We’ve moved house

My Five Romances moving house

My Five Romances has a new home – please visit us at myfiveromances.com

Why the move? Well, blog and website design has come a long way since we started in 2013, using the Twenty Eleven theme. It was time to update, freshen up, and arrange the new site in a way that was easier for readers to navigate and find what things more easily. I hope you will agree that we have succeeded.

It has meant leaving the wordpress.com community, and we shall miss the cameraderie. There were a lot of interesting and entertaining blogs on our feed, but we plan to keep an eye on who is doing what, via this site.

The new My Five Romances website has carried over the most useful and still relevant material from here, but it’s been given a tighter edit (out went much of the waffle!) and it has taught us valuable lessons in search engine optimisation and so on.

My other website, Time To Wander, which focuses on travel, uses the same magazine-style template for WordPress as the new-look My Five Romances. On social media look out for the hashtags #TTW and #M5R

Thanks for your support, please stay in touch. Long live the five beautiful Romance languages!



It’s my big Italian film festival!


This is the time of the year when Australia really goes Italian; and by that I don’t mean we suck up more strands of spaghetti into our mouths and pile up the pizza, washed down with Sambuca, Aperol or Peroni beers. No, no, no, this is when the best Italian films of the previous year or so hit the big screens in the big cities, and we say benvenuto to the Italian Film Festival.


Like the other foreign language film festivals in Australia, which I cover regularly on this blog, the Italian festival has been growing in in popularity each year since its inception in 2000. Back then, it offered 16 features; this year, by my count, there are 38.

The festival has been running in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for more than a week, and only just started in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but carries over into the first half of October, when it starts in Hobart (details at bottom).

01_BOYS CRY -®Pepito Produzioni_sm

So far I have seen only one film,  BOYS CRY (La Terra Dell’Abbastanza), a gripping drama in which two young men played by Andrea Carpenzano (above, left) and Matteo Olivetti (right) are drawn into Rome’s criminal underworld and gang warfare. The more they get drawn in, the harder it is to get out.

I’m planning on going on a big binge of Italian cinema in coming days, and while there are other dramas I’d like to see, usually I go for the comedies. Here are some that look promising.


MY BIG GAY ITALIAN WEDDING (Puoi baciare lo sposo) – based on a hit play, this is described as a “chaotic, heart-warming trip to the altar” as a young man travels to his conservative hometown (where his conservative father is the mayor) to marry his big bear of a fiancé. Expect some disgruntled growling from the mayoral offices!


Put nonna in the freezer

PUT NONNA IN THE FREEZER (Metti La Nonna In Freezer).  When her grandmother dies, a young woman has to put her in the freezer, so to speak, to receive her nonna’s pension and make ends meet. Then a cop enters her life and “amidst ingenious deceptions, disguises and misunderstandings, the young woman’s scam will begin to melt like a frozen grandmother in the sun”.


Love and Bullets 2

LOVE & BULLETS (Ammore e Malavita) won the Best Film at the Italian Academy Awards and many other international awards. It’s described as a “hugely entertaining mafia musical” involving a family of schemers whose latest plan is jeopardised by true love.


  • Sydney: 11 Sept  – 7 Oct, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinemas, Palace Central
  • Canberra: 12 Sept – 7 Oct, Palace Electric Cinemas
  • Melbourne: 13 Sept – 7 Oct, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Kino Cinemas, The Astor Theatre
  • Brisbane: 19 Sept – 14 Oct, Palace Barracks, Palace Centro
  • Adelaide: 19 Sept – 14 Oct, Palace Nova Eastend, Palace Nova Prospect
  • Perth: 20 Sept – 10 Oct, Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX
  • Hobart: 18 Oct – 24 Oct, The State Cinema

Throw a canary on the barbecue? Surely not!

After my close encounters with Uma Thurman, I have had another awkward moment with my phone’s predictive text. I was using Portuguese to describe a typical Australian Christmas meal …

Nós comemos muitos camarões (“we eat lots of prawns“) was what I wanted to say.

