Exactly 10 months to the day after I moved out of my apartment and departed for the final time from Verona, I flew back to Italy. The first full day I spent back here, I was reminded of why I keep coming back, and will always come back, to this country.
When you think of Italy, you may well think of the Trevi fountain, or any number of the grand attractions in Rome, the Amalfi Coast or the Duomo in Milan. And you would be right to, because the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, the cathedrals and the entire coastline is a spectacle. But there’s also something to be said for the spots like Lago di Mergozza. Places that have just happened naturally, are still existing naturally, and remaining practically untouched by tourists, the way I hope it will stay.
I had the day to get to know the editor at a local newspaper, and spent some hours talking with her and seeing the general running of the office. She needed to get on with some work, leaving me to explore the office and peek through some spreadsheets. 1 hour later, with the work ‘day’ over, she brought me to Mergozza; a small, romantic town and little sister to Lago Maggiore. We wandered a little and then headed to Maggiore for lunch, whereupon a discussion of the word ‘peckish’ came about.
Surrounded by Italians every day, it’s enlightening. When every day, you encounter people trying to communicate using your own mother tongue, you realise just how bizarre your own language is. I had this realisation whilst trying to explain the feeling of being peckish. I went pretty deep on this, explaining how someone must have once thought the actions of a bird and how they only eat little pieces of food at a time would be a good way to express a fleeting feeling of hunger, only then to be asked, deadpan: ‘So it’s just when you’re hungry?’.
I felt really deflated. The beauty of the English language, I think, is that we have a word (if not more than 1) for almost everything. In these instances I am told by the Italians that there are too many words in English to say just one thing, for example, describing temperature: freezing, icy, frosty, cold, cool, nippy, chilly, crisp, fresh, mild, fair, lukewarm (impossible to explain), tepid, warm, toasty, comfortable, hot, boiling, scorching.
But then, the same evening, we discuss how if you learnt the complete usage of the verb ‘to take’, you would probably be quite the master of English.
Because if you take the example of the verb ‘to take’, you realise that the verb itself takes many meanings, and phrases using the verb are taken for granted as they are so numerous. Imagine if a person took a real interest in English grammar, and so decides to take a language course. If they took a real crack at it, no matter how long it took, with a bit of give-and-take they would practically be English. And at the end they could take a bow.
What’s your take on that?
Restaurant: La Terrazza + Mirafiori. Rec: Pappardelle delle Ortiche.