22 April 2012

Vive L'Italia

I'd heard about the welcoming and hospitable nature of Italians, but nothing can quite prepare you for this, until you actually meet them.  By the end of my trip, I felt like I was visiting family or good friends, not like I was paying customer.

Half way to Tuscany, we stayed in Mirandola a sleepy little Italian town, with one restaurant, one bar, one geletteria, one church, and one boarded up cinema. An agriculture town, that is surrounded by berry farms, strawberry, blue berry and a third berry that I couldn’t quite figure out when talking to the locals.

The BnB that I stayed at was above the geletteria, and when I arrived, the matron, Antonella, was eagerly awaiting me, along with half the town’s inhabitants. We didn’t share a common language, as she only spoke Italian, and I don’t. However, her friend, Claudia’s son, Sanluca remembered a little English from his schools days, and he briefly served as Interpreter. After he left, Antonella and I used Google translator to communicate what we couldn‘t figure out between pantomime and expression.
Despite our lack of a common language, Antonella immediately welcomed me into her home. She gave the children gelato from her bar, and later that evening she, Claudia and Sanluca took us out to a local restaurant so we could experience cusini tipico. The restaurant was located in a converted barn on one of the berry farms. Antonella was incredibly hospitable, and made us feel so welcome despite our obvious lack of Italian.

No one spoke English, even Sanluca said he that he struggled with my American accent. In his memory, all 20 some years of it, we were the first Americans to ever visit their town. Not only was I a bit overwhelmed by how little Italian I know, but for the first time I realized how much German I actually do know. When I couldn’t figure out how to express something, my brain reverted to German instead of English. The children as well, tried to communicate in German, but despite a common language in their usual manor the children managed to charm the whole town. Maggie had Sanluca wrapped around her finger by the end, and Maxi had Antonella indulging him with sweeties, even spoon feeding him.

The next morning, the kids and I left for Tuscany, with a care package from Antonella complete with typical breakfast foods. The drive was much shorter this time, and the children were in a much better mood, after having had a full nights sleep above the geletteria.

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