Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Run-Hike on the South River Mountains in Henderson Nevada


View from above Railroad Pass toward Eldorado Wilderness Area.View from above Cascata Golf Course toward Eldorado Wilderness Area.
Viewranger tracks and information for the River Mountains hike.Viewranger tracks and information for the River Mountains hike.Viewranger tracks and information for the River Mountains hike.
Top Row. Left:View from above Railroad Pass toward Eldorado Wilderness Area. Right: View from above Cascata Golf Course toward Eldorado Wilderness Area. Bottom Row: Viewranger tracks and information for the River Mountains Henderson hike.


Overview


Length: 12 km (7.5 mi)
Duration: 2 hours (We ran some parts of the trail.)
Elevation: 230 m elevation gain (755 ft)
Location: River Mountains, Clark County, Henderson, Nevada, USA
Type: loop

Details


When we tell friends that we are going to Las Vegas they think of the strip. However, most of our time is spent in nearby Henderson (officially, the City of Henderson) at “grandma’s” house bordering the desert on the west of the River Mountains area.

The River Mountains are between Henderson to the west and Lake Mead to the east. The River Mountains Trail is a 34-mile paved trail that circumnavigates the River Mountains connecting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Henderson, Boulder City and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley. We rode the trail in 2013 and described it in the blog post River Mountains Loop Trail.

The loop trail is measured with mile markers with zero at Railroad Pass and subsequent markers moving clockwise. Railroad Pass (2376 ft) is a pass at the southwest end of the River Mountains connecting Henderson with Boulder City.

On a beautiful Monday morning, we set out around 6:30 am and decided to try a short jog. We enter the trail around mile marker 2 and head south toward Railroad Pass. At R-10A Reservoir we see a sign for Railroad pass via a mountain bike trail and head off on that. Curiosity gets the most of us as we keep wanting to see what’s ahead. Rounding Railroad Pass, we catch our first glimpses of The Black Canyon Wilderness Area and the Eldorado Wilderness Area in the distance.

A few minutes past Railroad pass, we end up at the west edge of the Cascata Golf Course. The golf course describes itself as “a 418-foot waterfall cascades over the steep mountainside that towers above the practice ground. The water meanders through the practice facilities, merging into a river that roars through the very heart of the Tuscan-inspired clubhouse…” The waterfall is artificial much like the little piece of Tuscany in the desert. I don’t care for borrowed architectures in inappropriate contexts, but then again, this is Las Vegas – or close enough to it.

After stopping to ponder the unexpected lushness of the golf course in the middle of the desert, we decided to make our way north through the mountains following a well-used bike trail. There were few trail markings except one called “The Shit Advanced”. We used MAPS.ME (which uses openstreetmap.org data) to see what trails were available to us.

After a short time, we were back at mile marker 2 where we started.

Map of River Mountains area.View of Cascata Golf Course from the trail.Cascata Golf Course waterfall.A sign for the mountain bike trail called "The Shit".Heading north on the trail.Heading west back toward Henderson.
Top Row. Left: Map of River Mountains area. Center: View of Cascata Golf Course from the trail. Right: Cascata Golf Course waterfall - Boulder City.
Bottom Row. Left: A sign for the mountain bike trail called "The Shit". Center: Heading north on the trail. Right Heading west back toward Henderson.

Flora


The River Mountains are part of the Mojave Desert, an arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America. The desert west of River Mountains can be described as creosote bush scrub, a North American desert vegetation type of sparsely but evenly spaced desert plants dominated by creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) somewhat evenly distributed over flat or relatively flat desert areas that receive between 2 and 8 inches of rain each year.

For help on identification we used Southwest Desert Flora.

