Summer is finally here! What a better option for an Italian vocabulary post?
If you’ve been following me for a while now – especially if you read my newsletter, where I write about more personal stuff – you already know that I am a fan of summer. I can’t say that summer is my favorite season, as I love the changing of seasons and I am always happy when the weather changes but…summer, oh boy.
Since I live in Italy, you may think that the weather is always nice in my area but it actually isn’t so. I live in the north of the country, we have long and cold winters, rainy autumns and quite a chilly spring, so summer is always very welcome. I love everything about it, even the hottest days when you don’t know what to do to escape the sun.
Well, actually it’s already been summer for quite a few weeks this year, but I wanted to wait for it to be officially here to write a post about it. Summer makes a perfect topic for another Italian vocabulary post, so let’s dive right in.
Let’s learn the Italian words and phrases for summer!
In Italy, summer always begins with the celebrations for San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist). San Giovanni falls on June 24th and being the patron saint of quite a number of Italian cities, it means feast and parties most everywhere.
In certain places, the celebration takes place on the eve of San Giovanni, while in other cities it’s the actual day of the saint which is the most important one. Celebrations usually mean messe (masses), sometimes processioni (processions), feste di paese (town festivals) with balli (dances), musica dal vivo (live music) and cibo (food).
However, the peak of the celebrations for San Giovanni are usually i fuochi d’artificio (fireworks), who light the sky around midnight. In the past – and in some places the tradition is still alive – it was common to accendere fuochi (to light fires) with falò (bonfires) going on all night.
Those fires were lighted by contadini (farmers) in honor of the sun, for its benevolence, and in some paesi di campagna (countryside villages) it’s still common to see the colline (hills) lighted with fires on the night of San Giovanni.
Another very important day in the Italian summer is August 15th, Ferragosto.
August 15th is a religious holiday, as such day marks the Assunzione della Vergine Maria (Virgin Mary’s Assumption), when the Virgin was brought to heaven at the end of his earthly life. Actually, August 15th is definitely better known as Ferragosto, or the day that marks the peak of summer.
In Italy, at Ferragosto it is common to spend the day with friends and family, doing gite fuoriporta (day trips), picnic, grigliate (barbecues) or simply spending time alla spiaggia (at the beach). If you are at the beach, it is quite common to be the victim of a gavettone (when someone throws water at you), because it is one of the traditions of such day. As for June 24h, many Italians cities celebrate August 15th with fuochi d’artificio (fireworks) and feste di paese (town festivals).
L’estate (summer) is a very beautiful season because it means bel tempo (nice weather) and, most likely, vacanze (holidays).
Most Italians get their ferie dal lavoro (time off from work) in August and therefore vanno in vacanza (go on holiday). Many people vanno in vacanza al mare (go on holiday at a seaside location), but many others prefer to fare le vacanze in montagna (to spend the holidays in the mountains) or fare un viaggio all’estero (to take a trip abroad).
Those who chose the beach for their holidays, may choose un albergo (a hotel), un residence vacanze (a complex of apartments), un villaggio turistico (a resort) or prefer affittare un appartamento (to rent an apartment). If you spend time at the beach, you can choose a spiaggia libera (free access beach) or un bagno (beach club).
If you choose a spiaggia libera, you have to bring your own telo mare (beach towel), ombrellone (beach umbrella) and your food and drinks. If you choose a beach club, you get ombrellone (beach umbrella), sedia a sdraio (beach chair) or lettino (beach lounger) and there’s always un bar o un ristorante (a bar or a restaurant) where you can get your food and drinks.
If you spend your time at the beach, you may prendere il sole (to sunbathe), nuotare (to swim), fare i tuffi (to jump into the water) or fare passeggiate sulla spiaggia (to walk on the beach). If you are a sporty person, you can giocare a beach volley (to play beach volley) or giocare a racchettoni (to play beach paddleball). If you are lazy like me, you can stare sotto l’ombrellone (to stay under the umbrella) and leggere (to read) or giocare a carte (to play cards).
If you have kids, you may need to help them to costruire un castello di sabbia (to build a sandcastle) or giocare a biglie (to play marbles). If they are little, you may need to help them with secchiello e paletta (bucket and spade) or to spend time in the water with them while they try swimming with braccioli (water wings) or salvagente (lifebuoy). No matter what you do, just remember to wear la crema protezione solare (sunscreen) to avoid una scottatura (a sunburn).
But summer is not just holidays!
One of the things I like the most about summer is the richness of vegetables and fruit you find. I have a vegetable garden and every summer I enjoy zucchini (zucchini), fagiolini (green beans), piselli (peas), fagioli (beans), melanzane (aubergines), insalata (salad), pomodori (tomatoes), and carote (carrots). Unfortunately, I have no orchard and I have to buy my favorite summer fruits: ciliegie (cherries), fragole (strawberries), pesche (peaches), albicocche (apricots), meloni (cantaloupes) and angurie (watermelons).
And you, do you like summer? What do you like the most about it?
I hope you’ll find this post useful for your Italian vocabulary building purposes. If you like this kind of vocabulary posts, these are the other ones:
If you have specific requests of topics and themes, just leave a comment here below or send me an email at cinzia@instantlyitaly.
I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned in this post. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
If you are interested in improving your Italian language skills, I’d suggest you check Chiacchieriamo, your way of chatting with an Italian without moving from home.
Chiacchieriamo is a Skype chat which helps you practice and improve your Italian with a native speaker. If you want to give it a try, you can request a 30-minute free chat, so that we can meet each other and see if you like the service.