Italian Language Blog

Parting Words Posted by on Jul 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

When I was a kid we had a vinyl disk of patriotic folk songs sung by the Alpini, the Italian mountaineering corp famous for its a cappella choirs.

I used to listen to this record almost every day because those songs inspired many images in my head, and I would lose myself in them. Amongst these songs was Addio Mia Bella Addio (Farewell My Darling, Farewell), which was one of my absolute favourites.

Based on a typical Tuscan folk harmony, Addio Mia Bella Addio was written in Firenze by Carlo Alberto Bosi (1813-1886) on the 29th of March 1848, when the first battalion of volunteers was leaving Florence to go to the north of Italy and fight in the First Italian War Of Independence. For this reason this song is also known as L’Addio del Volontario (The Farewell Of The Volunteer), and it soon became very popular, being sung through all of the subsequent Wars of Independence, the expeditions of Garibaldi’s Mille, and the First World War.

Here’s a nice version sung a cappella by the Coro Vocilassù. Below are the lyrics followed by our English translation. N.B. as happens with many popular folk songs, there are lots of variations to Addio Mia Bella Addio.

Addio mia bella, addio
che l’armata se ne va,
e se non partissi anch’io
sarebbe una viltà.

Farewell my darling, farewell
as the army is leaving,
and if I didn’t leave too
it would be cowardly.

Il sacco è preparato,
il fucile l’ho con me,
ed allo spuntar del sole
io partirò da te.

The haversack is ready,
I’ve got the gun with me,
and at sunrise
I’ll be leaving you.

Ma non ti lascio sola
io ti lascio un figlio ancor,
sarà quel che ti consola:
il figlio dell’amor.

But I’m not leaving you alone
I’ll leave you a child too,
it will console you:
the child of our love.


Footnote by Geoff Cari lettori, dear readers,

Many times over the years we’ve ended our blogs with the words ‘a presto‘, or ‘alla prossima‘. But this time, I’m afraid, it’s time to say ‘ciao‘ (goodbye).
We’ve had loads of fun writing the nearly 1,500 blogs that we’ve published during the past eleven years, and it’s been a real pleasure reading and responding to your comments.
Some of you have become friends, a few of you have even come to visit us in Italy (we hope you’ll continue to do so!)

But 11 years is a long time to maintain one’s creativity in a job, and it has become gradually harder to come up with new ideas and topics.
We need a change!
If you’ve followed my blogs over the past months, you’ll have seen that I’ve started helping out in a local elementary school. I’ve loved doing this, and it has reminded me how much I enjoy direct teaching.

This is something that I’ve missed with blogging. I always say that publishing blogs is rather like sending out messages in bottles: who sees them? what meaning or impact do they have? It’s really hard to tell from the small handful of comments that come back.

Serena also plans to begin new projects, and after 18 years of teaching Yoga, is finally cutting down on her classes. That’s also nice for me because it means we can spend more time together on our joint projects, and go off exploring some of the beautiful places that we’ve not visited yet in this amazing and surprising land.

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  1. Paul:

    Thanks for all the blogging. I’m a beginner learning Italian. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Best wishes for your next projects.


    • Jan:

      @Paul I would like to thank both of you, Geoff and Serena, for the many interesting and very helpful blogs over these years. As I have learned Italian your blogs have been extremely helpful in clarifying what the textbooks do not, yet also adding an everyday perspective for those of us who are not college students. Thank you immensely!

    • Jill Payne:

      @Paul Dear Serena and Geoff
      I have rarely commented, but I will really miss your blogs which I think I have been reading since 2009. Since then I have come to Italy almost every year, sometimes to do a school to learn Italian where I have made long lasting friends. Best wishes for your new careers and your new lifestyle. Hope your “gatti” enjoy your presence too.

  2. Sam:

    No…What a pity! I’ll miss you, my friends.
    However,leaving aside my selfish reasons, it’s just right that you you should do what your hearts tell you.
    Well, all I can say is good luck with all the new activities, experiences and projects you may be interested in!
    You know what they say -he/she who hesitates is lost!

  3. Annie:

    Ciao Geoff and Serena
    I too have read your posts over the past several years and really enjoyed them on my way to finally tackling italian in earnest. I have deeply appreciated what you have brought always loved your sharing of life. Your missives into my inbox will be greatly missed 🙂 but huge thanks and love to you both, i feel like you have become friends and a part of my life (mostly in Australia, but just for now in Somerset UK)

  4. Giacomo e Delfina Herbert:

    We have followed your blog for years (and are one of those who came to Pontremoli to meet you!) and are so sorry to see them come to an end…but we understand that it is time for a change. We truly appreciate your efforts over the years and have learned much…but it is never enough! Will the archives still be available at least for a time? We refer to them often. Thanks to you both for an informative, fun and entertaining teaching vehicle. Ciao,
    Giacomo e Delfina Herbert

  5. Jenny:

    Buona fortuna e molte grazie!

