Remember in Italy, connect with the locals. One cannot control anything or demand service – this will only make things worse – very different to the West. You have to go with the flow and if you smile then your hosts will smile back. If you are grumpy then they will be become grumpy too. If you sing they will sing along too. This is the Italian way. So you have to always get things done with humour. Demand better service with humour is the best way if things are not going your way. Travelling is always about the people you meet and how they make you feel.
I was reading yesterday about a young man who has learnt six different languages so he can easily travel and meet and talk to the locals. He said he has made his life so much more interesting. Travelling really is about the people, the language and the food and yes of course beautiful spots and beautiful scenery. But what use is this if the people are grumpy there and make you feel bad too. One always remembers a place for the wonderful service or the endearing things that people do. Maybe it also has something to do with your mood?
Connect with the locals and no you don’t have to learn six languages to do this. All you have to do is smile and communicate with your hands and face and remember, yelling in english wont make them understand your language (in fact it will turn them off). … All of my most memorable experiences in Italy are from doing this and laughing myself sick at both our antics. Humans really are the same the world over. We have the same emotions, fears and insecurities.
I had a funny thing happen yesterday when going to view a new hotel in Napoli. As we walked into the big ancient courtyard (cortile) of this huge centuries old palazzo, there was one of those old fashioned lifts typical of Europe with the iron grills and little doors that you have to self close.
I noticed that there was a woman in there and the lift was not moving. Nearby was a little old couple about eighty years old sitting there as the porters to the building in a tiny box with “Porter” sign at the top, it was like stepping back sixty years like in the old days – except they were sitting there doing nothing, only watching and did nothing to help the woman. I guess they considered their serving days were over and were only there to chat with the locals coming and going.
I was a bit confused as obviously they knew she was in there so proceeded to walk up the wide stairwell. As I gazed up I noticed the huge stairway and the giant floors we had to walk up and as my companion is six months pregnant, I looked at her and said maybe we should take the lift for you and she readily agreed.
The traveller was still in the lift and it still was not moving. I knocked on the glass and said “Are you OK – do you need help” and opened the door. She was standing there with a look of panic on her face, trying to put a 20 cent piece in the money box needed to get the lift moving. The box was made for only a 10 cent piece. My God only in Naples would a lift require money and a ten cent piece! How ridiculous – a left over too, from the ancient past.
But why did she not get out and ask the old couple? No she was too frightened to connect with the locals. She nearly cried when she saw us as she was so upset and pleaded with us to give her 10 cents. Finally she was off and away. All she had to do was ask.
We met the traveller again at the reception of the hotel and she was so grateful for our ten cents. Connect with the people that is why you are in their city no? I wondered with a chuckle to myself how long the old couple would have let her stay in the lift!