Saturday, February 16, 2019

How to Use Buono and Buona in Italian to Mean Enjoy Something

How to Use Buono and Buona in Italian to Mean Enjoy Something


All the phrases given below are ones we’ve heard used while speaking with Italians. Many of these phrases can be translated roughly to “have a” or “enjoy your” followed by a noun. In some of the phrases, the translation to English is more simply “Good” or “Happy” followed by a noun, that is, the “have a” or “enjoy your” part can be left off especially in an imperative statement that is a wish. For example, we commonly say “Happy Birthday!”, “Merry Christmas!” and “Goodnight!” with the “have a” understood.  However, we don’t typically say “Good stay”, “Good walk” and “Good weekend” when we mean “have a good stay”, “have a nice walk”, “have a nice weekend”. It sounds incomplete without the “have a” part. However, in Italian it is normal so that these three examples, respectively, are buon proseguimento, buona passeggiata, buon weekend. That’s not to say you couldn’t add the equivalent of “have a”, to say “Have a good weekend” or Ti auguro un buon weekend. The latter case is a statement and not an imperative.

The Enjoy List

Notice in the list below that sometimes the final letter O of buono is dropped. This is due to a process called apocope as described in the section following the list.

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Finally, think of the phrases below as imperatives expressing a wish and followed with an exclamation mark. Buono studio!

Buon anno Happy New Year
Buon appetitoEnjoy your meal; have a nice meal
Buona Befana – Happy Epiphany
Buon ascoltoEnjoy listening; have a good listen
Buona cavalcataEnjoy the ride; have a good ride
Buona cenaHave a good dinner
Buon compleannoHappy Birthday
Buona continuazioneEnjoy your stay, have fun
Buon divertimentoEnjoy yourself; have fun
Buona domenicaHave a good Sunday (Said on Saturday and Sunday.)
Buona festa
  • della Mamma – Happy Mother’s Day
  • dell’Immacolata – Enjoy this day of the Immaculate Conception? (Not heard often in English.)
  • della Repubblica – Equivalent to Happy Fourth of July
  • della Donna – Happy (International) Women’s Day (8th of March)

Buon fine settimanaHave a good weekend; enjoy your weekend (Said mostly on Friday.)
Buon inizioHave a good start
Buon inizio settimanaHave a good start to your week
Buona fortunaGood luck
Buona giornataHave a good/nice day (Don’t greet someone with buona giornata!)
BuongiornoHello; good morning, hi
Buona letturaEnjoy your reading/book/etc.. (We don’t usually say “good reading”).
Buon lunedìHave a good Monday (Days of the week are masculine except Sunday.)
Buon NataleMerry Christmas
Buona notte – Good night
Buona PasquaHappy Easter
Buona passeggiataHave a nice/good walk
Buon passeggioHave a nice/good walk
Buona permanenzaEnjoy your stay, have a nice stay
Buon pomeriggioHave a good afternoon; good afternoon
Buon pranzoEnjoy your lunch; have a nice lunch
Buon proseguimentoHave a good visit / stay; enjoy your stay
  • Note that Buon proseguimento di has a lot of different meanings depending on the word the follows. For example, buon proseguimento di giornata as “have a nice rest of the day”.

Buon rientroHave a great trip back, have a safe journey back
Buon San ValentinoHappy Valentine’s Day
Buona sciataHave a good time skiing
BuonaseraGood evening (greeting)
Buona serataGood evening, good night (upon leaving)
Buona settimanaHave a good/great week
Buono studio o buon studioHave a good time studying. See below for difference between the two.
Buon tutto – Good everything
Buone vacanzeHave a great vacation; happy holidays
Buon ventoGood winds literally, but better translated as best wishes for your sailor friends.
Buon viaggioHave a safe trip; safe travels; happy trails; bon voyage
Buona visione – Enjoy the show; have a good time watching
Buon voloHave a good/nice flight


Apocope (also spelled the same in Italian) “is the loss (elision) of one or more sounds from the end of a word, especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.” We mention it here because it is often the case with buono that you drop the letter O. Examples include: buon ragazzo, buongiorno, buon giorno.

Even in English you may not have given much thought to apocopation but use it regularly. From the List of English apocopations here are a few English examples: bud(dy), info(rmation), mic(rophone), sax(ophone), trig(onometry) vet(eran), and vet(erinarian).

Besides the case of buono, apocopation (or truncation) happens in other cases as well, which we now will cover. In English, the truncation seems to involve many letters.  At least we could not think of a truncation of just one letter. In Italian, just one letter dropped is common and the distinction between one letter dropped or multiple is precisely defined. A single dropped vowel is a troncamento vocalico (a dropped vowel) and more than one letter dropped – usually a consonant and a vowel – is a troncamento sillabico (a dropped syllable).

