My Italian is sparse.
In fact, I could probably limit it completely to: formal pleasantries, well known Italian food and drink options and luxury shoe designers. I suppose, it is a little ignorant to visit a place without learning much of the native tongue but part of my love of traveling is learning new words and personally I find Italians so much fun to (attempt to) communicate with. They do say that laughing is the same in every language!
One of the things I loved most about our hotel in Massa Lubrense was that the pool and beach area was open to the locals and we were fortunate enough to stay during the busy August holiday, Ferragosto, during which, full families would made a beeline for the beach. When we weren’t taking trips during our stay, Mr and I would spend lazy mornings or afternoons lounging around in the sun, people watching.
One afternoon, I took a wander down to the sea to take a dip in one of the rock pools, which was already pretty busy with locals. Mr followed me but opted for sitting on a rock chatting to me while I floated around.
The water was crystal clear and as I floated around I noticed something on some rocks at the bottom of the pool, I confess I generally act like an excitable 5 year old so in true Angela style I squealed rather loudly to Mr ‘OOOOOH WOW A TURTLE’. As I stood staring at the little thing from above the water I realised it wasn’t moving and firstly thought the poor thing might be dead, then it hit me it’s possibly not a real turtle!! It was too late, my excited squeal had already attracted the attention of the locals ‘tartaruga, tartaruga‘ the grandmother* shouted as she rounded up all the kids and led them to where I was standing by pointing towards my feet. Everyone was gathered around me. What a commotion, how do I tell them? What’s the Italian word for toy turtle?
I looked at Mr and mouthed the words ‘I don’t think it’s real’ to him, sending him into a fit of laughter.
They were so excited I decided not to even attempt to rectify the misunderstanding. However, one little boy had goggles and a snorkel and was diving down to inspect the lifeless creature further, he burst through the surface of the water and said something to the Grandmother in Italian before diving back down and grabbing poor tartaruga by his hind flipper, pulling him from the sea bed to reveal that he was in-fact of the plastic species!
Laughter roared from everyone in the pool, the grandparents, parents and all of the children, slightly embarrassed, I couldn’t help but laugh too before making a sharp exit from the pool!
Laughter really is the same in every language and that is exactly how I learned the Italian word for turtle… simples!
*I’m assuming she was the grandmother from what I picked up with my master people watching skills!