AVVISO. WARNING. This is one of those “false friend” words that Italian and English share which, in my humble opinion, exist solely to keep both the struggling and the soaring language learner on her toes…
These words are tricksters and there are quite a few of them. While the word camera is used in English and Italian and is spelled the same way in both languages, its meaning in Italiano is entirely different from its English counterpart. Both definitions are of supreme importance to the traveler.
An Italian camera is not a polaroid or digital. There are no megapixels, zoom lenses, flashbulbs or settings to learn, and it hopefully is not small enough to fit into your purse. Because it’d be hard to fit all of the furnishings of a bedroom into something the size of a deck of cards! Nothing to do with picture-taking here… For that you’d need a macchina fotografica.
Instead, we’re talking about rooms. Bedrooms. If you’re looking for a place to hang your hat and sleep for the night, you need to find a place that advertises a camera (one) or various camere (many). You may see signs such as affittacamere which literally means room rentals, and are often advertised by Bed and Breakfasts and small hotels. There are two other words in Italian that are used for different types of rooms: stanza (regular old room) and aula (classroom). To be the most specific, ask for a camera da letto or a stanza da letto if you’re looking for a place to sleep, and you’ll avoid all confusion.