Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 5, part 2

At this point in the story, Pinocchio is hungry and begins looking for something to eat.

In this next portion of text from chapter 5 of Le avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, you find a large amount of vocabulary to be learned, but without any complicated expressions or grammatical structures.

The portion you will now study reads:

Il povero Pinocchio corse subito al focolare, dove c’era una pentola che bolliva e fece l’atto di scoperchiarla, per vedere che cosa ci fosse dentro, ma la pentola era dipinta sul muro. Immaginatevi come restò. Il suo naso, che era già lungo, gli diventò più lungo almeno quattro dita. Allora si dette a correre per la stanza e a frugare per tutte le cassette e per tutti i ripostigli in cerca di un po’ di pane, magari un po’ di pan secco, un crosterello, un osso avanzato al cane, un po’ di polenta muffita, una lisca di pesce, un nocciolo di ciliegia, insomma di qualche cosa da masticare: ma non trovò nulla, il gran nulla, proprio nulla.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 5

Before looking at this text in more detail, I shall list the key vocabulary to be learned or reviewed because of the large quantity of it.

Learn or review these verbs and conjugations: córrere (to run), lùi córse (he ran), bollìre (to boil), scoperchiàre (to uncover, take lid off), vedére (to see), immaginàrsi (to imagine), restàre (to react), diventàre (to become), dàrsi a córrere (to start to run), lùi si dètte a (he started to), frugàre (to rummage), masticàre (to chew), trovàre (to find).

Learn or review these nouns: il focolàre (hearth, fire), la péntola (pot), il mùro (wall), il nàso (nose), il dìto (finger), le dìta (fingers), la stànza (room), la cassétta (box, container), il ripostìglio (storage closet), il pàne (bread), il crosterèllo (stale piece of bread; this is a Tuscan usage), un òsso (bone), la polènta (polenta), la lìsca di pésce (fishbone), il pésce (fish), il nòcciolo (pit), la ciliègia (cherry).

Finally, learn or review these adjectives and expressions, which I have grouped together: pòvero (poor), fàre l’àtto di (to do as though), dipìnto (painted), lùngo (long), alméno (at least), córrere per (to run around), frùgare per (to rummage through), in cèrca di (in search of), sécco (dry), avanzàto (left over), il càne (dog), muffìto (mouldy), il gran nùlla (absolutely nothing).

When Pinocchio ran over to the fire where he saw a boiling pot, his intention was to remove the lid from the pot: scoperchiare la pentola (to uncover the pot). The verb scoperchiare has as its root the masculine noun coperchio, meaning lid.

You will remember, of course, that there was not actually a boiling pot in the room; the pot was painted on the wall: la pentola era dipinta sul muro. The adjective dipinto comes from the verb dipingere, meaning to paint. The stress in dipingere is on the second syllable: dipìngere.

dipingere una pentola sul muro
to paint a pot on the wall

Ho dipinto una pentola sul muro.
I painted a pot on the wall.

Because the pot was painted on the wall, Pinocchio could not in fact remove its lid. That is why the text reads: fece l’atto di scoperchiarla (he went to remove its lid). Fare l’atto di means to perform the act of, to do as though; in other words, he reached out as if to remove the lid, before he had understood the pot was not real.

In the expression immaginatevi come restò, the verb immaginarsi means to imagine, and restare as used here means to react. You have seen this same expression said before as figuratevi come rimase, where figurarsi is synonymous with immaginarsi, and rimanere is synonymous with restare.

Figuratevi come rimase.
Immaginatevi come restò.
Imagine his reaction.

The imperative voi forms figuratevi and immaginatevi are pronounced figuràtevi and immaginàtevi. The imperative tu forms are figurati and immaginati; they are pronounced figùrati and immàginati.

The Italian word for finger is the masculine un dito, and the Italian word for bone is the masculine un osso. Both these words become feminine in the plural: le dita, le ossa. (These plural forms end in a, which is a remnant of Latin.) An adjective used with the singular dito or osso takes the singular masculine form; an adjective takes the feminine plural form when used with dita and ossa.

dito lungo, long finger
osso lungo, long bone

dita lunghe, long fingers
ossa lunghe, long bones

Pinocchio begins searching for any number of things in the room he might eat (or, as the text reads, masticare, meaning to chew), one of them being un crosterello. Un crosterello is a stale piece of bread. This term is a Tuscan usage, and it is related to the noun una crosta, meaning crust.

You also find in the text un osso avanzato (a left-over bone). When talking about food, avanzato means left over. Un osso avanzato al cane means a bone left over for the dog (that is, a left-over dog bone).

del pane avanzato
left-over bread

È avanzato del pane.
There is some bread left over.

È avanzata un po’ di carne.
There is a bit of meat left over.

The text tells you that Pinocchio si dette a correre per la stanza (he started running about the room; more literally: he gave himself to running about the room). You have seen before that dette is one of the possible third-person singular, passato remoto conjugations of the verb dare; the other is diede.

The adjective muffito is also said as ammuffito. Mouldy bread, then, is pane muffito or pane ammuffito. These adjectives derive from the noun la muffa, meaning mould.

C’è odore di muffa in questa casa.
This house smells mouldy.

Un ripostiglio is a storage space, a closet. A ripostiglio in your home may serve as a storage space for any number of items: bed linen, shoes, appliances, etc.

The pit of a cherry is called un nocciolo, with the stress on the first syllable: nòcciolo. Un nocciolo di ciliegia, then, is a cherry pit. You will also find a nocciolo in a peach: un nocciolo di pesca.

Una lisca di pesce is the skeleton of a fish that remains once all its meat has been eaten away.

This post’s portion of text ends with ma non trovò nulla, il gran nulla, proprio nulla. This repetitive wording insists upon how Pinocchio found absolutely nothing to eat. It could be translated loosely as but he found nothing, nothing at all, absolutely nothing at all. Il gran nulla literally means the big nothing.

The portion of text appearing in this post breaks down as follows: Il pòvero Pinòcchio (poor Pinocchio) córse sùbito al focolàre (immediately ran over to the hearth), dóve c’èra ùna péntola che bollìva (where there was a pot that was boiling) e féce l’àtto di scoperchiàrla (and went to remove its lid), per vedére che còsa ci fósse déntro (to see what was inside it), ma la péntola èra dipìnta sul mùro (but the pot was painted on the wall). Immaginàtevi cóme restò (imagine how he reacted). Il sùo nàso (his nose), che èra già lùngo (which was already long), gli diventò più lùngo (became longer on him) alméno quàttro dìta (by almost four fingers). Allóra si dètte a córrere per la stànza (he then began to run about the room) e a frugàre per tùtte le cassétte (and to rummage in all the crates) e per tùtti i ripostìgli (and in all the storage spaces) in cérca di un po’ di pàne (in search of a bit of bread), magàri un po’ di pan sécco (maybe a bit of old bread), un crosterèllo (a stale piece of bread), un òsso avanzàto al càne (a left-over dog bone), un po’ di polènta muffìta (a bit of mouldy polenta), ùna lìsca di pésce (a fishbone), un nòcciolo di ciliègia (a cherry pit), insómma di quàlche còsa da masticàre (in short, something to chew on): ma non trovò nùlla (but he found nothing), il gran nùlla (nothing at all), pròprio nùlla (absolutely nothing at all).

In addition to the usages from the book already listed above, learn these additional ones that have appeared in this post: il copèrchio (lid), dipìngere (to paint), figuràrsi (to imagine), rimanére (to react), la cròsta (crust), la càrne (meat), ammuffìto (mouldy), la mùffa (mould), la pèsca (peach), un odóre (odour).