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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘Non vedo l’ora’

We bet you can't wait to start using this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Non vedo l'ora'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you were to ask an Italian out on a date, they might respond with today’s expression: non vedo l’ora

But, since this literally translates as “I can’t see the time”, you might understandably think you’d just been turned down with an excuse about a busy schedule.

This is when it really pays to know your Italian idioms, since this phrase actually means “I can’t wait” or “I’m looking forward to it.”

As in, you’re just so excited about this future event that you can’t even “see”, or imagine, the time coming.

Isn’t that a bit more romantic than the impatient English “I can’t wait”?

The amorous Italian you met on your last trip to Italy, now separated from you by thousands of miles of ocean, is likely to send messages along the lines of:

– non vedo l’ora di rivederti amore mio

– I can’t wait to see you again my love

They don’t call it the language of love for nothing.

But, obviously, the phrase is also used all the time in all sorts of situations; some of them markedly less romantic.

Some other useful phrases might be:

– non vedo l’ora di finire il lavoro

– I can’t wait to finish work

– Non vedo l’ora di incontrare i miei nuovi colleghi

– I’m looking forward to meeting my new colleagues.

The second example might sound a little off to English speakers. While there’s a different between “I can’t wait” and “I’m looking forward to it” (the former would imply more yearning or excitement) Italians just use the same phrase for both.

So for English speakers, using non vedo l’ora when you want to politely express that you’re “quite looking forward to” getting started on a work project might feel a bit much. But really, it’s fine.

To use this phrase in any situation, you can simply add on verbs in the infinitive, just like in English.

Don’t forget that, In Italian, ora can be used to mean  both ‘hour and ‘time’, as well as “now”

Some examples:

– che ora è?

– what time is it?

– è ora di andare

– It’s time to go

– Stiamo mangiando proprio ora

– We’re eating right now

And now you know exactly how to tell people how excited you are about your next visit to Italy:

Non vedo l’ora di tornare in Italia!

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Gita fuori porta’

No Italian summer would be complete without this phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Gita fuori porta'

As far as Italian summer traditions go, there’s only one thing more quintessentially Italian than the ‘pennica, the post-lunch nap which people from all corners of the country seem to effortlessly slip into with flawless poise and clockwork timing. That one thing is the ‘gita fuori porta’.

You might have already heard the expression on a couple of occasions, but don’t worry if you haven’t. Now that Ferragosto, Italy’s most deeply felt summer holiday, is only a few days away, listen out for it in your next conversation with Italians.

READ ALSO: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

So before we get into the ins and outs of how the ‘gita fuori porta’ works, what exactly does this phrase mean?

At first glance, the most logical translation might appear to be something like ‘a trip out of the door’. But the word ‘porta’ here has nothing to do with front doors (or houses, for that matter) as it refers instead to a city’s main entry gate.

To this day, the boundaries of most Italian towns are marked by ancient protective walls, generally dating back to Roman or medieval times. Though these walls no longer serve their original purpose, in many cases a town or city centre is still accessed via a number of gates, or ‘porte’.

So, a ‘gita fuori porta’ is a particularly Italian way of describing a trip out of town, whether that be to the seaside, in the countryside or in the mountains. 

Ti va di fare una gita fuori porta questo weekend?

Non troppo, tesoro. Fa troppo caldo.

Do you fancy a trip out of town this weekend?

Not really, honey. It’s too hot.

Marco e Maria stanno organizzando una gita fuori porta. Cosa ne pensi di unirti a loro?

Va bene, a patto che lo scegliamo noi il ristorante questa volta.

Marco and Maria are organising a trip out of town. What do you say we join them?

Okay, as long as we pick the restaurant this time around.

But what’s so special about a trip out of town done the Italian way?

Regardless of whether it’s a family trip or a trip with friends, the gita has a precise set of features that all Italians seem to be aware of from a very young age, almost as though  information on how to execute the proper gita came embedded in their own genetic setup.

Firstly, a gita is intended as a day trip, leaving no later than 10am and returning home by dinner time. Secondly, the journey to the chosen destination is always of short or medium length (i.e. rarely longer than two or two and half hours) and is made by car or motorcycle.  

Last but not least, the gita is always a hugely important social event and the smooth unfolding of the trip is seen as vitally important. As such, a number of rituals precede the days and hours before the momentous getaway.

These include: anxiously looking at weather forecasts and updates starting from over a week before the trip; concocting detailed back-up plans “just in case the weather experts get it wrong”; and finally, meticulously reading the reviews of any bar, restaurant or trattoria in a 50-kilometre radius of the chosen destination.

So, should you be tempted to join a trip all’italiana (Italian-style), make sure you do all of the above.

You might also hear the term ‘scampagnata’ used instead of ‘gita fuori porta’. 

Though the term may suggest otherwise – ‘campagna’ means countryside in Italian – ‘scampagnata’ has exactly the same meaning as ‘gita fuori porta’, thus referring to all possible sorts of day trip, not just those to the countryside.

Faremo una scampagnata ad Asolo per Ferragosto.

Ah, bello. Merita veramente una visita.

We’ll be in Asolo for Ferragosto.

Oh, nice. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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