[Asteraceae] Baileya multiradiata – Desert Marigold
[Asteraceae] Chaenactis stevioides – Desert Pincushion
[Asteraceae] Encelia farinosa – Brittlebush
[Asteraceae] Malacothrix glabrata – Desert Dandelion
[Asteraceae] Monoptilon bellidiforme – Desert Star
[Asteraceae] Rafinesquia neomexicana – Desert Chicory
[Asteraceae] Xylorhiza tortifolia – Mojave Aster
[Boraginaceae] Amsinckia menziesii – Fiddleneck
[Boraginanceae] Phacelia crenulata – Notch-leaf Scorpion-weed, Heliotrope Phacelia
[Cactaceae] Opuntia basilaris – Beaver Tail
[Geraniaceae] Erodium cicutarium – Redstem Stork's Bill
[Liliaceae] Calochortus flexuosus – Winding Mariposo Lily, Straggling Mariposa Lily
[Loasaceae] Mentzelia involucrata - Sand Blazing Star
[Malvaceae] Sphaeralcea sp. – Globe Mallow
[Nyctaginaceae – The Four O'clock Family] Mirabilis laevis – Desert Wishbone Bush
[Onagraceae] Camissonia campestris or Camissonia brevipes – Mojave Suncup
[Polygonaceae] Eriogonum inflatum – Desert Trumpet, Bladder-stem, Bottle Stopper, Indian Pipeweed
[Zygophyllaceae] Larrea tridentata – Creosote Bush



Left: Amsinckia menziesii - Fiddelneck. Center: Baileya multiradiata – Desert Marigold. Right: Malacothrix glabrata – Desert Dandelion.


Left: Camissonia campestris - Mojave Suncup. Center: Monoptilon bellidiforme – Desert Star.  Right: Desert Dandelion in River Mountains.


Left: Encelia farinosa – Brittlebush. Center: Eriogonum inflatum – Desert Trumpet. Right: Chaenactis stevioides – Desert Pincushion.


Left: Erodium cicutarium – Redstem Stork's Bill. Center: Larrea tridentata – Creosote Bush flowers. Right: Phacelia crenulata – Notch-leaf Scorpion-weed.



Left: Calochortus flexuosus – Winding Mariposo Lily. Center: Mentzelia involucrata - Sand Blazing Star. Right: Opuntia basilaris – Beaver Tail


Left: Rafinesquia neomexicana – Desert Chicory. Center: Phacelia crenulata – Notch-leaf Scorpion-weed. Right: Mirabilis laevis – Desert Wishbone Bush.


Left: Sphaeralcea sp. – Globe Mallow. Right: Xylorhiza tortifolia – Mojave Aster.

Monday, April 1, 2019

On the Road – Street Sign Language Lesson XXVII

Street Sign Language Lesson 26 < Street Sign Language Lesson 27

In this installment, we’ll hop around between three regions in Italy exploring signs we’ve seen in the last few months. The key words for this installment: cascatista, piedone, esbosco, fiocco, alcool, spaccio and corona del rosario. Aren't you the least bit curious?

A sign indicating trail for ice climbers, cascatisti.A sign showing different ice cream flavors including a 'big foot' or piedone.A sign warning of forest clearing or esbosco.
Left: A sign indicating trail for ice climbers, cascatisti. Center: A sign showing different ice cream flavors including a 'big foot' or piedone. Right: A sign warning of forest clearing or esbosco.


Pista per pedoni e cascatisti – Trail for walkers and ice climbers.

A cascatista is someone who climbs on frozen waterfalls (cascate). We saw this sign while walking in Valnontey (location), which is the last town before entering the Grand Paradiso park. It’s an area popular for cross country skiing and ice climbing. In fact, this area in the Valle d’Aosta region is renowned for the number of frozen waterfalls found here in winter.

The word cascatista seems to be a relatively new as it is difficult to find many sure definitions for it. It also seems related to the term ghiacciatore which means “a climber who practices climbing on ice falls or dry tooling”.

Piedone, senza glutine – The big foot, without gluten.

While getting a coffee in Valnontey, we saw this sign for ice cream which included an ice cream shaped and colored like a foot called the piedone. Is it a huge seller? What does it taste like?

Operazioni di esbosco in corso – Forest clearing in progress.

Let’s jump from Valnontey in Valle d’Aosta to Madonna di Compiglio in Trentino-Alto Adige. Of the 20 regions in Italy, five are autonomous including Valle d’Aosta and Trentino-Alto Adige. The other three autonomous regions are Sicily, Sardinia, and Friuli-Venezia Giula. What does it mean to be autonomous? It means that these regions have more legislative, administrative, and financial power than the other 15 non-autonomous regions.

Back to the sign: during our sunny, winter day walk above Madonna di Campiglio, we were heading to Malga Ritorto and Rifugio Nambino (see Three Short Winter Hikes in Madonna di Campiglio). On the way up to Malga Ritorto, we spotted this sign with its curious use of the word esbosco, which means the clearing and transporting of felled tree trunks to a place where they are collected and loaded onto vehicles. It is a specialized term and rarely used that is composed of the prefix es – a prefix used to indicate the opposite of the word it precedes – and bosco meaning forest.

