Friday, December 1, 2017

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XXII

Street Sign Language Lesson 21 < Street Sign Language Lesson 22

In this installment of Street Sign Language Lesson, we deal with a couple of cases of sic erat scriptum, learn where the best anchovies come from, and find out where to go for a good pizza and a glimpse of an old prison in Bergamo's Città Alta.

Broken down car with a I'm sorry note in the window. Condominium warning: put trash in the right bin or else!Anti-vaccination activist who can't spell.
Left: Broken down car with a I'm sorry note in the window. Center: Condominium warning: put trash in the right bin or else! Right: Anti-vaccination activist who can't spell.

Guasta! Scusate – "broken, apologies"
A polite note to let people know that this car wasn't intentionally left in the street blocking traffic without a good reason. But then again, maybe it was just a clever ruse to prevent someone from calling the police while double-parking? La macchina is feminine so it's guasta not guasto.

Queste schifezze non si mettono nell'umido – "this crap doesn't go in the compost"
Like the note in the car window above, I especially like handwritten signs. They are more telling and personal than a street sign or official notice. In this case, there is a hint of anger in the note about misdirected waste in our apartment building. We have bins for recycling different materials, be it paper, plastic, glass or umido, which is short for rifiuto umido or organic waste. Not only is it annoying to find the wrong type of waste in a bin, there is also a potential fine for misdirected waste.

No ai vaccni [sic] – "no to vaccines"
I remember first walking the streets of Bergamo and seeing Atalanta scrawled on the side of building and thinking how silly it was that someone misspelled Atlanta. Little did I know it referred to the soccer team not the US city. Here, this graffiti (on the side of a church on via Pignolo) is truly a misspelling. It should be vaccini. Yes, Italy is in the grip of the scientifically unfounded anti-vaccination fervor as well.

Sign indicating that the flu vaccinations are available.A brand of grapes playing with the word birichina.Poster from the exhibition Fame: oggi non so se mangerò'.Hallway in the ex prison Sant'Agata in Bergamo.
Left: Sign indicating that the new flu vaccinations are available. Center left: A brand of grapes playing with the word birichina. Center right: Poster from the exhibition Fame: oggi non so se mangerò'. Right: Hallway in the ex prison Sant'Agata in Bergamo.

E' disponibile il nuovo vaccino anti influenzale – "The new flu vaccination is available"
After seeing the previous anti-vaccination graffiti, we immediately ran out to get a flu shot. Two points come to mind with this sign we saw in our local pharmacy:

  • In English, we use flu commonly and almost never think of the word it is a stand in for: influenza, which is the same in Italian. Be careful though, because influenza in Italian also means influence.
  • The E' (capital letter e followed by an apostrophe) is a stand in for È.
La birikina [sic] – a play on the word birichina – little rascal (feminine)
This is a brand name of grapes we saw at our local fruttivendolo. I felt oh so proud that I could recognize this as a play on words. Birichino/a is a little rascal or imp.

Oggi non so sei mangerò, chissà? [sic] – "Today I don't know if I will eat, who knows?"
This phrase appears on a poster for the Sabine Delafon exhibition Fame (or "hunger") at the Ex Carcere Sant'Agata in Bergamo Città Alta. Photographs of signs Delafon bought from homeless people are the subject of this exhibition. The phrase above incorrectly uses sei ("six") instead of se ("if") - the two words sound the same and it's easy to confuse them. I stared at the sign for 10 minutes trying to make sense of it as it is spelled and couldn't.

The setting of the exhibition, the ex-prison (carcere), is fascinating. The wall that the Romans built in Città Alta runs along the north side of the building (via del Vagine). The location of the ex-prsion has had buildings on or near it since the 9th century. A convent started up in the 16th century only to be re-purposed as a prison by Napoleon at the end of the 18th century. The prison officially closed in 1978. If you go to the Circolino Città Alta, besides getting a good pizza and dining in a room with a frescoed ceiling from the convent's time, you can also get a glimpse of the prison through the windows.

Sign explaining Cantabrian anchovies.Bread made from a starter and baked in a wood-fired oven.
Left: Sign explaining Cantabrian anchovies. Right: Bread made from a starter and baked in a wood-fired oven.

Acciughe del Cantabrico – le acciughe più buone del mondo – "Cantabrian anchovies – the best anchovies in the world"
I like signs that introduce new information to me like this example seen in the fish store Orobica Pesca. Mar Cantabrico (Cantabrian Sea) is the coastal sea of the Atlantic Ocean north of Spain and southwest of France. And now, I also know the ingredients for the perfect bruschetta: 4 fette di pane, 2 mozzarelle di bufala, 8 acciughe sottolio, Cantabrico, 1 rametto di timo, e olio extra vergine di oliva. By the way, English speakers usually pronounce bruschetta as BRU-SHET-TA whereas it's really BRUS-KET-TA, a hard "c".

