Buongiorno a tutti and Welcome to On Location Italian! It’s Nicole here writing from Verona, and this week marks my 6th week living la dolce vita (“the sweet life”) here in Italy. In addition to enjoying a vibrant social life, I am now getting stuck into life as a student at La Facoltà di Giurisprudenza (“the Faculty of Law”) at the University of Verona. Although challenging at times, I am definitely noticing an improvement in my ability to keep up with the Professors whilst they speak of the Italian law at a rather fast pace.
That said, I must admit that my favourite part of the day here is lunch time. One of the benefits of attending the University is being able to eat at la mensa (“the canteen”). The menu consists of a primo piatto (literally translated as “first plate” or “first course”) with a choice between soup, rice or pasta all served with bread; secondo piatto (“second course”) where they serve up some type of deliciously cooked meat or large salad; contorni (“side dishes”) such as potatoes, chips or vegetables; dessert and a drink. And with a tessera (the word for a card, almost like a membership card that allows you to use various services at the University) this can all be yours for a mere 4 euros. It’s little wonder I eat here almost every day!
Eating at la mensa with the Italian students also provides an additional opportunity for me to improve my Italian. For example, yesterday as I tucked into what is fast becoming one of my favourite dishes, cotoletta alla Milanese (veal cutlet covered in breadcumbs), I chatted away with my Italian friends. During our conversation, my friend spoke of feeling like a ruota di scorta when her coinquilina (“flatmate”) had her boyfriend staying for the weekend. Ruota is the Italian word for “wheel” and di scorta is translated as “spare”. Ruota di scorta therefore translates in English as “spare wheel”, similar to the expression we use for feeling like a “third wheel” or “gooseberry”. She said that you can also use the phrase terzo incomodo in this context.
I think the quality of the food served at la mensa reflects the Italians’ love of food and the way in which they eat – they usually have big meals but with no snacking in between. They also take big breaks for lunch, giving themselves time to enjoy their meals, for example the shops are closed for lunch from 12:30 until 15:30. It really is la dolce vita and a way of life I can get used to!! I hope you have enjoyed On Location Italian and I will be back soon! A presto!!