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KayTKay May 22nd, 2014 03:46 AM

"We are not in the States anymore, y'all." An Italian trip report.
We returned - just last night - from another trip to Italy. Jet lag has me awake and thinking that time's a wastin' this morning. I was absolutely, positively not going to write another report because this was a fairly typical trip to Rome, Tuscany, and Venice.

However, we went with friends and I had this vacation super organized and chock-full (perhaps too full) of tours and activities - perhaps if I focus on those it will be helpful for someone else.

My typical trip report uses a lot of statements such as, "we wandered around all afternoon", or "we sat and watched the world go by." Not so much this time because I was planning not only for myself and family, but also for two of our friends who had never been to Europe before, I felt as if I couldn't just let the days plan themselves the way I tend to do!

It ended up being a great trip. Busy, but fun. The players were my husband and me and our two friends who I will call D and P. We are all southerners from the US, but from different states - they have quite a thick drawl and this was noticed at times by the Italians. My husband and I are in our early 50's. D and P are in their early to mid 40's. We are all in the same empty nest life stage.

I wish I could tell you about all the troubles we had getting along because that would make for a much more interesting report, but it would also be a fabrication. As D said the last night, "there aren't many friends who could spend this much time together and not get sideways with each other even once." True. We just knew when we had had enough togetherness and would go our seperate ways. It worked well.

I speak Italian fairly well. Definitely into an intermediate level. I studied quite a lot before this trip and studied via Skype with an Italian woman. This helped tremendously to train my ear. Comprehension has been my bugaboo. I can memorize and use verb tenses all the day long but not have a clue what is being said in response to my nicely complicated sentence. Haha. After all that studying - it seemed as if I needed Italian less than ever while there.

Once in Venice the group asked me to ask a shop proprietor how late his store would be open. I walked over and asked in English! My group laughed at me, "um, we could have done that." I responded that no matter how well I asked the question in Italian he was going to respond in danged English so I might as well cut to the chase.

Our agenda was simple: fly into Rome (we all arranged our own transport) and spend 4 nights there. Drive to Tuscany and spend 4 nights near Pienza. Drive to and drop the car in Venice and spend 3 nights there and fly home from Venice.

As far as the title of the report? It became our group saying whenever something just so wonderful and out of our realm of normal was happening. We used it while sipping an aperitivo alongside the Grand Canal, or when stepping back in time in a completely untouristed medieval walled village, or when the restaurateur in rome showed us the Roman baths they had discovered while renovating his restaurant...and then there was that one time...that day when things didn't go so well. But, I'll get to that.

Thanks for listening. Hope I'm not driving you crazy with another one of these. Be back soon with the things we did in Rome.

Dukey1 May 22nd, 2014 04:49 AM

I suspect the Italians were absolutely delighted that you afforded them the opportunity to hone their own English conversational skills and weren't the least bit offended, either.

scotlib May 22nd, 2014 05:15 AM

You've got me hooked, KayTKay; looking for more :-)

raincitygirl May 22nd, 2014 07:39 AM

Yay, another fun trip report by KayTKay! Waiting for the next instalment.

tom18 May 22nd, 2014 07:47 AM

Hoping to get to Italy this fall/winter, so am looking forward to hearing about your trip. In addition, I am also studying Italian, and, as you say, comprehension is also my bugaboo. Would you mind sharing with us the contact information for your Skype teacher? Thanks.

annhig May 22nd, 2014 07:54 AM

I walked over and asked in English! My group laughed at me, "um, we could have done that." I responded that no matter how well I asked the question in Italian he was going to respond in danged English so I might as well cut to the chase. >>

lol, Kay, how often has it happened to all of us that we think out our carefully crafted sentence in french/italian/german, only to have them reply in english. How do they do it? Rome, and Florence surprisingly enough, I found to be better places for italian practice than Venice, and Sorrento was great, as quite a few shopkeepers etc did not speak any english, especially in the smaller places.

LowCountryIslander May 22nd, 2014 08:44 AM

Sounds like a trip I want to read about...jumping in to follow along! :-)

LCBoniti May 22nd, 2014 09:51 AM

As am I!

Flame123 May 22nd, 2014 10:00 AM

Great start. Can't wait for more!!!

joan May 22nd, 2014 12:07 PM

Enjoying this. Can't wait to hear about the drive from Tuscany to Venice, as we are going to do this too...

thursdaysd May 22nd, 2014 03:14 PM

Signing on...

mainetrvlgrl May 22nd, 2014 05:24 PM

Looking forward to your Rome suggestions as we are heading there soon!

tomarkot May 22nd, 2014 06:40 PM

Following along and enjoying your report!