Some general rules for truncation:
  • The consonant preceding the truncated single vowel must be an L, M, N, or R.
    • Examples: quel ragazzo, andiam via, un buon amico, far soldi.
  • The word following the truncated word must not start Z, S (before a consonant), GN, PS, or X.
    • Examples: un buon dottore, un buono zio, un bel posto, un bello spettacolo.
  • You don’t truncate in the plural or feminine.
    • Examples: il buon parroco, i buoni parroci (never i buon parroci), buona giornata (feminine).
    • An exception for feminine is dropping the A in the proper name suor Paola – “Sister Paola”.
  • Adjectives and adverbs are not truncated when following a noun or verb.
    • Examples: un buon compleanno but un compleanno buono; and ben fatto but fatto bene.
  • The difference between truncation and elision is that truncation can occur when the second word begins with a consonant or a vowel, whereas for elision, truncation with an apostrophe is required with a vowel.
    • Truncation: un buon vino and un buon anno.
    • Elision: un bell’albero.
Truncation of one vowel is obligatory with:
  • buono, bene
    • Examples: un buon lavoro, ben detto.
  • uno, alcuno, nessuno, ciascuno
    • Examples: un spettacolo, alcun incidente, nessun problema, ciascun progetto.
  • signore, professore, dottore, ingegnere, cavaliere, commendatore, suora followed by a proper name.
    • Examples: il Signor Rossi (however it is il Signore degli Anelli)
    • Related to signore: signorsì, signornò

Truncation of one vowel is optional with:
  • tale, quale
    • Examples: in tal modo, qual è la situazione.
  • Infinitive verb forms.
    • Examples: cantar vittoria, andar bene, prestar fede, far soldi, parlar chiaro.
  • Idiomatic sayings.
    • Examples: man mano, fior fiore, amor sacro, in fin di vita, mal di testa

Truncation of more than one letter is obligatory with:
  • bello, grande
    • Examples: un bel libro, un gran casino
  • santo, fratefollowed by a proper name.
    • Examples: San Sebastiano, San Pietro, Fra Cristoforo
    • But with Sant’Antonio and Sant’Anselmo it’s elision.
  • poco, modowhen in expressions meaning “like” or “in the manner of”.
    • Examples: un po’ di gente, a mo’ di conclusione

There are more nuances and subtleties that are not covered here, and you should consult other references. Many of the examples are taken from the Accademia della Crusca article Buon studio o buono studio? and  Grammatica italiana di base by Trifone and Palerma. Answer: buono studio is correct but buon studio is acceptable.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Case of the Missing H in the Italian and English Word Cognates

The Case of the Missing H in the Italian and English Word Cognates


This post is about English/Italian word pairs that have a common etymological origin (cognates) where in each pair the English word starts with the letter H and in Italian letter does not. For English speakers learning Italian, encountering these words in Italian can seem rather odd on first encounter.

Before jumping to the list, take a look at how the the letter H works in Italian and English.

Italian H

In the Italian alphabet, the letter H (spelled acca) has no phonetic (sound) value and its use in words serves only to modify the sound of other letters, in particular, in these cases:

  • With the verb avere (“to have”) in the present tense to avoid confusion with other common words.
    • ho (first person singular “I have”); without the H it could be confused with o, which is the conjunction “or”. 
    • hai (second person singular “you have”); without the H it could be confused with ai, which is the articulated preposition meaning “to the”, “with the”, etc.
    • ha (third person singular “he has”); without the H it could be confused with a, which is the simple preposition “a” meaning “to”, “at”, etc.
    • hanno (third person plural “they have”); without the H it could be confused with anno, which is the noun “year”.
  • To modify the letter pairs ch or gh and indicate that they should be pronounced as a hard C or G when followed by the letters E or I. 
    • gioco "game" (soft co as in the sound “cooperate”) and giochi (hard chi as in the sound “key”).
    • ago "needle" (soft go as in the sound "go") and aghi (hard ghi as in the sound "reggae").
  • Short interjections, where it has no sound value but helps avoid confusion with other words and or reinforces the emphatic nature of the interjection.
    • Examples include: Oh! – “Oh!”, Ehi! – “Hey!”, Beh! – “Well!”, Boh! – “I don’t know”, Toh! – “Oh!”, Ehm! – “Ahem! Um!”, Ahimè – "Alas! Dear me!", Ohimè – "Oh dear!"
The H not having a sound in Italian means that Italian mother tongue speakers speaking English often have some difficulty in knowing when and how to use an H. There is the often cited example when an Italian says what sounds like “I’m angry” when they mean “I’m hungry”, or vice versa. For every H under or over-corrected by an Italian speaking English, there is an English speaker (like us) not rolling Rs enough, clearly pronouncing double consonants, or getting the stressed syllable correct. For examples of the latter, see Italian Words with Tonic Stress on Third-From-Last Syllable: Le Parole Sdrucciole.

English H

In English, the letter H is either silent or a voiceless glottal fricative. The latter means that it is a wannabe consonant but not quite. Think of it as a breathy consonant. The letter H is spelled aitch or sometimes haitch, but using the second spelling might be considered a bit gauche and you might get labeled an h-adder. The question of the letter H is more complicated that I ever imagined in English.

  • Some English words borrowed from French like honest, hour and herb have a silent H. Others from French have come to have a pronounced H like horrible, hospital and humo(u)r.
  • In this post we are limiting ourselves to just talking about H starting a word. But what about if the letter H is in the middle of the word? Seems it can be silent (messiah, rhapsody, shepherd, exhaust) or voiced as well (behind, perhaps, behavior).
  • Have you ever stopped and wondered about whether to use “a” or “an” before a word that starts with the letter H? You are not alone! A history book or an history book? A historian’s view or an historian’s view?
    • Some advice suggests that you should use an indefinite article before a word starting with H if it has a vowel sound, regardless of how it is written. In this case, it would be “a history book” and “a historian’s view”.
    • Another reference (scroll down) suggests a more nuanced and correct approach – we believe – where you take in account where the stress is in the word. History is stressed on the syllable with the letter H while historian is stressed on the second syllable that doesn’t contain the H. In first case, the H is more pronounced and in the second case it is less pronounced and almost absent thereby almost equal to a word starting with a vowel sound. Taking this into consideration we would write “a history book” and “an historian’s view”. This sounds better to our ears.

