Italian Language Blog

Carmela’s Italian Footwear Obsession – Part 2 Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

When the train pulled out of La Stazione Di Mantova just before midday, Carmela was still on board. Mantova had been on her list of ‘luoghi da visitare’ along with the name of an expensive shoe shop and a conveniently located bank, but having told the young vigile that silly story about visiting her poorly aunt there, she had immediately penned rimandato alongside that particular entry, just as she had for Modena.

“Vabbè, a volte succede così”, she told herself, “meglio non correre il rischio … non è mica che non ci sono altri negozi di calzature o altre banche! Scendo invece a Verona, mi hanno sempre detto che è carina come città.”

Part 2 (2)

By the time Carmela exited the glass and concrete structure of Verona’s Porta Nuova railway station the sun had dissolved the morning mist to reveal a limpid azure canopy. The shadows now cut clean into the pavement as she headed across the piazza in search of a bus to the centro città.
A poster advertising La Tempesta di Shakespeare at l’Anfiteatro Romano reminded her to try and visit the famous balcone di Giulietta … depending on how things went with her ‘business affairs’ of course. Sometimes it was necessary to leave town rather more rapidly than one would have liked! “Vediamo un po’ … mi piacerebbe davvero visitarlo!”

Part 2 (1)

Despite unpleasant childhood memories of her dysfunctional family, Carmela remained at heart a romantic. But, “è meglio sognare” she always told herself, “alla fine i sogni sono quasi sempre più belli della realtà.”
Yet she was also a pragmatist, and now she had work to do. A cappuccio and pasta alle mele was her lunch. If she ate too  much she wouldn’t be able to concentrate, and she’d already snacked on the train. Now to find an anonymous and inexpensive pensione where she could settle down to peruse her little black book … and draw up her plans. “Meno male che quel poliziotto me l’ha ritrovato sul treno! Devo essere più attenta in futuro.”

Part 2 (4)

At the Ufficio Turistico in the nearby piazza she picked up a map of Verona and a list of pensioni economiche, then set off.
Later in a small cosy room at La Pensione La Rosa, with her few belonging laid neatly out on the dresser, she sat on the edge of the bed, removed the expensive black ankle boots, and swung herself round until she was propped up comfortable against a couple of pillows with her legs stretched out before her. She glanced at the Beretta 92 placed within easy reach on the bedside table, broke off a chunk of cioccolata fondente from the bar in her lap, and opened her precious libretto nero.
“Allora, dove cominciare?” she asked herself.
A look of pure pleasure lit her face as she turned the pages.

Part 2 (3)

Dear Readers, how do you find the format of these short stories? Is it useful to decipher the Italian dialogue by yourselves, or would you prefer a translation/glossary at the end of each chapter? From personal experience I can say that I learned a lot from working through translations on my own or in a study group, but you may need help with idiomatic or colloquial expressions.
Please let us know, we always value your feedback.

... and yes, in the next chapter you finally get to glimpse inside Carmela’s libretto nero

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  1. Elaine:

    Ciao Geoff, I’m enjoying this intriguing tale. Personally, I don’t mind whether you provide an English translation of idioms or not, because when my laptop is on, I always have a tab logged into which is my dictionary of choice and I can usually find anything I don’t know there. Of course, if I’m really stuck, I know that you and Serena are always ready to help 😉
    I try to read all the Italian in each paragraph and work it out before I look at the English beneath, so having the translation there does make me a little more likely to “cheat” I guess!

    • Geoff:

      @Elaine Thanks for the feedback Elaine, very useful. Alla prossima, Geoff

  2. Maria:

    Love these little stories very interesting … :))

    • Geoff:

      @Maria Thanks Maria, next chapter coming up soon ……. 🙂

  3. Patricia:

    Va bene per me! I like the format. No need to translate the dialogue.

  4. Anne Crawford:

    I’d rather have the whole story in Italian with a glossary of the most difficult terms.

  5. Jo Snell:

    I too have no problem understanding the Italian phrases and am intrigued by the story so yes carry on!

    • Geoff:

      @Jo Snell Thanks Jo, I want to know what’s going to happen as well … and I’m the author! A presto.

  6. jane bowden:

    Ciao! I much prefer the translation to be at the end so that I can’t cheat easily. I still think I’m right abot Carmella’s little black book – a list of addresses of shoe shops and banks!

  7. Marco Cuore:

    I would like to see the translations at the bottom. I do enjoy deciphering them, but occasionally when I do have to look up online for translation, I’m not sure if the translation is correct and some translators don’t translate correctly and/or give me results that I totally didn’t expect. More so with grammer/sentence structure/idiomatic or colloquial expressions, as you mentioned. Grazie!

    • Geoff:

      @Marco Cuore Ciao Marco, yes, idioms and colloquial expressions can be hard to look up online. I’ll be sure to take that into account. Grazie 🙂

  8. Joan:

    My favourite of your blogs are the cats – format with both Italian and English; but I am very much enjoying the suspense of this new series, and I think having to understand the Italian bits is all part of the learning (though I am grateful it isn’t the entire story. If it was, the ‘cat’ format would be nice. I have enjoyed your blogs for over 5 years and think the focus on language, practical language, and some grammar recaps, plus some journeys is wonderful. Long may you & Geoff continue! Grazie, Joan

    • Geoff:

      @Joan Grazie infinite Joan, sei troppo gentile. A presto, Geoff 🙂

  9. Jane mine:

    I like this little stories, I would like a bit more Italian in the story.
    A short translation in the end is fine, but finding out the words with a dictionary is always a good idea.

