The Italian Vocabulary You Need for Your "Settimana Bianca"

| Thu, 01/07/2021 - 10:30

In our family, we ski mainly to eat. And, judging by the hordes of people elbowing themselves into the buffet line come 1pm in every rifugio (Alpine lodge) in the Italian Dolomites, that seems to be the case for many of those who partake in the great Italian tradition of the settimana bianca (“white week”, or week-long ski holiday). 

Our day begins with a leisurely breakfast, followed by a mid-morning merenda (snack) which is generally hot-drink related (chocolate for the young skiers; for the grown-ups, a highly alcoholic bombardino made with equal parts brandy, Vov egg liqueur, and espresso). At about 1pm, we enter the rifugio fray for lunch and tuck into heaping platters of polenta with sausage ragù, pizzoccheri, or canederli. Lifts start closing at about 4:30 in the afternoon, just in time to kick off our boots and enjoy a hefty platter of local cheese and charcuterie with vin brulé (mulled wine) for an aperitivo. After a shower and a quick game of cards, we sit down to a three- or four-course dinner that stretches almost to bedtime. 

Between all that dining and imbibing, however, we do manage to put in our time on the slopes. Italy has some of the best skiing in the world, concentrated around resorts like Cortina d’Ampezzo, Madonna di Campiglio, and Courmayeur. And to hit those great “piste” (ski slopes), you need to have some basic ski-related vocabulary under your belt. 

Verbs on the slopes

The most important verb is, of course, sciare (to ski). But there are a few others that may come in handy…

Frenare - to stop
Noleggiare - to rent
Salire - to ascend
Scendere - to descend
Rallentare - slow down

Common ski-related nouns

Between all your gear, the lifts, the types of slopes, and weather terms, there are quite a few nouns you need to know to hit the slopes:

Sci alpino - Downhill skiing
Sci di fondo - Cross-country skiing
Snowboard - Snowboarding
Pattinaggio sul ghiaccio - Ice skating
Trekking - Hiking

Giacca a vento - Ski jacket
Salopette - Bib pants
Pantaloni da sci - Ski pants
Tuta da sci - Snowsuit
Fascia/capello - Headband/hat
Pile - Fleece
Maglietta termica - Thermal undershirt
Calzamaglia - Thermal long underwear
Scarponi da sci - Ski boots
Sci - Skis
Sci da fondo - Cross-country skis
Ciaspole - Snowshoes
Racchette - Poles
Casco - Helmet
Scaldacollo - Neck warmer
Sottocasco/Passamontagna - Ski mask
Occhiali da sci - Goggles
Guanti - Gloves

Stazione sciistica - Ski resort
Impianto di salita - Ski lift
Ski pass - Lift pass
Cabinovia/funivia - Gondola/cable car
Seggiovia - Chair lift
Sciovia - Drag lift
Navetta - Shuttle bus

Pista verde - Bunny slope
Pista blu - Beginner slope
Pista rossa - Medium slope
Pista nera - Expert slope
Fuori pista - Off-piste/Backcountry skiing
Cartina delle piste - Slope map
Dislivello - Vertical drop
Gobbe/Dune - Moguls

Scuola da sci - Ski school
Maestro da sci - Ski instructor
Rifugio - Chalet or lodge
Noleggio - Equipment rental
Armadietto/Deposito - Lockers/Equipment storage
Neve - Snow
Neve fresca - Powder
Neve bagnata - Slush
Neve ghiacciata - Ice
Neve battuta - Packed snow
Previsioni meteo/Previsioni del tempo - Weather forecast
Rischio valanghe - Avalanche risk
Avviso valanghe - Avalanche warning
Chiuso - Closed
Scarsa visibilità - Poor visibility
Vento - Wind
Bufera - Storm or blizzard

Staying safe on the slopes

Aiuto! - Help!
Attenzione! - Look out!
Ho bisogno di un medico - I need a doctor
Ho bisogno di aiuto - I need assistance
Mi sono perso/persa - I’m lost
Sono un principiante/una principiante - I am a beginner skier
Sono un esperto/esperta - I’m an advanced skier

Whether you’re a principiante or an esperto, with this list of important skiing vocabulary words, you’ll be able to hit the “piste” with confidence!