Wednesday, October 4, 2017

People and Place Names in Italian: Correct Pronunciation



RAI DOP: Dizionario Italiano multimediale e multilingue d'ortografia e di pronuncia. Parole e nomi dell'italiano.RAI DOP: Dizionario Italiano multimediale e multilingue d'ortografia e di pronuncia. Parole e nomi dell'italiano.Grande Dizionario Hoepli di Aldo Gabrielli, edizione speciale 150th anniversarioTulio de Maruo grande dizionario Italiano dell'uso
Italian dictionaries consulted for this post: DOP, Hoepli, de Mauro.


Overview

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I'm obsessed with tonic accents. I admit it. I think it stems from having so much trouble with pronouncing Italian words and knowing where to put the correct stress accent. I've discussed tonic accents in several other posts: Italian Words with Tonic Stress on Third-From-Last Syllable: Le Parole Sdrucciole and Conjugating Italian Verbs and Knowing Where to Put the Tonic Stress. In particular, I get stuck on sdrucciole words, that is, words with an accent on the third-from-last syllable.

In this post, I'll talk about people and place names, which, in my opinion, are not well-documented, at least from the point of view of someone trying to learn the language. It may seem like I'm making a big deal out of this, but after getting chuckled at recently for my pronunciation of Taranto and Cattaneo, I decided to investigate further. For the record, I pronounced Taranto (a city) as Tarànto instead of Tàranto. That got me a chuckle and a quick correction. Then, I pronounced Cattaneo (a surname) as Cattanèo instead of Cattàneo. For that mispronunciation I was laughed at a good bit and called a terrone, or southerner. I was among friends who didn't mean it, but I was still a little annoyed.

What I found interesting in my research for this post is that many of the sources I turned to have no information on how to pronounce people and places names. In the least, after reading this post, you'll walk away with a list of useful Italian dictionary references, with a few that can help you resolve pronunciation.

First, this post lists people and places names with the correct syllable to stress. Then, there is a quick overview of accents and vowels. Finally, the post finishes with a comparison of different references used to find pronunciation information (or not as the case may be). From the analysis of references, I recommend that the best overall site for quickly looking up pronunciation of people and places to be DOP: Dizionario Italiano multimediale e multilingue d'ortografia e di pronuncia.

People and Places List

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Here is a list of just a few of the places names I've stumbled over and eventually looked up during my Italian language odyssey. The RAI: Dizionario italiano multimediale e multilingue d'Ortografia e di Pronunzia is the main reference source in terms of accents shown. Note that accents are almost always not used when you see these names written. They are included here only for clarity. See the next section for more information on accents and vowels.

People
Achìlle, Archimède, Aristòtele, (Alessandro) Barìcco, (Giacomo) Bresàdola, (Michelangelo) Buonarròti, (Primo) Carnèra, (Giacomo) Casanòva, (Andrea) Camillèri, (Carlo) Cattàneo, (Gaio Guilio) Césare, (Marco Tullio) Ciceróne, (Cristoforo) Cólombo, Copèrnico, (Francesco) Cossìga, Demòcrito, (Luigi) Einàudi, Empèdocle, Epicùro, Èrcole, Èttore, Eurìpide, (Ugo) Fóscolo, (Alcide) de Gàsperi, Artemìsia Gentiléschi, (Ettore) Majoràna, (Dacia) Maraìni, Mèdici, (Alberto) Moràvia, (Pietro) Paleòcapa, Pitàgora, Platóne, (Leonardo) Sciàscia, Sòcrate, Zenóne

Places
Abrùzzo, Adamèllo, Alberobèllo, Ancóna, Àquila, Àsolo, Bèrgamo, Bréscia, Brìndisi. Càgliari, Campània, Cividàle del Friùli, Cremóna, Cùneo, Dàlmine, Èboli, Edimbùrgo, Èrice, Firènze, Fossàno, Gallìpoli, Gènova, Ìmola, Itàlia. Lombardìa, Lònguelo, Livórno, Màntova, Matèra, Milàno, Milàzzo, Mòdena, Molìse, Mònaco dei Bavièra, Nàpoli, Ostùni, Pàdova, Paèstum, Pavìa, Perùgia, Pescàra, Piacènza, Piemónte, Ragùsa, Róma, Rovìgo, Sardégna, Sàssari, Selinùnte, Sicìlia, Siracùsa, Sirmióne, Spoléto, Stupinìgi, Tànaro, Tàranto, Tèramo, Tévere, Tolomèo, Torìno, Tortóna, Tràpani, Ùdine, Vèneto, Venèzia, Vitèrbo, Voghèra
You might have noticed that many of the people listed are scientists or "ancient" Greeks. The selection indicates what catches my eye. Sorry, no movie stars or soccer players here.

Not included in the lists are people or places that are normally written with an accent, which is easy because it indicates where to put the emphasis. Examples include (Fabrizio) De André, the Italian singer and songwriter, and Carrù, a town in Piedmont.

