Italian Lessons

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Basta!

You might already be familiar with the one-word expression: Basta! It means, "That's enough!"

No, no, ora basta, basta, basta!

No, no, enough now, enough, enough!

Caption 8, Acqua in bocca Tra moglie e marito... - Ep 11

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But you might not be familiar with the verb that expression comes from:  bastare (to be enough, to suffice).

Per oggi potrebbe bastare.

For today, that might suffice.

Caption 71, In giro per l'Italia Lucca - Part 1

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There's an expression where this verb is coupled with another verb: avanzare. We think of the cognate "to advance," but there is another way Italians use avanzare. It means "to be in excess, to be left over." In fact, leftovers are called gli avanzi in Italian.

 

Di Milano o no, però... per colpa sua noi dobbiamo mangiarci gli avanzi.

Whether he's from Milan or not... because of him, we have to eat leftovers.

Caption 39, Un medico in famiglia Stagione 3 S3 EP2 - Un nuovo medico in famiglia - Part 13

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So basta e avanza means, "it's more than enough." It often implies that it's too much.

Direi che basta e avanza.

I would say that's enough and is even too much.

Caption 105, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulle Marche

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Expressions

La bicicletta

In some parts of the world, la bicicletta (the bicycle) has gained popularity lately because of the coronavirus. Some people like to avoid i mezzi pubblici  (public transportation) and have begun opting for the bike. In Italy, bicycles have always been hugely popular, and la bicicletta is known affectionately as la bici. On weekends, you will see swarms of cyclists on country roads, so be careful if you're driving!

 

Per visitare al meglio il centro città di Lucca,

To best see the city center of Lucca,

ho deciso di prendere una bicicletta a noleggio.

I decided to rent a bicycle.

In questo modo, posso girare attraverso le vie del centro

That way, I can go around on the streets of the center

e addirittura pedalare sulle mura antiche.

and even pedal on the old walls.

Captions 13-16, In giro per l'Italia - Lucca

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Curiously, the preposition used for saying "by bike" or "on the bike" is in (in), as we see in the following example.

 

Ti prometto che vado a scuola in bici. OK?

I promise I'll go to school by bike. OK?

Caption 54, La Ladra - Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo

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Il ciclismo (cycling) is also an excellent way to get exercise while being out in the fresh air and maintaining a certain distance from other people, so there's been a bit of a boom in recent months. 

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Let's take a look at some of the vocabulary that can be useful when talking about bikes.

Kinds of bikes

The kind of bike that an older person would ride just to get around town, a bike that has just one gear, is called una bici olandese. Olandese means "Dutch — from Holland," and describes the kind of bike that works well on flat terrain (as in Holland), not hills. We'd probably describe this kind of bike as a clunker. Maybe it's been in the family for years. It's pesante (heavy), robusta (sturdy), there are parafanghi (fenders), and even a chain guard, so you don't get grease on your clothes while you're riding your bike to work. These bicycles usually have un cestino (a basket) and un portapacchi (a rack) on the back.

This is the kind of bike you would normally rent to get around a city, although these days, regular bikes have more gears and are more fun to ride. Cities can be a little hilly, so gears really help! When the bike has a comfortable seat and handlebars, but five or so gears so that you can do the hills and build up some speed on level terrain or descents, it's called a city bike, which needs no translation.

 

Now we get to bicycles that are made for appassionati di ciclismo (bike lovers), for people who like to ride for fun or sport.

 

Here, too, Italians have taken over the English term and call a mountain bike la mountain bike. So that's easy! These bikes are hugely popular with just about everyone, and can go everywhere, from normal roads to strade bianche (unpaved roads), strade sterrate (dirt roads), and ghiaia (gravel). People take them to the beach, too. They have a special kind of manubrio (handlebars) with il cambio (the gear shift) right there so you can switch gears without taking your hands off the handlebars. 

 

Then we have road bikes: These are usually called bici da corsa because they are streamlined, made for going fast and are basically the kind of bike they use in races. They have curved handlebars that allow you to be aerodynamically positioned. These bikes have evolved over the years, but the basic design has remained the same.

Parts of a bicycle

Here are some of the words you might need when talking about bikes:

Nouns:

la sella (the saddle, the seat)
i parafanghi (the fenders)
il campanello (the bell)
il manubrio (the handlebars)
il freno (the brake)
la ruota (the wheel)
la gomma (the tire)
i pedali (the pedals)
la catena (the chain)
la pompa (the pump) 
la camera d’aria (the tube) 

il cestino (the basket)

il portapacchi (the rack)

l’ingranaggio (the gear)

il cambio (the gearshifters)

i raggi (the spokes)

il cavalletto (the kickstand)

il gruppo* (the groupset) Note: the Italian word il gruppo means "the group" and has come to mean "groupset" — the mechanical parts of a bicycle. It's used in both Italian and English.

