Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Wrong Plums

Correct etiquette for buying frutta e verdura in Italia( fruit & veg) – yes you might like to know this when you go on your holidays – soooo before arriving at the checkout YOU need to weigh your chosen produce on the scales and get a price label for it. I have committed this faux pas myself at the Coop supermarket in Volterra  – arriving there without the apples being labelled and being sent back to do it in front of the long queue, quite embarrassing. It’s a steep learning curve, great for improving your vocab because you need to know the name of the fruit or vegetable in order to be able to choose the label – for example – you decide to buy some artichokes but you have no idea of the Italian word so you have to guess wildly.(Carciofi FYI).  they do not provide pictures of the produce for hapless foreigners, noooo that would be giving it away.

I had an issue with plums – spent a while guessing and went for ‘Susine’ which fortunately was correct. otherwise I would have had to say ‘Mi dispiace, ho sbagliato!’ to the lady at the checkout.

well that was delightfully incoherent, can you tell I am rather sleep deprived thanks to my 4 month old bambino???!


crocodile noises

I’ve found kids songs are great for learning new words and phrases in italian – this one taught me how to ask ‘ what noise does a crocodile make?’ or ‘how does a crocodile go?’ – “Il coccodrillo come fa?” – check it out, it’s quite catchy, but word of warning for me it turned into an ear-worm and I couldn’t get it out of my head!! substitute the crocodile for more common farm-yard animals and you might actually use this phrase when chatting with Italian kids???! – for example ‘come fa la pecora?’- what does the sheep say???, if you are visiting an agriturismo with the kids!!

the answer by the way remains an enigma  – ‘non c’e nessuno che lo sa!!’


come fa il gallo? – cock a doodle doo!!  OK that’s all for today. I have to go do something productive now.

il piccolo principe

one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books ” Le petit prince” :

Addio, disse la volpe. Ecco il mio segreto. è molto semplice : non si vede bene che col cuore. L’essenziale è invisibile agli occhi.


I like it even better in the original French though… Adieu, dit le renard. Voici mon secret, Il est tres simple. On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

pirates on board

Angi, my first Italian teacher, this one’s for you…

in the mornings when we were getting ready to start work, Angi would motivate us by saying “all’arrembaggio!!” – however I remain a little in the dark as to what the exact English translation of this phrase might be?? any native speakers who happen to be reading this please enlighten me?? something about boarding the ship and conquering it? a hostile boarding of a ship by pirates??!

anyway I like the sound of it, and this blog is all about words and phrases that I like so from time to time I say it to myself !, and have taught it to my 3 year old son who loves pirates :

“all’arrembaggio !!”

nightingale chat

nightingales are singing when you visit Tuscany in May- this is NIIIICE as they are very hard to hear in England any more. So when feeling quite excited about hearing your nightingale and deciding to chat about it with the locals, firstly try and pick someone that looks interested in birds – ie. not the young lady working in the bird museum in San Gimignano, and secondly – I will get to  the point – make sure you pronounce the word for nightingale with the correct stress on the syllables, so you say ‘usignOlo’ NOT ‘uSIGNolo’ – or something like that. Native speakers please feel free to correct me!

the joy of the suffix


Today I went to buy a sunflower planter, and noticed the variety of sunflower I was buying was called ‘topolino’ -which reminded me of another one of my favourite things about the Italian language : the use of suffixes! ‘topo’ means mouse, so ‘topolino’ means baby mouse. Or ‘Topolino’ – Mickey Mouse!

Another one I learned on my holidays : for big things simply add -one. An example is ‘ombrello’ for umbrella becoming ‘ombrellONE’ for a beach umbrella. You gotta love it! Ok that’s all my brain is capable of this morning since my son#1 woke me up at 5:30 am !!!!!