Vowels and Accent Marks

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This is slight digression, but may be of interest if you are wondering why E and O in the people and place names can have two different accents marks, while A, I, and U have just one mark.
  • There are five written vowels (graphemes) in Italian: A, E, I, O, U. In English, we have the same five and sometimes Y.
  • There are seven pronounced vowels (phonemes) in Italian, because E and O can be open or closed. The seven sounds are represented as /a/, /ɛ/, /e/, /i/, /ɔ/, /o/, and /u/. /ɛ/ and /e/ are E open and closed, respectively. /ɔ/ and /o/ are O open and closed, respectively.
  • Each vocal sound has a location in the mouth where it originates as demonstrated in this vocal diagram for Italian. The vocal diagram for Italian is a triangle, while that for English is shaped like trapezoid
  • The five written vowels have the task of representing the seven pronounced vowels. Most of the time there isn't a problem. When there is, graphic symbols are used to clarify. This is particularly important when distinguishing between two words spelled the same (homographs) but with different pronunciations. A good example is the classic confusion between fruit and fish. Pèsca is fruit and pésca is fishing, where è represents the open sound /ɛ/ and é represents the closed sound /e/. Similarly, you might encounter vòlto, the past participle of volgere, and vólto, face, where ó represents the open sound /ɔ/ and ó represents the closed sound /o/.
Okay, after that quick intro to vowels, you need to keep in mind how accents on vowels are used in designating the accented syllable in a word.
  • In the lists above of people and place names, it worth restating again that accent marks would not normally be used to show where the stress goes. They were added to make the discussion here easier.
  • When an A, I, or U are in the stressed syllable of a word, they appear as à, ì, and ù and they are pronounced as they usually are. It doesn't mean they are "closed" like E or O can be.  Rather, it means the accent mark is just shows stress of the syllable.
  • When and E or O are in the stressed syllable of a word, they can appear as è, é, ò, or ó. In this case, the accent mark shows both the stressed syllable and how the vowel is pronounced, i.e., as open or closed according the mark specified.
  • When E or O are not part of the stressed syllable of a word, they are closed, i.e., /e/ and /o/. So the open sound is only possible when E and O are in the stressed syllable.
If you are a little confused and even stressed out by open and closed vocals, my advice is not to worry about them too much. In my experience, most Italians don't grasp them fully. In fact, one of my favorite language references Grammatica italiana di base, says as much noting that much of the rules of the open and closed E and O originate for the most part from Tuscany. Outside of that region the spoken language diverges quite a bit. What I find more important than open and closed vowel sounds are getting the tonic accent correct.


il Ragazzini, dizionario inglese italiano, italiano inglese di Giuseppe Ragazzini, ZanichelliLo Zingarelli 2008, vocabolario della lingua italiana di Nicola Zingarelli, ZanichelliVocabolario della lingua italiana, Treccani l'enciclopediaVocabolario della lingua italiana, Treccani l'enciclopedia
Italian dictionaries consulted for this post: il Ragazzini, lo Zingarelli, Treccani.


Comparison of References

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To test how different dictionary sources might be used to help figure out pronunciation of people and place names, let's use two test words: Taranto, a city in Puglia, and Democrito (Democritus in English), a Greek philosopher. Both words have accent on the third from last syllable, Tàranto and Demòcrito, and were words I looked up to confirm pronunciation. The results of my research reveal that:
  • The RAI DOP reference is the winner by far in terms of being a good source to resolve pronunciation; it's good online and offline (paper copy) for resolving people and place names.
  • An encyclopedia app or web site such as Treccani or Wikipedia, are always a handy backup for resolving people and place names.
  • Pronunciation sites like Forvo are helpful as well.
Key for tables below

listed - Word is listed with pronunciation and accent shown.
listed* - Word is listed but with no indicated pronunciation; there is a sound clip.
not listed - Word doesn't appear at all in the reference.
not listed* - Word doesn't appear, but a derivative or related word is present that could be useful.

Online resources

References I consult most frequently.


Word Word Reference Dizionario Olivetti Corriere della Sera RAI DOP Wiktionary Wikipedia Forvo
Tàranto not listed not listed not listed listed listed* listed* listed*
Demòcrito
listed
not listed not listed listed not listed listed* listed*


Physical books

These are references I found in Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, in Bergamo. I had expected paper sources would give better coverage of people and place names, but that wasn't the case.


WordRAIDOP1Hoepli2LoZing3Treccani
Vocab4
TreccaniEnc5de Mauro6Il Ragazzini7
Tàrantolistednot listednot listednot listednot listednot listedlisted
Demòcritolistednot listednot listednot listedlistednot listed
not listed


RAI DOP: Dizionario Italiano multimediale e multilingue d'ortografia e di pronuncia. Parole e nomi dell'italiano.
Grande Dizionario Hoepli di Aldo Gabrielli, edizione speciale 150o anniversario
Lo Zingarelli 2008, vocabolario della lingua italiana di Nicola Zingarelli, Zanichelli
Il Vocabolario della lingua italiana, Treccani
Vocabolario della lingua italiana, Treccani l'enciclopedia
Tulio de Maruo grande dizionario Italiano dell'uso
il Ragazzini, dizionario inglese italiano, italiano inglese di Giuseppe Ragazzini, Zanichelli

Apps

Here are four apps that I use frequently on my phone.

