The past couple of weeks have been very nice for me because I enrolled in a two week Italian language course for absolute beginners. It was just what I needed because I didn’t have a clue where to start! It turns out that Italian is not that complicated but I feel as if I have so much to learn. I want to know everything and to be able to converse fluently with every Italian I meet. I keep thinking, “If only they spoke French I could ask them this and this and THIS!”. Alas, they do not speak French, though they are mostly very patient with you. In two weeks, I have progressed from standing there dumb, feeling as if my mouth were shut with glue, to using some correct phrases whilst also using infinitives when I know I should be conjugating the verb. For me, considering I don’t live or work with Italians, that’s not bad! My French sometimes helps me and sometimes trips me up. I can’t help saying ‘mais’ instead of ‘ma’ for ‘but’, for example. It just slips out! Lucky, they usually understand/ignore that!
A few things about Italy/Rome have made me laugh over the past week or so. I am always amazed at Europeans’ taste in music and what they will play at the most inappropriate times. Take the other night for example. I’m walking through Roma Ostiense (which is a railway and metro station). It’s pretty cold, I’m alone (though going to meet friends), the station is grey, not many people are there, but those who are, because we are using public transport, are looking miserable. It’s not looking great but it’s a typical scene for a Wednesday night. On the Tube in London, they will usually play some classical music if they play any music at all, which I enjoy. What do the Italians do? They play this:
Yes, that will cheer us up NO END. Thanks for that.
Secondly, you may not know this but Italians sometimes take alcohol in their coffee…in the morning. I can’t imagine why they do this or what it achieves, but there you go. I first discovered this when I went the Angelicum a couple of weeks ago to go to daily mass with someone who lives in the same town as me. After mass, we went to the café to have a coffee and he proceeded to drink an espresso with Vodka in it. It looked disgusting and I was very happy with my cappuccino. Nonetheless, I can sort of understand it. Apparently, a lot of the students do it and he is young (and an American, not that this has any special meaning in this context) and he’s trying it out for fun. Fair enough, I thought. Then, this morning, I went to a different coffee bar to my usual because I was late for class but desperately needed something to keep me going for the next 3 hours. I stopped in a rather glam looking coffee bar, and as I was waiting for my latté, a nicely made-up, rather elderly lady asks for an espresso with Sambuca in it. I couldn’t help but stare. This is not something which arouses alarm in the barista. ‘Oh, you want a drink which is 42% alcohol at 9.30am and you are an elderly woman. Coming right up!’. This is not normal, kids! Ah, welcome to Italy.
As a closing thought on this random collection of happenings, here is a picture of the sunset in Santa Marinella (where I live) this evening. Beaut.