Cognate List

This list is of Italian words (in italics) and their conjugates in English. The point to note is that many of the words are similar – or at least easy to puzzle out that they are referring to the same thing – but the English form has the letter H at the start of the word. In some of the cognates, it’s straightforward to pronounce the Italian word. An example is horrible mapping to orribile (but be careful to pronounce that last e in the Italian version). In other cognates, it gets a little trickier because spelling changes subtlety like an I becomes a Y. An example is hydrogen mapping to idrogeno.

abituale – habitual, Ade – Hades, Adriano – Hadrian, adrone – hadron, agiografia – hagiography, alone – halo, armonia – harmony, azzardo – hazzard, egemone – hegemony , elio – helium, ematoma – hematoma, ematico - hematic, epatite – hepatitis, eridità – heredity, eroe - hero, esitare – to hesitate, euristico – heuristic , ibridazione – hybridation , idrogeno – hydrogen, iena – hyena, igrometro – hygrometer, Ipazia – Hypatia, isteria – hysteria, isteresi – hysteresis, istologia – histology, ologramma – hologram, omogeneo – homogeneous, omelia – homily, Omero - Homer, omologazione – homogenization, ormone – hormone, orribile – horrible, ospedale – hospital, ospitalità – hospitality, umanesimo – humanism, Ungheria - Hungary

Many of these words have a third-from-last syllable stress. For more on that subject, see Italian Words with Tonic Stress on Third-From-Last Syllable: Le Parole Sdrucciole.


Life would not be interesting without exceptions. Some English words starting with HA, HE, HO, and HU don’t change in Italian and are used as is. However, they are still pronounced as if the H isn’t there. Try ordering a hamburger with a pronounced H sound and you’ll get a strange look. Words that don't drop the H include:

habitat, hacker, Haiti, haitianohamburger, handicap, happy hour, harakirihardware, Hawaii, Hegel, hegelianoHelsinki, henna, herpes, hippy, hi-fi, Himalaya, hinterland, hobby, hockey, homo sapiens, Honduras, hostess, hotel, humus

Some notes, many drawn from Grammatica italiana di base by Trifone and Palerma:

  • This list includes geographical names. But note that while Haiti and Honduras don’t drop the H in Italian, Hungary does and becomes Ungheria
  • The H is retained in Italian words derived from Latin such as habitat, herpes, and homo sapiens.
  • Italian words that have as their base a foreign starting with H keep the H in the derived word. Examples include hegeliano (from Hegel) and haitiano (from Haiti).
  • The retained H in the above list is a reminder to aspirate (burst of breath) the sound when pronouncing the word. The H is heard as more than an aspiration in only a few Italian words including harakiri and jihad.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Two Sounds of the Letter S in the Italian Language

The Two Sounds of the Letter S in the Italian Language

The letter S has two sounds in Italian. At first, when you study Italian, you don’t really notice it, but then after awhile you catch yourself pausing to stop and think about it. In short, S in Italian can sound like S in English or like Z in English. And as you would expect there are rules guiding pronunciation, and there are exceptions to those rules.

S as S

Italian words where the letter S is pronounced like an English S include:

sano, scatola, squardrare, disfare, rispetto, cassa, sasso, rosso, grosso, passo, pasto, abside, facsimile, falso, penso, Pepsi, orso, gas, borsa, denso, falso, sera, sale, cisterna, sfogliare, soggetto

This sound is referred to technically as a voiceless alveolar fricative (fricativa alveolare sorda in Italian) which indicates where the sound is made in the mouth. Fricatives are types of consonant sounds produced by forcing air through narrow channel. In this case, with the tip or blade of the tongue against the gum line just behind the teeth. The sound is denoted as /s/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

S as Z

Italian words where the letter S is pronounced like (or close to) an English Z include:

chiesa, casa, sgabello, sbaglio, sbavare, presentare, asma, scherzoso, tesi, crisi, battesimo, trentesimo, bisogno, esame, isola, slogan, smalto, snello, alpinismo, risvolto, esempio

This sound is referred to technically as a voiced alveolar fricative (fricative alveolare sonora in Italian). This sound is produced by “channeling air flow along a groove in the back of the tongue up to the place of articulation, at which point it is focused against the sharp edge of the nearly clenched teeth, causing high-frequency turbulence.” This sound is denoted as /z/ in the IPA.

A word showing both S sounds is scherzoso meaning "playful or humorous", which has - in order - one /s/ sound, one /ts/ sound (a true Z), and one /z/ sound. In IPA notation the pronunciation is /sker'tsozo/.

The Rules

These rules are a combination of rules given in the reference Grammatica italiana di base by Trifone and Palerma and those listed on the Italian Wikipedia page S sorda.

Pronounced /s/

  • Words that start with an S followed by a vowel. 
    • Examples: sera, sale, signora, soggetto, sei.
  • Words where the letter S is followed by unvoiced consonant. 
    • Examples: scatola, squadrare, disfare, rispetto, stentato, spendere, cisterna
    • Unvoiced consonants are /k/ (hard c or q), /f/, /p/, and /t/. 
  • Words where the letter S is preceded by any consonant. 
    • Examples: abside, facsimile, falso, penso, transitivo, Pepsi, orso
  • Words that end in S.
    • Examples: gas, ultras, iris.
    • But not always, note pronunciation of relais.
  • Words with SS. 
    • Examples: grosso, rosso, passo, fisso, commesso, asso.