WordCollins Italiano IngleseDizionario di ItalianoTreccani VocabolarioTreccani l'Enciclopedia
Tàrantonot listednot listednot listedlisted*
Demòcritolistednot listednot listedlisted


Related web pages
  • Accademia della Crusca's list of geographical names and stressed syllable. Not a complete list.
  • Tangentially related, Italian cities whose names come from Latin and etymology of capital cities of provinces.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Observations on Learning the Italian Language



What follows are a few observations on learning - or shall I say trying to learn - the Italian language for years now. Perhaps reading this you may find something to take comfort in if you are struggling with learning a new language.

Sure, I'm slowly improving with my Italian, but to me there will always be a frustrating lack of progress, naturalness, and ease in speaking. Yes, learning a language is more than speaking. There is listening comprehension, reading, writing and gestures, and they are all related to speaking. However, in my experience and especially in Italy, speaking is the most important to master, especially if you are learning the language as an adult. If you can speak reasonably well in Italy, you can get yourself understood.  Therefore, the following observations focus on speaking.

Talkers and Story-Tellers 

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He who talks a lot in his native language, talks a lot in the new language, and therefore, masters speaking quickly. It's not really all that surprising. I've seen many cases that prove this, including two friends, one Persian and one German, who I'd say are talkative types and have picked up Italian easily. In Italian, these two friends would be said to be portati per le lingue.

I've also noticed that people who often tell stories (gossip, what they had for dinner, etc.) to relate points or just do it naturally as part of conversation, also easily pick up speaking a new language.

So, what to do if you are more of a listener and not a natural story-teller in your native language? Answer: nothing. You'll be the same way in the new language. Changing the language doesn't change who you are fundamentally.

Ears vs. Eyes 

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How to categorize learning styles and whether instruction should be tailored to these styles are not widely agreed upon subjects. The Wikipedia page for Learning Styles gives a taste of the differing categorizations of learning and critiques of them. Notwithstanding, I can't help but notice that there are those who learn more aurally, and those that learn more visually. I fall in the latter category. For example, when meeting someone in Italy, I often ask the person to spell their name so I can process it or write it down. It might be because I'm unfamiliar with Italian names and have no existing points of reference, but I think it's because I process information better visually. While the person is spelling their name, I'm writing it in my mind. I don't hear it by sound only. In my opinion, people who learn aurally, can usually get the name right hearing it just once.

As well, when learning a new word someone tells me orally, I can rarely repeat it perfectly the first, second or even third time. The only time I can repeat the word on the first try is if it is a word I already have seen or know. In fact, if someone tells me a new word like a name, I often write it down or at least "see" and "spell" the word in my mind. Whether it's laziness on my part or a mode of learning I've fallen into, but could possibly change, I don't know. My visual style also applies beyond just single words. My little black notebook, on my person at all times, is littered with phraseology and idioms heard during the day. Italian friends who are telling me a new word or phrase in Italian know me well enough by now to prompt me to pull out my notebook and write it down.

I relate these anecdotes to point out that it helps to think about how you learn and at least start by maximizing that mode for learning a language.

I've often wondered about the connection between people who can carry a tune well and their related ability with language. Again, not to disparage myself, but I'm a bit oblivious to melody. In Italian, I'm said to be stonato or tone-deaf. Is that connected to my penchant for tending to process information visually? Would taking singing lessons help me speak Italian better?

Accept Your Accent 

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Of course, I can't hear my own accent, but I'm often told that I have an obvious American accent (accento) when I speak Italian. To think that my "Italian" voice in my mind - when I'm speaking without really speaking so to speak - always sounds perfect and without accent! What's up with that discrepancy between the inner voice and my actual voice?

The other day, I was part of a conversation and we were talking about a foreigner who spoke Italian like mother tongue (madre lingua), with no accent. What struck me about the conversation was how the Italians kept praising her ability and how she had essentially no accent. I cringed just a little inside wondering what they really thought about my accent.

What's wrong with having an accent? Answer: nothing is wrong with having an accent. It's more important to get your ideas across. Remember that successfully communicating simple or profound ideas doesn't require complicated language or a perfect accent. Feel better?

Reading vs. Speaking 

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Reading doesn't always lead to better speaking, at least immediately for me. In fact, reading for a few hours takes a short term toll on my speaking. After reading for a good two to three hours, I'm almost paralyzed when it comes to speaking. I've wondered about this phenomenon. Is it just me? Is it imagined? Does reading temporarily make part of my brain for speaking less accessible? Eventually, my speaking returns. In fact, I think that reading really does help long term.

The book I'm currently reading in Italian is Carlo Rovelli's, La realità non è come ci appare or "reality is not what it seems." It's an wonderful book about physics. I've noticed that after several hours of reading it (sometimes quietly, sometimes out loud), I can barely manage a ciao and buongiorno. So read you must, but before you head to your local café for a chat, warm up with some common phrases*. I've learned not to walk in and expect to rattle off a interesting tidbit from Rovelli's book like this bit about quantum field theory, "sono oggetti strani: ciascuna delle particelle di cui sono composti appare solo quando interagisce con qualcos'altro." (p. 127).

* Common phrasing. I've been enjoying the interesting video content on the Alma.tv site, in particular, the Italiano in practica series. I wish had seen these videos years ago.

Relax Parrot Smile 

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Like skiing, I'm stiff when it comes to talking. And, unfortunately, this is the case in both English and Italian. (Can you notice it in the writing?) I know the key is to relax. I'm not on a stage, it's not a do or die situation, there are no obligations, but still there are times that I have to remind myself to relax. It also helps to remind myself that I'm speaking with Italians in their language and not in English, i.e., I'm making the effort.

