14 December 2007

Knowing the locals

Knowing Italians by speaking Italian

We find many of the local people to be very personable and are on a first name basis with several baristi and shop owners and have been made to feel welcome by all of them and their families.

I have written before about Caffe Pretoriano and Luca, the
owner. This summer we had the opportunity to spend some time with Luca, his wife Roberta, their new son Leonardo and her family at Porto d’Ascoli on the Adriatic Coast. Roberta’s family is from Napoli and her dad Luciano is an animated example of all the best Napoli has to offer. Luciano, his wife Pina and their son Stefano opened their apartment near the beach for us to spend some time in the sun and together at the dining table. One Sunday we had a huge seafood feast at one of the beachside restaurants and on another visit Luciano took us to his favorite Neapolitan pizza parlor in nearby Martinsicuro. You can’t go wrong with a Neapolitan showing you the best places for seafood and pizza.

We always get a big smile from Luca in his bar and many times Roberta and Leonardo will be there as their apartment is in the centro storico. Leonardo, of course, is a major attraction for all the women as they pass by the bar. Luca and Roberta are always willing to let me practice my Italian with them and Luca enjoys trying out his English on me. We are fortunate that they have been able to assist us at times and we have been able to return the favors.

Our landlords Guerrino and Dorina have hosted us with my parents and Guerrino has been a valuable source of who to go to for various home and vehicle items. Guerrino is always working on something and patiently he discusses with me the finer points of home construction in Italy.

The Tomasetti family has opened their family home to us and we have enjoyed the opportunity to show them our humble apartment.

Of course there is our friend, colleague and my periodic Italian teacher, Linda who is always ready with a smile. She is patient with my Italian and is always looking for opportunities to be a teacher to others wanting to know this musical language.

Many of the store owners and of course bar owners greet us with smiles both in their establishments and on the street. Our friend Oscar at his bar greets everyone with a “Ciao Bella” or “Ciao Bello”. I think he works too much but as a sole proprietor with a small family sometimes your choices are limited.

Sergio is a man of the world who seems to know, or be known by everyone in town. He looks like a big burly guy but is always friendly and enjoys telling us jokes in Italian to see if we understand them. Translating a joke from one language to another rarely maintains the gist, especially when dealing with Italian peculiarities.

These are just a few of the many people we see and interact with each day here in Ascoli Piceno. Meeting and interacting with people in their language can be difficult at times but the effort is always rewarding.


erin said...

*sigh* these are the stories i LOVE to hear...it's the relationships (and using our Italian) that we so long to have with the locals. It's a little harder in the center of Florence, but slowly we're building friendships!

Bryan said...

We found that they locals need to know that you aren't just passing through. When they know you are there to stay then they begin to open their lives to let you step in.

Texas Espresso said...

that is a really nice post. I hope I am as open and lucky in getting to know people in Veneto when I move. I certainly am going to try. Growing up in a big city, I've always wanted to experience that kind of small town life.