vandaveer (vandaveer) wrote in gseitaly,

The Twang - Lost in Translation!

Ciao everyone!  My apologies for not posting sooner, but we haven’t had a moment’s rest since we arrived and so I’ve had to delay my storytelling from Italy as I experience the most amazing country and culture!

After surviving the “middle-seat-misery” on the nine hour flight to London, we arrived in Pisa around noon on Saturday and were welcomed with open arms, two kisses and “Ciaos!” from four Rotarians.  They drove us to the west coast of Tuscany to Quiacerella, a small town just outside of Livorno to an amazing hotel on the coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  We’re staying here this week and being picked up from different Rotary Clubs around the area to tour the local towns, see the sites and experience their own personal Italy.

After getting settled and exploring the area a bit, we were picked up to have dinner at the Rotary Club’s President’s home in Livorno.  She lives in a lovely condominium community on the third floor that faces the water and has amazing views and a beautiful terrace... What a site to see the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea on our first evening in Italy!  The dinner was hosted by Livorno Rotary Club as a welcoming party and gave us the opportunity to interact with local Rotarians and their spouses.  And this is where my Italian Adventure begins….

Let me first state that I’m very impressed with all of the Italians ability to converse in English (something it seems we all take for granted.)  At the dinner there were about 10 Rotarians with their spouses and about half spoke English quite well.  In fact they often speak with a British accent because they were taught “proper English” in school…. A far cry from the “Texas Twang” I can assure you!  While we were introducing ourselves to everyone and visiting before dinner was served, I introduced myself to a very fashionable, older Italian lady.  She looked at another Italian Rotarian standing there and stated to her in Italian, “I can’t understand her, she sounds odd.  She doesn’t speak English that I can understand.”  That my friends would be the “Twang”… and how it gets lost in translation!!  Needless to say, it was funny yet rather embarrassing!  In order to save the opportunity for communication (and face to be quite honest) I opted for the universal language of photos and showed her the album I brought of family, friends, hobbies and interests and all was restored.  J NEVER underestimate the ability of “bambini” to create smiles and understanding!  Thank you James and Julia, your Aunt Amy is ever grateful!

After the mingling and munching of crostini, we got to the real dining.  Now I’ve always been a fan of Italian cuisine – but really, nothing compares to the real deal – it’s like ordering Taco Bell after eating Lupe Tortialla’s fajitas!  Eating and drinking in Italy is truly an art form that centers around the family, socializing and enjoying the moment… and it NEVER stops and ALL of it is delicious!  They begin the meal with crostini and a glass of proscecco (bubbly wine) as they visit as they wait to be seated at the table.  As most of you know, I’m not one to really favor “bubbles” myself, and usually prefer to get on with the good ole vino… but the reason they start with this refreshing proscecco is so that the “bubbles” or “gas” (and yes – they do say ‘gas’) expands and prepares the stomach for the rest of the meal.  So if any of you have heard otherwise, don’t blame me about mentioning “gas” and expanding stomachs…. I heard it straight from the Italians themselves.  Ha!

After the introductory course of proscecco, crostini and mingling, our hostess Crys Cagidiaco brought out the most delicious pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.  We all know that the pasta would be the main course in the States…. So we Texans loaded our plates up not once, but twice to enjoy the good grub.  Well – pasta here is the “antipasta” which is the first course of what was to be another FIVE!  So needless to say we felt foolish and full!  But were accommodating and sampled the ones that followed: pizzas and cheese, meats and more cheese, more meats, salad and dessert followed by café.  And they do this everyday… how in the world they stay trim and slim is beyond me, but I’m hoping to be able to learn it before I roll myself home at the end of the month.  ;-)

The evening ended with the “Chin-Ching” of toasts and well wishes for Buon Viaggio!  We also finally received our itinerary for the week which included a tour of a port, private wine tour, and dinner at a walled city on Saturday, a day trip into Elba on Monday, and a historic tour of Livorno and visiting with an Italian company that provides testing equipment for the space shuttle and station for NASA.  Tomorrow we visit Pisa and conclude our first week with our Italian Presentation to the Rotary Club at the Yacht Club on Thursday!

As you can see…. The experience thus far has been amazing and I’m still pinching myself everyday that I’m here experiencing it all.  My fellow teammates are awesome and we’ve already all created a great kinship that I know will carry on well after the month is over.

The Italians are as warm and welcoming as the country they live in.  I’ve been so impressed and amazed by the Rotarians over here – the lives they’ve had, the accomplishments they’ve achieved, and cannot find words to describe their hospitality and overwhelming generosity.  I’ve discovered that they are a spirited, flirty people who love laughter and enjoy living life…. It’s amazing how those aspects are universal and can translate (even with a Twang!)

Thanks for your emails and support… wish you were all here enjoying it with me!  I promise to update as much as I can, want to share all of it with ya’ll!  Take care and keep in touch.



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