Ollolai, Italy: The small Sardinian town selling homes for €1

We’ve all dreamed of owning a home on some far-away exotic island where they don’t speak English and life is the clichéd dolce vita. The town of Ollolai, a luscious green zone in the Barbagia region of Sardinia, are now selling abandoned homes for €1. Shocking but true. The internet has lit up from joyous dreamers who want to pack it in and live the la dolce vita, I mean who wouldn’t want a taste of this attainable dream, for only $1.52CAD you too can stop dreaming and make it a reality. But how…? Continue reading

Learning Italian: The verb to like

Learning Italian: The verb to like

Welcome back for another installment of Learning Italian with Jennifer Avventura. This week we take a close look at the verb to like – PiacereI hate this verb with every fiber in my being. I started to study Italian 5 years ago using a fabulous work book called Italian Now Level 1 by Marcel Danesi and I have just dusted it off in hopes to get this one verb mastered. This book has been a god send and I recommend it to anyone who is just beginning to learn Italian.

Piacere – to like

Learning Italian by Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life 2014

I’m tired of asking people “piace?” when I should say “ti piace” or “vi piace” depending on whom I’m speaking to.

Then things get really confusing if the noun is plural, not only do you have to change the article, you also have to change the noun and the verb! In English we have one article ‘the,’ however, in Italian there are seven and they are gender specific – il, i, lo, l’, gli, la, le.

Learning Italian by Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life 2014 (2)

Here’s a little exercise I did using the verb ‘piacere.’

Learning Italian by Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life 2014 (3)

Can you see all the eraser marks? It wasn’t an easy chapter to master and I’m still learning the basics of this very difficult verb.

Here’s a little hint:

Learning Italian by Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life 2014 (4)

Are you left confused by all this madness? Don’t worry, so am I.

Non mi piace il verbo piacere. Non e facile a imparare questo verbo e la mia testa gira quando devo pensare per piacere! Pero, mi piace mangiare pizza. Vi piace mangiare pizza?

How did I do above?

Can you offer any advice on how to master this difficult Italian verb?

For more in this series:

Learning Italian – At the local doctor’s office
Learning Italian – The ancient Italian coffee machine and an expat accident
Learning Italian – Studying for the Italian driving permit
Learning Italian – At the Gynecologist
Learning Italian – You said what?
Learning Italian – An attempt to learn Italian prepositions

Learning Italian: Studying for the Italian Driving Permit

Learning Italian: Studying for the Italian Driving Permit

Snow DriveDriving in Italy is not for the faint of heart. The curves, the speed, the mountains, the goats, cows, dogs and kids, and the dreaded stick shift. I was crowned queen of the road in nineteen-ninety-two in a small town on the outskirts of Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The first time my father taught me to drive I was thirteen years old, and his blue Ford Bronco had aged significantly despite its young years. We were driving old country roads out by the old Avondale store on Stewart Road, the Rolling Stones sang i can’t get no satisfaction on the dust filled, static speakers. Memories were being made, moments to remember.

Then we hit a ditch and ended up sideways.

It was sensory overload, the happiness, the stones, the ice cream parlour, my first taste of freedom and the large curve in the road.

For some reason, unbeknownst to my thirteen year old self, I had thought the old Bronco would automatically straighten out, I didn’t realize I had to control it with the steering wheel. I was only driving 10 kilometers per hour when we found ourselves tilted sideways in the ditch with the ice cream shop not far in the distance.

We roared with laughter, changed places in the truck and went for ice cream.

Four years after that incident when I was seventeen, I got my license to drive in Canada.

Today, twenty-one years after being honoured with a Canadian driving license, I am not legally able to drive, in any country. My Canadian license expired this past October, and to renew I must visit the DMV in Canada, in person.

Did you know:

  • If you are planning to move to Italy and have a driving permit from outside of the European Union, you can legally drive in Italy for one year provided you have an international driving permit.
  • After one year driving with an international driving permit, you are required by law to take the exam for the Italian driving permit.
  • All tests are in Italian.
  • Here’s an awesome link which provides exam questions to study for the Italian license.

I’ve been in Italy almost six years and think I’m finally ready to take the official exam. I’ve teamed up with other expats in Italy who are also studying for the Italian driving permit or Foglio Rossa.

Leah from Help! I live with my Italian mother-in-law started a wonderful group on FB called Help! I need my Foglio Rossa where we can support each other in our endeavour to become road warriors.

