Italy was not as English-savvy as I’d been led to believe…
There are many learning curves involved with traveling abroad and understanding each other is a biggie.
For instance, the first night in Mondovi, we were locked out of our 15th century diggs. We’d rented a quaint, adorable apartment with a 2nd-story balcony overlooking Italy’s northern country-side, complete with school kids chattering in Italian, lending European flavor to our already exotic trip-along with the distant idyllically situated hills practically oozing with wine-laden grapes, ready for harvest and stomping .
Do they still do that?
Having received the keys and scant instruction (due to the language barrier), we thought we knew the drill, so it was with great dismay that we arrived after mid-night to a locked inner gate with no obvious way through it!
Who remembers the names of the owner?
How do we call with an international phone that we can’t figure out?
Walking up the ancient street, more narrow than any alleyway (or cowpath, for that matter) in Ohio, we headed to the piazza for help. Aha! -the bar-where everyone knows everyone! No English spoken there, but somehow we made ourselves understood enough to find the owners’ name, knowing the town would be talking about this by tomorrow morning, for sure. They lived in the same building as our rented space so we went back to lay on the doorbell marked with their name-in hopes of being rescued. No response- now what?
Spotting a non-threatening looking man, in his 30’s or 40-ish and also non-English-speaking, we pantomimed our need for him to accompany us to the afore-mentioned, locked gate. We thought maybe he had experience with such things… maybe locked gates were common in Mondovi…???
They weren’t and he didn’t.
We motioned that maybe he could call our landlords-since we didn’t have a working phone. He did that-and left a message. Not understanding his Italian, we’re not sure what he said but we regretfully let him go.
Can we all sleep in the car?
It’s late. No one is out now except for a few carousing teens who obviously find us more than curiously strange. And there was woman who seemed a little odd, smiling at us-no matter what we said-obviously not understanding a word of it. She didn’t seem to want to leave and we didn’t know quite what to do with her; we would gesture and she just stood there smiling all the same.
Finally, unwilling to tromp the streets any later into the night, we gathered at the inside gate again and Kathy began yelling into the cavernous hallway, “help, help… hello?… Can anyone help us?”. Uncertainly, in his stocking-feet, a man appeared-also unable to speak English. With enough gesturing, he understood our angst and pointed to the button on the inside of the wall next to the gate.
”Wish someone had told us about that,”
-or did they ?