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Una Gita Culturale – Part 2. Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in Travel, Vocabulary

At 10:30 on Friday morning, we successfully navigate our way into the centre of Parma and, leaving our car in the dark, narrow, and very expensive underground car park, emerge just a few meters from Il Palazzo della Pilotta, right on the edge of il centro storico.

Price shock number one:

“Quattordici euro per sei ore??? Che cavolo??? Vabbè, ormai siamo qui” diciamo rassegnati.
“Fourteen Euros for six hours??? What the hell??? OK, we’re here now” we say, resigned.

Geoff: Sì, basta lamentarci. Cosa volete visitare per prima cosa?
Geoff: Yes, enough moaning. What do you want to visit first?

Serena: L’Antica Spezieria e il Museo dei Burattini chiudono alle 14, mentre la Pinacoteca e il Teatro Farnese restano aperti tutto il pomeriggio.
Serena: The Old Pharmacy and the Puppet Museum both close at 2 pm, but the Art Gallery and Teatro Farnese will be open all afternoon.

Geoff: Okay, cominciamo dall’Antica Spezieria che, se mi ricordo bene, è vicina al Duomo.
Geoff: Okay, let’s start from the Old Pharmacy which, if I remember correctly, is near the Cathedral.

However … after a few steps we see an enticing café with tables outside … so …

Iolanda: Prima di tutto prendiamo il mio caffè di compleanno.
Iolanda: First of all let’s have my birthday coffee.

Geoff: E’ il tuo compleanno, oggi?
Geoff: It’s your birthday, today?

Iolanda: Domani!
Iolanda: Tomorrow!

Geoff: Va benissimo!
Geoff: Great!

We have a nice coffee at the bar, and we’re all set to begin the cultural bit …

Geoff: Cosa?! l’Antica Spezieria rimarrà chiusa per mancanza di personale’. Che palle!”
Geoff: What?! the old Pharmacy will remain closed ‘due to staff shortages’. What a bore!

An elderly American couple are trying to make sense of the notice so Geoff translates it for them, then makes a few suggestions for their visit to Parma.

“You speak very good English”, the man compliments Geoff.
“Well, I guess that’s because I’m English”, replies Geoff with a grin.

We wander with them towards the nearby Cathedral.

“Keep working on your English” the man jokes as they say goodbye. “I’m trying”, replies Geoff.

“E’ più bello di quanto non mi ricordassi!” esclama Geoff guardando su al soffitto affrescato del Duomo.
“It’s much more beautiful than I remembered!” exclaims Geoff looking up at the frescoed Cathedral ceiling.

“Wow!” dice Anthony a bocca aperta.
“Wow!” says Anthony, with his mouth wide open.

We’re fortunate enough to find ourselves near a group of American tourists who are having a very informative guided tour. The guide is obviously passionate about her material.

“Che culo! E’  bravissima questa guida” dice Geoff agli altri.
“How lucky! She’s really good this guide” Geoff says to the others.

As we leave the Cathedral, Geoff notices that the marble slabs of the floor are full of large ammonite fossils.

Anthony: Guarda questo, è fantastico!
Anthony: Look at this one, it’s fantastic!

Serena: E questo qua? è molto chiaro, si vedono tutti i segmenti.
Serena: And this one here? it’s really clear, you can see all the segments.

Geoff: Sì, in pratica stiamo camminando sul letto di un mare preistorico!!
Geoff: Yes, in effect we’re walking on a prehistoric sea bed!!

Inspired, we leave the Cathedral, and walk across the pretty piazza to the Baptistery, a tall elegant octagonal building in pink stone. Price shock number 2:

Geoff: Otto euro a testa? ma sono pazzi?
Geoff: Eight Euros each? are they crazy?

Lasciamo perdere!
Forget it!

So we go to the nearby Puppet Museum, which has the splendid name of: the Puppet Castle.

My ticket for the puppet museum.

“Wow, questi burattini abitano in un castello, non in una semplice casa!” scherza Anthony.
“Wow, these puppets live in a castle, not just a simple house!” jokes Anthony.

Iolanda: Buongiorno, un biglietto per favore!
Iolanda: Good morning, one ticket please!

Bigliettaia: L’ingresso è gratuito, ma il biglietto ve lo do lo stesso.
Ticket lady: The entrance is free, but I’ll give you a ticket anyway.

After the crazy prices of the car park and the Baptistery we can hardly believe our earsGratis!!!

The Museum is really interesting, and we enjoy ourselves a lot, but we’ll tell you about that another time. We leave the Puppet Museum at around lunchtime.

Geoff (a Iolanda e Anthony): Noi ci siamo portati i panini. Voi cosa fate?
Geoff (to Iolanda and Anthony): We brought sandwiches. What about you?

Iolanda: Noi andiamo ad un bar a comprare qualcosa.
Iolanda: We’ll go to a bar and buy something.

Anthony, alla signora della biglietteria: C’è un posto dove fanno panini vegani?
Anthony, to the ticket lady: Is there a place where they make vegan sandwiches?

Bigliettaia: Panini vegani? Allora, c’è Pepen, lì fanno di tutto, non solo vegano, ma sicuramente troverà qualcosa.
Ticket lady: Vegan sandwiches? Well, there’s Pepen, they make all kinds of stuff there, not just vegan, but you’ll certainly find something.