  10. RayM:

    Grazie Geoff! Mi piace molto il vostro blog! Studio italiano a San Francisco, Ca da quattro anni e trovo il livello e perfetto per me! Multe parole e frase che non so ma il ricerco e divertente. Ho imparato un sacco di cose da te! Grazie di nuovo e mi dispiace se ho fatto errori!

    • Geoff:

      @RayM Non c’è assolutamente di che. Grazie a te per il tuo gentile commento. A presto, Geoff

  11. Maggie:

    Translations of key expressions and idioms at the end of the chapter would be great.
    I’m enjoying reading. Thank you.

    • Geoff:

      @Maggie Will take that into account thanks Maggie 🙂

  12. Lesley:

    Great story! I had trouble with ‘ritrovarsi’ ?? as in me l’ha ritrovato. I usually just google the word or use wordreference. Do you have a recommendation on a good translation site to use?
    Auguri, Lesley

    • Geoff:

      @Lesley Well google translate isn’t bad for single words or short phrases, I often use it myself a a kind of thesaurus. wordreference, as you’ve found, is also pretty good. Then, of course, there’s always us if you get stuck 😉
      Well done for persevering Lesley!

  13. Michelle:

    I am enjoying the format you are using and find that I can figure out most of the Italian by context without having to look it up.
    It’s something a little different than you normally do but is fine with me.

  14. Teresa:

    I like the format as is. The mix of English and Italian makes reading much faster-paced than Italian-only text…a fun change. Thank you for all the excellent posts! You really have an exceptional blog.

    • Geoff:

      @Teresa Grazie tante Teresa. I agree with your observations. Sometimes when you have to grind through a page of Italian text you can loose the sense of story. Plus, I think that readers who are relatively new to Italian might feel motivated to ‘decipher’ the dialogue if they get drawn into the story … that’s my theory anyway 🙂

  15. Cee:

    Like Anne I should prefer the whole story in Italian as it is very helpful to see how the Italian construction of sentences differs from English. Thanks.

    • Geoff:

      @Cee Some future chapters will be entirely in Italian with an English translation 🙂

  16. Linda Caston:

    I enjoy all your posts very much and it is great to have lots of variety. I enjoy this format. Maybe the Italian could gradually increase as the story progresses. Many thanks.

    • Geoff:

      @Linda Caston Okay, thanks Linda, I was thinking along the same lines. Saluti da Geoff

  17. Evelyn:

    I enjoyed the story. I did not find it difficult. For the little part that i needed help on, I used Goggle translate. Thank you for your help learning Italian.

  18. russ messing:

    Per mi, e perfetto come lo sta faciendo.

  19. Sylvia Alvino:

    Personally, I need a translation and a vocabulary/ idiom list.
    I like to see the literal translation as well as the one in good English. I need to see how the idioms are formed & my Ital/Engl dictionary does not always have what I need.
    My Italian is not very good but I profit from comparing the translations as well as the comparisons to dialects. My grandparents spoke dialects when they came to America a 100 years ago and I want to work through the variations to have some personal control of the language.

  20. david:

    I prefer to work through the translation myself and the shortness of the sentences in Italian are helful for this. Certainly please translate any colloquial/street ! phrases

    Many thanks for this blog


    • Geoff:

      @david Thanks for the feedback David 🙂

  21. Lesley:

    Preferisco che la storia sia in italiano con le frase piu difficile in inglesi dopo la storia . E buono per imparare meglio la lingua. Grazie molto

  22. Natalia:

    I’m really enjoying this format. The combo of English and Italian keeps me on my toes. Thank you!

  23. Delia:

    A’ me piace molto la storia e anche il format (?) Grazie mille per scriverla. Se la traduzione e’ necessaria depende sul’livello degli studenti. Per me non e’ necessario. Buona giornata!

  24. David Gillett:

    I really like the format, and would only suggest that it might be possible to fit in a few more interesting idiomatic italian phrases. I think that any translations should be in the subsequent chapter to encourage us to stay engaged and keep reading.

    Grazie tantissimo!

    • Geoff:

      @David Gillett Thanks for your input Dave, you’ll find a few interesting idioms in the next chapter. I’m kind of hoping that the story itself will be enough to encourage people to stay engaged …. at least that’s the challenge I’ve set myself 🙂

      alla prossima, Geoff

  25. Cathi:

    I love your little stories, but would much appreciate the translation being included.

    Grazie mille!

    • Geoff:

      @Cathi Ciao Cathi, thanks for the nice feedback.
      The format of the Carmela stories was devised to try and encourage intermediate to advanced level students to be more independent. The idea is to engage people with the story in order to give them the incentive to work on the translation by themselves.
      Of course, we are always available to help people out with any specific difficulties.
      How much of the dialogue were you able to understand?

      A presto, Geoff

  26. judi:

    When it’s all in Italian, full translation by paragraph helps. For this format – story in English; conversation in Italian – I like working through it on my own.

    Love this blog. It’s doing wonders for my Italian language skills. Also, it’s consistently interesting, educational, entertaining and wonderfully varied. I’ve recommended it to many, including some Italian friends.

    Thank you

    • Geoff:

      @judi Grazie tante Judi, thanks for the feedback, it’s so important to know that what we’re doing is helping people. I’ve had one or two requests for translations of Carmela’s dialogues, however, I completely agree with your perspective.
      As a learner it’s important to become independent, because in the end you won’t always have someone around to give you all the answers!

      A presto, Geoff

  27. Concetta Nicolosi:

    Love your blogs! Have been studying Italian language, arts, culture, cuisine for 13 years, plus go to Italy yearly, and find them very helpful. I think for the more arcane expressions, maybe a translation might help, but it’s fun to figure them out, even cheating with my Zanichelli. Don’t stop!

  28. Giovanni Coletti:

    I prefer to translate myself, however it would be helpful to have translations of idioms.

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