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La Tempesta di Ugo Foscolo

Posted on 24. Jul, 2014 by in Literature

Introduction by Geoff

It’s been a stormy week. It all began early Monday morning when a violent thunderstorm shook me from my dreams and commanded me to write a blog. Yes, inspiration from the skies! We began with La Tempesta from Vivaldi’s Le Quattro Stagioni, took a musical detour to 18th century Spain, courtesy of  Maestro Boccherini, and here we are back in Italy again with a passionate poem by Ugo Foscolo (1778 – 1827).


Portrait of Ugo Foscolo by François-Xavier-Pascal Fabre (Public Domain)

Now I’m going to hand over to Serena who will dipanare la matassa di questa poesia (unravel this poem), which, being written in an 18th century Italian, eludes my comprehension.

La Tempesta di Ugo Foscolo

The Storm, by Ugo Foscolo

Sparve il sereno, o Doride,
dal ciel, già mugge il vento
fra gli alberi, e succedono
silenzio, orror, spavento.

The calm has disappeared, oh Doride,
from the sky, the wind already roars
in the trees, and is followed
by silence, horror, fright.

Tutti gli augei si turbano
entro i lor nidi ascosi,
ove i concerti obbliano
de’ canti armoniosi.

All the birds are unsettled
inside their hidden nests,
where they cease to sing
their harmonious songs

Sol vedesi la rondine,
priva de’ suoi compagni,
rader la superficie
de’ paludosi stagni.

Only the swallow is seen,
without its companions,
skimming the surface
of the marshy ponds

Vien, Dori, vien: cerchiamoci
salvar dalla tempesta,
ve’ quante rose chinano
la tenerella testa.

Come, Dori, come: let’s try
to save ourselves from the storm,
Look how many roses bend
their tender heads.

Sopra di loro il turbine
tetre minacce ha sciolte,
sembra che solo bramino
esser da tue man colte.

Above them the whirl
has unloosed dark menaces,
they seem only to desire
to be picked by your hands

Come all’aspetto tremano
di lor vicina morte,
le cogli, o Dori tenera,
pria di sì ‘nfausta sorte.

As they seem to tremble
because their death is near,
you pick them, oh sweet Dori,
before such ominous fate.

Spiri la gaia porpora
delle lor foglie lievi
del seno tuo purissimo
su le ridenti nevi.

May the jolly purple
of their light petals blow
over the joyous snows
of your purest breasts

Ecco dal nembo torbido
in parte siam sicura,
qual sotto questa pergola
si temerà sventura?

Here we are in a place
safe from the dark cloud,
beneath this pergola
what misfortune can one fear?

Felicitade amabile!
In questo asilo ombroso
ci attende di bei grappoli
il succo delizioso.

Oh sweet happiness!
In this shady shelter
the delicious juice
of beautiful grapes awaits us.

Fiero Aquilone, or l’impeto
del tuo furor qui puoi
spiegar, e al sen di Doride
torre anche il vel se vuoi

Oh fierce north wind, now
you can release the impulse
of your fury, and from Dori’s breasts,
if you wish, remove the veil.

Giorgio Armani and Cinema

Posted on 15. Jul, 2014 by in Culture

Last Friday, the 11th of July, was the 80th birthday of renowned Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. Although Armani known throughout the world for his clean tailored menswear, especially his trademark jacket ‘la giacca destrutturata’, what particularly interests me is the work he has done for cinema.

armani 1

Above left: Armani’s trademark jacket La Giacca Destrutturata. He removed the padding and stiff adhesive lining, changed the proportions, and moved the buttons, transforming a traditional formal design into something that is both smart and casual at the same time. Armani’s favourite colours are beige,  grey and greige, a mixture of the two. Photo (CC) by Giorgio Montersino

Armani’s suits have starred in many well know Hollywood movies. Remember the scene from American Gigolo (1980) in which Richard Gere tries on several Armani outfits which sport those distinctive high waisted trousers? Then there was the cult 80’s TV series Miami Vice: who liked Don Johnson’s pastel coloured jackets worn over tight T-shirts?  “Cosa?! la giacca senza neanche la camicia?” (What?! A jacket without even a shirt?)


