An American In Rome
|Benvenuti a tutti!
Thanks for stopping by my blog where I attempt to decipher Italian culture for the English-speaking world. It’s always my intention to go a little deeper—beyond the stereotypes and la dolce vita—to discuss the many reasons why this beautiful chaotic city continues to inspire the dreams of travelers and expats year after year. Travelers, if you’re new to my site, you might want to start here. Expats, check out this post.
In my quest to conquer the Italian language, I often encounter kindred souls who are struggling with the same quixotic endeavor. Often, they are ahead of me on the learning curve, so I’m always keen to gain their advice and hints.
I love stories. They impart a deeper understanding of the subtitles of language when we hear it in real-life situations. And when funny or entertaining, they leave a stronger impression and therefore better imprinted on the memory. My guest today is Cher Hale from the Iceberg Project and she has a funny story, some good advice, and a few useful Italian travel phrases for the beginner Italian learner to commit to memory. I was recently honored to be a guest on her podcast, where we talked about getting a visa, teaching English in Rome, and of course, the Italian language.
I must be getting sentimental in my middle-age. A few weeks ago I talked about weddings and now I’m recalling a Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago—Jessica and I strolling around the gardens of La Reggia di Caserta, just outside of Naples, in the clear, crisp February air. Soon after arriving, I had noticed a man with a horse-drawn carriage riding around the grounds and thought, “My, how romantic. Maybe I should inquire into his services and impress my fidanzata.”
Sure enough, as he drew closer, he began to shout. I couldn’t really understand him, but it seemed obvious enough I was being subjected to his sales pitch.
I cut to the chase, “Quanto costa?” How much?
I don’t think he actually heard my words, as he continued his passionate monologue, determined to make me hear the whole spiel before the bargaining process began. Finally, I reluctantly gave up my role in the “conversation,” shrugged, and turned over the reins to Jessica and her knowledge of Neapolitan dialect.
Since winning Italy Magazine’s Blogger Award last week, the increase in traffic to my blog, Facebook Page, and Twitter account has been meteoric, to say the least. So it’s with some trepidation that I tackle a provocative subject with all these new eyes on my posts. However, to this day, one of the biggest draws to my site is from a piece I wrote more than a year ago entitled, “Catholicism and other superstitions in Italy.” Google still seems to think that I’m an expert on this topic, for some reason. (This doesn’t speak very highly of their algorithm, if you ask me.)
I want to acknowledge right away that the topic of religion always inspires controversy. We each have our own opinions, and thankfully, throughout most of the world, these opinions are to be respected. Furthermore, when I make generalizations, they are just that: generalizations. If they don’t apply to you, then fine, I wasn’t talking about you. In any case, I’ve tried to provide a balanced argument… so hopefully there’s something here to offend everyone.
This post carries the sole intention of expressing a very sincere thank you to everyone who supported me in the Italy Magazine Blogger Awards. I’m proud to announce that, improbably, I won.
A few weeks ago, my blog was selected for the “Top-5 Shortlist” among 54 well-deserving nominees; all of which represent extremely knowledgeable and talented English language writers in Italy. This alone was an incredible honor and truly, I would have been happy with just that. The fact that I actually won is beyond my expectations.
Ciao a tutti!
Just a quick reminder to anyone who’s interested in joining me on my Sicily trip this summer: the deadline is fast approaching.
We still have FIVE spots open, but unfortunately we must cut off the registration two weeks from today, which is FEBRUARY 23! This deadline is necessary to give proper notice to the hotels and other service providers in Sicily.
To remind you, the dates of the trip are May 28th to June 7th. We’ll start in Palermo and work our way counterclockwise around the island, finishing in beautiful Taormina.
Many of you have contacted me about this trip, and I want to let you know that you might miss your chance because time is running out. At this point, the BEST way to secure your spot is to contact me directly via email.
To recap this wonderful trip, here’s what it’s all about and what’s included…
- Travel with a small group (maximum 12).
- Airport transfers and ALL ground transportation are included.
- Bi-lingual hosts and local guides.
- ALL meals are included, some with wine.
- Stay in hand-picked, 4-star hotels, with a diversity of locations: 1 city (Palermo), 1 countryside (Marsala area), and 3 small towns (Ragusa, Siracusa, Taormina).
- A cooking class featuring local ingredients and traditional recipes.
- Wine tastings, on-site at small-production wineries.
- Visit a famous 1800′s artisan chocolate shop…and sample their homemade treats!
- Enjoy a carretto (donkey cart) making demonstration, a classic Sicilian art.
- Optional excursion on Mount Etna in a 4×4 vehicle. (A small extra charge.)
- A relaxed pace with free time scheduled in.
Not Included: airfare to/from Sicily; beverages at most meals; entrance fees to museums; Mount Etna excursion; mandatory local hotel taxes (typically €2 per night per person).
This is just the basics, CLICK HERE to learn more about the exciting itinerary.
The dates again are: May 28– June 7, 2014
Only $3988 USD per person based on double occupancy
(Limited Single Supplements = $500 USD per person)
So that’s it…it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime! I look forward to seeing some of you in Sicily this summer!
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, my thoughts are wandering back to a romantic winter evening in 2012. I had taken Jessica out to dinner at our favorite Sicilian restaurant in the center of Rome. All through the meal, my sweaty hand kept darting into my coat pocket, checking to make sure that the little box I had brought along was still there. Just after the antipasto, while Jess had excused herself to the bathroom, I asked the waiter for a shot of grappa.
He was surprised, obviously, since we hadn’t even reached the first course. God forbid one should disturb the precise sequence of the meal in Italy. In many cities it’s a jailable offense.
His tone was incredulous. “Adesso? Signore, non ha ancora finito. ” Now? But Sir, you haven’t yet finished your meal.
“Trust me, it’s for medicinal purposes.”
Any expat in Rome will tell you that they’ve heard the question a hundred times: “What is life in Italy really like?” The common assumption is that we’re all buzzing around on Vespas, attending operas, and eating pasta at every meal. My blog has always been an honest attempt to address those perceptions and offer a more realistic picture, for better and worse. But before I get into the “meat” of this post, I’d like to share some really cool news.
OK, let’s start this post with a little Italian language quiz. You might even win a prize if you get it right.
Which one of the following is the correct phrase?
A) Megghiu stàrisi muti e passari ppi fissa, chi parrari e livàri ‘u suspettu. Minchia.
B) Mejo tene’ ‘a bocca chiusa e passa’ pe’ stupido che aprìlla e levà li ddubbi. Ahò!
C) L’è meglio tene’ la bocca ghiusa e passa’ pe’ bischero che aprirla e levare d’ogni dubbio. Deh!
D) È meglio tene’ a vocca chiusa e farese prenne pè fesso che parla’ e scupri’ tutto l’altarino. Uah!
E) Xè mejo tener ‘a boca serada e passar per mona che verserla e cavar ogni dubbio.
At the end of the post I’ll answer this question and give you a chance to receive a free copy of my eBook, Talk Like an Italian. But first a little background info…