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At the Pharmacy in Italy

Posted on 24. Nov, 2015 by in Italian Language, Vocabulary

The setting: a pharmacy in an Italian town
The characters: the pharmacist and a family of tourists (mother, father and their child)

Farmacista: “Buongiorno, desidera?”
Chemist: “Good morning, how can I help you?”

Signora: “Buongiorno. La bambina è stata morsicata dalle zanzare e si gratta sempre”
Wife: “Good morning. My daughter has been bitten by mosquitoes and she’s scratching herself all the time”

Farmacista: “Le posso dare una pomata per lenire il prurito. Va applicata tre volte al giorno”
Chemist: “I can give you a cream to relieve the itchiness. It must be applied three times a day”

Signora: “C’è qualcosa per tenere lontane le zanzare?”
Wife: “Is there anything to keep the mosquitoes away?”

Farmacista: “C’è questo spray alla citronella. Ne spruzza un poco sulle parti esposte del corpo, ma non bisogna abusarne”
Chemist: “There’s this spray containing lemon balm. Spray a little on the exposed body parts, but you shouldn’t use too much of it”


Parma, Antica Spezieria di San Giovanni

Signora: “Vorrei anche qualcosa per il mal di gola”
Wife: “I’d also like something for a sore throat”

Farmacista: “E’ per la bambina?”
Chemist: “Is it for the child?”

Signora: “No, per me”
Wife: “No, for me”

Farmacista: “Allora le consiglio queste pastiglie alla propoli. Ci sono vari gusti: arancia, limone, eucalipto, oppure miele”
Chemist: “Then I’d recommend these lozenges with propolis. There are several flavours: orange, lemon, eucalyptus, or honey”

Signora: “Quante ne posso prendere al giorno?”
Wife: “How many can I take a day?”

Farmacista: “Fino ad un massimo di sei pastiglie in 24 ore. Desidera altro?”
Chemist: “Up to a maximum of 6 lozenges in 24 hours. Did you want anything else?”

Signore: “Sì, mi è venuto un dolore qui alla spalla che non mi dà tregua”
Husband: “Yes, I’ve got a pain here in my shoulder which won’t let up”

Farmacista: “Preferisce una pomata o un cerotto?”
Chemist: “Would you prefer a cream or a patch?”

Signore: “Forse è meglio il cerotto”
Husband: “Probably the patch is better”

Farmacista: “Ci sono questi cerotti all’artiglio del diavolo che sono molto buoni. Ne applica uno sulla zona dolorante e ce lo lascia per tre giorni”
Chemist: “There are these patches with devil’s claw which are very good. Apply one on the painful area and leave it there for three days”


Strumenti dell’Antica Spezieria di Parma

Signore: “Mi può dare anche un antidolorifico? La notte non riesco a dormire dal fastidio”
Husband: “Could you also give me some painkillers? I can’t sleep at night due to the discomfort”

Farmacista: “Le posso dare del semplice paracetamolo, oppure se vuole qualcosa di più forte ci sono questi antinfiammatori. Sono granulati in bustine monodose che si possono prendere anche senza acqua”
Chemist: “I can give you some normal paracetamol, otherwise if you’d like something stronger there are these anti-inflammatories. They’re granules and come in single dose sachets which can also be taken without water”

Signore: “Va bene il paracetamolo”
Husband: “The paracetamols are fine”

Farmacista: “In compresse o effervescente?”
Chemist: “Tablets or effervescent?”

Signore: “Effervescente, grazie”
Husband: “Effervescent, please”

Farmacista: “Ecco a lei. Basta così?”
Chemist: “Here you are. Is that all?”

Signora: “Sì, basta così”
Wife: “Yes, that’s all”

Farmacista: “Allora, in totale sono 35 euro e 59 centesimi. Fate lo scarico fiscale?”
Chemist: “Okay, that’s 35 euros and 59 cents all together. Do you deduct it from your taxes?”

Signore: “No. Ecco 40 euro”
Husband: “No. Here’s 4o euros”

Farmacista: “4 euro e 41 centesimi di resto a lei. Buongiorno e grazie”
Chemist: “That’s 4 euros and 41 cents change. Good morning and thank you”

Signore e signora: “Grazie a lei. Buongiorno”
Husband and wife: “Thank you. Good morning”

Italian Style Preserved Olives

Posted on 23. Nov, 2015 by in Food

Suddenly our normally quiet little village is very busy. People who don’t live here, but have land in the area, are coming and going every day: it’s time for the olive harvest.


The first step is to clear the terraces on which the olives are planted of dead leaves. Then the nets are spread beneath the trees in order to collect the olives that fall onto the ground. This year’s harvest is pretty meagre, probably due to the unusually hot summer, but we’ve also heard that a late frost killed off a lot of the flowering buds. We too have a handful of olive trees on our land, but they are still quite young, and our harvest is so small that would probably only make enough oil to fill a a thimble!

