Travelling is a great way to learn new words, isn’t it?
So, as I’ve just got back from a business trip to Venice, I thought you might be interested in hearing some of the memorable words and expresssions that I picked up while I was there.
‘La marea’ (the tide) affects the level of the water in Venice’s famous canals. And when there are particularly high tides, you can experience what locals call ‘l’acqua alta’ (high water).
Our host emailed us in advance to warn us that when we left the restaurant on Thursday evening (after a long day of meetings), we’d need rubber boots (‘gli stivali di gomma’).
We felt a bit foolish attending our meetings carrying a plastic bag full of rubber boots, but he was absolutely right. By 11 p.m. we needed the boots!
In busier parts of Venice, you’ll also see the famous “passerelle”, raised walkways provided to keep pedestrians’ feet dry.
But how will you know when to expect l’acqua alta? Check out the ‘previsione’ (forecast) on the Venice Comune website.
Oh, and if you’re actually in Venice and hear something that sounds like an air-raid siren? That’ll be ‘la sirena d’allertamento’ (warning siren) to remind you to change your footwear… There’s the initial ‘air-raid warning’, plus a series of electronic chimes – sort of ‘do re mi’. Each note signals the potential height of the water. The more notes, the higher the tide will be. There’s an explanation, here.
Calle e campi
As my wife reminded me each time I asked her if this was the same piazza we’d walked through a dozen times already, they don’t much use the term ‘piazza’ in Venice. Instead they say ‘campo’. Piazza San Marco is an exception, apparently.
And streets, such as they are, are ‘calle/calli’, not ‘via/vie’.
Spaghetti al nero di seppia
Memorable eats: a steaming plate of spaghetti, each strand dyed a glossy jet black with the ink from a squid. It tasted a lot better than it sounds, I promise you!
Other food/drink words I picked up were ‘cicchetto’, a little snack like the Spanish ‘tapas’, and my favourite: ‘ombra’ (shade or shadow), the local term for taking a break from the hot sun to drink a glass of wine some place shady.
Study Italian in Venice?
It’s a fantastic place to visit, and as some OnlineItalianClub.com regulars will tell you (Hi, Katy), there’s an excellent Italian school there.
But while I’ve visited many times, and will surely go back again and again, I’m not sure I’d recommend it for a study vacation.
Too many tourists, for one. Ever visited London and not met a single Londoner? If so, you’ll know what I mean…
Definitely worth a visit, though.
And the ‘Regionale veloce’ (fast regional train) from Bologna will get you there in under two hours for about 10 euros each way.
(If you’re thinking about studying Italian in Italy, check out our sponsor: Italian School in Bologna!)
P.S. News tomorrow about this week’s FREE ONLINE CONVERSATION LESSONS… Watch this space.