Dai May 23rd, 2014 08:45 AM

Oh how I can relate! I too am at an intermediate level. I too can speak/write better and easier than comprehending. (although if one speaks slower and clear, I do understand) That is the main reason why I wanted to go to Puglia. It's off the beaten path and I am sure that I will have the opportunity to speak mostly in Italian. It is the same reason why I chose Sardinia and Sicily the last time we went. It is aggravating to study the language daily and not have the chance to communicate in the language while there. I have had people compliment me on my pronunciation, my grammar skills, be surprised that I never lived/studied in Italy, all while telling me this in English!

Your trip report already sounds like a lot of fun...carry on :-)

annhig May 23rd, 2014 10:39 AM

Dai - have you thought about a language school? I've been three times now [unfortunately for 3 separate weeks which is less than ideal] and it has really helped my listening and comprehension skills.

as for Puglia for practising italian, I've not been that far south but a friend who has a house there says that she finds both the accent and use of italian [lots of the subjunctive for example] pretty difficult. and if you are travelling as a tourist, it can be surprisingly difficult to engineer opportunities to speak italian over and above the odd "buon giorno".

Dai May 23rd, 2014 11:02 AM

Hi ann. Yes I've thought about it but not seriously. It sure would be a lot of fun though!

Back in 2003 while traveling in Sardinia, I had no problem at all communicating. In fact my husband thought he had a detached retina and so we had to be treated by a specialist ASAP. It just so happened that an eye doctor who taught in Sassari, Monday through Thursday opened his office in little Castelsardo on Friday's (his home town). We were so fortunate that we were right there on Friday. I figure if I was able to understand everything he had to say regarding something off the wall like an eye problem, I'll be fine. Not only that I have improved so much over the last 11 years.

I studied Spanish in high school and in college, which gave me a clear understanding of Italian once I began to learn it. It's been 18 years that I have been learning Italian. I use the future, conditional and subjunctive when I speak too. Whenever I am out and I hear Italians speaking, I always speak up and carry on a nice little conversation without having to resort to English. (I only get the chance a few times a year) People had warned me about the Sicilians and the way they speak Italian, but again, I had no problem at all whatsoever. I would get into long conversations.

Once we were on the train to Palermo and I got into a really long conversation with a railroad worker who was done for the day, and a businessman about places to stay and places to eat, and then more in depth about us, and life in Sicily. It was great. One of them bought me a caffè. Then as the businessman left for his stop he told me to "Parla bene della Sicilia". It was really memorable and fun. I have already written letters to B&B's and a driver in Italian. Only one gentleman who speaks 6 languages wrote me back in English. Va bene per me. Io sono pronta!!!

annhig May 23rd, 2014 11:10 AM

It's been 18 years that I have been learning Italian. I use the future, conditional and subjunctive when I speak too.>>

brava, Dai. it takes me a week or so to get into the swing of using all the tenses and by then it's time to go home. I too try to find opportunities to practice but I've still got quite a long way to go til I reach your standard, hence the language schools! [i think that unless you were at a large school or had 1:1 lessons you would find that you were too advanced for most schools as they largely teach beginners and those with slightly more experience].

Dai May 23rd, 2014 11:20 AM

Grazie, Ann. My husband loves hearing me speak it so much that when we go to <i>any</i> Italian restaurant here in the states, he always asks, "Do you speak Italian? Because my wife speaks Italian" Being in southern California we are much more likely to get a Spanish speaking waiter. I'll whisper to him, "Honey his name is Miguel", to which he'll usually reply, that's OK..."She speaks Spanish too!!! Talk to him in Spanish!" But I always feel silly doing that because I am sure that their English is better than my Spanish. He says that I don't give myself enough credit. Since I am not able to be an interpreter in either language, I think he is right. Nevertheless, I really do get a kick out of conversing in Italian. Non vedo l'ora!

annhig May 23rd, 2014 11:27 AM

Nevertheless, I really do get a kick out of conversing in Italian.>>

anch'io Dai. we had our italian class end of term dinner last week and by chance there were two italians sitting nearby, so it gave me a real kick to be able to chat to them in italian. I even understood [mostly] what they were saying to me in reply. we don't get many italians in cornwall, and even fewer Spanish. We do get a lot of germans however, so I do get a chance to practice my german!

Dai May 23rd, 2014 11:36 AM

Oh that's fun! Good going! When we were in London, there was an adorable young man at a coffee shop and I just knew with his accent that he spoke in Italian, so I seized the moment by asking "Sei Italiano? After a few moments of speaking with him, I had my high for the day. :-)

I am sorry KayTKay for the hijacking of your thread! Aspettiamo per te...

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