Il Contro

Italian is mostly spoken as you see it! Only the H’s are swallowed, cockney style and the G’s are often given the silent treatment! There are a couple of other rules regarding c’s followed by vowels, and double c’s, but generally, you say what you see!

The heading you see above is an errore, (a mistake or stuff up), that I carried with me in an ignorance is bliss 11 days in Italia!

We had prepared ourselves for trip to Amalfi by buying a Berlitz Italian in thirty days kit that came with a CD that we could play as we learnt from a text book.

Before we took off for Paris CDG and then onto Naples, we had diligently studied and tested each other as far as chapter 25! I’m sure Linda squeezed in a few more lessons after I had left for work! But Linda will claim that during my early morning writing spells, I also sneaked in a few extra lessons!

Enter Piazza Garabaldi, the main square in Naples where busses and trains leave for any destination, and the closest thing to a McDonalds we managed to find in Italy. I took charge and ordered quatro margarita pizza e quatro bichierri prossecco per favore,(four margarita pizzas and four glasses of prosecco please), later followed by: il contro per favore! (The bill please Dan style!)

I was handed the bill by the waiter, who gave me a knowing look! He just knew I was a pleb tourist!

The many places we visited and establishments we ate at saw Danny Boy, with a little braggart in his step, often ordering and asking for the bill after the meal! I got comfortable asking for il contro per favore!

A Limoncello evening!
A Limoncello evening!

The first night in Amalfi, after settling into Hotel Residence, we found one of those pavement restaurants in a small piazza, off the beaten track, but busy with clients and people criss- crossing on their way to wherever!

Willem got into trouble that night, from Erika and the waitress for breaking a bichierra di vino! (Wine glass). We nevertheless had a lovely meal and once we had stuffed our tummies with the delicious pasta, sea food, salads and a number of bottles of prosecco, I again asked for il contro per favore! Another knowing look but the waitress took our money gladly!

Way, way above Amalfi. Note the diminutive cruise ship!
Way, way above Amalfi. Note the diminutive cruise ship!

It was only after we completed our walk to Sorrento from Amalfi, had conquered Sentiero degli Dei, had spent two days on Capri and were winding down to the last day of our memorable trip in Naples, that the receptionist in Hotel Una Napoli, corrected me!

No,…. il conto……. e il modo corretto per dirlo”, (is the correct way to say it, note the spelling!), she told me, totally blowing the wind out of my sails. To my credit I handled the correction on my feet, having learnt early in life how important it is to laugh at one’s self!

An ultra modern sailing ship anchored off Marina Grande, Capri
An ultra modern sailing ship anchored off Marina Grande, Capri

A tip when you enter the shower in an Italian hotel: The taps are marked caldo and fredo! Caldo meaning hot, and fredo meaning cold. So the C mustn’t be mistaken for cold and likewise the F is not a disfigured H, the water that comes out of that tap is ice cold!

This little poesia could well have been written, sitting in a bar, sheltering from the elements after descending from the mountain above Priano. But it was only many months later when my grasp of Italian, although not exactly qualified, improved enough and allowed me to piece my emotions of that day together!

Vorrei Prosecco

Vorrei Prosecco al fine di placare la mia sete

Per le mie membra che sono veramente malate

Oggi ho conquistato il Sentiero degli Dei

La tempesta mi porta indietro nel tempo, ieri

Ho visto I luoghi che gli antenati vedevano

Benche` il nostro mondo moderno ha aggiunto qualcosa in piu`

Remi e vele delle antiche galee

Sono stati sostituiti con traghetti ad alta velocita’

Sentieri difficili con viste bellissime

Panorami mozzafiato ad ogni angolo

La mia anima da placare, alla fine del viaggio

Vorrei Prosecco, al fine di placare la mia sete

Dan Varoy 2014 10 06 (With kind corrections and revision by Guilio Sabbatini. Grazie molto Guilio!)

A translation of Vorrei Prosecco can be found in Notes on Sentiero degli Dei (a previous posting). See the top of this Blog posting, and simply click on the link!

It was sad to leave Italy, but in the words of the very famous song: Time to Say Goodbye or Con te Partiro! Here is a link to Andrea Bocelli and Con Te Partiro.

The link to St Vincent School for the Deaf is below. Listen to what they have to say about helping the hearing impaired in and around Joburg.

St Vincent School For The Deaf