Sydney Xmas 2017 edited (19 of 94)

Exotic prawns spotted by Bernardo at the fishmarket. Photo: Bernard O’Shea

What my phone came up with: Nós comemos muitos canaries


How would you like to munch on these? Image: Pixabay

Now that I have whetted your appetite, why don’t you join me for a seafood extravaganza?


  • French: manger (to eat), un canari (a canary), une crevette (a prawn)
  • Italian: mangiare (to eat), un canarino (a canary), un gambero, un gamberetto (a prawn)
  • Portuguese: comer (to eat),  um canário (a canary), um camarão, (a prawn)
  • Romanian: a mânca (to eat), un canar (a canary), un crevete (a prawn)
  • Spanish: comer(to eat), un canario (a canary), un camarónuna gamba (a prawn)

Note: For simplicity’s sake, I’m treating shrimps and prawns as the same. Portuguese also has the word gamba, but it may be more used in Portugal than Brazil.

Three of the best Italian songs – as chosen by an Italian, so don’t blame me haha

I haven’t played or listened to an Italian music for a while, so I asked an Italian friend to nominate his three favourite songs. This is what he came up with:

1. Caruso by the late Lucio Dalla

2. Vivo per lei by Andrea Bocelli (shown here with translations in Romanian, and there is some dispute in the comments on YouTube whether it’s actually Laura Pausini singing with him or someone else).

3. A far l’amore comincia tu  by Raffaella Carra

If anyone would like to nominate their favourite songs in my five Romance languages, please do!

Film festivals: now you see them, or – oops! – now you don’t


Some of the films in the 2015 French Film Festival

Some of the films in the 2015 French Film Festival

Quel imbécile je suis! About a month ago I saw adverts starting to appear in Sydney for the 26th annual Alliance Française French Film Festival, and I thought, “Oh great, it’s festival time again, I must see what’s on.”

Then what happened? I forgot about it. For a month. Today I remembered. So I go online and what do I find….?

2015 french film festival

The Sydney leg of the festival is past the halfway mark already, ditto for Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra. But people in Brisbane, Perth, Byron Bay and Hobart have a lot to look forward to. For the programs etc, go here.

You may be thinking, that Bernard, quel imbécile! Il est très oublieux... (very forgetful) but the truth is on top of my normal job I am editing an 180-page magazine (the 2015 edition of How Busy Women Get Rich, no less), it’s due to go to press just after Easter – on sale from April 27 – and I don’t have time to think about anything else apart from women’s finances! In my opinion, ladies, speaking as a finance guru now, any subscription to a foreign language film festival is a worthy investment. I doubt I will make it to even one French film in Sydney before the festival ends on March 22, but Hobart from April 16-21 looks tempting (I have never been to Tasmania).

So, what other film festivals am I in danger of missing?

Oh look at this….

spanish film festival

Tickets and programs for the Spanish Film Festival will be available on March 19 (that’s this coming Thursday) from Palace Cinemas.

The German Film Festival will follow shortly after…

german film festival

Look out for the Arab Film Festival too …

arab film festival

The Italian Film Festival and Windows On Europe Film Festival usually take place in the second half of the year, as does the Greek Film Festival. and the Latin American Film Festival.

Italian film festival starts in style – and with a bit of Flemish

photo (1)Italian is the language of the moment in Australia: the Italian Film Festival is upon us and for the next month or so some 34 films will be screened around the country.

The festival has just started in Sydney and Melbourne (where it runs till October 12); Canberra’s starts on September 23 and Perth’s a day later (both finish on October 15); Brisbane (October 1-22) and Adelaide (October 2-22) also get a good run; while there will be shorter festivals in Byron Bay (October 9-15) and Hobart (October 16-22).

I attended the opening night at the Palace Cinemas in Norton Street, Sydney, last night as a guest of one of the Silver sponsors, Rail Europe. The venue, in one of the most Italian of streets in Sydney, was packed, the Italian community were out in force (some of the mammas were heavily laden with bling) and good-looking Latino-looking male models with immaculately combed hair handed out bottles of Peroni beer to anyone willing to accept them (I am sipping a Peroni Leggera as I type).

