There is a street that goes from south to north. To its right side, there is a walk path, and then a pedestrian gate, directly facing on the walk path. There is also a car gate which is further east than the pedestrian gate (i.e. its distance from the roadside is higher). It can be accessed from the walk path too.

Sometimes, there are people asking me where a public building is. I answer indicating the car gate, describing it as il cancello più interno since it could not be clear, from where I am, which gate I am indicating.

What word should I use to describe the car gate?
I feel like il cancello più interno is not the best way to describe the gate.

From the point of view of people who are driving a car, and coming from north, this is what they see.


Moving closer to the car gate, it appears like this.


  • If you had to use some type of locative cue, aside from what Denis and DaG have indicated, you could also say Il cancello più a nord or Il cancello più a sud, if it's reasonable to know that (which I find to be true if in a city).
    – Marco
    Feb 7, 2018 at 19:53
  • 3
    @Marco, your suggestion is very reasonable, but there is some of a cultural difference here. I understand that in both UK and USA the use of cardinal point in a city is far more widespread than in Italy. To give just an example, in London the different directions of a line of the Tube are denoted by, say, “northbound” or “southbound”, while in Italy you use the end station in that direction (say, Anagnina or Battistini for Line A in Rome).
    – DaG
    Feb 7, 2018 at 20:56
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – egreg
    Feb 7, 2018 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


Interno o esterno cannot be applied here. You could say

il primo (secondo) cancello quando hai l'edificio a sinistra

It could be il cancello pedonale or il cancello carraio if they serve the function for pedestrians or cars respectively.

As DaG rightly comments, in Italy concepts such as North and South are almost never used for giving directions. The exceptions are highways, where exits are often labeled “Nord”, “Sud”, “Est” or “Ovest”, but these are often quite arbitrary. For instance, the A4 exit named “Padova Ovest” is definitely North of the town.

Courtesy of Google Maps

  • For what is worth, I believe that the "Padova Est" vs "Padova Ovest" distinction is because the A4 highway is perceived as being on the East-West axis (so they are the "easternmost casello" and the "westernmost casello") rather than by any relation to the position of the city. Anyway, I agree with you that cardinal directions are not really used in Italy for this purpose (or in the parts of continental Europe I'm familiar with)
    – Denis Nardin
    Feb 8, 2018 at 9:28
  • @DenisNardin Yes, that's the obvious reason, but it also shows that we don't really care much about cardinal points for directions.
    – egreg
    Feb 8, 2018 at 12:25
  • 2
    Anche "il cancello grande, non quello piccolo" Feb 9, 2018 at 14:10
  • @FedericoPoloni Sure!
    – egreg
    Feb 9, 2018 at 14:15

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