Finishing planting the tomatoes, looking at my glove-less, stained and dirt-filled cuticles; I began to wonder if I was right in leaving city life in California for farming?
At dinner that night, Claudia, my French girlfriend, reading my mind suggested with her little French accent to “fa un appuntamento per una man-i-cure” “Make an appointment for a manicure.” Our farm hand from Sicily speaking a dialect from the South as well as having difficulty understanding the Tuscany dialect with a French accent, shook his head in disbelief. I questioned his perplexed look. I soon ascertained his misunderstanding of Claudia’s words when he answered my query by asking, “I am so confused and don’t understand why do Americans need “appuntamento per mano in culo” meaning to have an appointment to put one’s hand up one’s a—.(culo).
You Need Horses
Shortly after arriving in Italy I invited our agricultural advisor for dinner to be informed as to what I needed to do to fulfill my agriturismo license requirements. After an hour debate over horses which I understood he insisted I must have, I became very upset being that I had no desire to have them. His insistence was leading me to leave the dinner table and possibly even Italy. I could not tolerate at this time, more work and to have to deal with the taking care of cavalli, horses, was out of the question. He explained I would not have to ride, since a farm hand would have to do the work of transporting our olives to the mill, cut wood, and clean the fields. With a look of disgust he turned to me to explain that there was no way I could put these things in a car. With a deficiency in Italian farm vocabulary, I continued to insist as well as he did until we both laughed when realizing he was referring to horsepower for my tractor and not horses.
Right Accents are Important
In Italian, one must be sure to put the right accent on the right syllable. I was excited to share with my dinner guests my excitement that I had just heard that Montecatini might get a casino, what a thought was a gambling location, I explained to my Italian dinner guests my excitement.
“Why?” They all questioned me. My answer was to enjoy myself, as well it would be very profitable for all of us. Questioning looks but no comments were made, until I added that I did not gamble but loved going to Las Vegas for fun. Giuseppe then responded that he knew that prostitution may be legal there but would not be legal in Italy. Answering to my question as to what did prostitution have to do with it, his answer was they prefer not to have a bordello in town. The confusion was eventually settled being that I had not known that the accent could have such a different meaning to a word spelled the same. I wanted a gambling house, casino, and they understood that I wanted a whore house, casino. All because I failed to put the accent on the last syllable.