|Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome|
In Italy today, facciamo il ponte, we’re making the bridge. The first time I heard the expression, during my early days in Rome, a student stopped by my desk as she was leaving class and asked, in English, “Will we make the bridge next week?”
As an English teacher, I’m accustomed to trying to figure out what non-native speakers mean when they get the words wrong. I showed her the next week’s lesson, but she shook her head. Switching to Italian, she said, “Faremo il ponte la prossima settimana?”
I still didn’t get it. We don’t usually construct things in English classes. Finally, she was able to explain that because the following Tuesday was a holiday, would we bridge the time between the weekend and Tuesday by canceling class on Monday.
I assured her that we would not make the bridge. But as it turned out, we did. I arrived at school the following Monday to find the doors locked.
Now, I have this discussion about making the bridge several times during the academic year. It gets dicey in December and April. Thanksgiving at the end of November notwithstanding, I always take a day off for my birthday--December 5. And December 8 is a holiday in Italy; if a bridge is involved with that holiday, it means we miss a lot of class prior to the usual three weeks at Christmas.
In April, we often have Easter, where we take off the Friday before and the Monday after. In addition, April 25 is a national holiday commemorating the liberation of Italy from the Nazis. This year, the 25th fell on Wednesday, and students wanted to make the bridge—two days! That would have been a Ponte Lungo (long bridge), which, ironically, is the name of a Rome metro stop.
And so today we’re making the bridge because tomorrow, May 1, is Labor Day in Italy as it is in many parts of the world.
I just wish the workers who are tearing out a masonry wall in the apartment next door were making the bridge today. Their noise has my head pounding.