Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 3, part 12

Pinocchio, who has taken off into the street and is making a racket, now catches the attention of a carabiniere. In this next part, you will look at the following portion of text in Italian from Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio:

Alla fine, e per buona fortuna, capitò un carabiniere il quale, sentendo tutto quello schiamazzo, e credendo si trattasse di un puledro che avesse levata la mano al padrone, si piantò coraggiosamente a gambe larghe in mezzo alla strada, coll’animo risoluto di fermarlo e d’impedire il caso di maggiori disgrazie. Ma Pinocchio, quando si avvide da lontano del carabiniere, che barricava tutta la strada, s’ingegnò di passargli, per sorpresa, framezzo alle gambe, e invece fece fiasco.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 3

At this point in the story, un carabiniere (Italian gendarme) happened to show up: capitò un carabiniere. This use of capitare in the sense of to show up, to turn up is important to learn. Here are examples of it:

Per buona fortuna capitò un carabiniere.
Luckily, a carabiniere showed up.

Capiti a proposito!
You have shown up at just the right time!

Se capita mio padre, fatelo aspettare.
If my father turns up, have him wait.

Note the placement of stress in these conjugated forms: càpiti, càpita.

When the carabiniere heard the racket being made by Pinocchio, he positioned himself resolutely in the street, legs wide apart. In the text, you discover the noun schiamazzo for racket. You will remember from the last part that you saw racket expressed as fracasso instead, as part of the expression fare un fracasso. You now have two ways to say racket: il fracasso, lo schiamazzo.

Il cavallo ha fatto un fracasso orribile.
The horse made a terrible racket.

Ma cos’è questo schiamazzo?
What is all this racket?

Il carabiniere ha sentito tutto quello schiamazzo.
The carabiniere heard all that racket.

If you live near a noisy bar or a street with heavy traffic, you might refer to the noise produced at night as schiamazzi notturni (literally, nighttime racket, noise). In the area of a city where quiet must be observed, you might see a sign telling people to evitare schiamazzi (avoid making noise). Remember to use the correct articles with this noun: lo schiamazzo, gli schiamazzi.

The carabiniere took position in the middle of the street: si piantò in mezzo alla strada. He did so courageously: coraggiosamente; and with his legs apart: a gambe larghe.

Note that the Italian expression for in the middle of uses the preposition a:

in mezzo alla strada
in the middle of the street

in mezzo al mare
in the middle of the sea

in mezzo alla folla
in the middle of the crowd

The text uses the verb piantarsi, which literally means to plant oneself.

Mi sono piantato in mezzo alla folla.
I planted myself in the middle of the crowd.
I took position in the middle of the crowd.

Mi si piantò davanti.
He planted himself in front of me.
He took position in front of me.

Getting back to the story, the carabiniere believed the racket might have been made by un puledro that had disobeyed its master. Un puledro is the young of a horse, a young buck; it is also sometimes used to refer to the young of other animals. The expression levare la mano al padrone means to raise one’s hand to its master; that is, to disobey its master.

The carabiniere, then, is now planted in the middle of the street coll’animo risoluto di fermarlo (with his will resolved to stop him) e d’impedire il caso di maggiori disgrazie (and to prevent the situation from getting worse). Una disgrazia is an accident or disaster.

Look now at the last sentence of this post’s portion of text, which reads as follows: Ma Pinocchio, quando si avvide da lontano del carabiniere, che barricava tutta la strada, s’ingegnò di passargli, per sorpresa, framezzo alle gambe, e invece fece fiasco.

The expression avvedersi di una cosa means to notice something.

Pinocchio si avvide del carabiniere.
Pinocchio noticed the carabiniere.

Pinocchio noticed the carabiniere from afar: da lontano. You will remember the carabinere has planted himself in the middle of the street; he is now barricading it:

Il carabiniere barricava tutta la strada.
The carabiniere was barricading the entire street.

Pinocchio came up with the idea that, by surprise (per sorpresa), he would run in between the legs of the carabiniere in order to escape. To say in between his legs, the text uses frammezzo alle gambe. (In fact, the text uses framezzo, with one m; this is a less common spelling.)

Pinocchio s’ingegnò di passargli frammezzo alle gambe.
Pinocchio came up with the idea of passing in between his legs.

The verb ingegnarsi means to devise, to come up with (an idea).

ingegnarsi a trovare una soluzione
to devise a solution
to come up with a solution
to come up with an idea for a solution

Pinocchio, however, was not successful in his attempt: fece fiasco (he fouled up). The expression here is fare fiasco (to foul up, to be a flop).

Il libro ha fatto fiasco.
The book was a flop.

This post’s portion of text can be broken down as follows: Àlla fìne (in the end), e per buòna fortùna (and luckily so), capitò un carabinière (a carabiniere showed up) il quàle, sentèndo tùtto quéllo schiamàzzo (who, hearing all this racket), e credèndo si trattàsse di un pulédro (and believing it was question of a young buck) che avésse levàta la màno al padróne (that had disobeyed its master), si piantò coraggiosaménte (planted himself courageously) a gàmbe làrghe (with legs apart) in mèzzo àlla stràda (in the middle of the street), coll’ànimo risolùto di fermàrlo (with his will resolved to stop him) e d’impedìre il càso di maggióri disgràzie (and to prevent the situation from getting worse). Ma Pinòcchio (but Pinocchio), quàndo si avvìde da lontàno del carabinière (when he noticed from afar the carabiniere), che barricàva tùtta la stràda (who was barricading the entire street), s’ingegnò di (came up with the idea of) passàrgli, per sorprésa, framèzzo àlle gàmbe (passing, by surprise, in between his legs), e invéce féce fiàsco (and instead fouled up).

Key Italian usages appearing in this post include: la fortùna (luck), per buòna fortùna (luckily), capitàre (to show up, turn up), a propòsito (at the right time), il carabinière (Italian gendarme), sentìre (to hear), lo schiamàzzo (racket), il fracàsso (racket), il cavàllo (horse), orrìbile (horrible), nottùrno (of the night), piantàrsi (to plant oneself), in mèzzo a (in the middle of), coraggiosaménte (courageously), a gàmbe làrghe (legs apart), la stràda (street), il màre (sea), la fòlla (crowd), davànti (in front of), il pulédro (young buck), levàre la màno (to raise one’s hand), il padróne (master, boss), un ànimo (spirit, soul), risolùto (resolved), impedìre (to prevent), la disgràzia (accident, disaster), avvedérsi di (to notice), barricàre (to barricade), per sorprésa (by surprise), frammèzzo a (in between), ingegnàrsi (to devise), fàre fiàsco (to foul up, to be a flop).