Fiocchi or birth announcements in the Santurio Regina Pacis in Boves, Italy.Fiocchi or birth announcements in the Santurio Regina Pacis in Boves, Italy.Fiocchi or birth announcements in the Santurio Regina Pacis in Boves, Italy.
Fiocchi or birth announcements in the Santurio Regina Pacis in Boves, Italy.

I fiocchi (di nascita) – Birth garlands – or – Birth bow

Now, we are in the province of Cuneo in the region of Piedmont. Specifically, we are at the Santuario Regina Pacis in Boves, Cuneo. Inside the church, we were given an impromptu tour by a distant cousin. We stopped to look at the fiocchi – which are a kind of birth announcement that is common in Italy. Pink for girls and blue for boys. You often see them outside of houses where there is a newborn, attached to a door or fence.

Attempts at a translation is discussed in this WordReference thread. The purpose of these garland-announcements? One purpose is to express parents’ joy and serve as an announcement for those waiting for the birth. Another less obvious purpose – and routed farther back in time – is to protect the newborn and ward off evil.

A sign warning not to spray my dog with alcoholHeadline of prosciutto crudo di Cuneo sperm scandal. Venchi chocolate outlet - they are dealing.
Left: A sign warning not to spray my dog with alcohol. Center: Headline of prosciutto crudo di Cuneo sperm scandal. Right: Venchi chocolate outlet - they are dealing.

Ricordo che spruzzare alcool sul mio cane è reato – Remember that spraying my dog with alcohol is a crime.

This sign was seen in Cuneo on the enchanting little street In Cuneo called Contrada Mondovì. This area of Cuneo is rich in history and interesting shops and restaurants. It also contains a synagogue (Sinagoga di Cuneo) testimony to a Jewish community dating back to the 1400s.

While none of this has to do with this sign, I couldn’t get the sign's implied action out of my mind. Who carries alcohol in a spray bottle? How did the dog’s owner know it was alcohol? What it alcohol to drink maybe? So many questions.

Prosciutto crudo Cuneo da maiali fecondati col seme di suini danesi, inchiesta della procura – Prosciutto crudo of Cuneo from pigs inseminated with sperm of Danish pigs, investigation by prosecutor’s office.

We were ambling along the beautiful via Roma in Cuneo under the portici when we came across this sign announcing a local newspaper headline. Our first thought was “only in Italy!” Our second thought was “so what’s the big deal?” Well, it is a big deal. Prosciutto Crudo di Cuneo is designated as D.O.P. (denominazione di origine protetta) meaning that the crudo comes from pigs are bred within a certain area and according to traditions. The D.O.P. mark is prestigious and products with it garner a higher price.

From the consortium’s website: “The origin of the raw materials used in animal feedstuffs, mainly sourced from the same designated production area of Crudo di Cuneo PDO, contributes to guaranteeing the health of animals. The entire designated area, from Cuneo to the hills of the Langhe, Astesan Montferrat and Turin’s hillsides, consistently demonstrates very low, constant air moisture, with no peaks which would be difficult to control. The moisture level ranges from 50 to 70%. The conditions are therefore optimal for the curing of hams, even in natural cellars, without the need for special air conditioning.”

All that is fine and good, but what does that all mean if the sperm is shipped in from elsewhere? Should it still have the D.O.P. designation? The Danish sperm is from pigs that are more productive and maybe there was a hope to up the production of Crudo di Cuneo? Stay tuned.

Spaccio cioccolato – Chocolate outlet.

Northeast of Cuneo, in Castelletto Stura, is the home of Venchi production facility and its outlet store. We hate shopping in general, and especially you wouldn’t catch us dead in anything with the label “outlet”. Furthermore, in Italian, spaccio means outlet but also trafficking in something illegal, especially drugs. In our experience, we’ve seen the word spaccio used much more often in the illegal sense. Spaccio di droga is drug dealing. A drug dealer is called a spacciatore. We bring this up as a roundabout way of saying that the big sign indicating spaccio above the entrance immediately had an ominous appearance to us.