Above: American Gigolo: Richard Gere being fitted with an Armani suit. (Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection)


Above: Ouch! … well it looked cool at the time! Don Johnson’s pastel coloured jackets worn over tight T-shirts


Above: In the 1987 film The Untouchables by Brian De Palma, Armani revived the classic suit.


Above: More recent films include The Dark Knight (2007), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in which Armani visits the bat cave to ‘attempt’ to beautify Christian Bale alias Bruce Wayne.

The list of movies goes on and on … here is just a small selection: Gattaca, A Good Year, Ocean’s Thirteen, Inglorious Basterds, The Tree of Life, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and more recently The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo Di Caprio.

But Armani is not only associated with menswear. In the 80’s and 90’s Armani suits were a must for women (especially Italian women) wishing to make a career and get powerful jobs. Here are a coiple of films in which Armani has outfitted powerful career women:


Above: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who plays an attorney in Class Action (1991), seen here wearing an Armani suit in court


Above: In the film Elysium (2013), Jodie Foster plays Secretary Delacourt, a powerful government official in an Armani suit

What’s your favourite Armani outfit? Please share in the comments section.


Posted on 11. Jul, 2014 by in Grammar

Here’s another question which I eagerly started replying to in my recent post ‘July’s Grammar Clinic’ thinking ‘this should be simple to answer, just a couple of lines should do the trick’. Ultime parole famose, 230 words later I realised that I was only half way through, so it’s all grown up and now it’s become a blog on its own.

The question: come si usa la parola “proprio”? sembra che è usato in tanti diversi modi. Grazie, JB (how is the word ‘proprio’ used? it seems that it’s used in a variety of ways. Thank you, JB.)

Well ….. proprio has quite a variety of meanings, here is a list of its main functions in modern Italian:

1. used as an adverb, proprio means ‘really’ and it doesn’t change its ending, e.g. questo gelato è proprio buono = this ice cream is really good, questi gelati sono proprio buoni = these ice creams are really good, sono proprio dispiaciuta per Giorgio = I’m really sorry for Giorgio

Photo: “Fruit sorbetto at Gelato Naia, September 8, 2008″ (CC) by Ragesoss

2. another meaning of proprio used as an adverb is ‘just’ or ‘exactly’, e.g. siamo arrivati proprio ora = we arrived just now, questo è proprio quello che cercavo = this is exactly what I was looking for

3. used as an adjective, proprio can mean ‘typical’, ‘characteristic’, ‘specific’, and in this function it changes its ending according to the noun it refers to, e.g. è proprio di Giorgio comportarsi così = it’s typical of Giorgio to behave like this, questa medicina è propria per la febbre = this is a specific medicine for fever

4. proprio can be a possessive adjective. It is used mainly in the third person singular and third person plural instead of suo, sua, suoi, sue and loro (his, her, its, their), e.g. Mario ama il proprio lavoro instead of Mario ama il suo lavoro = Mario loves his own job, rimettete i libri al proprio posto instead of rimettete i libri al loro posto = put the books back in their own place

Photo: Casa dolce casa … Jenny sta meglio a casa propria! © Geoff Chamberlain 2014

5. a very important use of proprio is as a possessive adjective in the impersonal form, meaning ‘one’s own’, e.g. si sta meglio a casa propria = one feels better in one’s own house, fatto con le proprie mani = made with one’s own hands, gelati di produzione propria = homemade ice creams (literally: ice cream of one’s own production).

6. Finally, proprio is also used a noun, but is mostly limited to expressions such as lavorare in proprio = to work independently, vivere del proprio = to live on one’s own means.

Spero proprio di essere stata chiara!