We were treated to a great film, Marina, based on the life of singer Rocco Granata (the film’s title is also the title of the song that launched him to stardom. Funnily enough, though, it is set mostly in Limburg province in Flanders, Belgium. Here is the trailer.

The film is about many things, including the usual ones of finding your true love, following your passions and dreams, father and son love and tensions, and so on, but it also made what I thought were very pertinent points about immigration and the difficulties that migrants face on many levels, including gaining acceptance.

From a language point of view, it was fascinating. The excellent male lead, Matteo Simoni (the adult Rocco), has Italian ancestry but was born in Belgium and couldn’t speak Italian, so he had to learn it for the film (and learn how to play the accordion too). Thus he had to make his second language – Italian – look like his first, and his first language – Flemish – look like his second. His singing was excellent. But as he tells the Flanders Today website, he had to work really hard to convince the director to give him the part.

The next clip from YouTube is Italian TV coverage of the film’s launch in Italy, but it includes the director speaking in English about it.

So, let’s have a look at the real Rocco (who has a bit part in the film) singing the original version of Marina, which was actually the B-side of a single released in 1959… It made No.1 in Belgium and Germany and the top 40 on the US Billboard chart.

For those of you who like your music with a bit more techno force, here is the 1989 dance mix, which was also a hit in Europe.

The song has also been covered by the likes of the Gypsy Kings, André Rieu, Francesco Napoli and Dean Martin.

Haver: a handy Portuguese verb explained via David Carreira and some fado blasts from the past

What’s your favourite song on the romance language weekend soundtrack? Mine is David Carreira’s Haverá Sempre Uma Música. So let’s look at it from a linguistic point of view, as the title uses one of the most useful verbs in Portuguese, haver. First up though, here is a clip of the song with the lyrics – see if you can figure out what it is all about. David’s accent is very European Portuguese, not Brazilian, by the way.

Some words to help you understand what the song is about:

  • Mesmo que … even if
  • O tempo passe … time passes
  • O mundo pare … the world stops
  • Nossos tatuagens se apaguem … our tattoos fade (or disappear)
  • E a vida nos separe … and life separates us
  • E que estejas nos braços doutro amor … and that you are in the arms of another love
  • Haverá sempre uma música … there will always be a song
  • Haverá sempre um filme, uma hora … there will always be a film, an hour
  • Um pormenor … a detail *
  • Para (or P’ra for short) me fazer lembrar de ti … to make me remember (i.e. remind me of) you
  • P’ra me fazer lembrar assim … to remind me so

* The videoclip doesn’t include this word, but sites that give all the lyrics (letras) to the song, such as this one, include it in the second part of the chorus instead of um filme, uma hora

Meaning and usage of haver

Although haver means to have, possess or own; or to exist (among other meanings), it is most commonly used in the third person singular, present tense, , meaning there is or there are.

  • há quartos para alugar? – are there any rooms to let?
  • há altos e baixos na vida – there are ups and downs in life
  • há muito gente aqui – there are many people here

Romance language equivalents

In this way it is similar to

  • il y a in French
  • hay in Spanish
  • c’è in Italian

Usage in other tenses

As we have seen from the song, it can be used in the future:

  • haverá dança? – Will there be dancing? 

Or in the past imperfect

  • havia ali uma janela – there used to be a window there.

 Usage in expressions of time

can also mean ago or for in relation to time.

  • Há quanto tempo está em Lisboa? How long have you been in Lisbon? (Literally, There is how much time you are in Lisbon? Portuguese uses the present tense here, whereas English uses the present perfect.)
  • há muito, muito tempo – long, long ago
  • há pouco tempo – lately, a short while ago
  • há anos – years ago
  • o avião partiu há cinco minutos – the plane left five minutes ago

Here, for example, is a pictorial video from YouTube showing the Beira Rio area of Porto and Vila Nova de Guia “há muito anos atrás” (many years ago/back). On the clip you will hear two of Portugal’s most famous fado singers, Dulce Pontos (who has a magnificent and formidable voice) singing Canção De Mar (Song of the Sea), and Amália Rodrigues singing Povo Que Lavas No Rio (People Who Wash In The River).

