Category Archives: Italian

Abbiamo fatto le vacanze in Sicilia!

{We went on holiday to Sicily!}

It’s been two … now five (!) … weeks since we got back from Italy, but I am still excited about our holiday there. I’m not feeling ‘as if I never went away’!

Part of my excitement was due to the fact that I hadn’t been abroad or on a plane for about 4 years before this trip. I had chosen something both Andy and I would enjoy: a hiking trip on some of the volcanoes in Sicily.

This was an organised tour, so we didn’t have to worry about too much, other than making sure we got on the right plane at the right time 🙂 .

I am not naturally very brave with strangers, but I wanted to try out some of my Italian on holiday so I could experience talking with people other than my classmates and teacher! I decided to start the holiday as I would go on, and marched into the Hilton at Euston to ask if we could leave our bags as we were staying at Hilton Gatwick that evening. It worked! So we were free in London for a few hours, which was the one bit of holiday planning I left to Andy. This meant we ended up going for good coffee on Store Street, visiting a photography gallery and having an excellent meal at Mildred’s.

The rest of the journey to Sicily was uneventful. Once we got there, highlights included:

Walking up Vulcano and hearing and smelling sulphur steam huffing from the yellowed rocks. Did you know Vulcano is the original volcano? Named after Vulcan the god of fire, all other volcanoes are mere imitations.

Sulphur fumaroles on Vulcano

Sulphur fumaroles on Vulcano

Swimming in super clear seas (only warm enough for 20 minutes at a time though!) including a fun trip from the beach to our boat. This garnered much admiration from our holiday pals, who were easier to impress than our triathlon pals 🙂

Clear seas from above on one of our walks

Clear seas from above on one of our walks

Snorkelling for the first time. Saw all sorts of fish, a few jellyfish, a possible seahorse, luminous orange things on the rocks, spiny anemones and big sluggy things. No, I am not a marine biologist!

Speaking Italian: translating menus, ordering food, checking veggie status, translating snorkelling instructions, chatting with a random shopkeeper about Scottish whisky and even Making a Phone Call to a restaurant.

Seeing the lava flows on Etna that looked like industrial wasteland. The trip up Etna got rather more ‘exciting’ than planned. One misstep would have seen us sliding off the edge of a cliff and into an enormous caldera. Luckily we survived to tell the tale 😀 .

The 'lower' slopes of Etna

The ‘lower’ slopes of Etna

Making new friends.

A group shot of most of us on Etna

A group shot of most of us on Etna

The scents that hung in the air as we brushed past spring herbs and flowers in bloom.

Flowers

Flowers

Food highlights included cake for breakfast, ice cream, Colomba cake, pistachio pesto, hot chocolate you eat with a spoon and the paccheri alla norma on our last night.

Andy was also happy taking in the views, discovering a new-found interest in geology and putting his camera to good use. He also seemed to become a bit of a group joker … most of the time! (Just don’t ask about Etna).

I had a relaxing time whilst still staying active. Because it was a group tour, there was always someone to chat to and people to go with in smaller groups during free time.

One of the biggest things for me was the confidence I found in speaking to people in Italian. I wasn’t saying anything too complex or probably any more difficult than last time I was there, but the intervening years of study meant I could handle situations better. Only once or twice did I fail to understand what people were saying to me, and I still coped!

I’ve come back enthused about returning and plotting future trips 🙂 .

Here’s a few pics, courtesy of Andy and Anna.

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Ginger Biscuits and Salty Chocolate

Last week during our Italian class, we had to talk about what typical things we would offer guests to our house.

One girl suggested ‘biscotti alla canella’ (cinnamon biscuits). Malcolm next to me went for ‘biscotti alla mandorla’ (almond biscuits). Now, I love biscuits, which is why I almost never buy them because they would get eaten too quickly and they are not full of healthy things, like cabbage is (which I was eating at dinnertime today, in a cider, cream and mustard sauce with butterbeans, leeks and thyme, served with stove-top butternut squash scones … but I digress).

The best tasting ginger biscuits?

So I chipped in ‘mi piacciono molto i biscotti al zenzero’ (I really like ginger biscuits). I didn’t get round to explaining they have to be the ones with big chunks of stem ginger in them.

Next thing, I’m being asked by the lovely Carlo (our stand-in teacher for the week); ‘se veniamo a casa tua stasera, ci serviresti i biscotti al zenzero?’ (if we were to come to your house tonight, would you serve us ginger biscuits?). Unfortunately, no, I have no ginger biscuits in the house (see above). But, luckily, I have something else very special. ‘Non, ma offrirei il cioccolato alla sale. Solo cioccolato che è fatto di 70% cacao, minimo’.

Salty dark chocolate. Ranks up there only with soft salty caramel wrapped in dark chocolate. I’ll also eat dark chocolate with chilli, lime, spices or orange. But it has to be dark.

For any evening

For special occasions


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

According to Carlo, I’m very ‘cutting edge’, but I have to admit I was introduced to these delights by someone else, to whom I am forever grateful!

* Apologies for any language gaffes. It’s so much easier to hide mistakes when it’s not written down!

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