However, this is about chocolate, especially Venchi chocolate – one of our favorites, so we put aside our misgivings and entered. As an experience, we’d rate it 6/10. Sure, the chocolate is cheaper but not by much. Our biggest complaint is that the space is a bit natty and in one case I swear we bought old chocolate.

Do the experiment yourself. Stop at the outlet and then shop at Relais Cuba Chocolat in the center of Cuneo. Cuba sells only Venchi and the experience there is much more magical. The folks at the outlet shop should take note.

A sign announcing lost rosary beads in the Occitania.
A sign announcing lost rosary beads in the Occitania.

È stata smarrita a Chianale una corona del rosario di Lourdes - Lost at Chianale: rosary beads from Lourdes.

One day during an extended stay in Cuneo, we took a day trip to Chianale (Pontechianale) which is found in the Valle Varaita, on the border with France. The Valle Varaita is one of the Occitan Valleys, a territory where the Occitan language is spoken. Chianale is recognized as one of I Borghi più belli d'Italia – the most beautiful small towns of Italy.

As we strolled the tiny town, we saw this sign for a lost rosary. Rosary beads are referred to in Italian as corona del rosario. The lost rosary beads are from Lourdes, which is historically also part of the Occitania region.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Thanks for All the Fish: How to Say Thanks in Italian With the Prepositions di, per, or a

Overview


One of the easy things to learn to say in Italian is thank-you: grazie. But grammatical questions arise soon as you start being specific about what you are thanking someone for. Specifically, should you use grazie di, grazie per or grazie a.

Consider the title of the fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984). In Italian, the title became Addio, e grazie per tutto il pesce. Why wasn’t the title translated as grazie di tutto il pesce? Or take another example in conversation when thanking someone for everything will they cringe if they hear grazie per tutto instead of grazie di tutto? These two questions and many more lead us on another Italian language investigation.

The result? After some digging around, we found that with all questions dealing with language, there are rules, exceptions, and opinions. (Soliloquy: languages are ever-evolving, so why do we insist on fixed rules?) It seems whether to follow grazie with the prepositions di, per or a depends upon some “general” rules you can follow and which we will list here. Please remember that this is our attempt to make sense of language use patterns and therefore may contain some inaccuracies.

Is the thank-you for something (a noun) or an action (a verb)?

For nouns, per or di can be used.
  • If thanking someone for something (noun) in an informal setting, say in a chat message, use di.
    • grazie dell’invito, grazie del passeggio.
  • If the something (noun) is abstract or in a formal setting, say in a business meeting, use per.
    • Grazie per la vostra comprensione.
  • When we surveyed a few mother-tongue Italian speakers, we learned that per and di are equally valid with perhaps a slight preference for per. One person explained that per puts the focus on the thing (noun) and implicating it was useful or important. We wonder if the difference is like the subtle difference between “thanks for” (more casual) and “thank you for” (more formal), with the former translating with di and the latter with per.
For an action with a verb in the present infinitive form, use di.
  • grazie di essere qui.
  • We see that grazie per essere qui appears often enough, but from what we’ve learned this is horrible for an Italian to read or hear.
For an action with a verb in the past perfect tense, both di and per can be used. For some, per seems more elegant or formal.
  • grazie per essere stato un amico, grazie di avermi aiutato.
  • You can try changing an action to a noun as instead of saying grazie per avermi invitato you can say grazie dell’invito or grazie per l’invito.

Is the thank-you for something connected to the past, present, or future?

For an action clearly in the past, you can use per or di.
  • grazie per esservi venuti, grazie di avermi aiutato.
For thanking someone for something in the present or connected to the present, or for something not connected to any time frame, use can use per or di with a noun to avoid verb forms.
  • grazie del regalo, grazie dei fiori.
  • You could say grazie per avermi dato il regalo to mean grazie del regalo or grazie per il regalo, but that longer form is a mouthful.
For something in the future, neither per or di by themselves is technically correct and you may need other words to express what you mean.
  • grazie in anticipo per il tuo aiuto and grazie fin d’ora della vostra attenzione.

Is it a case where either per or di could work?

If so, you can look at the dependent clause to see if one choice is better in how it introduces the idea in the dependent clause, or one choice produces a overall cleaner statement.