There are other uses of haver but that is enough for now, don’t you think?

Would you marry an Italian?

pizza-296036_1280The Italian film festival is about to hit Australia. We’ll have more details during the week, but there is bound to be comedy and romance. Italians are meant to be great lovers, aren’t they? Aren’t they? But would you marry an Italian? Think carefully about your choices, haha. To get us in the mood in the build-up to the festival, here’s Romanian chanteuse Elena Gheorghe singing in English about a certain little gigolo who’s driving her crazy. “Oh mamma mia, he’s Italiano, he’s gonna tell me a million lies…”

Elena and Glance (the rapper) have teamed up before and had a huge hit in Romania last year with (Doar Un) Ecou. (Just An) Echo.

Glance also charted this year with Cinema. Give both songs a spin a couple of times and they will grow on you, even if the language seems alien. I really like the drums, keyboards and “whoa whoa oa oa oa whoa” chorus that comes in at the 2:32 mark… (gosh, it seems like I like the bits that don’t involve the main artist himself).

To finish as we started, with an Italian flavour, here’s my favourite Italian song of the moment by Francesco Renga, Il mio giorno più bello nel mondo (My most beautiful day in the world). I’ve chosen a clip with the words so you can karaoke this and with practice natter knowledgeably like an Italian while at the film festival.

To hear more music in these languages, click on the “Italian music, Romanian music” and other “music” tags in the tags panel on my home page.

Music for a Romantic weekend, Part 2, featuring Mariza’s new hit

What’s Bernardo’sMusicMonitor™ been monitoring in the Portuguese and Italian-speaking worlds? Well, there is a lovely new song out by Mariza that is perfect Sunday listening, you can join Italian singer Francesco Renga in having the most beautiful day in the world in Berlin, while his countryman Emis Killa has fun in Rio de Janeiro. Plus check out Brazil’s hottest star of the moment, Anitta, among others. Find out what all the Anglo radio stations are missing out on!


First up is a beautiful new ballad by Mariza, O Tempo Não Para (Time Never Stops), released to coincide with new a Best Of compilation. It’s one of just three songs  in Portuguese songs in Portugal’s top 20. As usual with Mariza, it’s beautifully poetic…

  • Eu sei – I know
  • Que a vida tem pressa – That life goes in a hurry 
  • Que tudo aconteça – That everything happens
  • Sem que a gente peça – Without people asking
  • Eu sei – I know
  • Eu sei – I know
  • Que o tempo não pára – That time never stops
  • O tempo é coisa rara – Time is a rare thing
  • E a gente só repara – And people only notice
  • Quando ele já passou – When it’s already passed
  • Não sei se andei depressa demais – I don’t know if I walked too fast
  • Mas sei, que algum sorriso eu perdi – But I know I missed some smiles
  • Vou pedir ao tempo que me dê mais tempo – I will ask time to give me more time
  • Para olhar para ti – To look at you
  • De agora em diante, não serei distante – From now on, I won’t be far
  • Eu vou estar aqui – I will be here

Also doing well in Portugal is Angolan-born Anselmo Ralph with Unica Mulher (Unique or The Only Woman). Of course, he is huge in Lusaphone countries such as Mozambique and his native Angola.

The other Portuguese language song on the chart, Não Te Quero Mais (I Don’t Want You Anymore) by David Antunes and Vanessa Silva, would appear to be a domestic argument but the best part of breaking up is making up… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS6Nq1rzuzY

IN BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE There is no shortage of local acts on the Brazilian charts as listed by top40-charts.com (which despite its name gives only the top 20). This is kind of cute … it’s got an unusual jaunty rhythm and as a bonus there are some knife-throwing scenes in a ruined house in a lush jungle… It’s Cobertor by Anitta and Projota. Cobertor means blanket, the song title coming from the lines Que saudade de você debaixo do meu cobertor (how I miss you under my blanket) You can read the rest of the lyrics to the song here.

