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The Story of Lucky Number Seven – Part 1: Lost and Found

Posted on 16. Sep, 2014 by in Italian Language

Mercoledì scorso, nel pomeriggio, ero seduta in cucina a rammendare le calze di Geoff quando ho sentito uno strano suono, una specie di squittio. Ho alzato la testa e ho visto Geoff scendere le scale con qualcosa in mano.

Last Wednesday afternoon I was sitting in the kitchen mending Geoff’s socks when I heard a strange sound, a sort of squeaking. I lifted my head and saw Geoff coming down the stairs with something in his hands.

“Guarda cosa ho trovato!” mi ha annunciato tutto trionfante. Dalle sue grandi mani chiuse a coppa spuntava un ciuffo di pelo grigio e fulvo con due grandi occhi tondi e tristi, due orecchiette piatte all’ingiù, e un nasino rosa.

“Look what I’ve found!” he announced triumphantly. From his big hands cupped together protruded a tuft of tawny grey fur with two big round sad eyes, two little flatten down ears, and a little pink nose.

“Un ghiro?” è stato il mio primo pensiero.

“A dormouse?” was my first thought.

… un ciuffo di pelo grigio e fulvo …

Geoff ha aperto le mani e dentro c’era un microscopico gattino che miagolava disperato con uno sguardo triste e supplicante. Era tutto sporco, ma in un modo strano, non era fango, sembrava … “Che schifo! Larve di mosca!”

Geoff opened his hands and inside there was a microscopic kitten with a sad begging look, mewing desperately. It was completely dirty, but in a strange way, it wasn’t mud, it seemed like … “How disgusting! Fly larvae!”

“Ero andato sull’orto a provare il nuovo fucile, e ho sentito questo grido disperato” mi ha raccontato Geoff. “Ho seguito il suono finché non ho trovato questo” ha detto fissando la creaturina. “Era sdraiato per terra vicino agli alberi di melo, completamente ricoperto di decine e decine di mosche, poverino”

“I went up to the garden to test the new rifle, and I heard this desperate cry” Geoff told me. “I followed the sound until I found this” he said gazing at the kitten. “It was stretched out on the ground near the apple trees, completely covered with hundreds of flies, poor thing”

“Portalo immediatamente fuori! Questa non è sporcizia, queste sono larve di mosca. Migliaia di larve!” ho gridato io.

“Take it outside immediately! This isn’t dirt, it’s fly larvae. Thousands of larvae!” I shouted

Seduto fuori sull’aia di fronte alla cucina, Geoff ha cominciato a ripulire il gattino con la spazzola per i gatti, mentre io nel frattempo scaldavo un pochettino di latte e cercavo qualcosa per dargli da mangiare.

Sitting outside on the patio in front of the kitchen, Geoff begun cleaning the kitten with the cat brush whilst I, in the meantime, warmed up a little milk and looked for something to feed it with.

Ho trovato una pipetta e così abbiamo provato ad allattarlo. Che fame che c’aveva! e come succhiava! Ho scaldato ancora un pochino di latte, e anche quello se l’è poppato tutto in un batter d’occhio.

I found a pipette, and we tried to feed it with the milk. How hungry it was! and how it sucked on the pipette! I warmed up a little bit more milk, and it gobbled that down as well in the blink of an eye.

… e anche quello se l’è poppato tutto in un batter d’occhio

Calmata un po’ la fame, abbiamo rincominciato la pulizia con un pettine a denti fitti. Finalmente, dopo oltre mezz’ora è apparso un bellissimo gattino (gattina?), con una zampina anteriore bianca e una nera. L’abbiamo messo per terra per vedere se camminava, ma era solo capace di trascinarsi tutto traballante e seguendo l’olfatto.

Once its hunger had abated, we started cleaning it again with a fine tooth comb. Finally, after more than half an hour, a beautiful male (female?) kitten appeared, with one front paw white, and one black. We put it down on the ground to see if it could walk, but it could only drag itself along with a wobbly gait, following its nose.

Geoff è andato a prendere la sportina per i gatti, ci abbiamo messo un vecchio asciugamano, e poi il mio antichissimo giacchetto che indossavo in quel momento, in modo che il mio odore lo rassicurasse, e lì, esausto, si è finalmente addormentato.

Geoff went to get the cat carrier, we put an old towel in it, and then the very old cardigan that I was wearing at the time so that it would be reassured by my scent, and in there, completely exhausted, it finally fell asleep.

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Posted on 10. Sep, 2014 by in Culture, Italian Language, Literature, News

Last week, at the 72nd edition of the Venice Film Festival, the American director Abel Ferrara (of Italian origin) presented his latest film: Pasolini. Interpreted by Willem Dafoe, the film portrays the final hours and tragic death in 1975 of the Italian film director, writer, poet and Marxist intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini, whom Abel Ferrara considers an inspiration for his own work. I haven’t seen the movie because it won’t be released in Italy until the 24th of September, but if you’re interested you can find out more about it in this article by The Guardian: Abel Ferrara on the death of Pasolini.