 

Verbs:

 

forare (to get a flat tire)

frenare (to brake)

salire (to get on)

scendere (to get off)

 

Other related words and phrases:

 

il ciclista (the cyclist)

noleggiare (to rent)

biciclette a noleggio (rental bikes)

il lucchetto (the lock)

alzare/abbassare la sella (to raise or lower the seat)

Quanto costa noleggiare una bici per un'ora (how much does it cost to rent a bike for an hour)?

 

Praticamente tutti i punti sono forniti di negozi

Pretty much all these points are equipped with shops

per noleggiare le biciclette.

for renting bicycles...

Caption 47, In giro per l'Italia - Lucca

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Let's look quickly at the verb noleggiare and its related noun il noleggio. Both of these words work when talking about renting a bike: noleggiare or prendere a noleggio. You might hear some people use another word for "rent" — affittare or prendere in aftitto. The meaning is the same, but affittare is used for things like an apartment or house, while noleggiare is used more for movable things. Affittare is never wrong, however, just less common in this context.

 

Infatti, ha affittato due biciclette,

In fact, he's rented two bicycles,

e così, andate in giro per la città.

and that way, you go around the city.

Captions 34-35, Marika spiega - I veicoli

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We hope this lesson will be helpful to you next time you travel to Italy, for either work or pleasure. 

Vocabulary

A Few Unconventional Plurals

This lesson is based on the premise that you basically know how to form the plural of nouns. To help you get caught up, very generally, if a noun ends in "o," it's usually masculine and the plural usually will end in "i." If it ends in "e," the plural will also likely end in "i", and if a singular noun ends in "a," (usually feminine), the plural will most likely end in "e." To learn more, check out Daniela's lessons about plurals here and here.

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There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. In two different videos this week, we find unconventional plurals, one of which is well worth knowing, and one that you likely won't run into every day.

 

In one video, Arianna goes to Lucca. She learns that Lucca still has its ancient walls: le mura. The singular is il muro (the wall).

Le mura hanno tutto un percorso sopra che puoi fare,

The walls have a path on top that you can go on,

Caption 63, In giro per l'Italia - Lucca - Part 1

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To help you remember the name for "wall," in Italian, think of a mural, which is a piece of art, like a painting or enlarged photograph, right on a wall. Or think of "intramural" — within the walls of a school or institution.

 

Anna and Marika are busy in the kitchen dealing with fish, and more specifically, anchovies. They are pretty small fish, so taking out the guts is a tedious job they gladly leave to the fish vendor.

 

You might be familiar with the adjective interiore (inside, internal, interior) but there is a noun, le interiora, which means "the guts," "the entrails," or "the internal organs," and is always in the plural: interiora.

Le alici dovranno essere, ehm... senza testa e eviscerate. Quindi bisogna togliere le interiora.

The anchovies should be, ehm... without their heads and gutted. Therefore, one needs to remove the entrails.

Captions 13-15, L'Italia a tavola - Involtini di alici - Part 1

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And let's not forget some other unconventional plurals that work pretty much the same way:

un uovo, due uova (one egg, two eggs)

Prendiamo una forchetta e iniziamo a sbattere le uova...

We take a fork and begin beating the eggs...

Caption 13, Adriano - Pasta alla carbonara - Part 2

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un braccio, due braccia (one arm, two arms)

Ma com'è? E com'è? C'ha due gambe, due braccia, due occhi, come deve essere?

But what's she like? And what's she like? She has two legs, two arms, two eyes. What should she be like?

Captions 13-14, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuola - Part 4

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un miglio, due miglia (one mile, two miles)

La Mille Miglia è la corsa più bella del mondo!

The "Mille Miglia" [one thousand miles] is the greatest race in the world!

Caption 33, La Mille Miglia - del passato per vivere quella di oggi - Part 3

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un migliaio di, poche migliaia di (about a thousand, a few thousand)

Il debito era di poche migliaia di euro.

The debt was of a few thousand euros.

Caption 40, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 14

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un paiodue paia (a pair, two pairs)

Ma quattro paia di scarpe vanno bene lo stesso.

But four pairs of shoes are fine, too.

Caption 52, Psicovip - I Visitatori - Ep 14

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This list is not complete, but we'll look at other such nouns in a future lesson.

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