Besides relaxing, being a parrot helps, in Italian that would be pappagallo. Repeating back phrases and asking questions will at least keep the conversation going. You don't have to have original ideas for every conversation. Repeating and paraphrasing what you heard is fine at least as you warm up to the conversation.

And, always smile. A smile is understood in most languages without needing a translation.

Dosey Doe Language Partners 

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In my language-learning world, people fall into these categories:

  • Scrunchies: People who scrunch up their face and are prone to saying "whaaaat?" They make little effort to cross the bridge of communication.
  • Sweaties: People I feel nervous talking to. They make me sweat. I feel like I'm on trial. It may have nothing to do with speaking a different language.
  • Sweeties: People I could talk with for hours. They make learning a language a joy. 
If you are the non-confrontational type like me, you'll search out the Sweeties, put yourself in front of the Sweaties every now and then, and avoid the Scrunchies. If you are a talker, story-teller, or even mildly confrontational, you'll likely get bored with the Sweeties, and enjoy the Sweaties and the Scrunchies. To each his own: a ciascuno il suo. The point is to understand what types you like to talk with in your new language.

I will take this moment to rant a bit. I actually get annoyed at Scrunchies. I know I can't master one consonant versus two consonants* (nono - 9th, nonno - grandfather) or put the accent in the right place (pappa - food, papà - dad, papa - pope) but please Scrunchies, just try to pay an iota of attention to the context of the conversation and work with me!

* Last year around New Year's we wished many people a Buon Ano (or Good Anus) instead of Buon Anno (Happy New Year). New Year's resolution: I will pronounce my double consonants!

Let There Be English 

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I used to get mad when people spoke English with me in Italy. It felt like I had failed in my ability to speak Italian, that my Italian wasn't good enough. Then I realized that there are a couple of good reasons why this happens. First, someone's English may be better than my Italian and in the interest of efficient communication, we communicate in the strongest common language. Second, I find that people are eager to speak English, even if they just know a few words. Many Italians want to learn, and want the opportunity to speak English. Italians learn English in school starting pretty young but don't really have a chance to practice it.

Finally, there is what I would call the over-eager, tourist-friendly service provider phenomenon. Typically, it's a waiter who wants to make you feel as comfortable as possible and speaks in English no matter what. He has sized me up as English speaker and that's what I'm served. What the waiter doesn't know is that while Debbie from Dubuque or Takashi from Tokyo may feel at home with that approach, he loses points with us. This tends to happen in the most popular Italian tourist destinations. So the solution is obvious, go where there are less tourists. For example, when I want to escape English for sure, I head to the hills. In small towns in the hills in Italy, I can tip the balance back so that our Italian is the best mode to communicate. Travelmarx has been known to talk for hours to a sweet old grandmother in the middle of nowhere.

Aside: Don't expect that when talking to an Italian and using an English word, in particular, a city name, that you'll be understood right away. It's not because the word isn't known, but rather how you pronounce it. For example, to this day when we say we are from Seattle, pronounced /siˈætəl/ with the sound of one "t" like a "d", it almost always elicits a hesitation and then a restatement of Seattle as /siˈæt təl/, with two "t" sounds distinctly pronounced. That's because in Italian, two of the same consonant sound very different than just the single consonant. Beyond places, there are many English words commonly used in Italy that are - as you'd expect - pronounced according to the Italian alphabet and pronunciation rules, including top (pronounced "taupe"), stop ("stow-p"), hamburger ("amburger" ), ok ("oh kay"), and mix ("mee ix") to name just a few. I find myself starting to use these Italianized pronunciations. When in Rome, do as the Romans do….or in Italian: paese che vai, usanza che trovi.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

History in the Streets - Comparison Between Italian and American Street Names



Walking through a typical Italian city you can't help but get a lesson in Italian history: it's all encoded in street names. It wouldn't be uncommon to receive directions such as "Follow Viale Vittorio Emanuele II, turn left on Giuseppe Verdi and follow it until you come to Via Cesare Battisti." In the course of your journey you would be honoring, respectively, Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a united Italy in the late 1800s, Giuseppe Verdi, the famous Italian opera composer of the second half of the 1800s, and Cesare Battisti, the Italian patriot and socialist politician of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

It turns out that street names in Italy fall into a couple of broad categories dealing with important people and events in Italian history.  By contrast, street names in the United States tend to be based on numbers (e.g., First, Second) or names of trees (e.g., Oak, Elm). 

In this post, we'll compare and contrast street names between the US and Italy. Specifically, we'll talk about the top names used for Italian streets. Then, we'll use Bergamo as a specific Italian city example and list some street names found there. Finally, we'll close out by talking about American street names.