  6. Jim Brook:

    I’d just like to add my thanks for your blogs over the years. They have been uniquely powerful in communicating the reality of living in Italy, combining past, present, location, culture and language. I will never visit Italy again, but have some of the reality of being there every time I read one of your blogs. Nothing quite compares with them. They are treasures. taonga, tesori…

  7. Kathleen:

    Divertitevi! Many thanks for all the posts, quizzes and tips. I have several saved as reference material. You will be sorely missed. Best wishes for your next chapter in life.

  8. Elizabeth Fletcher:

    Dear Geoff and Serena,
    Your blog posts have been one of the highlights in my life since starting Italian language classes a few years ago. I ask myself why I never wrote to you before, but here I am to thank you for your helpful, insightful, and humorous posts. I will miss them so much, but completely understand that you have other heart passions to follow. In bocca al lupo to you and your adorable and quite talented cats!
    Elizabeth Fletcher
    Mahtomedi, Minnesota

  9. Chris:

    Grazie Geoff e Serena per tutti i blog posts. Mi hanno aiutato molto a imparare italiano. In bocca al lupo per il futuro!

  10. Liz Taylor:

    Ah, so sad! Your blogs have been so beautiful and really convey the spirit of Italy and the language. Many thanks! With best wishes for your new endeavours.

  11. Mariella:

    Thank you Geoff and Serena, You will be missed by so many of your readers… Will you not reconsider your decision? Please?
    In any case, many thanks and best wishes to you both, Mariella

  12. Bruce Pearson:

    Oh no! You will be missed. But I have saved every blog (almost) and will re-visit them often.

  13. Mrs S Gollop:

    How i am going to miss your blogs. I use them almost every week with my U3A Italian class and we just love your constant participation in our weekly classes. But we all wish you the very best for the future and send you both our love and thanks! Tanti auguri!

  14. Laurette Benton:

    Grazie mille for for all your wonderful blog posts! Best of luck with your future endeavors and have fun exploring Bella Italia! May I recommend you visit my very favorite place … La Foce, in the Val d’Orcia?
    Cordiali saluti,

  15. Griff Kaye:

    Thanks so much for your blogs. I’ve so enjoyed reading them and being a part of your lives. I’ve also appreciated the hints and explanations you provided for language use and translation.
    Best of luck in your next endeavours.
    Griff K.

  16. Peg Champion:

    I’m one of the many studetns of Italian who religiously read your blog. While I’m sad that I won’t be reading of your adventures any longer, I am happy for you and wish you all the best on your next journey. Ciao!

  17. Elizabeth:

    How I’ll miss your blogs. All are saved on my computer, I love your stories, anecdotes, I refer often to your grammar blogs. Thank you for all you have given us. Every good wish for the future, enjoy having some more time to spend together. Tanti auguri!

  18. Mike Jolly:

    I have just returned from Italy and picked up this post. Such sad news but enjoy yourselves. I have just retired a few weeks ago so I share your sense of freedom.
    The posts have been fantastic and I often refer to them.
    Best wishes to you both for the future.

  19. Mitch:

    Geoff, Serena,

    I’ve been away and I’ve only just seen this last blog.
    Totally gutted you’re going.
    Whoever comes next has a hill to climb. Good luck to you both.


  20. Barbara Sileo:

    Cari Serena e Geoff, Siamo moltissimo tristi di dire “arrivederci” a voi. Sempre guardavamo i vostri blogs e ci sentiamo come siete nostri amici. Imperavamo moltissimo da voi ma abbiamo tantissimo più italiano da imperare. Ma siamo contenti che tutt’e siete felici con la vita nuova. In bocca al lupo per Sempre! Se possibile, facci sapere come state. Tutte belle cose, Barbara e Giacomo da Denver, Colorado

  21. Andrea:

    Happily I have all of those messages in bottles to savor and I thank you both dal mio cuore for all you’ve shared.

  22. Colleen:

    I will miss your wonderful stories! Especially about Ambra and Mr Black. You are an amazing couple! I hope somehow you will occasionally keep us posted. I always look forward to seeing how you are doing and for news of the cats and your lovely garden. Mille grazie! I cannot write or speak Italian yet, but thanks to your blog my reading skills are very good!