I finally took the on-line test, in Italian, and did better than I had expected. There are 40 questions, some with diagrams and you have thirty minutes on the clock. Good luck.

italian driving test1

11 errors. Not suitable to drive in Italy. FAIL!

italian driving test results

Keeps track of how many times you take the test and compares score. Today was my first try.

This one threw me for a loop! I still don’t understand it’s meaning nor what the sentence says.

What in the *$*% is this all about?

What in the *$*% is this all about?

Now if only driving stick shift were as easy as studying for the Italian driving permit, I’d be set.

What I learned today:

  • I need to study a lot more.
  • Groups like Help! I need my foglio rossa will help me achieve this goal.
  • Italian driving exams are all sorts of crazy.
  • I will need the support and guidance from said group in achieving this goal.

Check out expat Elizabeth’s tales of woe in Umbria – My Italian Driver’s License Part 1: House Arrest. For the sake of our sanity – let’s drive! 🙂

Can you offer any tips, whether it’s driving stick shift or taking the exam?

Learning Italian: You said what?

Learning Italian: You said what?

Okay, I’ll admit it, or maybe I don’t want to just yet it’s a little embarrassing. I mean it has been five and a half years and all, I should know this stuff, but I don’t.

My Italian sucks!

Well, it doesn’t suck in the big sucky way, but it could be better. Where I get confused is the moment I have to open my mouth and speak Italian.

“Buongiorno.” Okay, that was easy.

“Come stai oggi?” Alright, maybe my Italian doesn’t suck as bad as I think it sucks.

Let’s pretend I’m at the local farmers market conversing with the sausage seller.

“Salve Jennifer!”

“Ciao Pablo! Come stai?” It’s so easy these one-on-one conversations.

“Sto bene. Il solito – the usual?” Pablo is cute and short, and has a super big smile each Monday morning.

“Si, il solito. Mio marito va pazzo per tuo salsiccia.” Now, it’s time to cue the laughter card because I just told the sausage vendor:

“Yes, the usual. My husband goes crazy for your sausage.”

If you don’t have a dirty mind then the above statement will blow right on over your head. I on the other hand was dying inside the moment the words left my mouth.

Pablo looks at me with a wide-eyed grin knowing what I want even before I arrive at his table.

“Senza busta vero?”

What I said:

“Si, no busta. Non mi piace ad avere la plastica a casa e poi fa male per nostro mondo.”
“Yes, no bag. I don’t like to have the plastic at home and then it’s bad for our world.”

What I wanted to say:

“Correct, no bag. I find it unnecessary to have a large collection of plastic bags at home, there is no need for it, plus plastic takes about a billion years to disintegrate thus making it bad for the earth.”

And with the same smile I’ve seen every Monday for the last five and a half years Pablo hands me the sausage without a bag and I smile graciously yet embarrassed, turn on my heel and search out the fruit and vegetable vendor.

Fig porn by Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian LifeNow let’s pretend I’m speaking with the fruit and vegetable vendor:

“Ciao ragazza!” I really hate it that he calls me ragazza – girl. I’ve bought his carrots and figs for years, he should know my name.

“Buongiorno. Mi dai per favore cattru figa. Mi piace molto la figa.”

The fruit vendor is beside himself and nearly crying with shock and laughter. The two elderly women beside me seem to be suffering from some type of cardiac arrest, shock or there’s a new disease around that leaves your mouth hanging open.

What I said:

“Good morning. Can you please give me four vagina’s. I like vagina’s a lot.” Okay so, this is something I said years ago, not recently, but it was said and still today the shock and giggle factor remains the same. I also said four in Gallurese.

So you see, learning a new language is not easy and at the best of times can be a whole lot of embarrassing.

There are still a number of things I screw up on like when to use UN, UNO or UNA – A, One, A.

Let’s try a little excercise and please feel free to correct me in the comment section below. I’ve just looked around my house for the following word list and I hope get them all correct. I’m aiming high!

Una banana – a banana
Un portacenere – an ashtray
Uno libro – one book. I wanted to say A book, would I write un libro?
Una penna – a pen
Una finestra – a window
Un divano – a sofa
Uno frigo – one fridge
Un cafe – a coffee
Una mela – an apple. And if I wanted to say One apple would it be Uno mela? I don’t think so, cue confusion.
Un asino – a donkey

I think this is all too much for 7:30 in the morning. I have system overload and need more coffee but this is the life of an expat in Italy. There are always questions, there will always be questions and I will always admit my mistakes and laugh at myself. It’s the only way to learn a new language.

What linguistic blunders have passed your lips?