Italian Street Names


The data discussed here is from Laboratorio internazionale di onomastica (LIOn), but unfortunately doesn't seem to be easily accessible anymore. (Long live data on the internet!) So, we have to rely on others who analyzed the data, in particular these two references:



These two references (circa 2013) give the following top 20 Italian street names:

  1. Roma 
  2. Giuseppe Garibaldi 
  3. Guglielmo Marconi 
  4. Giuseppe Mazzini 
  5. Dante Alighieri 
  6. Camillo Benso conte di Cavour 
  7. Giacomo Matteotti 
  8. Giuseppe Verdi 
  9. IV Novembre 
  10. Castello 
  11. Papa Giovanni XXIII 
  12. Cesare Battisti 
  13. Alessandro Manzoni 
  14. Aldo Moro 
  15. Antonio Gramsci 
  16. Chiesa 
  17. Vittorio Veneto 
  18. Piave 
  19. Alcide de Gasperi 
  20. Umberto I

Some information and observations about this list of street names:
  • The list of top street names came from over 8,100 Italian cities. 
  • Reference 1 states that streets named for John Fitzgerald Kennedy comes in at number 66. 
  • The names of important Risorgimento (Italian unification) / Irredentism and political figures provide 50% of the top 20 names. 
  • A full 75% of the top 20 are the names of people, specifically men. 
  • Reference 2 reports that names of women make up 2.4 % of the total list of names and the first woman to appear is "Santa Maria" at 57th place. 
  • The three "place" street names in the list (Roma, castello, chiesa) are all you would ever need in a town: how to get to Rome for business, how to get to church for absolution, and how to get to your nearby castle for protection. And rest assured, these streets take you there, if not quickly, at least eventually. (If you are wondering, there isn't a via Roma in Rome, but there is a Via Roma Libera. For more information, see the Italian Wikipedia page on Via Roma. There it is stated that many of the Via Roma street names come from Fascist times in Italy.) 
  • Score one for science! Guglielmo Marconi comes in high on the list, only behind Garibaldi, but before all others. 
  • Other, older top street name lists are from 2011: Il Risorgimento scende in strada and 2005: I dieci nomi delle vie più diffusi in Italia. Their data is slightly different.

Categorizing the top 20 names gives us a handy list for a possible crash-course in Italian history.

Risorgimento / Irredentism: Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 - 1882), Giuseppe Mazzini (1805 - 1872), Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour (1810 - 1861), Cesare Battisti (1875 - 1916)

Statesman: Giacomo Matteotti (1885 - 1924), Aldo Moro (1916 - 1978), Antonio Gramsci (1891 - 1931) , Alcide di Gasperi (1881 - 1954), Umberto I (1855 - 1900)

Artist / Scientist: Guglielmo Marconi (1874 - 1937), Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321), Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901), Alessandro Manzoni (1785 - 1873)

Place: Rome, Castello, Chiesa

WWI: IV Novembre (Armistice of Villa Giusti ending war between Italy and Austria, 1918), Piave (river and site of Italian victory over Austria in 1918), Vittorio Veneto (battle 1918)

Religion: Papa Giovanni XIII - pope (1958 - 1963)

I remember my first few times in Italy and the feeling of heaviness the names conveyed. I didn't know Battisti from Gramsci. After a year, they seemed less opque as I've began to slowly imbibe Italian history from friends and reading. Heavy, yes, but interesting I must say. Compare the top Italian street names with the bland, functional names of the top American street names (listed in full below) like First, Second, Third, and so on. The streets of Italy are rich history lessons. Italians live their history daily.

The categories we give above, in particular, Risorgimento, Statesman, and Artist/Scientist, are our inventions, used for convenience. People or events in a category don't always neatly fit. Take for example Antonio Gramsci. Yes, in general, he was a statesman, but he was also a journalist, a linguist, and a philosopher - to name just a few other hats he wore. In the Risorgimento cateogry, conte di Cavor's was a businessman and politician as well as a key protagonist of the Risorgimento.

And sadly, there are not shortage of tragic stories in these street names, including Matteotti - murdered during a kidnap attempt by Fascist secret police, Moro - kidnapped and murdered, Gramsci - imprisoned the by Fascist government, which led to a serious decline in health and his death, and Umberto I - assassinated.

Bergamo Street Names


The following list of streets in Bergamo is not an official list. The names were not rigorously selected nor are they selected based on popularity or relevancy. Rather, they are simply streets in Bergamo Città Alta and Città Bassa that we've noted. Still, the list is interesting for two reasons. First, it confirms a similar pattern seen in the list of street names across Italy, that is, names honoring the Risorgimento, national statesman, and artists. Second, many Bergamo street names honor a local prominent citizens of the past, so that in these cases, there is a local history lesson. For example, streets in Bergamo honoring "locals" like Locatelli, Camozzi, or Colleoni are not found in the top 20 street names for all of Italy.

Bergamo street names honoring prominent local people and places:

Statesmen 
  • Antonio Locatelli (1895 - 1936) 
  • Gabriele Camozzi (1823 - 1869) 
  • Francesco Cucchi (1834 - 1913) 
  • Bartolomeo Colleoni (1395 - 1475) 
  • Giacomo Costantino Beltrami (1779 - 1855) - patriot/explorer 
  • More info about personaggi illustri or promiment citizens of Bergamo. 
Artists / Scientists 
  • Girolamo Tiraboschi (1731 - 1794) - historian 
  • Mario Lupo (1720 - 1789) - historian 
  • Torquato Tasso (1544 - 1595) - poet 
  • Giacomo Quarenghi (1744 - 1817) - architect 
  • Andrea Fantoni (1659 - 1734) - sculptor 
  • Giacomo Manzù (1908 - 1991) - sculptor 
  • Evaristo Baschenis (1617 - 1677) - painter 
  • Gianandrea Gavazzeni (1909 - 1996) - composer 
  • Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - composer 
  • Simone Mayr (1763 - 1845) - composer 
  • Antonio Stoppani (1824 - 1891) - scientist 
  • Clara Maffei (1814 - 1886) - a woman of letters and important backer of the Risorgimiento 
Places 
  • Viale delle Mura - runs along the top of the Venetian walls or "mura" of Città Alta, the wall of which are now officially a UNESCO site. 
  • Via alla Rocca - takes you to the fortification called La Rocca
  • Via della Fara - runs alongside the green space in Città Alta called the Fara. 
Religion 
  • Papa Giovanni XXIII (1881 - 1963) - beloved pope from the Bergamo area; Bergamo's main hospital is named after him as well as many other buildings and organizations in Bergamo and around Italy. 
  • Angelo Mai (1782 - 1854) - religious scholar; today the beautiful Biblioteca Angelo Mai carries his name as well. 
  • Street Saints: Via Sant'Alessandro, Via S. Giovanni, Via S. Giacomo, Via San Salvatore, Via San Lorenzo, Via San Pancrazio, Largo di Porta S. Alessandro, Vicolo Sant'Andrea

American Street Names


In 1993, the U.S. Census released a tally of common street names (a scan someone made of the data; the original data is hard to find). In 2014, a new set of data was released. Both the 1993 and 2014 dat are discussed in two references we'll use here:


From Reference 1, we have the following top 20 street names (1993 data):

  1. Second, 2nd 
  2. Third, 3rd 
  3. First, 1st 
  4. Fourth, 4th 
  5. Park 
  6. Fifth, 5th 
  7. Main 
  8. Sixth, 6th 
  9. Oak 
  10. Seventh, 7th 
  11. Pine 
  12. Maple 
  13. Cedar 
  14. Eighth, 8th 
  15. Elm 
  16. View 
  17. Washington 
  18. Ninth, 9th 
  19. Lake 
  20. Hill

Categorizing the names as we did for Italian street names leads to:

Numbers: Second/2nd, Third/3rd, First/1st, Fourth/4th, Fifth/5th, Sixth/6th, Seventh/7th, Eight/8th, Ninth/9th

Trees: Oak, Pine, Maple, Cedar, Elm

Places: Park, Main, View, Lake, Hill

Statesmen: George Washington

Almost 50% (9/20) of the top 20 across all of America are numbered streets. Just one surname, Washington, appears in the top 20. If you look at the top 50 names, the numbers start to become less common, the tree and place names stay about the same, and more surnames start to creep in: Lincoln (#26), Jackson (#33), Johnson (#40), Jefferson (#42), and Wilson (#44).

For me, the numbers, trees, and place names used for American streets are a far cry from weighty Italian street names. Why that's the case I'm not sure and won't hazard any guesses.

Finally, Reference 2 for American street names gives information about variations in the top 10 names by state. While there are variations between states, the top 10 lists are consistent in their use of numbers, trees, and places. What variations there are speak a little to history and surroundings. For example, Arizona has "Apache" and "Mesquite" while Hawaii has "Aloha" and "Lehua". Connecticut has neither, or at least in the top 10.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hike: Passo Porcile and Rifugio Dordona from Foppolo


The route from Foppolo to Rifugio Dordona and back.View of Laghi di Porcile from Passo Porcile.
Left: The route from Foppolo to Rifugio Dordona and back. Right: View of Laghi di Porcile from Passo Porcile.

Overview


Length: 12 km (7.5 mi)
Duration: ~ 5.5 hours walking time, 4 hours before lunch, 1.5 hours after lunch
Elevation: 1625 m (5,330 ft) @ Foppolo, 2316 m (7,598 ft) @ Passo dei Lupi. Total elevation gain of 1310m (4,298 ft).
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Alta Valle Brembana

The Hike


This was day two of two days of hiking in Foppolo. The first day we hiked to Lago Moro above Foppolo. See that post for details on how to get to Foppolo by bus. One of the reasons why we planned two days here – besides getting in more hiking – is that the bus schedule between Bergamo and Foppolo didn't allow enough time in one day to get in a good hike.

After a day of hiking about 11 km, we stayed the night in Foppolo at Hotel Adler. It was nice because we seemed to be the only guests and had it to ourselves. We had a good dinner there too.

Day two’s hike was built around a lunch stop at Rifugio Dordona. We took Sentiero 201 toward Passo Tartano and then switched to Sentiero 201a toward Passo di Dordona. Just before reaching Passo di Dordona, you take a slight detour to reach Rifugio Dordona. From Passo Dordona it’s Sentiero 202 back to Foppolo.

Flora and Fungi


Flora: [Asteraceae] Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Italiao: Sparviere cicoriaceo)

Flora: [Campanulaceae] Phyteuma sp.

Flora: [Ranunculaceae] Aconitum napellus – Monk’s-Hood (Italian: Aconito napello)

Fungi: [Boletaceae] Boletus sp. Given that it was found under a pine tree, we are guessing it is Boletus pinophilus. It was found by local man we met on the trail.


