Day 11 – Time to meet Signore Conjuntivo and a trip to Montecatini Alto

School in the morning, trip to Montecatini Alto in the afternoon

After a couple days hearing that we were going to meet him, today was the day. We’d been joking with Bjorn because he was having a bit of trouble getting the future and conditional tenses that he was worried about ‘meeting’ another one so soon.

The interesting thing about this tense is that it’s a ‘mood’. Whereas most of the other tenses are time based (present, past, future), this tense is used when you’re expressing a doubt, a desire, a wish, etc. For example, in Italian you would use a different verb for ‘has’ when saying “He has a cat” vs “I think that he has a cat” because in the second example, you’re unsure whether he has one or not.

What this means is that we need to try to figure out when to use it, and then how to conjugate the verbs properly. With that comes a whole new list of conjugations!

I think the teacher did a good job of first introducing it in a text, then explaining when it’s used and then examples of the conjugations of the verbs used most often. Being the good students that we are, we were trying it out all afternoon on our road trip to Montecatini Alto. For example, penso che questa città sia bella (I think this town is pretty), penso che questo gelato sia buono (I think this gelato is good), etc

We also quickly covered double object pronoun (smushing together it + to him, as in “I gave it to him = glielo). This was a bit over my head since I’m still trying to figure out direct and indirect pronouns without combining them. We did this in a ‘game’ and everyone agreed that it wasn’t as fun as a game should be!

In the afternoon, Bjorn, Tina and I joined a school excursion to the medieval hill town of Montecatini Terme and its hilltop neighbour of Montecatini Alto. We met at the train station for the 20 minute ride to the town with the rest of the  students. With two of the teachers from the school as our guide, after arriving, we walked through the town to catch the funicular to Montecatini Alto. Montecatini Terme (terme meaning spa), is known for its resort type-spas galore. We walked past a few of them which, from the outside, looked like gorgeous palaces with amazing gardens. Next time!!

The funicular building at the base of the hill
The funicular coming to pick us up
The ticket booth

After arriving at the hilltop part of the old town (Montecatini Alto), we walked though the town with the teacher explaining various things in Italian. This was great for a few of us, but I’m not sure how much the people from the beginner classes understood!

In the centre of the old town, there is a small piazza lined with tourist restaurants. This put me off quite a bit and having been to Barga a few days earlier, I liked Barga more as it felt less touristy. Though in saying that, Montecatini Alto is very charming and is more touristy because it is easier to reach from places like Florence and Lucca. We had a half hour break, so we bought a gelato and ate it next to a wall with views overlooking the countryside. Bellissimo and quite a lovely spot for a gelato (Penso che questa vista sia bellissimo!)

We were then led back to the funicular and back to Montecatini Terme where we had about an hour to walk around. We spent the majority of the time wandering through the street lined market and also watching a large group of people in an outdoor dance hall dancing to Italian and American music. Some of those older people can dance! I especially admired a lady who had to have been at least 70 years old wearing bright red high heels and dancing like there’s no tomorrow!

I think the instructions about how to spend the final hour were a bit unclear because we were all supposed to stay together. But about 20 minutes before the train was departing, we were about 10 minutes walking distance from the train and five people were missing. Assuming they’d be at the station, we started walking back and found three of them in a store along the way. Arriving at the station, there was still a couple missing. At 7pm the train arrived and everyone jumped on board except one teacher who couldn’t leave without all the students. Getting on the train, we saw the missing couple. They’d walked to the wrong station and were already on the train. The teacher didn’t find out in time and she was stuck there for another hour until the next train came. The American couple was very embarrassed and we all said they should buy the teacher something to apologise. I suggested a piece of torta di verdura, and I found out today, they’d bought her an entire pie and brought it into school! I also heard that the teacher was very happy for my suggestion!! 🙂

View of Montecatini Alto
Montecatini Alto
The piazza in Montecatini Alto
Gelato time!
Kids playing on the statue in the main piazza
Group shot on the funicular!
Bjorn in his natural habitat .. the gelateria! This one in Montecatini Terme
Lots of options .. so hard to choose

In the evening we had our last dinner together. I’d heard that Trattoria Gigi was good from a few people, including the English lady that is also staying at the same apartment as me. She’s hilarious because she’s at the school with another couple for the “Learn Italian and Cook” course that Tom’s taking, but she’s not learning Italian. So her week consists of cooking and drinking wine and she’s almost always (if not always) home later than I am! That night, while laying in bed, the door opened, she turned on the light and said “oh sorry! I thought this was my room”. A very lovely lady but I think she may drink a bit too much vino!!

After a very quick change of clothes, it was off to dinner at the trattoria. Since Tina had made a reservation earlier in the day, we have a lovely outside table in the corner. There was also a group of about 14 people and it was someone’s birthday so we heard the whole table singing “Tanti Auguri!” (the Happy Birthday song). Dinner was good and I stayed away from the wine but managed to fit in a dessert of creme caramel. This was after having two gelati during our excursion as well as a profiterole (cream puff) on the train to Montecatini Terme.

Tomorrow, I start eating more healthy!!!

Dinner at Trattoria Gigi
mmmmm cream caramel

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