Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday - 1000 Days in Venice!!

I am reading "A Thousand Days in Venice," by Marlena de Blasi. It is an auto-biographical story about a mature woman who falls in love at (almost) first sight and leaves behind everything in America to move to Venice and marry a relative stranger!

The text contains some Italian here and there, which is mostly all translated. But, I came across this on page 2, "...and embark on a boat that moves pian, piano up the canal...."

What are pian and piano? I remember when I played piano a loooong time ago that the term "piano" meant something besides the instrument. But, I do not remember what, or if it has anything to do with this. So, hang on a sec while I look it up...brb...

Hmm...Wiktionary says this:

pian piano
little by little, slowly

They make it look like a phrase with no comma in the middle... So, I kept look and found this:

What does this phrase mean:

Mentre il mondo pian piano spariva lontano laggiu

The part I am having trouble with is "pian piano"?


Dana French
Welcome to the forum.

It means "little by little" , "slowly" , "gradually"

So, again, it is a phrase, not two separate words with a comma in the middle. Could this be a typo? Not saying that it is, but now I am wondering.

Also, I checked to see what the term piano means in music, and it means to play softly. That would seem consistent with the above definition for pian piano, because both are the opposite of boisterous barging around!

I have prepared this post for Wondrous Words Wednesday at


  1. Yay, Italian! I can help! Although you have done a good research job and already came up with the right answers. Bravo! (Or rather, as we'd say in Italian, brava!)
    Piano (shortened form: pian) means everything from slowly to gently, softly, quietly -- and more still. The doubled form is considered as an idiom, a phrase, as you said. But no typo: I would write it without the comma, but both forms are correct.

    1. Wow! How lucky is that? To have someone in our group that actually knows Italian! Thanks so much for your help - I was a bit confused by the comma business :)

  2. OT: have you abandoned the Book Pilgrimage project? I posted about it yesterday, but I see you don't have the button anywhere anymore...

    1. NO! Have not abandoned it at all! My blog refuses to show the right column. I am going to fix it today or die trying!

  3. How interesting! It could be a typo or it's possible that she'd never seen the phrase written and assumed there was a comma in it. I never realized realized there's a meaning for the word piano besides the instrument.

  4. Very interesting, thanks! for sharing.

  5. Hi Libby,

    We have had French, German, Zimbabwean and now Italian today, we are definitely looking to set up our own dictionary this week.

    I am sure that I have come across this phrase somewhere before, but had no idea what it mean, so thanks for sharing.


    1. You're right! LOL! We have been all over the place today :)

  6. What an interesting phrase, thanks for delving deeper for us.

  7. Can one move the piano pian piano? LOL

    1. LOL! And, I would say, one SHOULD move the piano pian piano or end up like one of those old Laurel and Hardy movies!

      (That was clever, Beach!)

  8. I knew piano from childhood piano lessons, too, but pian piano is interesting -- especially with an Italian speaker to help us out with the punctuation!