Aconitum napellus – Monk’s-Hood (Italian: Aconito napello).[Asteraceae] Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Italiao: Sparviere cicoriaceo).[Asteraceae] Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Italiao: Sparviere cicoriaceo).
Left: Aconitum napellus – Monk’s-Hood (Italian: Aconito napello). Center and right: [Asteraceae] Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Italiao: Sparviere cicoriaceo).

[Campanulaceae] Phyteuma sp. Boletus sp. Given that it was found under a pine tree, perhaps Boletus pinophilus. A rock-piece of iron ore under Monte Capelle.Trail signs at Passo (or Bocchetta) dei Lupi (2316 m).
Left: [Campanulaceae] Phyteuma sp. Center left: Boletus sp. Given that it was found under a pine tree, perhaps Boletus pinophilus. Center right: A rock-piece of iron ore under Monte Capelle. Right: Trail signs at Passo (or Bocchetta) dei Lupi (2316 m).

Lunch at Rifugio Dordona - polenta with stinco da maile and risotto with sausage and red wine. Grappa Nostrana al Larice - "Our grappa made from larch" pine cones at Rifugio Dordona.Tunnel in the WWI trenches at Passo di Dordona.WWI trench at Passo di Dordona.Mules watching us on Sentiero 201 up to Passo di Porcile.
Left: Lunch at Rifugio Dordona - polenta with stinco da maile and risotto with sausage and red wine. Center left: Grappa Nostrana al Larice - "Our grappa made from larch" pine cones at Rifugio Dordona. Very good! Center: Tunnel in the WWI trenches at Passo di Dordona. Center right: WWI trench at Passo di Dordona. Right: Mules watching us on Sentiero 201 up to Passo di Porcile.

Sentiero 201 above Foppolo and mules.Coming down from Passo dei Lupi toward Rifugio Dordona.Sentiero 201 just above Foppolo, close to where porcino was found.
Left: Sentiero 201 above Foppolo and mules. Center: Coming down from Passo dei Lupi toward Rifugio Dordona. Right: Sentiero 201 just above Foppolo, close to where porcino was found.

The finish of the hike on Sentiero 202 heading down toward Foppolo.
The finish of the hike on Sentiero 202 heading down toward Foppolo.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Hike to Lago Moro above Foppolo


Route from Foppolo to Lago Moro. View from above Lago Moro looking north toward Monte Disgrazia.
Left: Route from Foppolo to Lago Moro. Right: View from above Lago Moro looking north toward Monte Disgrazia.

Overview


Length: 11 km (6.8 mi)
Duration: ~ 5.25 hours walking time, 1.25 hours before lunch, 4 hours after lunch
Elevation: 1625 m (5,330 ft) @ Foppolo, 2500 m (8,200 ft) @ above Lago Moro. Total elevation gain of 1026 m (3360 ft).
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Alta Valle Brembana

The Town


Foppolo is a small village located 60 miles north of Bergamo in the upper Val Brembana. In winter, it is one of the most important ski centers in the Bergamo Alps. You can reach Foppolo by bus from Bergamo in about two hours, which is how we got there. From Bergamo, take Linea B (for Brembana) to Piazza Brembana and then transfer to the bus heading for Branzi-Carona-Foppolo.

The location around Foppolo is spectacular: the mountains are beautiful and the views, when you get up high, are some of the best we’ve seen. However, it is primarily a ski-town, and ski-towns can (and in this case did) have a number of things against them from a hiker’s point of view.

First, there’s the architecture. Foppolo’s architecture – dedicated to skiing – is a combination of atrocious and bizarre, with hotels resembling part chalet, part bunker, and part high-rise prison. We stayed in one of these places one night and the service and accommodations were great, just that their outsides are brutal looking. Secondly, hiking on or near ski slopes in the summer is always a delusion for us. The slopes look like war zones in the summer. The chaotic, bedraggled looking slopes was admittedly softened by the pasturing cows and the sounds of their bells. In the summer, the cows rule the slopes!

To make matters worse, the slopes above Foppolo are in the midst of a massive-but-halted construction of a new gondola. Huge pits were dug for support beams and then stopped. The future of the gondola at time of writing is uncertain due to funding.


Cows on the ski slopes above Foppolo. Above the ski slopes near Corno Stella, a view toward Monte Disgrazia and Valtellina.View from Lago Moro south toward Branzi.
Left: Cows on the ski slopes above Foppolo. Center: Above the ski slopes near Corno Stella, a view toward Monte Disgrazia and Valtellina. Right: View from Lago Moro south toward Branzi.

Another knock on ski towns: they have layouts that make no sense unless you are on skis. The entrance to the hotel we were staying at took us 10 minutes to find. The main entrance was turned towards the slopes, but we were trying to enter from the road. After walking back and forth we saw a little sign that we followed up four flights of stairs to the other side of the hotel. Viola, entrance!

The Hike

When we stepped off the bus in Piazzale degli Alberghi, the upper part of Foppolo, it was like stepping into a ghost town. For half a second, I thought about getting back on the bus for Bergamo. The town was much livelier the previous week with families and vacationers taking their last bit of vacation before heading back home to get ready for the start of school and work. Today, the town and its hotels and restaurants were taking a respite and counting the days before snow arrived to bring in the winter crowd.