An attempt to learn Italian prepositions

An attempt to learn Italian prepositions

For anyone new to learning Italian – it’s not easy. I’ve been in Italy since May 2008 and I still haven’t wrapped my head around the Italian prepositions. Plus, I’m a little lazy. Okay, I’m a lot lazy. The first two years in Sardinia I studied and I studied hard with Italian workbooks, Italian learning CD’s, repetition and more repetition. Then it got boring and I studied by watching TV, listening to the radio or having a coffee at the local bar each morning.

Jennifer Avventura Learning Italian My Sardinian Life

I should know these off by heart by now, but I don’t. My husband speaks to me in Italian or Gallurese, and depending on my mood I’ll respond first in English, then Italian, and sometimes I’ll throw him for a loop and respond in Gallurese. The look on his face is priceless when I respond to him in his first language and the giggle that escapes from his lips makes me want to do it all over again.

So, in a haphazard attempt to fully memorize the Italian prepositions I wrote them on a white-board magnetized to the fridge.

I’m not sure it’s working.

What are your study tips?

Turning Gallurese

Turning Gallurese

Every morning I head to the local coffee shop and it goes something like this Continue reading

Sardinia vs Google Maps – who will come out on top?

For over a month, rebel islanders have changed the way Google maps shows the island of Sardinia, by modifying town names to read in Sardo, the official language of the island.

As of October 14. 2013 Google responded by modifying all town names, back to Italian.

Map Sardinia in Italian

Map Sardinia in Italian

Map Sardinia in Italian

Map Sardinia in Sardo

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Nuraghe Izzana

Nuraghe Izzana located in Aggius, near the stunning Valle della Luna. Izzana is probably the largest nuraghe in Sardinia.

Nuraghe Izzana situato a Aggius, vicino allo splendido Valle della Luna. Izzana è probabilmente il più grande nuraghe in Sardegna.

The Nuraghic Society consisted of builders, shepherds, farmers, and fishermen. The use of nuraghe remains a mystery, but some believe these beehive structures were once used as religious temples, rulers’ residences, military strongholds, town meeting halls and housing for shepherds and their families.

La società nuragica era costituito da costruttori, pastori, agricoltori e pescatori. L’uso di nuraghe rimane un mistero, ma alcuni credono queste strutture alveare una volta erano utilizzati come templi religiosi, residenze governanti, fortezze militari, sale meeting città e gli alloggi per i pastori e le loro famiglie.

Nuraghe are typically located in a panoramic area and most are found in the northwest and south-central part of Sardinia. There are two types of nuraghe: tholos (domed shaped tomb or building) & corridor nuraghe. Most Nuraghe were built entirely of basalt, with no foundations to support these masterpieces but the weight of their stone.

Nuraghe si trovano di solito in una zona panoramica e la maggior parte si trovano nella parte nord-ovest e centro-meridionale della Sardegna. Ci sono due tipi di nuraghe: a tholos (cupola a forma di tomba o un edificio) e nuraghe corridoio. La maggior parte sono stati Nuraghe costruito interamente in basalto, senza fondamenta per sostenere questi capolavori, ma il peso della loro pietra.

Questo articolo e per un amico a Sassari. Hai visto? Ho scritto in italiano.

Have you seen a Nuraghe? Where? Hai visto un nuraghe? Dove?

How to Make Tomato Sauce Like an Italian

Five years ago, I thought tomato sauce came from a can, jar or my Mothers kitchen. Today, that is a different story, for I have mastered the fine art of Italian tomato sauce. With all good Italian things, one requires patience and persistence.

If this is your first time making tomato sauce, I wish you luck and I hope my step-by-step photo guide helps.

I love Italian cooking and eating. I am a Canadian, who learned the fine art of Italian tomato sauce by trial and error, and a lot of questions. And this is what I came up with, I hope you enjoy.

How to Make Tomato Sauce Like an Italian

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Sardinian BBQ in December

This past weekend we were invited back to the 12lb Snapper House for a traditional Sardinian BBQ. Being Canadian and one who was brought up on the best BBQ’s the world has to offer, I was excited to try a traditional Sardinian BBQ.

Ajo. Andemu in Cuzina per cena. Maureddu ha lu carne, e voule fare un BBQ. My husband said to me in his barbaric dialect.

Come on! We are going to the kitchen for dinner. Maureddu has meat, and he wants to have a BBQ.

I was a little thrown off as the 12 lb Snapper house is a bachelor pad with a nice fireplace, a sofa and a big screen on the wall but no BBQ. I figured ok, what the heck and left it to the two Sardinian guys and opened a bottle of Cannonau.

Sardinian BBQ

We are having a BBQ in the family fireplace? Continue reading

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