  23. Suzanne:

    Lovely final words Geoff. You’ve both done a remarkable job keeping the posts fresh, varied and informative on both the culture and the language of Italy. It’s sad for us to lose you, but lovely for you both to be starting a new phase of life. Enjoy it. One day I’ll drive to Pontremoli and remember you both. And if you ever find yourself driving through San Polo in Chianti, we have an old farmhouse in the hills above the town which we visit from Australia each year, maybe you will think of me gratefully devouring your messages in bottles over the years. Tante belle cose…

  24. BW:

    You will be missed. Thank you so much for your fun and funny posts over the years. It’s really been a pleasure reading them, and I’ve learned so much.

  25. Janna:

    Thank you so much. I have really enjoyed your blogs – and the sensibilities they express. I wish you all the best! Janna

  26. Lesley Brennan:

    Cari Serena e Geoff. Mi dispiace molto leggere questa notizia ma capisco che dopo 11 anni e tempo per voi a cambiare direzione. I have loved your posts, such interesting stories and superb italian lessons – so easy to follow. Buona fortuna a voi per la vostra futura. Quest’anno e’ 50 anni da quando abitavo a Brescia e lavoravo a Milano – una giovane ragazza dalla nuova zelanda e ancora imparo la vostra bella lingua e penso spesso d’italia. Saluti e ciao. Lesley

  27. Mike:

    No no … porca miseria!
    Geoff & Serena, without knowing it you’ve been part of my life for years and I feel I know you well. What special, talented and generous people you both are and your messages in a bottle have reached Sydney’s shores regularly. Enjoy the changes in your lives and be well and maybe you’ll get an occasonal “guest blog” from Bridgette to let all your fans know how you’re doing.
    I migliori auguri

  28. judith:

    I am VERY new to your blog and have really enjoyed reading it and trying to translate. I have got a lot out of it even in the relatively short time. Thank you. You are natural teachers I would say!!! Best Wishes and Good luck both in your new ventures. Judith

  29. James:

    Thank you Serena and Geoff. I have enjoyed your blog for many years. I should have told you more often, but better late than never. You are and have been greatly appreciated. Best to you both on the remainder of the journey and the next.

  30. Libby:

    I have loved dipping in and out of your blog since I stumbled on it a few years ago and have shared it with a number of Italian teaching colleagues. So glad we can still access past blogs and enjoy them. All the best Serena and Geoff!

  31. Curtis Yoder:

    Thank you Serena and Geoff. I can only echo the comments. You will be truly missed. I have enjoyed your posts and have learned a lot about the Italian Language and Culture from you. Grazie Mille!!! In bocca al lupo!

  32. Jim Sileo:

    Cari Geoff e Serena,

    Barb and I are so sorry to read that you and Serena are leaving the blog. However, we are very happy for both of you being able to pursue other endeavors. You have a well deserved change coming! I must say, you both have enhanced our very boring work outs on the elliptical machine at the gym for three mornings a week for most of those 11 years by sharing your lives as well as interesting cultural Italian articles. We can’t thank you enough for all the work you have put into the blog. We wish the two of you all the best and hopefully, maybe, our paths will cross sometime.
    In bocca al lupo!!

    Ciao, Giacomo
    (Jim Sileo)

    • Geoff:

      @Jim Sileo Grazie Jim, if you’re ever in the Pontremoli area we’d love to meet up!

      Saluti da Geoff e Serena 🙂

  33. Christine Percival:

    Oh, I fear it is too late for Serena and Geoff to see this, but here I go: One one hand, it is with profound sadness, that we are saying goodbye to you wonderful folks. You both have a teacher’s mindset and your contribution to our lives knows no bottom. I have enjoyed your images, stories and ideas for many years. I have learned so much from you both. Your grammar explanations are second to none – it definitely provided a shorter learning curve with your unique and wonderful blogs. Thank you for opening up your lives, for sharing so much, giving beyond words…….I shall miss you dreadfully for, in a way, you became friends to us.

    Finally, I wish you both the absolute best in your new adventure. You’re the best!!

  34. Colleen:

    I had saved this post but was only able to read it today. Thank you so much Serena and Geoff you will be missed but you have been so inspirational. I’ve loved ever post and saved every post. Wishing you all the best in you new ventures.

    • Geoff:

      @Colleen Grazie infinite Colleen!

      Saluti da Geoff e Serena 🙂

  35. Karen Hutchison:

    Mi mancherete tanto.

  36. Sally Wootton:

    So sorry to hear this news. I have loved your blogs and feel I know you as friends. I will miss you.

  37. Carmen:

    it is a great lost for the transparent blog. Serena and Geoff were a great team of educators , they complemented each other. sorry to see them go. I was away and unable to get to a computer until today, when i found out. Good luck on whatever you do. Keep well, stay healthy.

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