Anitta is undoubtedly the hottest thing in Brazilian music at the moment. She burst onto the scene last year and has had a string of No. 1 hits, and even featured in an article in Forbes magazine, which commented on the beautiful and sexy resonance of the Portuguese language and asked if she was a global superstar in the making. But there has been controversy about whether she is doing a Michael Jackson and using skin lightening cream. Here is a live performance of Anitta’s Blá Blá Blá, which is still in the top 10.

Next, just for something different, here is a Portuguese version of Pink’s Just Give Me A Reason sung by Brazilian heartthrob Gusttavo LimaDiz Pra Mim = Tell Me.


Francesco Renga, who won the Sanremo Festival nine years ago, is back in the limelight with this lovely song Il mio giorno più bello nel mondo (My most beautiful day in the world), taken off his chart-topping new album Tempo Reale. This was filmed in Berlin.

Italian singers like to travel. Here’s popular young rapper Emis Killa going to Rio de Janeiro in his song Maracanã. Naturally it has a World Cup football flavour to it.

Last is a recent No.1 in Italy by another former Sanremo winner Marco CartaSplendida Ostinazione (Splendid Obstinacy).

Eurovision 2014: what do Italy and Spain have to offer?

eurovision oddsThere has been heartbreak for 11 contestants at the Eurovision Song Contest, and now it is time to be even more brutal and break 25 more hearts. That’s right, come late on Saturday night, one nation will be rejoicing in triumph, the others will feel deflated. By Monday or Tuesday, though, we will have forgotten all about it and will revert to our normal musical habits. It will be back to the 1980s for Bernardo! But at least we can say Eurovision was fun in the week it lasted.

Before the semi-finals began, the eurovisionodds.com website had made Armenia the favourite with odds of 2.75 to one, closely followed by Sweden on 3.50, then Denmark and Norway a little further back on 10 and 11 respectively. Romania’s Paula Steling & Ovi were on 34, Spain and Italy were 41 to 1, as was Austria’s bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst, while France’s TWIN TWIN and Portugal’s Suzy (who did not make it to the final) were further down the list on 101 to 1. Macedonia was last at 226 to 1.

Now, however, as the screen grab to the right shows, there has been a shift in sentiment. Sweden has become the favourite, and the Armenian entry has dropped down to fourth favourite. Conchita Wurst’s beard has shot up the rankings to second spot, but the moustache of the French TWIN TWINs has plunged to 251. Denmark and Norway have dipped significantly, but the UK, Hungary, Ukraine and Greece must have impressed in the semi-finals, as they are now in the top eight. Not that I am suggesting you should bet or take up gambling, it is just to give an idea of who is hot at the moment. And money talks, doesn’t it?

The only signs of the Romance languages in the final will come from Italy and, to a lesser extent, Spain. Neither country had to appear in the semi-final, because they along with France, Germany and the UK (the big five euro broadcasters) automatically qualify for the final. But Spain and Italy appear to have lost favour with the bookmakers.

Let’s have a look at the Italian and Spanish contestants.

Emma Marrone, Italy’s representative, is barely 30 years old yet already she has had a string of hits to her credit in Italy, including a number one album and four chart-topping singles. She is popular in Switzerland too. Her thumping rock/pop entry, La Mia Città (My City), will be a pleasant contrast to all the pop ditties and syrupy ballads at the competition.

Spain’s entry is a mix of Spanish and English. Ruth Lorenzo, who was born in Murcia and also started singing from an early age, was a contestant on the UK’s series The X Factor, in 2008, when she finished fifth. The years in between seem to have been pretty lean, but maybe her powerful Eurovision entry Dancing in the Rain will give her musical career some propulsion. But it does seem bizarre to start off in Spanish then switch to English.

May your Eurovision party rock!


Why, do you think, has the eurovisionodds website not been able to include the flags of Hungary and Montenegro? Odd, hey.