Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We speak Italian bad

Perhaps I should have turned left at Soave. 
We discovered that it is useful when in the wilds of Italy to be able to speak some Italian. We had assumed this would be the case but that we would muddle through. 
Gwenyth had in fact done a little bit of Italian for the purpose of the trip but proved to be - how shall we say it - not as fluent as we would have hoped.
On more than one occasion when she asked for help she was quietly taken by the elbow and ushered out of the building or place where we were. 
We think that instead of learning the Italian for 
‘I am lost can you please help me find Piazza Garibaldi’ she has in fact learned to say ‘I am deranged and dangerous - please help me find the nearest hospital’ 
In the end we had to make do with the approximately 20 words we had amongst and this proved to be entirely inadequate - leading to some truly awful displays of mime and charades - much to the amusement of the people with whom we were attempting dialogue. 
We did of course discover some people who spoke English but would not do so. In this respect they were a bit like some French. You come to my country you speak my language. 
One waiter refused to speak English but was happy to speak German. Another spoke French. 
Part of the problem - we have found in our extensive travels - is that some Europeans do not like the English or the Americans (or indeed in some cases - anyone at all). 
I hesitate to say that on this blog because it may offend some readers - but unfortunately it is true. 
Once we identify ourselves as Australia things always improve immediately. We can tell when it is necessary to say this by the flicker of the eyebrows and the twitch of the nose by the waiter or person to whom you are addressing yourself. 
There is not an Italian in Italy who does not have at least one relative in Australia.
‘Australia! My uncle Giuseppe is in Australia - you know him?
Sure I know him - we drink Grappa and watch football together - he is a good man.
Well - I think he is prick but maybe he better in Australia.’ 
Having Llama with us helped on some occasions as if there were men involved we used her as bait to lure the English out of them. 
We found the beaches from hell. They are on the Adriatic. They are stretches of grubby sand on which not a single square centimeter is left uncovered by a deck chair, an umbrella a towel or a sweaty body. If you wish to leave the grubby sand you can slosh your way through the puddles of suntan lotion and heave your greasy body into the steaming fetid soup that passes for water in this party of the world. 
Absolutely gruesome. 
On a local note - I have previously mentioned the gangs of beggars in Vienna. There have been discussions on various chat sites to which I belong about these gangs and how they are run. The question which everyone always asks is ‘why do the police not do something about them?’
Well - moving with the speed of a sloth on crack crawling through marmalade the Polizei - in conjunction with Interpol, the SAS and Mossad - have cracked down on the gangs.
Intensive global investigations by intelligence agencies and armed forces throughout the world - have culminated in a series of stunning dawn raids with SWAT teams scaling tall buildings and crashing through reinforced doors to get at these dangerous felons. 
Well - actually the report says:
“Vienna beggar gang dismantled by police: A gang of ten members who engaged in human-trafficking and forced 42 people to beg in Austrian capital Vienna has been dismantled by the police, it was announced today (Mon). Ten members of the gang were arrested, five of them in Vienna who will be extradited to Romania to stand trial.”
I imagine that what really happened was the Sergeant Plodnik of the Poliziei looked up from the sports pages of the Kronen Zeitung and said 
‘Horst - it is August - everyone is baking their asses off on the Adriatic - go and round up some beggars’
I might pop down to Westbahnhof in the next few days and watch the replacement gangs and beggars arrive. 


  1. haha! i've seen similar beaches from hell, with grubby sand. and sweaty bodies. and all i speak is bad italian. yeah, some europeans pride themselves on being anti-american. i chalk it up to old school charm.

    thanks for the kick in the butt.

  2. Great post. I encountered a lot of anti-Americanism when I was living in the Czech Republic. This is also when W. was thinking about building a military base in Poland to "keep an eye" on the Russians.

    Seriously considered telling everyone I was Canadian.

  3. Ed: I wonder what they would think of an Australian beach with 20 kilometers of golden sand, clean water and no people at all.

    Jessica: Be an Aussie - they all love us - and cannot tell the difference with the accents.