"Americans never really get a day off. When they are on vacation, they still check for messages, file reports, talk to their boss and attend phone conferences. The vast majority of Italians don't do that. If they are on vacation, they are on vacation. They have no conversations about work, don't think about it and certainly don't call up their bosses to hear about what's going on while they're away."
Here is an odd tale.... or tail, should I say. It's a tale of a visitor going to Italy and finding out that animals talk, screech, bark and chirp differently there.
On my first day waking up at our agriturismo, I heard a welcoming, country sort of sound. To me, I heard, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!). Obviously a rooster waking with the sunrise. When I mentioned it to the padrone later on, he nodded his head and said, "Si, that was the gallo with his morning 'chicchirichí'"! (kee-kee-ree-keee). "Ok", I nod.
Then he takes me over to his hen house where he produces organic eggs. There are lots of chickens going "cluck, cluck, cluck", or so I thought. He says "I like-a to hear my galline (hens) laying eggs and saying coccodè" ("coke-o-day"). Then I know-a they are-a happy". Ok. Then he shows me their chicks in a sort of incubator setup to keep them warm. Lots of "cheep, cheep, cheeps" going on. He picks up one and cups it in his hand and mimics "Ahh, piccolo pulcino, 'pio, pio, pio'". (pee-o, pee-o, pee-o). Uh huh.
He suddenly spied a hole down near the floor where a tiny mouse got in and is eating some feed. "I hear these leetle thieves all-a the time going, 'Squit, squit, squit' ", he says as he tries to land a shovel on top of the little guy. All I heard was a "squeak, squeak" as the mouse disappears into a crack. "He's-a mangia here every day... piccolo topo demone!"
We walk down toward his field and one of his donkeys is having a little hissy fit... "eee, aww, ee, aww!" He goes right up to him, pats him on the rump and says "i-oo, i-oo (eee-oo, eee-oo), mioasino, calma, calma." I picture Shrek's buddy as I watch him calm the beast down as it starts nibbling on a weed.
He wanted to show me his bee boxes near the pond, and as we get close I hear a "ribbit, ribbet". He notices me looking for the source of the croaking and says, "Ahh le rane... 'cra, cra!' Over near-a the water." I see some crows passing overhead and he looks up to mimic them, saying, "Ahh... Il corvo... 'cra, cra, cra' ". Mmmm.... In Italy I suppose frogs and crows are some sort of cousins--they speak the same language. There are lots of cousins in Italy.
Onward toward the bee boxes, when I hear a wayward sheep say "Baa, Baaaa", Padrone mimics again.... "Hey, get-a back over there, mia pecora.... 'Bee... beee!' " grabs him by his wool and lifts him back over the fence into the field. "Bee?" Does the sheep know we're going to see the bees? Somehow, I don't think so.
We get to the bee boxes and all I hear is "Bzzz... Bzzzzz" while he lets out, "zzzz.... zzzz... zzzz... see the ape? They won't sting. No worry We make-a our own miele here too!" Then the goose on the pond let's out a "Honk, Honk" and he answers back "Qua, Qua, oca!" and throws a crust of bread he had in his pocket to the long necked beauty.
As we wandered back around the main field and on toward the main house, I saw some cows laying down near the fence with a cat playing around their tail. Then he points amused and says "Look-a, the gatto, she plays with-a the mucca... 'miao, miao... MUuuuuuu....' " At last... at least some animals around here talk English!
As I get back to my little stone cottage, one of the many dogs on the farm runs up to me and barks, "bau bau!" Wait a second. I'm actually starting to get the hang of this language! "Here boy", I call... "venire qui,cane... bau, bau!" I give him a piece of sausage from my pocket. (Where'd that come from?)
(Gotta remember to buy some of that miele before I leave).
Beginning in January, 2017, Grand Voyage Italy is undergoing a reconstruction: adding new pages, categories and moving older posts to more appropriate pages. If you can't find what you are looking for in this new Lifestyle page, use the Search Box to help find what you need. Grazie!