Pronounced /z/

  • Words where the letter S is followed by a voiced consonant.
    • Examples: sbadigliare, sdoganare, sgrossare, alpinismo, snello, risvolto, slogan, sgabello
    • Voiced consonants are /b/, /d/, /g/ (or /dz/), /l/, /m/, /n/, and /v/ 
  • Technical words that end in -asi, -esi, -isi, or -osi.
    • Examples: protesi, tesi, crisi, sclerosi, enclisi
  • Words ending in -esimo and -esima.
    • Examples: battesimo, umanesimo, trentesimo, cresima, quaresima
  • Words where S is preceded and followed by a vowel (S between two vowels) are likely pronounced as /z/ but not always.
    • Examples: bisogno, esame, isola, chiesa, sole
    • For examples of the numerous exceptions, see below.

Exceptions – pronounced /s/ not /z/

  • Some enclitic (joined) words. 
    • Examples: affittasi, dicesi, qualsiasi, vendesi
    • Tangential note:  affittasi appartamento is equivalent to appartamento è affittato
  • Words that are formed from another word with a prefix added, or are otherwise composed.
    • Examples: antisovietico, dinosauro, presidente, risultare, presentire
    • Interesting case: ti presento – "I'll introduce you" – is pronounced with /z/ for the first person singular conjugation of the verb presentare. Compare that with  presento un pericolo – "I foresee danger" – pronounced with /s/ for the first person singular conjugation of the verb presentire, a verb composed of the prefix pre and the verb sentire.
  • Words that have an alternate version with a doubled S. 
    • Examples: musulmano (mussulmano), Albisola (Albissola
  • The endings of some irregular verbs conjugated in the passato remoto and in their past participles.
    • Examples: rendere (resi, rese, resero), scendere (scesi, scese, scesero), nascondere (nascosi, nascose, nascosero). 
  • Some common words and their derivatives that have an S preceded and followed by a vowel (S between two vowels) that are either always pronounced as /s/ or can be /s/ or /z/ depending on where the speaker is from. 
    • The sources consulted (given above) plus don’t always agree. Below, we’ll use the as our arbiter here. 
    • Derivatives of words in this category are subject to the same pronunciation.
      • Examples: socchiusi, sorriso, risotto 
    • As a rule of thumb, the words that can be either pronounced with /s/ or /z/ tend toward /z/ in northern Italy. (Don’t ask an Italian where northern Italy starts. Various answers we’ve heard are the Bolzano, the Po River, Florence, and Rome.)

Friday, January 4, 2019

Three Short Winter Hikes in Madonna di Campiglio

Mondifra Basso and AltoView east of the Brenta Dolomites from Malga Ritorto.
Left: View of Mondifrà Basso and Alto on the way to Malga Vagliana. Right: View east of the Brenta Dolomites from Malga Ritorto.

Hike: Malga Ritorto and Rifugio Nambino Rifugio Montagnoli Hike Malga Mondifrà and Malga Vagliana Hike
Routes for three walks. Left: Malga Ritorto and Rifugio Nambino, Center: Rifugio Montagnoli. Right: Malga Mondifrà and Malga Vagliana.

Madonna di Campiglio is a small town in the province of Trento that is situated between the Brenta Dolomites to the east and the Adamello-Presanella Alps to the west. The town is at 1522 m and is well known for the choice of summer and winter activities that are possible just walking out from the center of town.

We were there for a holiday over New Year’s which entailed lots of fireworks – and we mean a lot. The biggest display was on the night of the 1st just after the famous fiaccolata, a torchlight parade on skis where skiers with torches descend the slopes into town in a slow and serpentine fashion. Of course, it takes place at night for maximum effect.

During our stay we skied for four days and walked for three days. In terms of the slopes, we recorded about 213 km of ski movement (skiing and ski lifts) in about 20 hours on the slopes over the 4 days. In terms of walking, we hadn’t planned to do any walking and didn’t have microspikes/crampons or walking poles. For poles, we substituted ski poles. For traction, we just went slow and avoided icy spots though we fell a few times.

Each hike we started approximately at the base of the Pradalago lift, which is in the northern part of the town. Make sure to stop in the tourist office and pick up the Winter Walking Trails map (photos below), which will be a big help selecting a hike. A couple of times, we did cross a ski run or walked on the edge.

Name: Hike 1 - Malga Ritorto and Rifugio Nambino
Length: 13 km
Duration: 5 hours
Elevation: 247 m elevation gain
Location: Madonna di Campiglio (TN)
Type: loop, center of Madonna di Campiglio to Malga Ritorto to Rifugio Nambino and back to center.

Name: Hike 2 - Rifugio Montagnoli
Length: 4 km
Duration: 2 hours
Elevation: 284 m elevation gain
Location: Madonna di Campiglio (TN)
Type: loop

Name: Hike 3 - Malga Mondifrà and Malga Vagliana
Length: 10 km
Duration: 3 hours
Elevation: 309 m elevation gain
Location: Madonna di Campiglio (TN)
Type: loop, center of Madonna di Campiglio to Malga Mondifrà to Malga Vagliana and back to center

The 2019 fiaccolata of Madonna di Campiglio.Fireworks after the fiaccolata.View from the Grotte Ski Run just above Madonna di Campiglio.
Left: The 2019 fiaccolata of Madonna di Campiglio. Center: Fireworks after the fiaccolata. Right: View from the Grotte Ski Run just above Madonna di Campiglio.

Brochure for Rifugio Lago Nambino.Brochure for Rifugio Lago Nambino.
Brochure for Rifugio Lago Nambino.