Pasolini davanti al Cristo di Masaccio Photo (CC)

Pasolini was born in Bologna in 1922, but during his child-hood he spent long periods with his maternal grandparents in the village of Casarsa, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the north east of Italy. Here he learnt the local dialect, il friulano. His first book of poems was in fact written in friulano, and was published during the Fascist era by the publisher Landi in 1942, who gave a copy to Gianfranco Contini, professor of philology. Greatly impressed by Pasolini’s poems, Contini wrote a review for the magazine ‘Primato’, but the article was never published due to the fact that the Fascists did not allow the use of what they considered ‘barbarian languages’ or dialects. Furthermore, in some of his poems Pasolini’s homosexuality is evident, something which at the time was considered completely taboo. You can read more about Pasolini’s life in this link

Willem Dafoe bears a remarkable resemblance to Pasolini. Photo: (CC) by Siebbi

Here is an example of one of Pasolini’s poems, originally written in friulano, and translated into Italian by Pasolini himself :

Mi contenti

Ta la sera ruda di Sàbida
mi contenti di jodi la int
fór di ciasa ch’a rit ta l’aria.
Encia me cór al è di aria
e tai me vuj a rit la int
e tai me ris a è lus di Sàbida.
Zòvin, i mi contenti dal Sàbida,
puòr, i mi contenti da la int,
vif, i mi contenti da l’aria.
I soj usàt al mal dal Sàbida

and here’s Pasolini’s Italian translation:

Mi accontento

Nella nuda sera del sabato
mi accontento di guardare la gente
che ride fuori di casa nell’aria.
Anche il mio cuore è di aria
e nei miei occhi ride la gente
e nei miei ricci è la luce del sabato.
Giovane, mi accontento del sabato,
povero, mi accontento della gente,
vivo, mi accontento dell’aria.
Sono abituato al male del sabato

finally, my modest English translation:

I’m content

In the naked evening of Saturday
I’m content to watch the people
who laugh in the air outside their houses.
My heart is also made of air
and in my eyes people laugh
and in my curls is Saturday’s light.
Young, I’m content with Saturday,
poor, I’m content with the people,
alive, I’m content with the air.
I’m used to the pain of Saturday.

La Peperonata

Posted on 04. Sep, 2014 by in Food

It’s the end of summer, and the sweet capsicums are all ripening on the plants in the orto (vegetable garden): beautiful red and yellow fleshy peppers with their interesting contorted shapes. What can you do with so many peppers? you can grill or roast them, you can stuff them with breadcrumbs following this recipe, you can eat them raw in salads, or you can make a nice big peperonata. Here’s how:

peperoni 2
… beautiful red and yellow fleshy peppers … Photo (CC) Franco Folini
Ingredienti: Ingredients:
1 kg di peperoni misti (rossi, gialli e verdi) 1 kg of mixed sweet peppers (red, yellow and green)
300 gr di cipolla, possibilmente rossa 300 grams of onion, possibly red
400 gr di pomodori pelati o di passata 400 grams of peeled plum tomatoes or tomato passata
6 cucchiai di olio extravergine d’oliva 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 spicchi d’aglio 2 cloves of garlic
sale e pepe salt and pepper
1 ciuffo di basilico o di prezzemolo a piacere 1 small bunch of basil or parsley as you prefer
1 cucchiaino di zucchero, se necessario 1 teaspoon of sugar, if necessary


First prepare the vegetables: wash the peppers, cut them in half lengthwise, remove the top and the seeds, then slice into strips about 1 cm wide. Peel and slice the onions and the garlic. Put the olive oil in a wide casserole, preferably with a thick base which is more suitable for slow cooking (I like to use a terracotta casserole when I make peperonata and other vegetable stews). Add the sliced onion and garlic and leave to cook gently for about 10 minutes. When the onion is soft, add the peppers, mix them in, then cover with a lid and leave to stew on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

… with their interesting contorted shapes … Pepper No. 30 by Edward Weston, 1930 (image: Fair Use)

In the meantime remove the seeds from the peeled plum tomatoes (if you’re using them instead of the passata), and blend or chop them into small pieces. When the peppers are almost cooked, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, mix well, and leave to cook for another 15 minutes. About half way through taste the peperonata: if it’s too acidic add a teaspoon of sugar. When all the ingredients are well cooked, and the tomato sauce is thick, turn the heat off, and sprinkle the chopped basil or parsley on the top. Leave it to cool down, serve cold or tepid.


La peperonata is very nice with the addition of a couple of potatoes cut into cubes along with the peppers. If you use potatoes you may need to add a bit of water to avoid the stew getting too dense.
You can also make this recipe using a 50/50 mixture of peppers and aubergines (eggplants) for another delicious variation.
The classic peperonata is made with tomato sauce, but I recently learned to make it without tomatoes, which is more digestible if you tend to suffer from acidity (I’m thinking of you Geoff!), and it still tastes very good. In this case you’ll need to add a little water half way through the cooking process.
Tip: la peperonata tastes much better when it’s made in advance, even a day or two before you intend to eat it.

Buon Appetito!