Talking About Siena


Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"Talking about Italy is one of my favrouite things to do. Talking about Tuscany moves even farther up the list. Talking about Siena, well… Talking about Siena is probably in my top three things to do after eating cake and drinking Prosecco!

Recently, Melissa Muldoon, the voice/face/writer/creative spirit behind the wonderful Italian language & culture blog Studentessa Matta asked me to participate in one of her podcasts and talk about… You guessed it! Siena.

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In the podcast, which I recorded in my (then) rusty and error-riddled Italian, talks about my Italian learning adventure and also the city of Siena. I would encourage all of my readers to hop over to Melissa’s blog and take a look – not just at my podcast (although that would be nice!) but also at all the fun things she talks about and explains.

Melissa also organizes some really fun language immersion vacations here in Italy. I actually published a guest post about them here.

Again, grazie Melissa for the opportunity to participate in one of your great podcasts!

Italian Word of the Day – “Visto”


La Maestra Maldestra

La Maestra Maldestra

This post is about a word that has come to mean so, so much to me.

It’s not long and complicated and stuffed with syllables, like “figuriamoci“. It’s not short and sweet like ““. It doesn’t mean something extraordinarily Italian like “gelato“, and it doesn’t carry with it undertones of “amore” (love), or “odio” (hate). It’s not fanciful like “pipistrello” (bat) or abrupt like “gru” (crane).

So what does it mean? I know the anticipation is killing you…

It means “living in Italy”. It means “working in Siena”. It means “open door” and “welcome mat”. It means “legitimacy”. It means “hard work pays off“. It means “perseverance is rewarded“.

In short, it means “dream come true”.

Well, for this girl, anyways. Because “visto” in any Italian-English dictionary worth its salt means “seen”, but it also means “visa”. As in “entrance visa” or “tourist visa” or the one I’ve toiled for a year to get: “work visa”.

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So, it’s official. This girl, this blog, and two suitcases of her stuff are moving to Italy! To Siena, precisely (where else?) for the foreseeable future. Thank you to everyone who has followed this visa quest with me through this blog and through Facebook. Your kind words and thoughts are always so appreciated. I promise, a post or two on the “hilarity” of this whole bureaucratic process are in the works.

When’s the big move? T-14 days. Two weeks. June 8th.

There’s lots to do between now and then, so wish me luck!

Italian Life Olympics – Event #2


Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"If you missed my first post on Italian Life Olympics, click here to catch up.

So, back to event #2: crossing the street in Italy.

No, no! It’s no joke. In order to correctly perform this task in busy, crowded, car-congested cities like Roma or Napoli, there’s a certain level of skill required or else –

POM!

Some Mario Andretti wannabe will remorselessly metterti sotto (run you over) in their little Fiat 500 without a backward glance while you’re left, stuck to the pavement, newly resembling a human pizza. Fiat 500

Wishing earnestly to avoid this fate, you keep your wits about you and gear up for the event. (Some people choose to say a hearty goodbye to their loved ones beforehand – you never know!).

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“Today I’m crossing the street.” “Call when you get to the other side.”

You walk to the curb of the street you wish to cross and size up the amount of traffic (probably molto) that’s crossing your path. You pay no attention (this is important) to what’s going on with the semafori (traffic lights) or the strisce (crosswalks), because the drivers don’t either. You take in the speed, the size of the vehicles and any other obstructions in the area. You toe up to the edge.

Then you turn your head towards oncoming traffic and catch the eye of a driver in the lane closest to you. Now, they’re not really slowing down yet, but you know this is your chance. You maintain eye contact with the driver, steel yourself for the exertion ahead, step off the curb and you…

Walk into traffic.

Chin up, head high, like you own the street. And you keep walking.

You catch the eye of other  drivers as they approach you, and something miraculous happens. Sensing that you’re actually serious about traversing their path, and that their sewing-machine engines are no match for you, they’ll take in your confident stride and acquiesce. Momentarily.

And like Moses parted the Red Sea, the traffic will part, if only briefly, to allow your safe passage to the other side.

But don’t dawdle, and per l‘amor del cielo (for goodness’ sake), don’t run. You’ve gotta look like you’re in control or else someone’s foot might get a little heavy at your display of weakness and – POM! The human pizza fate is once again yours.

However…

All of this fuss can be avoided if you can cross in the company of a nun or priest. Italian drivers will sooner crash than harm someone in a habit!

Nuns.