Sunday, August 1, 2021

Street Sign Language Lesson XXXVI – Porto Venere Edition

In this installment of Street Sign Language Lesson, we are in Porto Venere, a beautiful seaside town in Liguria. As we promenaded up and down the lungomare, we saw a number of interesting words and language lessons. We'll learn about aperifritto, testaroli, and the mysterious acronym RNM. For more information and photos from a week in Porto Venere, see the post A week Porto Venere, Liguria – Life along the lungomare.

Small appetizers of fried things that, together, could be eaten instead of a full meal

Aperifritto is a portmanteau (in Italian referred to a parola macedonia), that is a blend of two words, in this case aperitivo and fritto. The Accademia della Crusca has an article about apericena and related words like aperifritto. In Liguria, fried fish are a common item on menus and as fast food.

Area interdetta alla balneazione
Area closed to bathing. Or, no-bathing area

It's just us, but the word balneazione (and related ones like balneare, balneabile) is weird looking. We realized it's from Latin balneum – bath, bathing place, bathroom. Maybe we should have studied Latin and it wouldn't be so strange.

Stabilimento balneare
Beach resource or beach club

In an area like Porto Venere, you quickly learn which beaches are free and which are private. The private beaches are usually marked as shown in this sign. Lido is more or less a synonym of stabilimento balneare. In this beach club, you rent a lettino (a lounge chair) for 14 euros and an ombrellone (beach umbrella with lounge chair) for 18 for the entire day. That may seem like a lot but there are usually other services that come with that price like use of the pool, lifeguard, and free WIFI.


This sign was see at the Sporting Beach along the lungomare of Porto Venere. It's also in German, bademeister. If you like to have a lifeguard around when you or your family swim, then a stabilimento balneare is for you.

Domande ricorrenti
Frequently asked questions

We saw this sign in a shop in Porto Venere selling pesto called La Bottega del Pesto. The questions are "LO FATE VOI?" – "Do you make it?"; "C'È L'AGLIO?" – "It there garlic?"; "CE L'AVETE ANCHE SENZ'AGLIO?" – "Do you have it without garlic?"; "QUANTO DURA?" – "How long does it last"; "PUÒ STARE FUORI DAL FRIGO?" – "Can it stay outside the refrigerator?" The answer to these questions are yes, yes, yes, 3 months, and 3 days. (Why in the world would you get this without garlic!? 😉)

Note the use of Lo Stampatello in the sign.

Il testarolo di Pontremoli
Testarolo of Pontremoli

Testaroli are a pasta – almost like pieces of crepe – based on flour, salt, and water. Testaroli are cooked on a flat terra cotta or cast iron cooking surface called a testo. The cooked pasta is sliced into triangular shapes and served with a sauce, like pesto. It is said that testaroli is an ancient pasta originating from the Etruscan civilization of Italy.

Testaroli are common in the Lunigiana region, an historical territory of Italy, that today is centered around Pontremoli, and included parts of the Province of Massa Carrara (Tuscany) and the Province of La Spezia (Liguria). Porto Venere is in the Province of La Spezia.

Le insalatone
Mixed salads

I saw this and immediately thought "ah ha" it should be le insalatoni with an I. In Italian, the augmentative (called the accrescitivo) of feminine nouns is such that they usually become masculine in gender when adding -one. Examples for nouns include: porta => portone, donna => donnone, barca => barcone, testa => testone, scatola => scatolone, scarpa => scarpone, maglia => maglione, etc.

But, there are some examples of feminine nouns not changing gender, including sudicia => sudiciona and insalata => insalatona. And, insalatona is more than just a big salad, it's an abundant mixed salad.

But there's more. In some cases, some claim there are shades of meaning whether the augmentative is masculine or feminine. For example, you could say donnone – a very large woman conjuring something monstrous and without grace, or donnona – a very large woman, but still with grace and femininity. See this thread.

RNM – resti non mineralizzati
The remains of the body are not fully decomposed to just bones.

We saw this designation on recently burial mounds in the ground. (Yeah, we spend time in cemeteries.) See the post A Week in Porto Venere: RNM for more of explanation, but essentially, space must be managed in cemeteries with limited amounts of it. One way to do that is to exhume the remains of a burial concession (think niche, crypt) that have had lapsed payment. If no one steps up to pay, the remains are consigned to a communal ossuary. However, if the remains aren't finished decomposing, they will be put in the ground for some time to help that process. RNM means the grave contains remains exhumed that weren't finished turning to bone.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments go through a moderation process. Even though it may not look like the comment was accepted, it probably was. Check back in a day if you asked a question. Thanks!