Tag Archives: travel in Italy

Where Italians Go on Vacation

Someone asked on Frommer’s: “Where do Italians go on vacation?” The majority go to the beach. For at least a century, a seaside vacation has been considered healthful: during the Fascist period, ocean front “colonies” were built, where urban children could be sent to escape the grime of the cities. The month-long summer vacation is Read More…

Someone asked on Frommer’s: “Where do Italians go on vacation?”

The majority go to the beach. For at least a century, a seaside vacation has been considered healthful: during the Fascist period, ocean front “colonies” were built, where urban children could be sent to escape the grime of the cities.

The month-long summer vacation is still a reality for many Italians, who transfer their families (often including one or more grandparents) to a seaside hotel, apartment, or a trailer and tent in a campground. Even if Dad’s working, Mom and the kids will be there, with Dad perhaps driving down at weekends. Many families own second homes at or near the seaside, so take their vacations in the same place, year after year. It seems to be part of Italian culture to crave the comfort of familiarity and routine, even when you’re away from home.

Italy is a long peninsula, and also owns a lot of islands in a range of sizes, so there are plenty of beaches to go to, depending on your tastes and the size of your wallet. Choices range from the upscale, such as Portofino, Sardegna’s “Emerald Coast”, and Capri to… places that normal people can afford.

For family reasons, most of my Italian beach experiences to date have been very much in the affordable category, in Abruzzo on Italy’s central Adriatic coast. Having grown up in Thailand when it was still an unspoiled tropical paradise, I was astonished the first time I saw the Italian idea of a holiday beach: row after row of umbrellas, so close together that you could barely see the sand between them. I never have learned to see the charm of this.

(^ The photo at top shows a relatively roomy beach, by some Italian standards!)

Far from being relaxing, Italian resort towns are usually buzzing with activity: from early morning until late at night, you see (and hear) everyone (old and young) out and about, swimming, sunning (yes, tanning is still considered healthy here), strolling, chatting, eating gelato, being “animated“, until late at night. At least the afternoon siesta is held sacred!

Translating italia.it

The Italian government (just before it fell) launched with great fanfare italia.it, the country’s new tourism portal, along with a logo which: looks like the winner from an elementary school drawing competition is uncomfortably similar to the logo of Logitech in no way represents Italy includes a slogan ("Italy leaves a mark") which reminds me Read More…

The Italian government (just before it fell) launched with great fanfare italia.it, the country’s new tourism portal, along with a logo which:

As for the website… oh, dear god. They reportedly spent 45 MILLION euros for a site that lacks basic features (such as an RSS feed) that we have come to expect from a modern website. It has technical problems which anyone in Italy who knows anything about the web (and that’s a lot of us) is gleefully (and ruefully – our tax euros wasted!) tearing to bits.

Given my own skills and biases, what I first noticed was the English translation. Here’s a sample paragraph which I did not have to look hard to find:

For having more precise vision click on “+”: in this way it will be visualized an historical period in the detail.
For having, instead, one vision of entirety click on “-” and the period will be visualized a large historical period contain more events. The period comes shown in the Timeline to the right of the zoom: the blue bar will increase or decrease the dimension based on your choice.

This kind of laughably bad translation, like the manuals we so often see with Chinese electronics, gives the consumer no reassurance that there is anyone competent standing behind the product (the product, in this case, being Italy).

^ Someone else in need of a good translation service. The title on this clip in YouTube is "Rutelli inglese maccheronico" – Rutelli’s maccaronic English. Maccheronico (maccaroni-like) is the term Italians themselves use for heavily Italianized English (or other language).

Until a few weeks ago, I might have said that my Italian was good enough that I could translate an English text into decent Italian – not quickly, but I could do it, in fact had been asked to do it several times at the office (we have an office full of Italians, why ask me?).

Then we put this supposed skill of mine to the test. Ross is applying to attend Woodstock School next year. The application form includes recommendations to be done by various teachers and other people at her current school, none of whom (except the English teacher) reads or writes comfortably in English. So the form needed to be translated into Italian.

I took a first cut at it, and thought I had done a reasonably creditable job. Then Ross took it in hand, and came out with something completely different. I realized that my translation had been understandable, and grammatically fairly correct, but probably about as funny to a native Italian speaker as the text above is to a native English speaker.

Around the same time, Antonio, one of the delightful people I met at barCamp Roma, commented about me on his blog: Cavolo l’ho sentita zittire e mettere in riga decine di uomini con un italiano corretto, ma inglesissimo! – "Cavolo! I heard her shut up and straighten out dozens of men in very correct – but very English – Italian." Okay, I’m slightly embarassed about the shutting up and straightening out (not exactly my intention, but definitely my character). But the very correct and very English Italian… hmm.

I stand before you now, chastened and humbled: my Italian is good, but I sure as hell don’t speak or write like a native.

And this is a lesson that many Italians have yet to learn. Just because you can read and understand another language well, and maybe even translate well from that into your mother tongue, does not mean that you can translate in the other direction with comparable competence. If you need a text to sound professional and persuasive, leave it to an expert.

So… I’m looking for someone to translate my resumé into Italian…

Campo Imperatore – Home of the Spaghetti Western

Looks kinda like Montana, doesn’t it? As a matter of fact, many “Spaghetti Westerns” were filmed here. The scenery comes complete with cattle, horses, and sheep, brought here to graze during the warm months. The latest movie to be filmed in Campo Imperatore is White Hell (Inferno Bianco), a low-budget horror Western, available on YouTube. Read More…

boss stallion

Looks kinda like Montana, doesn’t it? As a matter of fact, many “Spaghetti Westerns” were filmed here. The scenery comes complete with cattle, horses, and sheep, brought here to graze during the warm months.

Campo Imperatore

The latest movie to be filmed in Campo Imperatore is White Hell (Inferno Bianco), a low-budget horror Western, available on YouTube.