Winter Hiking Trails Map (Escursioni sulla neve) for Madonna di Campiglio. Front Cover.Winter Hiking Trails Map (Escursioni sulla neve) for Madonna di Campiglio. Example of hike description.
Winter Hiking Trails Map (Escursioni sulla neve) for Madonna di Campiglio. Left: Front Cover. Right: Example of hike description to Lago di Nambino.

Recorded tracks for Hike 2 - Rifugio Montagnoli.Recorded tracks for Hike 3 - Malga Mondifrà and Malga Vagliana.Detail of center part of Winter Hiking Trails Map.
Left: Recorded tracks for Hike 2 - Rifugio Montagnoli. Center: Recorded tracks for Hike 3 - Malga Mondifrà and Malga Vagliana. Right: Detail of center part of Winter Hiking Trails Map.

Winter hiking trails map for Madonna di Campiglio.Winter hiking trails descriptions for Madonna di Campiglio.
Left: Winter hiking trails map for Madonna di Campiglio. Right: Winter hiking trails descriptions for Madonna di Campiglio. 

Left: Panorama in Malga Ritoro. Right: Below Malga Ritorto in a forest clearing.

View east from Rifugio Malga Ritorto with a man filming. Rifugio Malga Ritorto.
Left: View east from Rifugio Malga Ritorto with a man filming. Right: Rifugio Malga Ritorto.

The bridge a località Fortini.Pretending to ski on the Fortini ski run.
Left: The bridge a località Fortini. Right: Pretending to ski on the Fortini ski run.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

One Hundred (and More) Common Italian Word Traps: Similar Looking Words with Different Meanings

Similar words in Italian that are easy to confuse.


In this post, we present a list of sets of words (pairs, triplets, etc.) that look alike but may or may not be spelled the same. Further, the words in each set are usually pronounced differently and have different meanings. You might be thinking that we are talking about homonyms (omonimi in Italian), and some are, but not all. In fact, the most "tricky" word sets can with words that are not homonyms but look and sound similar to an Italian language learner’s ear such that we could call them virtual homonyms.Technically, some of the word pairs below are referred to as a minimal pair, that is a words that differ only in one phonological element (sound, pitch, duration) but have distinct meanings.

Why are these similar words so hard for an English mother tongue speaker? We are not sure, but can say that from our experience learning the Italian language that we just don’t “hear” the difference easily. In a normal conversation, if someone says agnello (lamb), we might think anello (ring), and need to understand the context to correctly select the correct word. The two words look different, but in a noisy room or with a fast speaker, the two words anello/agnello can be hard to distinguish. (Try it.) I suppose we do the same in English with words that are true homonyms or words that are close in pronunciation, that is, we wait for the context to become clear before we know which word is correct.

Many of the word sets presented below involve one of the following characteristics:

  • A subtle spelling difference between two different nouns that are not homonyms.
    • One noun with a single consonant and another with the same consonant doubled. Double consonants or consonante doppia are the bane of our existence as they require a pronunciation that – given our English-speaking habits of mushing consonants together – means that listeners don’t hear our single or double consonants distinctly. Here are some common traps: anus (ano) and year (anno), house (casa) and cash register (cassa), and lighthouse (faro) and farro (farro).
    • A change of one vowel between two similar-looking nouns. Examples include cimento (a feat or endeavor) and cemento (cement) and batteri(bacterium) and batteria (drums or battery).
  • Similarity between a noun and a verb form. In some cases, the words are true homonyms. The post Conjugating Italian Verbs and Knowing Where to Put the Tonic Stress talks about nouns associated with (i.e., derived from or vice versa) from verbs. 
    • A noun that is similar or spelled the same as a conjugated verb form, sometimes with the same spelling. An example is the noun review (la rassegna) and the difference with conjugated forms of the verb to resign oneself (rassegnare: io rassegno, tu rassegni, lui rassegna). 
    • A noun that is similar or spelled the same as the past participle of a verb. For example, the noun choice (scelta) and the participle of the verb to choose (scegliere: scelto/a).
Speaking of homonyms, we were surprised to learn how many types of homonymy (sounds like hominy but tastes different) there are. From the Wikipedia page there are homographs, homophones, heteronyms, polysemes, and capitonyms. All have different meanings but can share the same spelling and pronunciation. A few homographs are covered in our post Italian Words with Tonic Stress on Third-From-Last Syllable: Le Parole Sdrucciole.

How did we come up with this list? Simple. Each and every one of the words below is one we've encountered in conversation or reading and reached for the dictionary to look it up (at least once and sometimes more). From our tendency to keep lists, this blog post was born.


The List

In the list below, the following abbreviations are used:

  • “pp.” past participle
  • “V” indicates a verb. 
  • “A” indicates an adjective.
  • When a word is not marked with “V” or “A”, it’s a noun. 
In some word sets, accent marks are added because they are key to pronunciation and distinguishing between the words. The accents would not normally be written.

l ‘ago (attrezzo da cucito) / l'aglio (pianta aromatica) / l'agio (agiatezza, comfort)

l'agnello (piccolo della pecora) / l'anello (cerchietto di metallo)

l'allenamento (esercizio, addestramento) / l'allestimento (preparazione)

l'ano (orifizio rettale) / l'anno (unità di misura del tempo)

l'aria (gas, clima, ambiente) / l'area (superficie)

l'ascolto (atto di sentire) / ascolta (V: ascoltare; presente: io ascolto, lui ascolta)

il banco (panca, sedile) / la banca (istituto di credito)

il battèrio (microrganismo) / la batterìa (accumulatore di energia elettrica o strumento musicale)

il bruto (guidata dall'istinto) / il brutto (persona brutta)

il camìno (struttura per accendere un fuoco) / il cammìno (atto di camminare) / il càmion (automezzo da trasporto)

il campanile (torre campanaria) / la campana (strumento musicale in bronzo) / la campanella (piccola campanella) / il campanello (dispositivo sonoro)

i cannellini (i fagioli) / i cannelloni (grossi cannelli di pasta ripieni)

il cavalletto (sostegno) / la cavalletta (insetto, locusta)

la compagna (amica) / la compagnia (gruppo comitiva)

il cancello (portone) / la cancellata (recinzione) / cancellato (V: cancellare pp.)