Anthony: Pepen … dov’è?
Anthony: Pepen … where’s that?

Bigliettaia: Quando uscite dal cancello da cui siete entrati, girate a sinistra, poi all’incrocio a destra, ed è la seconda o terza traversa sulla sinistra, in Borgo Sant’Ambrogio.
Ticket lady: When you come out of the gate that you came in from, turn left, then go right at the crossroads, it’s the second or third road on your left, in Borgo Sant’Ambrogio.

Iolanda, controllando le direzioni sul suo iPad: Sì, l’ho trovato.
Iolanda, checking the direction on her iPad: Yes, I found it.

Bigliettaia: Ci vorranno circa dieci minuti. Ma a quest’ora sarà affollatissimo.
Ticket lady: It’ll take about ten minutes. But at this time it’ll be very crowded.

Serena: Grazie, arrivederci!
Serena: Thank you and goodbye!

Bigliettaia: Grazie a voi, siete stati simpaticissimi.
Ticket lady: Thanks you, you’ve been very nice.

to be continued …

You can find Part 1. here

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  1. kristine:

    I have never seen “che palle” translated as “what a bore”. I would say it’s a bit cruder and translated more as “bullocks” or “that sucks”. I would also mention that “che culo” is a sort of vulgar way of saying “how lucky”. Wouldn’t you say something more like “che fortuna” in this situation?

    • Serena:

      @kristine Salve Kristine,
      Sono più di dieci anni che abito in Italia, e scrivo articoli sulla lingua e la cultura italiana ormai da nove anni. Mia moglie e tutti i miei amici sono italiani, e parlo correntemente sia l’inglese che l’italiano.

      Domanda: perché non ti fidi della mia traduzione?

      Adesso, per essere chiaro, continuo in inglese, va bene?

      If you translate che palle literally, word by word, then it means ‘what balls’ or ‘what bollocks’. But that is NOT what che palle means. What balls/bollocks means ‘what a load of rubbish’ which in Italian would be ‘che cazzata!’. Che palle means exactly what I wrote: ‘what a bore’. We even have have a gesture that goes with the expression which gives the impression of boredom.

      If you want to be less ‘crude’, you can simply say ‘che noia!’

      ‘Culo’ is a colloquialism for ‘luck’. Avere culo means to be lucky, it’s very common, and not considered vulgar, unless you’re a snob. If you prefer, you can, of course, use ‘che fortuna’.

      We consider it very important to teach normal everyday colloquial Italian in our blogs because it’s something that you won’t get in language classes.

      Ti saluto, Geoff.

      • kristine:

        @Serena Non avevo intenzione di offenderti o mettere in discussione le tue qualifiche. Ho vissuto in Italia per solo due anni e sto ancora imparando la lingua. Anche mio marito e tutti i miei amici sono italiani.

        “Che palle” can mean “what a bore” but in my experience it’s used more often to express frustration, an annoyance, something that bothers you. If your car breaks down and you say “che palle” is doesn’t mean “what a bore”. Or perhaps this a British English expression that I am not familiar with.

        Regarding “che culo”, I am not offended by this colloquialism, but would you say this to a child or una Signora? My husband advised me not to.

        The italian language has many interesting colloquialisms and I enjoy learning more and more in my encounters here in Italy. Some of my favorites are “fare un macello”, “rompere le scatole”, “mi fa cagare”, and “pettinare le bambole”.

        I really do enjoy reading your blog because as you said it teaches everyday Italian. Keep up the good work!

  2. Michael Lidgley:

    I agree with Kristine. Che culo is more like lucky bastard.

    • Serena:

      @Michael Lidgley Salve Michael, innanzitutto, vedi la mia risposta a Kristine.

      Culo does NOT mean ‘lucky bastard’ because it doesn’t refer to an individual. Culo is luck, punto e basta.
      You can say ‘che culo che hai avuto!’ meaning ‘you’ve been really lucky’. However, the English expression ‘lucky bastard’ is far more vulgar than ‘hai culo’. Culo is simply a colloquialism.

      What is considered vulgar in English is not necessarily seen in the same light in Italian, and this is something that English/American students of Italian always have a problem with.

      A presto, Geoff.

  3. Joan Engelhaupt:

    I was looking at the sentence for the Word of the Day today: “Hanno vissuto insieme per quasi tre anni…”, which I would have translated as, “They have lived together for almost three years…”, but Transparent Language translated as, “They lived together for almost three years..”, so obviously there’s something I don’t understand about the Italian passato prossimo, which, if translated literally into English would be the present perfect and means an action started in the past but continues until the present. Could you do a lesson on that? And when to use the passato remoto?

  4. Joan Engelhaupt:

    Thank you, Serena, for guidance on the passato prossimo and passato remoto. Porca miseria! It looks like the usage of the passato prossimo is the exact opposite of what it would be in English! I did read the two lessons you referred me to and was happy to see La Leggenda del Ponte del Diavolo again. I attended the Lucca Italian School for a week in August, and that was one of three Luchese legends they taught us. (So why aren’t I writing to you in Italian??) I thought of you in Lucca because I know that’s where you used to live.



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