Learn Italian from Pinocchio: chapter 6, part 1

This post begins your study of chapter 6 of Le avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Beginning with this chapter, each new post will look at larger portions of text from the book than was done in the posts pertaining to the previous chapters.

I encourage you to read the entire chapter first on your own. You will find a link in the index where you can read the book online.

The introductory text to the sixth chapter reads:

Pinocchio si addormenta coi piedi sul caldano, e la mattina dopo si sveglia coi piedi tutti bruciati.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 6

This introductory text tells you that Pinocchio gets his feet burnt in this sixth chapter. The vocabulary to know here includes: addormentàrsi (to fall asleep), il caldàno (brazier), svegliàrsi (to wake up), bruciàre (to burn), bruciàto (burnt). You will recall that a brazier, or caldano, is a metal container that holds hot coals.

The text of the introduction breaks down as: Pinocchio si addormenta (Pinocchio falls asleep) coi piedi sul caldano (with his feet on the brazier), e la mattina dopo (and the morning after) si sveglia coi piedi tutti bruciati (wakes up with his feet all burnt).

The main text of the chapter now begins:

Per l’appunto era una nottataccia d’inferno. Tuonava forte forte, lampeggiava come se il cielo pigliasse fuoco, e un ventaccio freddo e strapazzone, fischiando rabbiosamente e sollevando un immenso nuvolo di polvere, faceva stridere e cigolare tutti gli alberi della campagna.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 6

Here, you discover the nastiness of the weather that night. Era una nottataccia d’inferno, as the text tells you. Usages to understand from this portion of text include: la nottàta (night), la nottatàccia (bad night), l’infèrno (hell), tuonàre (to thunder), lampeggiàre (to be lightning), pigliàre (to catch, to grab), il fuòco (fire), pigliàr fuòco (to catch fire), il vènto (wind), il ventàccio (bad wind), strapazzàre (to mistreat), strapazzóne (merciless, punishing), fischiàre (to whistle), rabbiosaménte (furiously), sollevàre (to lift), immènso (immense), il nùvolo (cloud; this is a more literary usage, equivalent to la nùvola), la pólvere (dust), strìdere (to creak), cigolàre (to squeak, to creak), un àlbero (tree), la campàgna (countryside).

In the same way that Italian has il giorno and la giornata, it also has la notte and la nottata. In the text, you have the form nottataccia, where the ending accio (accia) conveys the nastiness of a thing. Una nottataccia, then, is bad night, nasty night. Similarly, un ventaccio is bad wind, nasty wind. As for the phrase nottataccia d’inferno, as used in the text, the addition of d’inferno after nottataccia insists even more on the nasty character of the night; nottataccia d’inferno literally means nasty night of hell, but you can understand it here as meaning hellishly nasty night, horribly nasty night, terribly nasty night, etc. You can place d’inferno after other nouns as well to convey horribleness: ho vissuto un anno d’inferno (I lived through a year of hell, I went through a nightmarish year).

You have seen the verb pigliare a number of times in the book now. Perhaps, for example, you will remember when Geppetto yelled piglialo! as Pinocchio ran away from him in the street. In the current portion of text now, you have pigliare as part of the expression pigliar fuoco (to catch fire), which is also expressed in Italian as prendere fuoco. The verb pigliare has even appeared in the study of Il Principe by Niccolò Machiavelli, the subject of focus elsewhere on this site.

Strapazzone is related to the verb strapazzare, which is an interesting verb to learn. This verb means to have little regard for, to treat poorly. An example: strapazzare i vestiti; le scarpe (to be hard on one’s clothes; shoes). In the text, the wind is described as being strapazzone; in other words, it is a merciless, punishing wind.

The text uses un nuvolo di polvere (cloud of dust), which is more literary sounding than una nuvola di polvere. Be sure to pronounce nuvolo and nuvola with the stress on the first syllable.

This portion of text can be broken down as follows: Per l’appùnto (in point of fact) èra ùna nottatàccia d’infèrno (it was a hellishly nasty night). Tuonàva fòrte fòrte (it was thundering very hard), lampeggiàva cóme se il cièlo pigliàsse fuòco (it was lightning as though the sky were catching on fire), e un ventàccio fréddo e strapazzóne (and a cold and punishing nasty wind), fischiàndo rabbiosaménte (whistling furiously) e sollevàndo un immènso nùvolo di pólvere (and lifting up an immense cloud of dust), facéva strìdere e cigolàre (made creak and squeak) tùtti gli àlberi délla campàgna (all the trees of the countryside).

The story continues as follows:

Pinocchio aveva una gran paura dei tuoni e dei lampi: se non che la fame era più forte della paura: motivo per cui accostò l’uscio di casa, e presa la carriera, in un centinaio di salti arrivò fino al paese, colla lingua fuori e col fiato grosso, come un can da caccia. Ma trovò tutto buio e tutto deserto. Le botteghe erano chiuse; le porte di casa chiuse, le finestre chiuse, e nella strada nemmeno un cane. Pareva il paese dei morti.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 6

Despite his fear of thunder and lightning, Pinocchio heads out anyway due to his hunger. In the second portion of text above, you found the verbs tuonare and lampeggiare. The nouns that these verbs are based upon, which you find now in the current portion of text, are il tuono (rumble of thunder) and il lampo (bolt of lightning).

From this portion of text, learn or review the following usages in Italian: il tuòno (rumble of thunder), il làmpo (bolt of lightning), se non che (however; also spelt sennonché), accostàre (to leave ajar), un ùscio (door; this is a Tuscan usage), prèndere la carrièra (to take off, to run off), un sàlto (jump, leap), il fiàto (breath), il can da càccia (hunting dog; can is a variation of cane), bùio (dark), desèrto (deserted, empty), la bottéga (workshop), il mòrto (dead person).

