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Giro Italian Lessons


Ciao a tutti!  Oggi, impariamo italiano - today, let's learn Italian.   OK, this is simple. First, I will "try" and give you a brief Italian lesson related to cycling.  Then it’s up to you.  In the comments:

  1. Tell us your favourite Italian words/phrases.
  2. Ask us how to say something.
  3. Correct all my mistakes.
  4. Go on any tangent you desire.

We’ve done this before and had some fun - in fact this is just an expanded version of the article we used in 2014 - but hopefully still useful for everyone. In ogni caso, sono tranquillo.

D’accordo, cominciamo. OK, let’s begin.

Gruppetto = Gruppetto!   Ha, see, speaking Italian is easy.  On tough mountain stages, a group of riders that band together to help each other make the time cut-off.  The Laughing group.


Passo/Colle = Mountain pass or Col
Tornante = Switchback/hairpin
I dolomiti = The dolomites
Esempio: Stelvio non é nei dolomiti.  Stelvio is not in the dolomites.
Salita (Salire) = A climb, hill  (to climb)
Discesa (Scendere) = Descent (to descend)
Pendenza = Gradient or slope
Calcare = Limestone
Confine = Border
Esempio: Abbiamo passato il confine con Francia = We have crossed the border with France
Giro = Circle, circuit
Cima Coppi = The highest point in each Giro.  Cima = summit.  Fausto Coppi was the legendary Italian cyclist of the post WW 2 era.
Esempio:  Questo anno Colle dell'Agnello sarà la Cima Coppi = This year Colle dell'Agnelleo will be the Cima Coppi



Maglia Rosa = Pink jersey.  Race leader.
Maglia Rossa = Red jersey.  Points leader
Maglia Azzurra = Blue jersey. Mountains leader.
Maglia bianca = White jersey.  Best under 25 rider.


Passista =  Rouleur.  Strong rider, good on long, flat or mid-mountain stages.
Velocista = Sprinter
Dicesista = A great descender.  Not Fränk Schlek.
Scalatore = A mountain goat of a climber
Scattista = A JRod type that can accelerate devastatingly on the steepest slopes.  Pantani.
Esempio:  Que pedenza!  Una Scattista come Quintana dovrebbe attaccare qui.  What steepness!  A scattista  like Quintana should attack here.

Gregario = Domestique
Direttore Sportivo = Director Sportive
Giudice di Gara = Race judge/commissioner
Massaggiatore = Masseure
Tifosi = You and me.  Fans
Squadra = Team
i big = the bigs (Nibali, Contador, Aru, etc)
Fuga = Breakawy
Battistrade = escapees (pace setters)
Inseguitori = chasers


Tappa/Tappone = Stage/Queen Stage
Esempio:  Que bella tappa = What a beautiful stage
Partenza = The start
Traguardo = The finish line
Una volata = A sprint finish
Arrivo in salita: Mountain-top finish
Treno = Train
Abbuono = Time Bonus or per Sean Kelly, bonification
Plotone = Peloton
Zona rifornimento = Feed zone
Ventaglio:  Echelon
Cronometro = Time Trial
Cronometro a squadra = Team Time Trial
Esempio:  Chi vincerà il chronometro Individuale = Who will win the ITT?
Cronoscalata = mountain time trial
Falsopiano = false flat
Crisi = crisis (used by RAI commentators when a rider is cracking, as in "la crisi di Basso")
Foratura = puncture
Forare/Bucare = to puncture
Ammiraglia = Team Car
Caduta = crash
si stacca = dropped
Ritiro = DNF
Problema Meccanico = take a wild guess!
Foratura di Gambe = Bonk/Fringale (puncture of the legs)
Grinta = grit and determination


Portabottiglie/Borraccia = Water bottle
Ruota = Wheel
Casco = Helmet
Pedale = pedal
Sella = Saddle (yes, the Sella Massif that will be circled in stage 14 means saddle)
Pompa = Pump
Freni = Brakes
Pneumatico = Tire
Catena = Chain
Manicotti = Arm warmers
Ruota Dentica = Plateau.
Esempio: Ha bisogna di una grande ruota dentica per Zoncolan.  He needs a big plateau for Zoncolan.


Pioggia (noun) / Piovere (verb) = Rain / To Rain
Neve / Nevicare = Snow / To Snow
Nebbia = Fog.
Esempio: Odio la nebbia = I hate fog
Fa Caldo/Fredda = It (the weather) is hot/cold 
Umido = wet / damp
Ventoso = Windy

Esempio:  Spero che non nevica durante tappe 19 et 20 = I hope it doesn't snow during stages 19 and 20.


Birra = Beer
Vino = Wine
Caffè = Coffee (discussing types of Italian coffee is beyond my powers, but)
Cappuccino = only in the morning!!
Espresso = Tiny and strong. Normal Italian coffee
Caffè Americano = An espresso with hot water to dilute.
Caffè Corretto = add a dab of liqueur
Gelato = Ice Cream!
Salute/Cin Cin = Cheers
Esempio = Mi piace molto gelato e birra, cin cin.  I really like ice cream and beer, cheers.


Marmotta = Marmotte
Mucca = Cow

And don't forget: uomini forti anche piangono = "even strong men cry"

OK, this ends your quick Italian lesson.  The Giro is almost here so get practicing!

Non vedo l'ora.  I can't wait.