For a long dependent clause, per is usually better. Some references we consulted suggest that per should be used over di when the dependent clause (what you are thanking the other person for) includes additional information.
  • Something short like grazie dei fiori is fine, but with a more descriptive statement some prefer using per as in grazie per i bellissimi fiori che hai portato. Or, instead of grazie di avermi dato l'opportunità di esprimermi it seems less confusing and sounds better to say grazie per avermi dato l'opportunità di esprimermi thereby avoiding the use of di twice.
  • Even grazie per il tuo aiuto seems to be more common than grazie del tuo aiuto as if the addition of the possessive tuo is enough to warrant per.
We think this is why the Hitchhikers Guide book mentioned in the introduction is translated as grazie per tutto il pesce: because it is not a simple dependent clause like grazie del pesce. Or maybe it was the translator’s prerogative?

How does the sentence sound and who you are speaking to?

Many prefer di because it sounds smoother and the constructions using it (with nouns) sound more relaxed – especially between friends an in informal situations. Per seems more bureaucratic and stilted. Therefore, for an official letter or speaking formally with someone, per might be the better choice.

Is the thank-you directed at someone or some agent for helping to achieve something?

In this sense it’s equivalent to “thanks to” or “by the will of”, which has a slightly stronger impact than “thank you for”. For this you use the preposition a.

Grazie a is typically used in a full sentence.
  • Example: Grazie a Dio, sono quasi guarito.

Is it thank-you an idiomatic or fixed expression with di?

In these cases, di is often used and there is no option to use per or a.

  • Examples: grazie di tutto, grazie di cuore.


Thank-You Examples


In this section we show some example thank-you phrases in English and “suggested” translations. YMMV. We must reiterate we are not language experts so take these translations and notes as our observations as students of the Italian language.

Where the English is “thanks” below, it can often be substituted with “thank you”.

thanks for everything – grazie di tutto
  • Short and sweet with no qualification of “everything”. Though, you will see grazie per tutto as well, it seems to be cringe-worthy because grazie di tutto is idiomatic.
thanks for helping – grazie di/per avermi aiutato, grazie dell’aiuto, grazie per il tuo aiuto
  • Seems grazie del tuo aiuto is less common when counting search results for both phrases.
thanks to your help – grazie al tuo aiuto
  • Signifies that the person you are saying this to was critical to whatever it is you achieved. This phrase is – in our opinion – more impactful than saying grazie per il tuo aiuto.
thank you so much – grazie di cuore

thank you so much for everything – grazie di cuore per tutto
  • Use di with cuore and then what comes after that use per.
thank you so much for sharing the most beautiful day of our life - grazie di cuore per aver condiviso il giorno più bello della nostra vita

thank you for everything you have done – grazie per tutto quello che hai fatto

thank God, goodness – grazie al Dio, grazie al cielo
  • The prepositions per and di just wouldn’t work here. The thanks grazie al Dio is short for rendiamo grazie a Dio which comes from the Latin Deo gratis.
thanks to you – grazie a Lei
  • You commonly say this in a formal situation when someone helps you out, say in a store or a bank, and you don’t know the person and is older than you.
thanks for nothing – grazie di/per niente, grazie di nulla

thanks for the gift – grazie del regalo

thanks for the ride – grazie del passaggio
  • The gift or ride might have been given in the past or just a few seconds ago, the exact time frame is not known, but the sentiment is still felt at the time the thanks are given. This statement is a shorter way of saying something in a longer and less elegant way, e.g., grazie per avermi dato un passaggio.
thanks for the flowers – grazie dei fiori
  • Same reasoning as above. This was a title of the winning song in Italy’s San Remo Music Festival in 1951.
thanks for being here – grazie di/per essere qui
  • It seems that both per and di are commonly used, but as pointed out in several places in this post, some Italians will cringe at the use of per so we would recommend you use di.
  • You could also avoid the problem and use a verb form and say grazie di/per essere venuto/a/i/e.
thanks for loaning me the car – grazie per avermi prestato la macchina
  • While you still are thankful for the loan at the time the words are spoken, the sense is that the thank-you is for the action of loaning the car, which was in the past.
thanks for coming to pick me up at the station – grazie per essermi venuto a prendermi alla stazione
  • Don’t say grazie per avermi preso dalla stazione.
thanks for telling me – grazie per avermelo detto
  • Thanks for telling “it” (represented by direct object lo) to “me” (indirect object mi which becomes me before lo) such that we have avermelo.
thanks for telling us – grazie per avercelo fatto sapere

thanks in advance for information – grazie in anticipo per le informazioni
  • Could also say grazie fin da ora per le informazioni
thanks in advance for understanding – grazie in anticipo per la tua comprensione

thanks for watching / thanks for joining us – grazie per averci seguito
  • As this little Treccani gem points out, it could be seguiti or seguite (plural) as well in the above phrase. The choice of agreement is optional for the first and second person singular and plural.
  • If you said “thanks for finding her” – grazie per averla trovata – then you need agreement with the ending A of trovata.