il cappello (copricapo) / la cappella / (piccola chiesa) / i capelli (i peli che coprono il capo)

la casa (abitazione) / la cassa (macchina per l'incasso)

il cassetto (mobili, scompartimento scorrevole) / la cassetta (contenitore quadrato)

il cavolo (pianta erbacea) / il cavallo (mammifero quadrupede) / il cavillo (argomento pretestuoso)

il cieco (personal non vedente) / il ceco (persona della Repubblica Ceca) / il cece (legume, alimento)

il cimento (prova rischiosa) / il cemento (impasto per costruire)

la ciotola (tazza larga) / il ciottolo (sasso levigato dall'acqua)

la colazione (pasto del mattino) / la collazione (confronto di copie diverse)

la colla (sostanza che attacca) / il collo (unione fra teste e torace) / la cola (tipo di pianta) / il colle
(piccola elevazione di terreno)

la coltura (coltivazione) / la cultura (insieme di cognizioni)

la copia (trascrizione fedele) / la coppia (insieme di due unità)

il coretto (coro musicale) / corretto (A: giusto, V: correggere pp.)

la coscienza (consapevolezza di sé stessi) / la conoscenza (atto o effetto di conoscere)

la culla (lettino; luogo di origine) / il culo (sedere)

il disegno (rappresentazione grafica) / disegno (V: disegnare; presente: io disegno, lui disegna)

il dirigibile (aerostato, può che essere diretto) / digeribile (che si digerisce facilmente)

i diti (considerati distintamente) / le dita (considerate collettivamente) / il dito (singola) / la ditta (azienda, impresa)

l'estere (composto chimico) / l'estero (paesi stranieri)

la faccia (volto) / faccio (V: fare; presente: io faccio)

il falò (fuoco accesso di proposito) / il fallo (errore, sbaglio)

il faro (luce per la navigazione) / il farro (varietà di frumento)

la folla (persone: assembramento) / il folle (pazzo, squilibrato)

la fame (acuto bisogno di cibo) / la fama (gloria, rinomanza, celebrità)

il faraone (titolo dell'antico Egitto) / la faraona (uccello)

le feci (escrementi) / fece (V: fare; passato remote: lui fece)

le Figi (arcipelago del Pacifico) / i fighi (cose forti)

la forma (aspetto esteriore) / le forme (convenzioni) / formo (V: formare; presente: io formo)

la formìca (insetto) / la fòrmica (plastica laminata)

il freddo (gelo) / la fretta (premura, urgenza)

il frigo (frigorifero) / friggo (V: friggere; presente: io friggo)

il ghiacciaio (massa di ghiaccio) / la ghiacciaia (locale per il ghiaccio)

il giorno (ventiquattro ore) / la giornata (periodo da mattina a sera)

i giovani (non vecchi) / Giovanni (nome maschile) / giovane (A: non vecchio)

il molle (che è morbido) / la molla (spirale elastica)

il legno (materia dei tronchi e rami) / la legna (pezzi di legno da ardere)

il letto (mobile per dormire) / letto (V: leggere; presente: io letto)

la lettura (atto di leggere) / la lettera (simbolo dell'alfabeto; testo)

il logo (marchio, simbolo) / il luogo (parte di spazio)

il lutto (dolore per la morte) / lotto (gioco di fortuna)

la marcia (manifestazione) / il marcio (ciò che è corrotto)

il mento (parte del viso) / la mente (intelletto) / la menta (pianta) / menti (V: mentire: presente: tu menti)

il messaggio (notizia) / il massaggio (manipolazione muscolare)

la mola (antichi mulini) / la mole (quantità ingente)

la nomina (conferire un incarico) / nomina (V: nominare; presente: lui o lei nomina)

il nono (nona parte, uno su nove) / il nonno (padre di genitore)

il paio (coppia di oggetti) / paio (V: parere; presente: io paio)

la pala (attrezzo per scavare) / il palo (asta) / la palla (corpo sferico)

il pane (tipo di alimento) / la panna (crema del latte)

il panello (focaccina) / il pannello (elemento piano)

la pappa (minestrina semiliquida) / il papà (padre) / il papa (pontefice cattolico)

il parmigiano (formaggio) / la parmigiana (pietanza a base di melanzane) / i parmigiani (abitanti di Parma)

il passeggio (camminata per svago) / il passaggio (testo, tragitto, via) / il paesaggio (veduta)

la passata (trattamento superficiale, salsa) / il passato (il tempo trascorso) / passato (A: avvenuto) / passato (V: passare pp.)

