Wednesday, April 15, 2009


“No, no!” I mutter while turning my head and closing my lips tighter to the kisses my Italian dinner date is imparting on me. Still with my seat belt on, I attempt in vain to move back a bit.

“How did I get in this predicament?” I ask myself. But I know very well; it started yesterday - with lack of communication.


Angelo is a friend of the family. He’s been here a number of times purchasing lambs. Yesterday he came unannounced for lunch with nine of his friends. They were trekking the countryside and wanted to fuel up for the walk home.

Pitying my overworked host, I offered cleaning assistance. In the kitchen, Angelo bantered with his owner friends. Occasionally Marjatta would translate: He could use wwoof help like this. Could he borrow my services. They are laughing, I’m laughing, and the next thing I know, I’ve got a dinner date, tomorrow night, at 7:00pm with Angelo.

“This is not a good idea.” I tell Marjatta. Neither of us speak more than a word of each other’s language.

I direct my efforts to Angelo “Io no parlo Italiano. E tu no parla Inglesi.”

“Si, ma manga no?” (Which I believe translates to “Yes, but you eat no?”)


“Perfetto. Domani sera.” Tomorrow evening it is.


My Italian tour guide is lovely. This is what I hoped for - a local to show me his native soil and then perhaps pizza.

Before dinner, we walk along a bike-path where families push strollers and joggers exercise. There are fields on either side and in the distance, Angelo points out five castles; we explore one. Our communication has not improved since yesterday but we are proficient at gesturing and flipping through my English-Italian dictionary.

At the small family owned pizzeria everyone is friendly and everyone knows Angelo. We order fungi pizza and an ensalata.

Before dropping me back home, we drive through the country side and stop to walk through a tiny village on a mountain top. Above me are stars and an old church bell that rings 10pm; below me are cobble stones and windy narrow streets; in front of me are old buildings perched at different levels. It is quintessential old town Italy.

Angelo parks the car on a hillside to take in the lights of Valfabbrica and then.. he advances. “How did I get in this predicament?” Yes yes, I know – lack of communication.

“No no” I say again. “Casa per favore?”

At the farmhouse door, we say good night. I feel bad for my friend: my evening’s hopes were met; I’m not certain his were. I wish we could communicate; perhaps he thought the international “language of love” would be sufficient.

“Domani sera?” he asks and gestures dancing.

“No. No grazie.”

“Va benne. Buona notte.”

At least, we communicate.

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