Have you ever tried to eat an olive freshly picked from the tree? I have! They are extremely bitter, and very different from the pickled olives that we’re used to buying. To render them edible, olives must first be treated to eliminate that bitterness. The most common treatment used here in our area is to soak the olives in water for 20 days, but it’s a very tedious process because you have to remember to change the water everyday.

After having washed them in this way, the olive can be preserved in brine with herbs and spices. My favourite way of preserving olives, however, is “Olive alla Lucana” (Olives in the Lucanian style). Their name comes from Lucania, the old name for the region Basilicata, down in the south of Italy. This recipe, which is very simple and tasty, has become a favourite with all of my friends who’ve sampled my preserved olives. Here it is:



olive nere

black olives

buccia d’arancia non trattata

orange peel, untreated

buccia di limone non trattata

lemon peel, untreated

buccia di mandarino non trattata

mandarin peel, untreated

sale marino grosso

coarse sea salt

olio extravergine d’oliva

extra virgin olive oil


chilli pepper





Metodo = Method

Peel the rind from citrus fruit very thinly making sure that you only take the actual rind and not layer of the bitter white flesh underneath. Put the olives and the citrus rinds into a large container with a a lid. Add enough coarse sea salt to cover the olives. Mix them thoroughly and then leave them to rest. Turn or shake the olives every day in order to evenly distribute the salt. You’ll notice that the salt eventually dissolves, drawing the bitter water out of the olives.


After 20 days, remove the citrus peels, drain the olives, and wash them in warm water in order to get reed of all remaining salt. Then carefully dry them with a clean tea towel.

Put the olives in a clean jar and add a little oil, just enough to coat them thoroughly without soaking them. Season with chilly pepper, sliced garlic cloves and oregano according to taste. Leave the olives to rest for another couple of weeks before eating them. They should keep for up to two years.

Buon Appetito

A Walk Through the Woods

Posted on 18. Nov, 2015 by in Nature, Vocabulary

Inspired by a lovely walk near our home in Valdantena I wanted to try and find an Italian autumn poem. However, unable to unearth anything that seemed to fit with what I had in mind, I eventually decided to write something myself, assisted by Geoff’s photos. Eccolo:

1. Una mattina apriamo gli scuri e scopriamo che durante la notte il paesaggio tutt’intorno a noi ha cambiato aspetto come per incanto. Le verdi montagne si sono trasformate in un tripudio di colori fiammanti: gialli, ocra, ruggine. I loro contorni si stagliano netti contro il cielo terso di un azzurro intenso.
1. One morning we open the shutters to discover that during the night the landscape all around us has changed as if by magic. The green mountains have transformed themselves into a riot of flaming colours: yellows, okras, russets. Their contours stand out crisply against the clear sky of intense blue.


2. Il sole è ancora abbastanza caldo malgrado sia novembre inoltrato, e così decidiamo di fare una passeggiata nei boschi.
2. Despite the fact that we are well into November, the sun is still fairly warm, so we decide to go for a walk in the woods.


3. Il sottobosco è ricoperto di foglie morte e di castagne, molte ancora racchiuse nei loro ricci spinosi. Sono così invitanti, che non possiamo resistere e ci riempiamo gli zaini dei frutti saporiti.
3. The undergrowth is covered with dead leaves and chestnuts, many of which are still enclosed in their spiky shells. They are so inviting, that we can’t resist them and fill up our backpacks with the tasty fruit.


4. Il ruscello scorre tranquillo tra sassi rotondi ed enormi massi, contornato da olmi e pioppi vestiti nei loro colori autunnali.
4. The stream flows tranquil amongst round stones and huge boulders, surrounded by elms and poplars dressed in their autumnal clothes.

Torrente Magra

5. I tronchi bianchi di giovani betulle creano un motivo geometrico, mentre il sole si infiltra fra le loro chiome rade.
5. The white trunks of young birch trees create a geometrical pattern, and the sun sneaks through their sparse foliage.


6. E’ ora di fare una piccola sosta, ed ecco apparire un vecchio casone in sasso. Se un folletto uscisse dalla sua porta  diroccata, ci sembrerebbe la cosa più naturale del mondo.
6. It’s time to take a short break, and at that point an old stone barn appears. If an elf came out of its derelict door, it would seem the most natural thing in the world.


7. Le creature magiche non mancano di sicuro: ecco che un viso contorto dal riso ci guarda dal tronco di un castagno secco.
7. There’s no lack of magic creatures, that’s for sure: here, a face contorted by laughter watches us from the trunk of a dead chestnut tree.


8. Il sentiero sbuca nuovamente all’aperto e ci torna incontro il cielo turchino incorniciato dai profili delle montagne.
8. The track leads back out into the open, and we are greeted by the turquoise sky framed by the silhouette of the mountains.

9. Da un’apertura fra gli alberi vediamo lo scorcio del nostro paesino: due strisce di case in sasso coi tetti in tegole rosse. Siamo quasi a casa.
9. From an opening through the trees we catch a glimpse of our little village: two lines of stone houses with red tiled roofs. We’re almost home.