In the expression prendere la carriera (to take off, to run off), the noun carriera used to refer to the track upon which horses ran in a chariot race. You might literally understand the expression prendere la carriera as meaning to take (to) the track.

Un cane da caccia is a hunting dog, where the feminine noun caccia means hunt, chase. You can also learn the terms cane da guardia, meaning guarddog, and cane poliziotto, meaning police dog. The plural of cane poliziotto is cani poliziotto (police dogs). You will find cane also expressed in Italian as can.

This text translates literally to English as: Pinòcchio avéva ùna gran paùra (Pinocchio had a great fear) déi tuòni e dei làmpi (of thunder and lightning): se non che (however) la fàme èra più fòrte délla paùra (his hunger was stronger than his fear): motìvo per cùi (reason for which) accostò l’ùscio di càsa (he left ajar the house door), e présa la carrièra (and having taken off), in un centinàio di sàlti (in about a hundred leaps) arrivò fìno al paése (he arrived in the village), cólla lìngua fuòri (with his tongue out) e col fiàto gròsso (and with heavy breath), cóme un can da càccia (like a hunting dog). Ma trovò tùtto bùio (but he found everything dark) e tùtto desèrto (and everything deserted). Le bottéghe èrano chiùse (the workshops were closed); le pòrte di càsa chiùse (the house doors were shut), le finèstre chiùse (the windows shut), e nélla stràda nemméno un càne (and in the street not even a dog). Paréva il paése dei mòrti (it seemed like the land of the dead).

The text continues now with:

Allora Pinocchio, preso dalla disperazione e dalla fame, si attaccò al campanello d’una casa, e cominciò a suonare a distesa, dicendo dentro di sè: — Qualcuno si affaccerà. ― Difatti si affacciò un vecchio, col berretto da notte in capo, il quale gridò tutto stizzito: — Che cosa volete a quest’ora?

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 6

Pinocchio arrives at a house and rings the bell. From this portion of text, learn the following Italian usages: la disperazióne (desperation), attaccàrsi (to cling to), il campanèllo (bell), suonàre (to ring), a distésa (uninterruptedly), difàtti (indeed), affacciàrsi (to look out [of a window]), il berrétto da nòtte (nightcap), gridàre (to yell), stizzìre (to vex), stizzìto (vexed).

Una campana is a bell (for example, a church bell). Una campanella is simply a small bell, although this noun is also used to refer to a school bell. On the other hand, un campanello, in modern usage, refers to the electric doorbell of a house or apartment. The Italian expression suonare il campanello expresses the English to ring the doorbell.

This section of text can be understood as: Allóra Pinòcchio (Pinocchio, then), préso dàlla disperazióne e dàlla fàme (taken by desperation and hunger), si attaccò al campanèllo d’ùna càsa (clung to a housebell), e cominciò a suonàre a distésa (and started to ring continuously), dicèndo déntro di sè (saying to himself): — Qualcùno si affaccerà (someone will look out). ― Difàtti si affacciò un vècchio (indeed an old man looked out), col berrétto da nòtte in càpo (with a nightcap on his head), il quàle gridò tùtto stizzìto (who, very vexed, yelled): — Che còsa voléte a quest’óra (what do you want at this hour)?

The dialogue between Pinocchio and the old man continues:

— Che mi fareste il piacere di darmi un po’ di pane? — Aspettami costì che torno subito, — rispose il vecchino, credendo di aver da fare con qualcuno di quei ragazzacci rompicolli che si divertono di notte a suonare i campanelli delle case, per molestare la gente per bene, che se la dorme tranquillamente.

— Carlo Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, capitolo 6

The old man who answers the door thinks Pinocchio is up to no good. Usages to be learned from this portion of text include: fàre il piacére di (to do the favour of), costì ([t]here; this is a Tuscan usage), tornàre (to return), il vecchìno (little old man), avér da fàre con (to be dealing with), il ragazzàccio (naughty boy), rompicòllo (rowdy, reckless), divertìrsi (to amuse oneself, to have fun), di nòtte (by night), molestàre (to pester), la gènte per bène (decent people; also spelled perbène), dormìre (to sleep), dormìrsela (to sleep soundly, to be sound asleep), tranquillaménte (quietly, peacefully).

At the beginning of the chapter, you saw the accio (accia) ending in the words nottataccia and ventaccio; here, now, you have ragazzaccio, meaning naughty, bad boy. In addition, you have the ino (ina) ending in vecchino. Un vecchio is old man, and un vecchino is little old man.

Rompicollo (rowdy, reckless) literally means breakneck, in that it derives from rompere (to break) and collo (neck).

You can use perbene to describe decent people. Examples: una persona perbene (a decent person), è gente davvero perbene (they are really decent people). Note that gente is a singular noun in Italian, so the verb conjugation used here is è, not sono.

Dormirsela means to sleep soundly. Examples: me la dormivo tranquillamente (I was fast asleep), se la dorme beato (he is fast asleep, he is having a “blessed” sleep), me la dormivo alla grande (I was having a great sleep).

This final portion of text breaks down as follows: — Che mi faréste il piacére (would you do me the favour) di dàrmi un po’ di pàne (of giving me a bit of bread)? — Aspèttami costì che tórno sùbito (wait for me here for I shall be right back), — rispóse il vecchìno (replied the little old man), credèndo di avér da fàre con (believing he was dealing with) qualcùno di quéi ragazzàcci rompicòlli (one of those reckless, naughty boys) che si divèrtono di nòtte (who amuse themselves at night) a suonàre i campanèlli délle càse (by ringing the bells of houses), per molestàre la gènte per bène (in order to pester decent people), che se la dòrme tranquillaménte (who are peacefully sound asleep).