There are different ways to travel. It can be for pleasure or work, it can be for multiple days, weeks, or months, or it can be a day trip or an overnight, an excursion.
So, let's look at an interesting alternative to the true cognate, escursione (that works just fine, too):
la gita, una gita, andare in gita.
So the noun is la gita. But where does it come from? It originally comes from the verb ire (to go). People don't use this verb much at all, in fact we could say they never use it in converstion, as it is literary (we mostly use andare), but those of you who know Latin, Spanish, or other Romance languages, will most likely recognize it.
A dialectical version of ire has a g sound in front of it, turning it into gire. We can trace it to the feminine past participle: andata — ita — gita. You don't need to know this, but some of us enjoy knowing where words come from.
In practical terms, una gita implies traveling somewhere, not necessarily sleeping over, but maybe.
For example, kids in school might go on una gita scolastica (a class trip).
E perché? -Partono, per la gita scolastica! Fuori di casa due giorni da soli. -Mamma, siamo in trentadue! E quattro insegnanti.
And, why? -They're leaving on a school trip! Away from home for two days, all alone. -Mom, there are thirty-two of us! And four teachers.
Captions 5-8, Acqua in bocca Allarme gita - Ep 9Play Caption
Erica works at the tourist office of Palaia in Tuscany. She's talking about her job.
E quindi è un po' il punto di arrivo, eh, di tutte quelle persone che vengono qua in vacanza, o anche semplicemente per fare u', una gita o una, una breve sosta qui, in questo territorio, che è la Valdera.
And so it's kind of the point of arrival uh, for all those people who come here on vacation, or even just to make a, a day trip, or a quick stop here, in this area, which is the Valdera.
Captions 14-17, Professioni e mestieri Erica - archeologa - Part 2
Check out this Yabla mini-series about a girl who goes on an outing — Una gita al lago (a day trip to the lake).
The verb gire sounds kind of like the verb girare, which means "to go around." Girare and gire don't have the same root, but they are related through one definition of girare:
andare qua e là, andare in giro, vagare, con o senza uno scopo determinato
(to go here and there, to go about, with or without a specific purpose).
Firenze è una città piccola, si può girare benissimo a piedi.
Florence is a small city, you can go around very easily on foot.
Caption 9, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 1Play Caption
The noun form is il giro. Un giro can be a bike ride, a walk, a ride in a car... anything really, even a swing, or one of the machines at a gym.
Continuando il mio giro in bicicletta sulle mura di Lucca, mi sono fermata davanti a questo bellissimo palazzo.
Continuing my bike ride around the Lucca walls, I stopped in front of this very beautiful villa.
Captions 1-2, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 4
Fare un giro can mean "to take a turn."
Let's say I am on the treadmill at the gym, and there is someone waiting. I can ask, ci vuoi fare un giro (do you want to take a turn on it, do you want to have a go)?
Italians love diminutives, so we also have un giretto, or un girettino (or some say una girata or girattina) more like a brief stroll, synonymous with passeggiata, or passeggiatina.
E nonna, ho fatto un bel giretto nel bosco.
Well Grandma, I had a nice walk around the woods.Play Caption
Note that we use the verb fare (to make, to do) with the noun una gita, —fare una gita or the noun un giro —fare un giro. Or we use the verb andare (to go) and the preposition in (on a) before gita or giro. Andare in gita, andare in giro. Tuscans often say andare a giro. It means the same thing.
Sono sicura che passeremo una bellissima giornata in giro per la città.
I'm sure we'll have a great day going around the city.
Caption 6, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 1
There is plenty more to say about in giro, but that will be for another lesson. Meanwhile, let's try to assimilate the meanings we have talked about here by looking at some questions and some possible answers. Feel free to write to us with your attempts. Mistakes are welcome. That's how we learn.
E tu? Che fai oggi? Vai in gita? Fai un giro? Fai una passeggiata? Vai in giro?
And you? What are you doing today? Are you going on an excursion? Are you going to go out and about? Are you going to take a walk? Are you going to cruise around the area?
Here are some possible answers:
Facciamo una gita turistica. Viviamo a Pisa, e andremo a visitare Siena.
We're going on a day trip. We live in Pisa and we're going to go and see Siena.
Andiamo in gita, che bello!
We're going on an outing, how great!
Facciamo il giro dell'isolotto.
We're going to walk around the block.
Facciamo un giro.
Let's go and have a look around.
Facciamo un giro in bici.
We're going on a bike ride.
Ho fatto una passeggiata vicino a casa.
I took a walk close to home.
Siamo andati in giro per la toscana.
We went for a ride around Tuscany.
Feel free to send us some of your own examples. If they work, we'll add them to this list. write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's look at a few idiomatic expressions people tend to use when holidays are approaching. They're useful at other times of the year, too.
