“Ecco le sue brioche” (“here are your brioches”), the baker said, handing me a paper bag with my order.
“No, croissants”, I said.
“Si, brioche”, he said, nodding.
Frustrated because I couldn’t remember how to say “I ordered croissants, not brioches” in Italian, I opened the bag to reveal two fresh and crispy croissants. The baker didn’t get my order wrong: brioche means “croissant” in northern Italy.
More than 10 years down the road, I still love croissants and I still tend to be quizzical when I hear an English word with a different meaning in spoken Italian.
Here are a few common English words you will hear often if you move to Italy. You might think you know what these words mean in your home country, but when you’re in Italy, you’ll be expected to use them in an exotic way, as the Italians do.
If your Italian girlfriend asks if you’ve seen her beauty, because she can’t remember where it is, she’s not trying to be philosophical. She’s asking if you’ve seen her makeup purse.
When you rent an apartment in Rome or Milan, look for one with a box if you want a secure parking place. In Italy, a box is a small garage that usually fits a single car (yes, a real-size car) and nothing else. The Italians use the word garage, not box, for a proper garage, where you can park your car, as well as store your boxes, bikes, and tools.
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