Lievito madre, forno a legna – "sourdough starter, wood-fired oven"
Perfect for the bruschetta recipe above. Note, it's legna, not legno. Legno is wood in general, whereas legna is wood specifically used to burn.

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XXI - Pastas of Bergamo

Street Sign Language Lesson 20 < Street Sign Language Lesson 21 > Street Sign Language Lesson 22

In this installment of the Street Sign Language Lesson, we careen between a thousand nails, pastas of Bergamo, and a request to keep the tennis court clean. Let's begin...

Millechiodi glueTwine by CukiTypes of pastas typical of Bergamo.
Left: Millechiodi glue. Center: Twine by Cuki. Right: Types of pastas typical of Bergamo.

millechiodi – "a thousand nails"
This is the name of a glue (colla di montaggio). The name is catchy implying that this glue is so strong that it's like a thousand nails. This photo was taken in PAM, a supermarket chain that was founded in 1984 with headquarters in Venice. I mention that because I was sure it was not Italian-based.

spago - "twine"
I like this word because it's short and easy to pronounce. No sdrucciola here. Cuki is the brand.

pizzoccheri, casonsèi, scarpinòcc  - "pizzoccheri, casonsèi, scarpinòcc"
These are three types of pasta that, living in Bergamo, you get to know very well.  This photo is of a display of pasta in PAM.
  • Pizzocheri are a type of tagliatelle of buckwheat flour and typical of the Valtellina valley north of Bergamo. The name of the pasta is universally used to refer to the traditional dish featuring the pasta with cabbage, potatoes, and cheese.
  • Casonsèi is the dialect for casoncelli, which are the typical stuffed pasta of Bergamo and Brescia. Casoncelli are typically half-moon shaped and stuffed with a filling based on meat, parmigiano or grana padano, and spices.
  • Scarpinòcc are a pasta typical of Parre, in the Val Seriana about 30 km northeast of Bergamo. They are casoncelli without the meat in the filling. If you look closely at the photo you can see written on the packaging scarpinòcc di Par with Par being Parre in bergamasco.

Sign for table linens.Touch-screen for payment.List of prices for a haircut.
Left: Sign for table linens. Center: Touch-screen for payment. Right: List of prices for a haircut.
teleria casa – "table linens"
This is where you go to get table cloths, napkins and other things related to setting a table. And just to set the record straight: we would never buy table linens let alone pizzoccheri, casonsèi, or scarpinòcc in PAM. Millechiodi or spago, yes, for sure those are allowable PAM purchases.

toccare lo schermo – "touch the screen"
Toccare is one of those verbs that is easy to remember, maybe because is it close to "touch" in English. In this photo, we were getting ready to pay for a visit to the Papa Giovanni XXIII sports clinic.

listino prezzi – "price list"
This is the price list for different services at hair salon Giacomo's Team in Bergamo. A man's cut is taglio uomo at 25 euros. For women, the closest term is taglio + piega for 30 euros. Piega is used to refer to anything done after the cut and shampoo, like combing out, drying and maybe some light styling. So taglio + piega would be cut and style. It's easy to read this literally as a cut and a fold since piega comes from the verb piegare to crease or fold. Piega is really short for messa in piega, which here can be read as "get your hair done".

Sign reminding people to brush the tennis court after playing.Electronic cigarette ban notice even in rooms with windows.
Left: Sign reminding people to brush the tennis court after playing. Right: Electronic cigarette ban notice even in rooms with windows.

al termine di gioco si prega di tirare il campo per la manutenzione – "after playing please maintain the court"
We met a friend at the Tennis Club Bergamo and encountered this sign. I got hung up on the tirare il campo part trying to read it too literally as "pull the court". What it means here is to maintain the court by leveling it with a mat, boom or brush pulled up and down the court. You can see such a device in the upper right of the photo. Nod to this post Tirare il campo for clarifying.

vietato l'utilizzo delle sigarette elettroniche – "use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited"
This sign was seen in the library Biblioteca Angelo Mai. It's a pretty standard sign, nothing out of the ordinary until you get to the last line: il divieto è in vigore anche se i locali sono dotati di finestre or "the ban is applicable even if the spaces have windows". In Italy, you need that sentence to remind people that smoking in a room with the windows open, or smoking leaning out the window is not the same as smoking outside.