We planned on going to Italy even before our son, Lucas was born, but because of a sudden illness, we had to call it off. Then in 2014, we planned our three week Voyage to Italy, but this time, with our 12 year old son along with some typical goals... see the art, architecture, learn the history and search out my father's roots in Molfetta down in Puglia. We knew it would be a great time, giving us fantastic memories, but as this blog shows, it has changed our lives in many ways. Here are a few ways that a Voyage toItaly might change you forever:
If you thought you were eating "Italian food" before, you'll learn that you were wrong. Chicken parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs and pasta swimming in Alfredo sauce are not Italian dishes. You'll realize that if--and when--you eat these, you are really enjoying Italian-American dishes. A totally different thing.
You will appreciate fresh pasta more--especially if you make it yourself.
You will at long last really know how to slow down.
You won't want to pay extremely high prices for restaurants after learning how easy it is to implement the simple philosophy of Italian food preparation in your own kitchen.
You will learn that you can get along with less... more fresh food requires a smaller fridge; you don't need a huge gas-guzzling car; and that 22' high entrance hall in your McMansion will start to seem very ridiculous.
You will learn to recognize opportunities to relax and take in a view--learning to always make time to soak in the simple pleasures like a vista, a sunset, beautiful architecture or natural wonders.
You will be humbled at your place in history after seeing buildings still standing--and often still being used--after 2000 years. The oldest structures (Pennsylvania stone colonials) in my area are no more than 300 years old.
Your lunches will seem amazingly inadequate and short. You will want to have a job close enough to allow you to go home for lunch.
You will begin to understand the Italian meaning behind your own "bella figura" and always try to appear well attired and attractive rather than going out in public in sweat pants and unkempt, wet hair.
You will learn the advantage of a mid-day nap.
You will want to have simpler breakfasts... an espresso and a sweet pastry.
You might start keeping your home neater and cleaner. Italians even remove their shoes when home, walking on well cleaned tile floors.
You will want to make your own pizzas, and when you don't, you will want to order individual pizzas with simpler toppings... basil, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella.
You will want to learn all about soccer and watch international matches.
You will begin to see how much of an overpriced, un-Italian joke Starbucks really is.
You will no longer drink to excess, but rather have a cocktail or two (perhaps a Negroni?) with friends. You will start to select your bottles of wine based on how well they pair with your meals. Beer will lose its appeal.
You will eat more slowly, especially in good restaurants.
You will learn how to pronounce Italian words properly: broosh-KET-ah rather than broosh-etta, ree-COTT-ah rather than ri-cutta and eS-PRES-so instead of eX-presso.
A measly two week vacation will seem very inadequate after learning of the mandatory 31 days given to Italian workers.
You will never be satisfied by the fruit and veggies in your local supermarket again.
You will learn to absolutely love cheeses--especially from sheep.
American sodas will forever taste too sweet to you.
You will never be afraid or timid on the road again. You will drive with the confidence of a Grand Prix race driver.
You will learn to taste your food before automatically putting salt on it.
If you've always thought that complex French cuisine was the ultimate in fine dining and cooking, you'll find yourself replacing that whole view with the simplicity of Italian techniques.
The peanut butter will be shoved to the rear of the shelf, while Nutella comes to the front.
You will want to have meals with larger numbers of family and friends than ever before.
If you're a guy, you will feel fine about giving your friends big hugs and expect the same back.
Men... you might want to try wearing a Speedo again.
You will find yourself thinking about time in a different way... when it flows past, like a river, there is nothing you can do to get it back. There's always domani.
If you've never cooked before--you will. If you have cooked before, you will cook better.
You will never look at supermarket variety olive oils in the same way again.
You will have learned how a walk after dinner is good for your soul, your family and your health.
You will want to ask your family elders about their past, their romances, their family history and of course, you'll want them to write down their recipes for you.
If you're a man, you will compliment women more--even your mother. If you're a woman, you'll flirt more.
You will look at older people differently, and possibly even look forward to that stage in your own life.
You will find yourself learning more and more Italian words and phrases... and perhaps take a lesson or two, in preparation for your next trip back to Italy.
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