disappointment to them. Also, the word Pacco can by itself represent a disappointment, like describing a bad movie you saw as a pacco (or other similar words meaning pack, bundle, package). Che pacco (what a disappointment) or Essere un Pacco (Being a Package) describe something disappointing or boring--common expressions among young people.
Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala!: You wanted the bike? Now you’ve got to ride it!
Similar to You've made your bed, now you've got to lie in it. A sarcastic way of saying I Told You So to someone who you've forewarned that their actions would bring about problems.
Braccia Rubate all’Agricoltura: Arms Stolen from Agriculture
When a white collar worker is clearly inept, you say this, inferring they'd be better off working on a farm.
Parlare Fuori dai Denti: To speak outside of one’s teeth
To speak honestly and bluntly.. to speak one's mind boldly.
Non Avere Peli Sulla Lingua: Without Hair on His Tongue
When one friend asks another to be brutally honest about their opinion, they will ask him to say it “without hair on his tongue.”
Attaccare il Cappello: To Hang up One’s Hat
Describes (usually) a man who married a rich woman, and never has to work again.
Piove sul Bagnato: It Rains on the Wet
Too much of a good thing.
Fare Passi do Gigante: To Take Giant Steps
To make progress by Leaps and Bounds, to make progress very quickly.
Drum Roll.... And now, Grand Voyage Italy is proud to present the World's Worst Pizza Award... It goes to, PIZZA HUT! Yea! (Fireworks) (Streamers) (balloons)...
Ok, really... this is one revolting pie. The world's most horrible pizza chain did it again in creating it's Frankenstein of a pizza called the Hot Dog Bites Pizza. Yep, there are 28 pigs in a blanket around that disgusting heart attack creation.
And how about these facts... the hot dog pizza is 460 calories per slice, or 3,680 calories for a typical eight-slice Pizza Hut pie. Now, add to that the French's classic yellow mustard served with it (is this a first? Mustard with pizza?) and you have an All American Monstrosity, even worse than the overly fatty, sugary stuffed crust pizza they are famous for. The little piggies (the ones around the perimeter of the pizza, not the piggies who were suckered into ordering this) are pulled off the pizza by hand and dipped, individually, into the mustard.
(Where's my cardiologist's number?)
"We Italians do not like cold weather. At all. If you walk outside with wet hair, you will get scolded by a concerned nonna. We pile on scarves, coats, hats and gloves at any sign of chilly weather, while in the U.S. the same weather is regarded with a light jacket. We don't understand Americans walking around half naked in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops."
Colosseum Restoration Project Gets Go-Ahead, and "Corporate Medici" Cash Footing the Bill for Monument Fix-Ups
It seems like Italy needs a lot of help from corporate donors to rejuvenate many of their national monuments... for instance, a visitor to Rome will find the Trevi Fountain covered with scaffolding, swarming with workers and with a catwalk above and in front of the watery treasure--all paid for by Fendi, a private Italian corporation. Many are outraged about "Corporate Medici" gaining control or favor over their pet projects... (read more about it here...)
The Colosseum will be covered in scaffolding for almost three years when an ambitious 25 million euro (£20 million) project to restore the 2,000-year-old monument begins later this year. (more...)
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