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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ciao Amore...


My Italian teacher has always told us that one day, just as if someone flips a switch, all of a sudden we'll just be able to 'get it'. He's speaking about Italian of course... And he means that the more we practice, and listen, and try, someday it will all click and come together. One goal I have each time I come to Italy is to measure how much improvement I can see in my comprehension of Italian and my ability to speak. This time, this is the first time I can go back and tell my teacher, it clicked! In markets, in restaurants, with friends and strangers, this is the first time I've had no trouble at all communicating, or understanding what I hear. Several times people have stopped me to ask for directions. And I knew the correct answers. And I was able to respond.

I'm a little excited about this. So please forgive me if I've been eavesdropping a bit on strangers now and then. Like these three adorable ladies who were sitting at the next table to me at La Fontana in Verbania.

They were chatting away, enjoying their cappuccinos, when the cell phone of the woman closest to me rang.

"Ciao, Amore...", she answers, in a sing-song voice. "Ciao, Amore...," her friends, in unison, mimic her, giggling. Then she says, "No, Amore, you clean the house today. I don't want to clean the house today, I'm at the bar with my friends!" This sends the other two into fits of laughter. They could be 10-year-old schoolgirls; I bet they had been 10-year-old schoolgirls together, once. Finally, the housecleaning plans are organized. The unlucky husband at home is given much to do. Which rooms need what works, what needs to be cooked. The friends interrupt often with suggestions. Finally, the woman ends the conversation as she began, sing-songing, "Ciao, ciao Amore, a dopo...", and her friends again chime in, so that he can hear them, "Ciaooooo Amoreeee... a dopooooo."

All that transpired in Italian, naturally. How cute they were, and how cool for me, that I got it, it clicked! I'm sorry signore, for having been rude. I apologize for the eavesdropping, but I'll always remember your conversation.

The above photo is the only one I surreptitiously snapped of the ladies at lunch. I wish I could have videotaped them.

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