We found a seat on the edge of the big asphalt piazza and got changed for the hike. When we went to find the start of the trail, we became confused. We asked a few people we found sitting outside at a bar and they help us get oriented. One of the guys asked us where we were from, and then told us he had been to Seattle and gushed about beautiful it was. Ah Seattle.

This was day one of two day stay in Foppolo. For this first day, since we arrived in Foppolo around 1:00 pm, we  didn’t plan on anything big or interesting. Yet, this walk turned out to quite scenic. Fresh off the bus, changed and oriented in the right direction by some helpful locals, we headed up to Rifugio Montebello (Terrazzo Salomon) for a quick lunch. It took about one hour and 15 minutes to get to the rifugio on foot, through the war zone called a summer ski slope. We followed a combination of Sentiero 204 and Sentiero 205 and a bit of just going straight up the slope. This was the least interesting part of the hike.

After lunch at Montebello, we headed to Lago Moro (dark lake) continuing on Sentiero 204. This is where the scenery became much nicer and the goal of the hike. At Lago Moro, we took a side trip partway up to the famous Corno Stella (Orobie). Then we came back to Lago Moro and picked up Sentiero 204a back to Montebello and down to Foppolo. Sentiero 204a takes you up to Passo di Valcervia (2318 m) for beautiful views north towards Valtellina and Switzerland.

Flora and Fauna and Fungi


Flora-wise, we didn’t really see that much, though it was the first time we’ve seen Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Sparviere cicoriaceo) and Leucanthemopsis alpina – Alpine Moon Daisy (Margherita alpina), both part of the daisy family. Fungus-wise, we saw a whole lot of what we think is the fungus Exobasidium rhododendri on Alpenrose (Rododendron ferrugineum). And finally, fauna-wise, we saw about ten chamoix around Lago Moro. They seemed curious about us. If we stopped and stared at them, they stared right back. It was usually us who blinked first.

Fauna: [Bovidae] Rupicapra rupicapra – Chamois (Camoscio alpino)
Flora: [Asteraceae] Carlina sp. likely C.acaulis – Stemless Carline Thistle (Carlina bianca)
Flora: [Asteraceae] Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Sparviere cicoriaceo)
Flora: [Asteraceae] Leucanthemopsis alpina – Alpine Moon Daisy (Margherita alpina)
Flora: [Campanulaceae] Campanula barbarta – Bearded Bellflower (Campanula barbata)
Flora: [Gentianaceae] Gentianella germanica – Chiltern Gentian (Genzianella tedesca)
Flora: [Polyganaceae] Rumex alpinus – Munk’s Rhubarb, Alpine Dock (Romice acetosella)
Fungi: [Exobasidiaceae] Exobasidium rhododendri on Rhododendron ferrugineum


Carlina with butterflies. Campanula barbarta – Bearded Bellflower (Campanula barbata).Exobasidium rhododendri on Rhododendron ferrugineum.Gentianella germanica – Chiltern Gentian (Genzianella tedesca).
Left: Carlina with butterflies. Center left: Campanula barbarta – Bearded Bellflower (Campanula barbata). Center right: Exobasidium rhododendri on Rhododendron ferrugineum. Right: Gentianella germanica – Chiltern Gentian (Genzianella tedesca). I was surprised to see a flowers with four and five petals on the same plant.  Open question: a plant with all flowers of four petals would then be G. campestris.

Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Sparviere cicoriaceo). Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Sparviere cicoriaceo). Leucanthemopsis alpina – Alpine Moon Daisy (Margherita alpina).Rumex alpinus – Munk’s Rhubarb, Alpine Dock (Romice acetosella).
Left and center left:  Hieracium intybaceum – Whitish Hawkweed (Sparviere cicoriaceo). Center right: Leucanthemopsis alpina – Alpine Moon Daisy (Margherita alpina). Right: Rumex alpinus – Munk’s Rhubarb, Alpine Dock (Romice acetosella) on Sentiero 203.

A chamois scurries away near Lago Moro.A chamois making its way down to Lago Moro from Corno Stella.Mother and baby chamois going down to Lago Moro.
Photos of chamoix above Foppolo. Left: A chamois scurries away near Lago Moro. Center: A chamois making its way down to Lago Moro from Corno Stella. Right: Mother and baby chamois going down to Lago Moro.

Above Lago MoroWalking from Rifugio Montebello to Lago Moro.  Heading back to Rifugio Montebello on Sentiero 203.
Walking around Lago Moro. Left: Above Lago Moro. Center: Walking from Rifugio Montebello to Lago Moro. Right: Heading back to Rifugio Montebello on Sentiero 203.

Lunch at Rifugio Montebello, polenta and slow-cooked beef, pizzoccheri (pasta of buckwheat), and chocolate cake.Lunch at Rifugio Montebello, polenta and slow-cooked beef, pizzoccheri (pasta of buckwheat), and chocolate cake.Signs at bottom of ski slope pointing the way up to Rifugio Montebello and Lago Moro.Walking on part of Corno Stella above Lago Moro.
Left and center left: Lunch at Rifugio Montebello, polenta and slow-cooked beef, pizzoccheri (pasta of buckwheat), and chocolate cake. Center right: Signs at bottom of ski slope pointing the way up to Rifugio Montebello and Lago Moro. Right: Walking on part of Corno Stella above Lago Moro.

Starting the climb up Corno Stella.
Starting the climb up Corno Stella.