For anyone impatient with hearing about my holiday, today’s free Italian listening (with transcript and new task) is on ‘Le Regole da rispettare ad un esame’ (exam rules to respect).
But if you ever have to actually DO an exam in Italy, feel free to ignore them completely – everyone else will.
As a teacher I’ve been shocked when exam candidates openly asked invigilators (their teachers usually) for help with questions they weren’t sure about.
And absolutely amazed when the teacher/invigilator leant over to look at the problematic question, pondered for a moment, then pointed out the correct answer.
My kids regularly have horrendous stories about how ‘everyone else’ in their high school classes copied in the test.
So there you go – do the listening on how to take an exam.
But don’t be too ‘North European’ about following the rules.
(The same is true when driving, or doing your tax declaration…)
Here’s that link again:
OK, now back to Texas, where I’m writing this from a motel room next to an interstate.
We’ve been in Austin, the state capital, for a few nights. We’re leaving this morning, headed for San Antonio, which is near the site of the famous battle of the Alamo.
Austin has skyscrapers just like Dallas, but it’s capital of the state and so home to the legislature building, called the ‘capitol’.
To visualise it, think of the iconic Washington DC Capitol, but made of red stone rather than white.
The Texas version is pretty laid-back.
There’s no entrance fee, minimal security, and you can walk freely around inside to find out how democracy works.
We were impressed at how open the building is to visitors compared to, say, the British or Italian parliaments.
You’d never get such access in Europe. Bravo Texas!
The Bullock Texas State Museum was also very good, worth a nine out of ten in my humble opinion.
It’s as good a museum as I’ve seen in much larger cities such as London. Visit to get an overview of the history of the state, presented in an attractive, informative and balanced way.
Walking down the hill from the Captiol, you’ll eventually get to Sixth Street, home to lively bars and lots of beggars.
At the base of the hill, there’s a river and well-cared for waterfront walks and parks.
As with Dallas, you’ll see plenty of squirrels, but Austin goes one better with its enormous bat colony!
Hundreds of thousands of them live under one of the city’s main bridges, apparently.
Sofia and I rented a kayak from the boat club (which has a nice bar) and paddled under the bridge to have a look.
We couldn’t spot any – guess they come out only at night.
We did see a dead cat, though, which floated slowly past our kayak as we rested on the way back to the boat club.
After the kayaking, we walked for nearly an hour from the downtown, along the river and through green parks, to Barton Springs, an outdoor pool fed by spring water.
Residents get in for $3 dollars, but for the rest of us it would have been $8.
The pool area has life-guards and mowed lawns, but it also has a long list of rules forbidding things like picnics, beer, smoking and dogs.
But no worries – a few yards down-creek, beyond the pool enclosure fence, we found a livelier and more informal spot.
There you can paddle and swim for free, set up your ghetto blaster, throw tennis balls for your hounds and generally have a good time.
I swear, my daughter was the only adult in the water without a tatto.
As we’d saved $16, once we’d walked all the way back to downtown in the June heat, we treated ourselves to cold beer and fries at Jo’s on Second Street.
Surprise! Texans cook their fries with skins on.
I almost forgot to tell you: on the walk to the springs earlier in the afternoon, we saw an Italian food van!
It was parked in an zone with other food vendors on Barton Springs Road (check it out on Google maps…)
The guy serving ice-cream at one end of the van greeted us with a ‘Ciao’.
Turns out he’s from Puglia, and has been in Texas for three years, having married a local.
We chatted in Italian.
He serves real Italian food, he told us, and not the fancy-restaurant sort that costs $50 for a plate of pasta pomodoro.
I can’t vouch that his cooking is any good, but my daughter says the icecream was respectable.
So, if you live in Austin, and need someone to practice your Italian with…