It is very difficult when you are the only foreigner in a village and you do not know many people and those that you do know you can’t understand their dialect…!! I must say it has been a challenging week in this area but what I love about life is just when it is all getting a bit too much, serendipity pops up and gives you a bit of bliss.
I have been living in a small village, Pozzuoli in the south of Italy in Campania and it is the same as all small towns throughout the world, full of gossip and things happening around the place with the people, wonderful food and a sea and view on the gulf of Napoli to die for.
However there is one big drawback for me… most people in the shops and on the street where you stop to chat, don’t speak Italian to each other. Italians love chatting and are very friendly, in fact they never shut up….!! But in this village they don’t speak Italian they don’t even speak Napolitanno, they speak another language – Puteolano, that even the Napolitanni don’t understand whereas myself… I don’t have a hope in Hades, Italian being my second language. Three languages here!…
This week it really got to me not being able to understand what all the gossip was about particularly when I was in a restaurant, where I knew the people but they were all speaking Puteolano. They can speak Italian but it did not matter that they knew I could not understand. It was quite ignorant to do that to a foreigner. A person being left out of a conversation and ignored all night is horrible thing to do to someone.I felt quite dejected sitting there surrounded by people chatting away and I could not understand not even one word.
What a boring night, it would have been better to stay at home reading!! Yawn!! I felt lost in a strange world and I realized that I cannot learn another language – this language of the village…!! It has been hard enough learning Italian for 25 years.!! To start again is impossible!! I was feeling so alone, even at the point where I was thinking that I will have to leave and move to Florence… even though I love my apartment with my beautiful sea view….. then serendipity happened.
I went into a shop up the road and I was trying to comprehend the dialect of the old shop keeper, who also missing a few front teeth, made it even harder to decifer….. There came in a man who started speaking to the shopkeeper in the most purest of Italian with a beautiful cultured accent that I had never heard spoken in this town. It was like music to my ears after a week of hardship!!
I gravitated towards him like a iron file to a magnet, as I wanted to listen well to try to determine which region he was from. I was staring at him with the joys of rapture as I was so pleased to listen to the music that I spoke out loud what I was thinking ….but instead of saying “YOU SPEAK WITH VERY BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN ELOCUTION”, I did not realize, I had said to him, (being tired) ”YOU SPEAK ITALIAN WELL” I could not understand why he started laughing and why the old shopkeeper then said that she also speaks Italian very well (I wanted to say – Yeah right!!) and the whole shop broke out into fits of laughter.
But as I am used to not understanding anything here and usually spend my whole time when out trying to work things out by body language, I did not realize what I had said until I got home… trying to work out the play I had seen performed in the shop! ! (Italians are also naturally great actors and it is normally thoroughly amusing), however after much thought I realised that it was I, who was the jester in the Shakespearean drama this time and I did not know it at the time,…. only after…!
Omg! so funny!! When I realized, I could not stop laughing at myself! What an idiot I make of myself every day because of this language!! I find it hilarious. It would be like a foreigner coming up to you and saying “You speak english very well”? How would you respond?!!
However All’s Well that Ends Well… and I ended up making a new friend that is cultured enough to not speak dialect in front of me….!! And what I love about the Italian people is that they do have a great sense of humor and do try to have patience with me and always turn things into a joke even if I cant understand fully, I get the humor involved by their caricatures and it makes me laugh a lot!
However, I was so very relieved to know that there are people that speak the pure Florentine Italian as he was from here. It gave me such joy and made me feel that I might not have to leave and there is a possibility of hope!! I might be able to make some friends that speak only Italian and there will be others….I just have to meet them.
Joy! oh Joy I love serendipity – never give up hope – you never know what is around the corner if you have a positive attitude – keep on keeping on!!