What started as fun blogging excersise in the cultural anthropology of Italy has since progressed into sort of quest for me to rediscover those Italian roots of mine (aka desire to shake off all that is Barnet about me).
'The hovel', as I fondly refer to it, in Brindisi, which I plan to occupy for the next few weeks or so (more about that here) won't be ready for around a week and, having no where to stay, I ended up accepting an offer from my aunt (who I last met when I was 10) to a beachouse the other side of Puglia.
I thought I could use it as a sort of intensive crash course in Italian.
When I so desperately accepted, I didn't realise I was actually consenting to a four day minibreak with three middle aged women who speak only Italian. They also all seem to be in the midst of menopause, given the amount of time they spend flapping about, opening all the doors and windows. Have been bitten to a pulp.
My auntie, it turns out, is not quite the jovial Italian I'd anticipated. She speaks no English, smokes all day and tells stories at the same speed as a very proficient rap artist. Whenever I attempt to speak Italian, she contorts her face like Jim Carey and looks at me like I'm speaking in parseltongue.
Her good friend, Rosaria, is much more patient and lovely, but sadly I managed to offend within the first hour of meeting her. When she asked me if I knew what a Vegan was, I thought a sure fire way to get on side with the southern Italians would be to bang on about how terrible they are. Found out ten minutes later she's a hard core vegan. A hard core vegan in Puglia. What are the chances.
The other friend refers to me only in the third person, and redirects all questions through my aunt, as if we have connived a means to communicate through blood. What actually happens is she stands at stove and says things like 'does she want a coffee' and 'is she hungry', to my Auntie, who translates the questions by saying the same thing closer to my face.
All this not helped by fact my father, compulsive exaggerator he is, told the family I am in Italy because I'm writing a novel. Now have to parade self about like Parisian poet.