il pene (organo genitale maschile) / la pena (sofferenza) / la penna (uccelli, parte del piumaggio)

la pesca (cattura dei pesci) / la pesca (frutta del pesco)

il peto (scoreggia, aria intestinale) / il petto (torace umano o animale)

il piccione (colombo) / il piccone (attrezzo di ferro)

il pieno (apice, apogeo) / il piano (livello, parte di un edificio)

il pinocchio (seme di pino) / la pannocchia (spiga del granturco)

il pisolino (sonnellino) / pisellino (piccolo pene)

il principio (inizio; causa; valore) / il principe (figlio del re)

il polittico / politico (A: relativo alla politica)

il poro (orifizio della cute) / il porro (ortaggio con bulbo; plurale: i porri) / porre (V: mettere, infinito)

la pulizìa (aspetto di ciò che è pulito) / la polizìa (tutelare l'ordine pubblico) / la pòlizza (documento assicurativo)

la rassegna (ispezione, rivista, mostra) / rassegno (V: rassegnare; presente: io rassegno)

il recapito (indirizzo di consegna) / recapita (V: recapitare; presente: lui recapita)

il regalo (dono, presente) / la regola (norma di comportamento)

il rene (organo) / la rena (sabbia)

la ruga (solco della pelle) / la riga (linea dritta)

il riso (l'atto di ridere) / la rissa (zuffa, scontro)

il sale (cloruro di sodio alimentare) / lui sale (V: salire; presente: lui sale)

la scopa (oggetto per pulire) / lo scopo (fine, obiettivo) / scopo (V: scopare; presente: io scopo, lui scopa)

la scelta (atto o effetto dello scegliere) / scelto (A: di ottima qualità) / scelto (V: scegliere pp.)

lo schermo (riparo, protezione) / la scherma (sport da combattimento)

la scommessa (puntata in giochi d’azzardo) / scommesso (V: scommettere pp.)

la scoperta (qualcosa di nuovo) / scoperto (A: senza difese, riparo) / scoperto (V: scoprire pp.)

la sera (ultima parte del giorno) / la serra (costruzione per la coltivazione)

la seta (fibra tessile) / la sete (bisogno di bere)

il seno (incavo tra le mammelle) / il senno (avvedutezza) / sennò (se no, altrimenti)

il sonno (stato del dormire) / sono (verbo essere, io sono)

lo spasso (divertimento, piacere) / se la spassa (V: spassarsela – divertirsi; presente: lui se la spassa)

lo spazio (area, posto) / spazia (V: spaziare = estendersi; presente: io spazio, lui spazia)

lo spoglio (voto: scrutinio) / le spoglie (salma) / spoglio (V:spogliare - svestire; presente: io spoglio)

lo sposato (coniugato) / spossato (A: privo di forza, esausto) / spossato (V: spossare pp.)

lo stilo (bastoncino per scrivere) / lo stile (caratteristiche formale)

il tavolo (tipo di mobile) / la tavola (asse di legno; libro: illustrazione; tipo di mobile)

il tendone (tenda da circo) / il tendine (tra muscoli e ossa)

il tono (volume sonoro) / il tonno (grosso pesce marino) / il tuono (rumore dei lampi)

la tuta (indumento da lavoro), tutta (indica totalità)

l'uovo (gamete femminile, plurale: le uova) / l'uva (frutto delle vite, plurale: le uve)

la vergola (filo di seta o d'oro intessuto in drappi) / la virgola (punteggiatura: segno)

il vero (corrispondente a verità) / il verro (porco non castrato) / verrò (V: venire; future semplice: io verrò)

la vite (piante rampicante o elemento filettato) / la vita (individuo: esistenza)

il vitto (cibo) / Vito (nome maschile)

il volto (viso) / la volta (indica frequenza di un evento)


Monday, October 1, 2018

Dining Recommendations for Alta Badia in the Dolomites, South Tyrol

Dining at Maso Runch. Panicia - barley soup with speck.Dining at Maso Runch. Canci t’ega - spinach and ricotta ravioli, in brown butter.Dining at Maso Runch. Tutres - fried pasta, stuffed with spinach, ricotta or sauerkraut
Dining at Maso Runch. Left: Panicia - barley soup with speck. Center: Canci t’ega - spinach and ricotta ravioli, in brown butter. Right: Tutres - fried pasta, stuffed with spinach, ricotta or sauerkraut.


Here are places we have tried for dinner in Alta Badia, ordered from places we have visited the most to least. We tend to go back to places we like, so you can interpret the first three recommendations as strong ones. The years we went to each location are in parentheses.

* Ristorante B&B Mesoles (2008, 2016, 2017, 2018)

This always seems to be our first night’s meal every time we are Colfosco/Corvara. We stay in the nearby Nature Hotel Garni Delta and it’s a quick walk to Mesoles. It’s a simple and dependable place with a bit of everything as well as the typical dishes of the region, especially “tutres”. It’s a bit out of the way from Colfosco town center, being halfway between Colfosco and Passo Gardena.

I remember our first time there in June 2008, when we got to know the owner, Hilda Alfreider. We chatted late into the evening about the upcoming momentous election in the US.

There is a part of the Sella Group – of which this restaurant is practically at the base of on the north side – called in Italian l’altopiano delle Mèsules. I’m guessing the restaurant is named after this but have no idea on the etymology.

* Maso Runch (2008, 2016, 2017, 2018)

This is one of our favorite stops for uniqueness of location and Ladin cuisine experience. It’s located above Pedraces (in Badia) and is one of the two Osteria d’Italia Guide recommended places in Val Badia. (We use the Osteria App faithfully. Don’t leave home without it!) Bring your appetite to Maso Runch because you will be served many courses, with options for second, and you won’t want to miss any of them.

