The Italians have been known to have a way with words. Most movies and novels depict “la bella lingua” as a language of romance, mystery and one that rolls right off of the tongue.
However, outside of Italy, you would be hard pressed to find someone speaking the language Dante glorified.
Step into the country and if you don’t know a word, you will quickly pick up bits and phrases to utter ever so passionately.
I often find you can’t know a place until you know its language. You can’t understand how another country thinks if you don’t grasp its main form of communication. What I find most intriguing about travel are these languages.
Italian has left an imprint on me for the following phrases. They embody a carefree nation and a notion we all can apply to our travels. Don’t fret over delays. Worry later. Just do as the Italians do and abide by these phrases.
In Bocca Al Lupo: Literally translating, “into the mouth of the wolf”, the Italian form of “good luck” makes a stab at luck. Heading into the mouth of the wolf sounds like a negative outcome, but the Italians respond “Crepi!” to that notion, meaning “die”. When heading out the door for a travel feat, make sure someone says “in bocca al lupo”. You don’t need luck while you travel, just the Italian laugh at luck.
Va bene: If I ever had a look of worry on my face while in Italy, some Italian would walk up to me and say “Va bene?” with the most concerned of faces. Va bene can mean a few different things, but it generally comes down to “okay, alright”. Va bene is hard to escape in Italy, from making sure the meal is up to par to asking how you are, Italians want to be sure all is A-okay. When it comes to travel, throw the problems aside, va bene?
Non ti preoccupare: Whenever I would try and help my host mom with dinner, she would shoo me away saying, “non ti preoccupare!”. In other words, don’t worry yourself. Italians have a way of making you feel at ease. Whenever something goes wrong when I travel, I often mutter “non ti preoccupare”. Stop worrying yourself and leave it to the Italians.
Siamo a cavallo: One of my Italian professors taught me this phrase, “siamo a cavallo”, meaning we are ready, heading in the right direction and things are going well. Siamo a cavallo may be the most travel appropriate Italian phrase I know. Utter it and hopefully you will be headed in the right direction.
Chi lascia la strada vecchia per la nuova sa quell che lascia, ma non sa quell che trova: More proverbial, this Italian phrase translates, “One who leaves the old street for the new, knows what they leave, but not what they’ll find”. This Italian notion speaks to travelers of any language. I am often of the mindset that travel changes in ways you can’t predict when you set outside that door.