My first attempt at communicating in Italian was a resounding failure: when asked “Caldo?” by the man who was preparing my prosciutto and pecorino sandwich, I confidently replied “Si!” after my weary brain had done a quick analysis and concluded that caldo = cold. Of course, had I had time to think a bit longer, I might have guessed that caldo is related not to the English “cold” (from Old English cald) but to the French chaud (from Latin caldus). This early mistake did not detract from the pleasure I took devouring my warm sandwich, the first of many lovely Italian treats.
One Italian word that was completely familiar to me was ciao. It comes from the Venetian phrase s-ciào vostro or s-ciào su, “I am your slave” (from Latin sclavus, slave) and has been adopted by numerous languages, from Amharic to Swiss German (full list on wikipedia). In Latvian, it has even become the most common form of informal salutation.
This break away from translation has done me the world of good. I loved Tuscany: the countryside was beautiful.
The towns were beautiful.
The food was beautiful.