As an example, here's what you might expect for food courses: panicia (an orzo soup), tutres (fried pasta, stuffed with spinach, ricotta or sauerkraut), canci arstis (leavened and fried ravioli with spinach or poppy seeds), canci t’ega (ravioli with spinach with melted butter), giama de purcel cun pulëinta (pork shank), custëis e kraut (pork ribs with sauerkraut), and Bales y golasc o pulëinta y golasc (goulash).

A maso is a typical farmhouse of the Alta Badia. They are very pleasing to look at and in the case Maso Runch you get to eat inside it and experience it through your stomach. Maso Runch has been around for a mere 200 years, and that along makes it worth the visit.

Dining at Maso Runch. Canci arstis - leavened and fried ravioli with spinach or poppy seedsDining at Maso Runch. Pork shank and ribs.Dining at Maso Runch. Strudel.
Dining at Maso Runch. Left: Canci arstis - leavened and fried ravioli with spinach or poppy seeds. Center: Pork shank and ribs. Right: Strudel.

This is another Osteria d’Italia pick near Maso Runch but on the opposite side of the valley above Pedraces (in Badia). It’s less “fancy” than Maso Runch and significantly smaller, but it makes up for it in a satisfying meal with reasonable food portions and less overall courses that will make it easier for you to say yes to dessert, delicious furtaies.

You will get a more personal experience at Sotciastel – at least we have both times we visited. It’s an intimate space with honest cooking. The typically 3 course menu of homemade ladin cuisine is served in the stube in the old house. Stube?  It's a wood paneled room (thinking living room) found in many houses of the area. The room usually has one corner given over to a large stove for heating that's fed from outside the room and features benches and beds around it. For more information, see the post Ladin Mugums and Stuas.

The name means under (sot in dialect, sotto in Italian) the castle (ciastel in dialect, castello in Italian), with the castle (at one time) being uphill. This maso holds the distinction of being the site of Bronze Age settlements, some of the first permanent settlements in the area.

Dinner at Maso Sotciastel. Canerderli browned in butter.Dinner at Maso Sotciastel. Polenta with goulash.Dinner at Maso Sotciastel. Dessert - furtaies (frappe fritte).
Dinner at Maso Sotciastel. Left: Canerderli browned in butter. Center: Polenta with goulash. Right: Dessert - furtaies (frappe fritte).

* Pizzeria Fornella (2008, 2018)

Located in Corvara in Badia, this pizzeria is at the crossroads of route 243 running east/west connecting Colfosco and Corvara and route 244 running north/south. We've had reliable dinners here.

Others places we’ve tried for dinner include:
L’ostì is a new place that we discovered and is a bit on the fancier side.  Nature Hotel is where we stay, and we only had dinner there once all these years. Not so much that it's not good, but given we eat breakfast there every morning because we stay there, we like to get out and try other places for dinner.


Here are a few places we have tried for lunch. For our hikes in 2008, we carried our lunch because the rifugi were not open. (See Alta Badia and Val Gardena – Eight Hikes in the Dolomites.) For our hikes in 2018, our timing was better and all the rifugi were open, so we planned our hikes such that we ended up at a rifugio for lunch. (See Six Days in Val Badia: Hiking, Walking, and Dining.)

Hiking in 2018, we had lunches at Rifugio Puez, Rifugio Fanes, Ranch da Andrè, and Rifugio Forcella. On our way to Rifugio Fanes, we stopped at Rifugio Gran Fanes for a snack. All rifugi had standard fare with minor variations in menu. But don’t worry, you will never go hungry or suffer from lack of choice at a rifugio. To eat lunch once at a rifugio after a long morning of hiking is like no other experience except maybe eating dinner there because you are staying over night.

In 2018, one of our days off from hiking we tried the upscale market-eatery Pur Süditrol in Bruneck (Brunico in Italian) having been praised in a New York Times article 36 Hours in the Dolomites. It was okay for a sandwich, but a bit too sterile for our tastes.
Aside: Here we go again. We’ve picked apart the NYT travel piece on Bergamo in our post Perché Bergamo (Why Bergamo)? because that piece represented nothing of what we’ve experienced in Bergamo. And it’s the same with the Dolomites piece: it doesn't match what we’ve experienced in the Dolomites, and think would be practical when visiting. For more analysis on why, see Six Days in Val Badia: Hiking, Walking, and Dining.
In 2008, we ate lunch once at Albergo Dasser. We were visiting the nearby Museum Ladin Ciastel De Tor and Dassser made a nice lunch stop. I don’t remember too much about Dasser other than we were a bit rushed being at the end of lunch service. But boy do I remember the museum. It’s one of those weird museum experiences that sticks with you. For more information, see the post Ladin Museum in San Martino.

Dessert at a rifugio. Krapfen at Ranch da Andrè.Dessert at a rifugio. Kaiserschmarrn (Frittata dolce) at Rifugio Puez.
Examples of desserts at a rifugio. Left: Krapfen at Ranch da Andrè. Right: Kaiserschmarrn (Frittata dolce) at Rifugio Puez.

Example of a lunch at a rifugio. Sausage and sauerkraut at Rifugio Fanes. Example of a lunch at a rifugio. Canerderli with wild mushrooms at Rifugio Forcella Pordoi.
Examples of lunches at a rifugio. Left: Sausage and sauerkraut at Rifugio Fanes. Right: Canerderli with wild mushrooms at Rifugio Forcella Pordoi.

Ranch da Andrè - tutres, stuffed with sauerkraut.Ranch da Andrè - tutres, stuffed with spinach.
Living the life of tutres - a type of fried and lightly stuffed ravioli, here filled with sauerkraut (left) and spinach (right). We had these at Ranch da Andrè.