The title of this lesson is ci siamo (we are there). It literally means "we are there," or "we are here," but often means "this is the moment we've all been waiting for" or "we have succeeded." It can also mean "this is the moment we were dreading!"
Ecco qua, ci siamo quasi.
Here we go, we're almost there.
Caption 73, Anna e Marika - Hostaria Antica RomaPlay Caption
And when we use it in the negative, non ci siamo, it can mean, "this is not a good thing." It's a synonym for non va bene (this is not OK).
No, no, non ci siamo.
No, no, we're not getting anywhere.Play Caption
Natale è alle porte [Christmas is at the doors] (Christmas is just around the corner).
Siamo sotto Natale. Sotto usually means "under/underneath/below," but in this case, it means during, or we could construe it to mean under the influence of the holidays.
Sotto le feste, i negozi fanno orari straordinari (around/during the holidays, shops keep extended hours).
In Italy, le feste non finiscono più (the holidays never end).
Christmas starts on the 24th of December with la vigilia (Christmas Eve) and lasts until la Befana (Epiphany). Only after that do kids go back to school and things get back to normal.
The 26th of December is Santo Stefano, (Saint Stephen's Day), a perfect time for visiting relatives you didn't see on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Traditionally, shops are closed, but oggi giorno (these days), anything goes.
And if there is a weekend in the middle of the festivities, there's il ponte (a four or five-day weekend, literally, "the bridge").
Quando una festa viene il giovedì, spesso si fa il ponte (when there's a holiday on Thursday, we often take Friday off for a long weekend).
Pasqua (Easter) is a spring holiday. Although things are changing, traditionally, Italy is still a Roman Catholic country, so Pasqua is a big deal in all parts of the country. Local priests travel around the town and countryside to bless homes in the weeks preceding Easter. On la domenica delle palme (Palm Sunday), churches are filled, and olive branches are distributed. There are plenty of palm trees in Italy, but olive branches have become the tradition.
Some towns and cities stage elaborate processions on venerdì santo (Good Friday). There are famous ones in cities such as Gubbio and Assisi in Umbria, as well as in the Colosseum in Rome.
Let’s have a reminder of what Marika shared with us when talking about Christmas:
Ma prima voglio dirti che [sic] "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi".
But first I want to tell you that [sic] "Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want".Play Caption
This is a very famous rhymed saying in Italy. Christmas is dedicated to family, and you are really expected to spend it with your family, but Easter is less strict. In addition, just as December 26th is a holiday in Italy (Santo Stefano), to invite the relatives you didn’t invite for la vigilia (Christmas Eve) or Natale (Christmas Day), Easter Monday or Pasquetta (little Easter), also called Lunedì dell’ angelo (Monday of the angel), is still a holiday, and still a part of Pasqua. It gives everyone a second opportunity to get together with the people they didn’t see on Easter Sunday. It’s been a national holiday since after World War II, intended to give people more time off from work and school. Many Italians use this day to spend in the country, with a picnic or walk.
We alter Pasqua to become Pasquetta by adding a suffix. The suffix changes the quality but not the basic substance of the noun it's attached to. So, let's talk about this -etta suffix. We see that it indicates “small,” or “less important.” What are some other words that can have the diminutive suffix added?
Ora (hour) - un'oretta (a short hour, about an hour, a little under an hour, an hour or so).
Se avete tempo, potete farli [farle] lievitare da soli [sole] un'altra oretta, altrimenti procedete.
If you have time, you can have each one rise on its own for another hour or so, otherwise go ahead.
Captions 13-14, L'Italia a tavola - Panzerotti Pugliesi - Part 2Play Caption
La cena (the dinner) - una cenetta (a light supper, an intimate dinner)
E per farmi perdonare, che ne dici stasera di una cenetta solo per noi due?
And to get you to forgive me, what do you say to a little dinner for just the two of us?
Caption 41, Acqua in bocca - Tra moglie e marito... - Ep 11Play Caption
So far, we have used feminine nouns as examples. Masculine words work the same way, but we use -etto.
Un divano (a couch, a sofa) - un divanetto (a loveseat)
Seguitemi, questo è un tipico divanetto siciliano.
Follow me, this is a typical Sicilian little loveseat.
Caption 23, Adriano - Negozio di Antichità SgroiPlay Caption
Only a few words with -etta and -etto as suffixes have been mentioned here. There are many more. And note that -etto and -etta are not the only suffixes used as diminutives. There are -ino and -ina, too, but we’ll talk about these another time.
Learn more about suffixes that alter words.
Enjoy your Pasquetta, whether you are a casa (at home), al lavoro (at work), a scuola (at school), in viaggio (traveling), con amici (with friends) or in vacanza (on vacation).
To learn what countries do consider Easter Monday a holiday, and in what way, see this Wikipedia article.