Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Day at the Sea

Do you remember the three months we spent in the Cilento?  Before we returned to the US?  The sunsets, the seafood, the stunning villa?  We enjoyed exploring that part of Campania, but it was in the winter, when the sea was spunky and Cilentani were sleepy.

I returned yesterday for a day.  I went for work-related research.  Sometimes great sacrifices must be made in the name of duty and so I suffered the hardship and went to the sea.  It was still summery with a hazy diffused light from the humidity and a glittery gloss to the water from the sun and heat.

Santa Maria is a different town than the one we saw two years ago, partly owing to the warm weather, with tourists still laying on the beach and filling the waterfront restaurants.  But it is also more discovered than before, thanks to the movie Benvenuti al Sud that was filmed there and shed Santa Maria, along her uphill sister, Castellabate, in a very positive light.  We loved watching the DVD and recognizing all the film locations. 

Even though the high season of August is gone there was still an atmsophere of festa in the air and lots of northern European (read, very white) tourists sunning themselves and wandering the Corso.  I asked the beachside barista about the increase in tourism and she said they've seen a lot more stranieri this summer. When I asked where they came from she responded that the "foreigners" had come from mainly Milan and Torino. 

I did my research then had a nice seafood lunch, a real treat because up here in the mountains we don't get a lot of fish, apart from the dreaded baccala.  After, I whipped into my swimsuit and spent about an hour on the golden sand beach that fronts the castello, dipping regularly into the placid water to cool off.  The sea here gets deep quickly, which I like, unlike the Ionian, where you have to walk about a kilometer to reach water above your kneecaps.  I bronzed up nicely in short-order under the Cilento sun.

I drove the road towards Battipaglia that used to terrorize me because of the crazy drivers who make a two-lane road into a three-lane highway as they brazenly streak down the middle while cars on either side have to careen over to avoid them - and it seemed *almost* normal, so familiar was it.

My looks, I vainly admit, were pretty bad, being sticky from the salt water and my hair having gone all frizz-and-boing from the humidity, but I stopped off at Vannulo for *the* best gelato.  I know, it's a bold statement to make, but if you haven't tried gelato di bufala you don't know what you're missing. It was bold-flavored and so-amazingly-creamy, just like I remembered, a nice way to top off the day.  Because work deserves its rewards afterwards, right?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Five Regional Words

Remember a while back when I posted my five favorite Italian words?  And then I discussed my five least favorite Italian words?  Bryan and I were recently pondering some of the regional peculiarities of the language.  There are some expressions we hear down in these parts that we hadn't encountered in Ascoli Piceno or Roma, so today I'm giving you a lesson in southern speak - Five Southern Words:

Mo'.  This one sounds just like it looks, with a nice round O pronunciation.  Mo' means "now," as in: 
"When is the meeting?"
"Mo', mo'!"
To ask E' mo'? is a nice way of questioning, now what the hell do we do?  Then there's my favorite: fino a mo' - up til now.  I was too busy to call fino a mo'.  My friend Maria has an old Abruzzese saying, 'A mo' stavi buon'" (fino a mo' stavi bene), meaning you were doing fine up until now.

Fare acqua.  Literally "to make water," this expression is used by many of the older folks to talk about rain.  Mamma mia, quant'acqua ha fatto!  Good grief, it rained so hard!  Or for the forecast they say, sto pomeriggio fa acqua.  It's going to rain this afternoon.  Fare acqua always make me smile a little, it just sounds so old-style and quaint to my ears.

Voi.  I'd learned in language school that voi - the plural form of 'you' - is used for extreme courtesy when meeting someone important, but they never clued me in that it's used down here as a normal address when talking to someone you don't know, replacing the "Lei" form (formal 'you').  The first time I heard voi when I wasn't with Bryan (and it was clear they weren't addressing both of us) it took me a few seconds to figure out they were talking to me.  Here in the village we all pass quickly to the "tu" - informal 'you' - but out and about the voi usage pops up often.  It always makes me feel a little awkward, but I've gotten used to it.

Servizi.  While in other places servizio means service, be it customer or military, here it means "errands".  Faccio dei servizi, I'm running some errands.  It can also means "appointment" (ho un servizio alle 10:00).  When I ask my friend Antonietta what she did yesterday she'll say, "ho fatto i servizi," meaning she cleaned her house.

Passeggiata.  OK, I know, this is a common Italian word.  People everywhere take a passeggiata in the evening, strolling around the piazzas to meet up with friends and have a little exercise.  But around here to go for a walk is a camminata, while friends in the countryside will ask if we want to fare una passeggiata, meaning take a little excursion to go out and visit them.  It was a bit confusing at first because I really didn't want to walk the six kilometers to their farm.  If we say we went to Matera for the day, friends will ask, "Ah, did you have a bella passeggiata?"  Did you have a nice outing?

Then there's the local dialect, but that's a whole other language and another discussion for another time. 

So there you have 'em, a few words of Lucano-style Italian.  What are your region?  Do you have regional pecularities?

Watch a southern language lesson from the film, Benvenuti al Sud.

Other Five Lists:

My Five Favorite Towns in Italy

My Five List for Foodies