Sources


Here are a few sources consulted for this piece.
  • Word Reference forum: per and di are largely interchangeable.
  • Word Reference forum: Toward the end of the thread, some rules are proposed.
  • Italianistica forum: There is one comment with the proposal that di is followed by a noun and per is followed by an infinitive verb form in the past (in English the past perfect tense).
  • Yahoo Answers: The use of per explains the motivation for the thank-you better.
  • Accademia della Crusca: per and di are interchangeable but be careful about thanks for something not yet done. However, they also point out that grazie is an holophrasis, i.e., one word representing a complex idea expressed with several words. In this case, grazie stands for vi rendo grazie or “I give you thanks”. If we understood correctly, in this full sentence, rendere takes an indirect complement introduced with di. But if the thing you are thankful for is expressed in a phrase with a verb infinitive (an action), you could still use di, but per is also commonly used because the phrase looks like a causali implicite (an implicit explanation of a cause) where per is typically used.
  • Corriere: Per is more elegant, but di isn’t wrong.
  • Learnamo: Either per or di.
  • Accademia della Crusca Forum: Not nice to hear grazie per esistere. Use di instead.
Good sources of thank-you phrases are greeting card and related sites:

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XXVI

Street Sign Language Lesson 25 < Street Sign Language Lesson 26 > Street Sign Language Lesson 27

It's been over six months since we posted something in this series. Are we slowing down in our observations? Are we getting jaded to the signs we see? Time will tell. In the meantime, here are a batch of eight new signs. Of course, each post in the series wouldn't be complete without a mention of a lost cat or dog excrement, and in this respect we don't disappoint here because we have both. Happy language learning!

Use of AFFITTANSI.Use of CERCANSI in L'Eco di Bergamo February 26, 2019 edition.Sorrowful sign: closed due to death.Yet another lost cat.
Left: Use of AFFITTANSI.  Center left: Use of CERCANSI in L'Eco di Bergamo February 26, 2019 edition. Center right: Sorrowful sign: closed due to death. Right: Yet another lost cat.

Affittansi uffici varie metrature – Offices for rent of varying square footage.

What captured our eye in this sign is the rarely seen form of affittansi. Most signs advertising something for rent use affittasi. (Even Microsoft Word spell corrector in Italian wants to correct affittansi to affittasi.)

The question is dealt with thoroughly (in Italian) by the erudite Accademia della Crusca. When multiple things are for rent, you should use the plural form affittansi, and when one thing is for rent, you should use the singular form affittasi. However, the singular form is commonly used even for the plural case. Affittasi is a enclitic form of the phrase si affitta, which means for rent. Si affitta is third-personal singular, present tense of affittare. It follows that when many things are for rent you can use si affittano or the enclitic form affittansi with a drop of the letter O.

The same concept applies to the verbs vendere (vendesi, vendonsi) and cercare (cercasi - example, cercansi - see image above).

Chiuso per lutto – Closed due to funeral – or – Closed due to bereavement.

The full implicit phrase in Italian is Chiuso per lutto in famiglia. This sign was on a bar in our borgo. RIP.

Smarrito – maschio castrato, scomparso in Città Alta, Lillo, gatto simil Siamese adulto – Lost, castrated male in Città Alta, Lillo, cat similar to adult Siamese

We don’t see many cats in Bergamo. Maybe because they are all lost? Think we are kidding? Other examples: Lesson XXIV, Lesson XXIII, and Lesson XIV. We don’t seem to see many lost dog posters.

We were struck by the phrase gatto simil Siamese adulto. We know it’s the word simile or “resembling” but never saw it before with the dropped E. It’s perfectly legal and called an apocopation or truncation as we explained in a previous post.

Come home Lillo!

