Saturday, March 18, 2023

Street Sign Language Lesson XL

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Wow, our 40th Street Sign Language Lesson ™. Here are a few signs that we’ve spotted recently that we found intrigued us or stumped us.

fondo sconnesso – uneven surface/road

[1] fondo sconnesso – uneven surface/road

sconnesso is the past participle of sconnettere – to disconnect. But in the sense here, it’s uneven road, and watch out for bumps and holes. A related term is strada dissestata. We saw sign this near Astino in Bergamo.

gratta e sosta – scratch and park

[2] gratta e sosta – scratch and park

When we first saw this, we thought what does the scratch and win lottery ticket (Gratta e vinci) have to do with parking!? Ah, sostare (sosta – third person singular) - to park. Grattare (gratta – third person singular) - to scratch. We saw this on a hike in Valzurio, see A Sunday Hike in Valzurio. At trailheads, it’s common to have to buy a ticket to park – gratta e sosta – where you scratch the time day and time you park.

But wait, it’s not gratta e vince – with vince the third person singular of vincere – to win? It’s scratch and you win (vinci). That’s optimistic we’d say since most people lose!?

guarnizione – seal or gasket guarnizione – seal or gasket

[3] guarnizione – seal or gasket

We saw this in the cluttered and charming hardware store in Città Alta, Piccola Ferramenta di Città Alta. The owner knows exactly which of the innumerable piles of stuff to move to find what he’s looking for.


[4] E’ veramente importante per non intasare, non buttare carta nei pisciatoi. Eventualmente sgorlire una volta di più (fino a tre si può fare). – Don't block the urinal with paper. If necessary, shake your (penis) one more time. You can do it up to three times."

An Italian friend had to explain this sign to us. Sgorlire is dialect for scuotere. This sign was above a urinal (pisciatoio) in a Malga Valbiolo (a rifugio), Passo Tonale. Here's a hike we did to that rifugio in case you are interested in seeing it yourself: Two Late Winter Hikes Near Ponte di Legno, Italy.


[5] Il Sacrario Militare del Tonale – The Military Memorial of Tonale

It's hard to think about war with everyone having fun skiing. The movement of people and ski lifts, booming music, and people looking cool waiting for après-ski. But there it is, a war memorial to remind you of once upon a time. On top, Vittoria alata.

We are still at Passo Tonale with this sign, at the base of the ski runs. This pass and surrounding valleys were the site of WWI fighting between the Austrians and Italians. Inside the memorial (sacrario), the remains of 858 bodies of fallen Italians and 59 unknown soldiers, referred to as bodies - le salme and remains - le spoglie.

This memorial was inaugurated in 1931 by Vittorio Emmanuele III.

no pipì no popò - No dog pee or poo (here)

[6] no pipì no popò - No dog pee or poo (here)

Back in Bergamo for this sign. We weren’t sure these words were made up but has them as colloquial words: pipì and popò.

smarrita cagna – lost dog (feminine)

[7] smarrita cagna di 16 anni, sente pochissimo e cammina male, se qualcuno la trovasse è pregato di chiamare il numero – lost 16-year-old dog, she doesn't hear and walk well, anyone who should find her is kindly asked to call the number

We don’t even have a dog but keep an eye out for these lost dog signs. Poor old girl, cagna. 

ultime rocchette per ricamo a machina – Latest bobbins for machine embroidery (needlework)

[8] ultime rocchette per ricamo a machina – Latest bobbins for machine embroidery (needlework)

Is there an error in the gender of rocchetto? We think so. We saw this in one of our favorite way-back stores in the center of Bergamo, Praderio Mario dal 1917 (Casa della Lana). Going into that store is like stepping back in time (100 years to be precise). Maybe the gender of bobbins changed since then?


  1. Thank you for your blog! With a move to northern Italy (probably Bergamo) planned in less than a year, I love the insights into local life, hiking (something we love), restaurants, language, etc. There is something new with each post. I'm very much enjoying reading it and check often for new posts.


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