Friday, March 19, 2010

You say Terrazza, I say Terrazzo

I’m living one aspect of my dream right now.  Always good--blogging while sitting in the sun on our Italian terrace.  In English, that word is pretty simple.  Here in Italy there are two choices which really aren’t very clear.   I named our blog Il Terrazzo Italiano, and began to be concerned that I made the wrong choice when I saw that our geometra (surveyor/architect) used “terrazza” with an “A” at the end on our drawings.  So because I’m also trying to learn Italian at la scuola media in Scalea, I did some research.  I found this on a website here (excuse my translation):
Technically, la terrazza is an area of the roof of a building, while il terrazzo - or balcony - is a more viable area that protrudes from the wall, next to one or more interior doors.
In practice, however, the words "terrazzo" and "terrazza" tend to indicate either one and define a space protected by a balustrade and directly communicating with the house. Thanks to modern progress in construction materials, the terrace became a very important area in domestic buildings--an environment for elegant living.  There are famous terraces built by Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, master of architecture history, and some from the German Bauhaus movement, or Italian rationalism.

Our terrace is not a roof terrace and it is directly connected to the kitchen, so I feel both technically and informally correct enough.  I don’t have a new picture of it as I’m still working on filling it with plants.  Below is my sentimental favorite--in July 2008, we had just come from the US to see our semi-finished house.  It was our first cocktail on the terrace:

We are enjoying our Italian lessons every day for two hours.

Our teacher Carmelina (shown below) has a great sense of humor and has a lot to handle.  Anyone can come to take the free lessons so she has to run the class like an old one-room school house in order to deal with the varying levels of fluency.  Our class is very international--English folks, a young woman from Morocco, a funny guy from Iraq (our class clown), two guys from Pakistan, and one from Brazil.  We have both separate and group exercises and she ends the day with conversation.  My worst.  Everything leaves my head when she requests that I ask someone in the group a question.  Too much pressure.

Our neighbor who speaks English, Pina del Campo (nickname--because many folks have similar first names in town) seems sort of impressed by my progress, she gives me a year for fluency.  Hope so.  She came with us to Cosenza (provincial capital) yesterday for our appointment with the questura (police station) to get fingerprinted for our Permesso di Soggiorno.  She joked with the police woman who was typing up the forms and generally made us seem human to them, I think.  We could have gotten by without her but we did not know if they would have any questions for us.  The appointment requires that you bring all your original documents so we had no idea what to expect.  The reality was just fingerprints and about one hour of waiting.  Not too bad.  In two months, our “green cards” should be ready.  Here’s hoping that our Italian improves enough that we will feel all comfy about going back alone.
Driving in the city of Cosenza rather than just a town was very challenging for Doug but he did well.  He had studied maps from Google before leaving and basically drove right up to the area we needed to be by virtue of his (to me) completely uncanny sense of direction.  Pina asked directions of a guy in the street after we parked and he ended up walking with us for a block because they appeared to argue a bit about his directions.  As it turned out, we parked only two blocks away (or so).  On the way home, however, we missed a turn and we ended up eating pranzo (lunch) in a town that none of us had been to before--Lauria.  Doug found a new pasta dish that he really loved.  Pina told him how to cook it, we finished our wine and drove home.  A good day for learning Italian, cooking, geography, and meeting people.


  1. Hi Doug here,
    The pasta was paccheri (pa'h-care-ee) that is a medium size pasta stuffed, in this case, with a meat/spinach/cheese mix, dusted with salty sauce and baked. Added picante oil of course. May be the best dish I've had in Calabria, or maybe it was different from the norm at tourist restaurants where we live and all have the same basic menu. They had no menu, just the dish of- the-day and a conto (bill) written on a slip of paper. We'll head back to explore Lauria and the mountain communities around it.

  2. Hi. Hope you're enjoying life in Italy. Greetings from Malta.

  3. Thanks, Loree, we certainly are and hope to visit Malta soon.

  4. Hi Di & Guido, it sounds like you had an eventful week last week. It also sounds like the Italian classes are fun. We praise the teacher with all the different nationalities to teach. Are you at the stage where you can start talking to each other in Italian? Over time, we have found that we can have longer conversations. We also have an Italian friend in Italy who can speak English and we usually try to speak to him in Italian while he usually speaks to us in Italiano. As you can imagine it can get quite interesting, especially on the phone! Good luck with the lessons. John e Toni

  5. John and Toni,
    Ah yes, the phone. I'm going to stay positive though (and away from the phone for awhile). I did great at the Farmacia and was completely happy about the fact that I can just buy my medicine without an Rx. I assume it's not that way for everything. Doug and I don't try to speak in Italian, but once in a while, we just do. Not for very long.

  6. Just arrived home from a visit to HK to visit our daughter, now catching up with blog reading.

    Good to read how you are settling in.

  7. Thanks Lindy Lou. Hope you had a great visit.

  8. Larry and MarilynJune 20, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Thanks for letting me watch you live our dream. We are still in Oregon for another six months before our move. It looks like we still have a lot to learn about everything.
    Larry and Marilyn

  9. Larry and Marilyn,
    But it's so much fun learning. Good luck on your move, keep in touch and let us know if we can help in any way.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...