Note on the subject of gigantic dog doo-doo.Private property destroyed by an anti-vaxxer and with bad spelling.A holly bush that suffers from unwanted pruning.
Left: Note on the subject of gigantic dog doo-doo. Center: Private property destroyed by an anti-vaxxer and with bad spelling. Right: A holly bush that suffers from unwanted pruning.

Il proprietario del cane che lascia regolarmente la cacca gigantesca del suo animale è invitato a raccoglierla – The dog owner that regularly leaves his pet’s huge crap in the street is encouraged to pick it up.

I know we talk about dog crap a lot in our Street Sign Language Lesson series, but these types of signs are really some of the most colorful, and not in the brown sense. Despite, or because of, signs like this from concerned citizens, Bergamo is a clean city.

A month ago or so, there was a period of a few weeks when really large (and we mean large) dog doo-doo was appearing on sidewalks of via San Tomaso. Bizarrely large but with no culprit ever seen. It was puzzling. When we saw this sign, we knew that at least we weren’t the only ones who thought it odd. Then it all stopped, and we never saw any more gigantesche.

When we saw the phrase la caca gigantesca we knew this sign had to be discussed.

No ai vacconi! – No to big fat cows! (Presumably supposed to be: No to vaccinations!)

Anti-vaccination sentiment is plain silly and doesn’t respect scientific evidence, and in this case, spelling rules. The graffiti should read No ai vaccini! but was written missing the first letter I and someone thoughtfully came along and filled in the letter O to create No ai vacconi! Vacconi isn’t a word but could almost be taking the word for cow vacca and the augmentative (in Italian accrescitivo) ending -one.

Here is the sign before the addition of the letter O.

Per favore non tagliarmi i rametti, soffro e faccio fatica a ricrescere, grazie – Please don’t cut my branches, I suffer and struggle to regrow, thanks.

When we first read this sign on our way up to San Vigilio (on Via San Vigilio), we thought it was the owner “talking” but then the verbs conjugated in the first-person present tense didn’t make sense. Why would the owner suffer? Maybe figuratively we tried to ration.

Doh, then we realized we had missed the possessive mi hanging on the verb tagliere which means the bush is talking. Now the conjugations make sense. The bush suffers and struggles to regrow.
Never did a variegated holly (Ilex aquifolium) speak so eloquently against random pruning. We can’t help but wonder who walks on via San Vigilio with clippers in hand. Holly branches are not easy to cut without the right tools.


Condo intrigue...I'll take care of the bins. Bulky luggage - a new kind of PC lingo for oversize luggage?
Left: Condo intrigue...I'll take care of the bins. Right: Bulky luggage - a new kind of PC lingo for oversize luggage?

Gentillissimi condomini, l’impresa di pulizie e pagata anche per pulire i bidoni non dovete più portarli dentro ci penso io così li lavo grazie – Dear condo owners, the cleaning services is also paid to clean the bins. You don’t have to bring them inside. I’ll take care of that and therefore I can wash them, thanks.

This sign was in our condominium, which we lovingly refer to as our palazzo. Our palazzo’s intrigue and gossip never rises above who put trash in the compost bin (example) or if the big door (il portone) was shut on time (every evening at 8 pm). And this is fine by us palazzo-dwellers as we live together in peace.

But then the guy who comes to clean the condominium palazzo common spaces wrote this note. Oh, goody we thought something salacious. Alas, no. In the note, he asks politely that when the bins (compost, glass/metal, or paper) are put out for collection that they not be brought back in before he has a chance to clean them. Banal!

The sentence has a misspelling (should be gentilissimi with one L) and is missing the grave accent mark on the verb essere: è pagata. Besides that, the note is particularly hard to parse because of several ideas run together with no punctuation. Ci penso io is an idiomatic way of saying “I’ll take care of it.”

Ritiro bagagli fuori misura – Bulky luggage claim.

This sign is at the Orio al Serio International Airport in Bergamo. Interestingly, the official name of the airport is Il Caravaggio International Airport, after the painter "Il Caravaggio" (real name: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio), who lived as a child at Caravaggio in the Province of Bergamo. Caravaggio was famous for his dramatic use of strong contrasts between light and dark, called chiaroscuro.

The name Orio al Serio is borrowed from the nearby town of the same name. The first part of the town’s name Orio has several possible etymologies discussed on the city’s comune site. The Serio part is easy, because the Serio river is just located to the west.

Perhaps a slightly better translation would have been “oversize luggage claim”.