Monday, November 06, 2006

Getting Settled in Vietri 11.6.06

Today is Monday. The sun is shining and there are just a few clouds on the horizon. It is warmer than it has been the past couple of days. Yeah! Yesterday was kind of cloudy and eventually we had a little rain last night. The sunset was gorgeous, with pink streaks across the dark and stormy sky. We did not leave our apartment all day, spending the day washing the dishes in the cabinets (this is the first time we felt the need to do this, unfortunately) and unpacking our things, once again finding places for everything, assessing what we have now and basically settling in. One of the great things this apartment has is our own private storage room with shelves right in the apartment so there is a place to put our suitcases and we can store other things we don't need all the time, like spare paper towels etc. It contains also the rack for the laundry, an ironing board and all the brooms and mops and cleaning supplies. We like that.

"l'aqua nel doccia non scorrere via"

There was an issue with the shower drain yesterday - the water would not go down - so after looking in the dictionary for the right words "l'aqua nel doccia non scorrere via" (close enough we thought for "the water in the shower is not going down" and "abbiamo bisogno di atrezzo a spurgare i tombini nel doccia" (we need a plunger for the shower), we went upstairs to ask our neighbor for some help. We had sort of met her the day we moved in and she seemed very shy but friendly. We figured this was a good way to get to know these people, to just ask them questions and seek their help, if they were willing to give it. She was lovely, she understood what we needed and called to her daughter, a beautiful young girl with sparkly blue eyes and curly hair I guess to be around 18 or so who scurried off to find the necessary tool and smiled broadly at me as we made our introductions. It turned out something had just gotten into the drain that prevented the water from going down and not a stopped-up drain as we had feared. All was well. We learned that the signora's name is Carmela and her daughter, Anna. Bob cleaned up the plunger and let it dry out before returning it to them later in the day. He explained why he had not brought it right back and she assured him "non ti preoccupati!" (don't worry about it!) so we have made an acquaintance now and perhaps a friend in the future. Speriamo (we hope)!

So far I am very pleased at the easy friendliness of the people. The ladies I have seen who live around us look over and smile and wave back at me. Passing on the street they will acknowledge us with a smile or a comment like the other day when it was so cold a woman and I shared a "È freddo!!" (it's cold!) brief conversation. I am encouraged by that.

Language and Dialect

We hear a lot of dialect spoken around us. We hadn't really thought about it a lot but this is a small town and the people who live here year round probably all know each other and when that happens, they speak in their native dialect. We'll see how it goes. We are counting on the fact that they also speak standard Italian as they have everywhere else. We were surprised to learn how much dialect is still spoken in the north as well. Giorgio told us that from one little area to the next the dialects are so completely different that someone from Verona cannot even understand someone from a nearby town! One of the good things that happened during Fascist times was that Mussolini insisted that everyone learn standard Italian and so since that time they all must learn it in school. It helped unify the country even further but the speaking of dialects is by no means a thing of the past. We would be in big trouble if no one spoke standard Italian as sometimes these dialects are like a completely different language!! It's not like just a different accent say like the difference from someone speaking English with a Texan twange from someone speaking "Brooklynese."

We are aware though that we need to keep studying and improving so that we can easily talk with these people. We have greatly improved over this last year but we still have a lot to learn. Partly it's grammatical and partly a question of just not having the vocabulary. Piano Piano (slowly, slowly). We are afraid that just as we are getting good, it will be time to leave Italy! We promise ourselves to keep studying after we get home but we know it will really be a challenge. If we want to maintain the friendships we have made, it will be necessary so we will try hard.

Going to the Supermercato

We bought groceries on Saturday. There are many little shops nearby that I would like to frequent once we get settled but we needed so many basics. We had tried to use up what we had in Verona so we weren't filling up the car with groceries - or worse, giving too much away as we have done in the past, but that meant we needed quite a few things to stock our kitchen here. We went in search of a larger grocery store and found one in Salerno, just a few minutes down the road. We saw a man walking down the street carrying grocery bags and literally opened up the car window, stuck my head out and said "Mi scusi! Dove il supermercato!? We followed his directions, parked (not sure how legally!) and found the supermarket jampacked with shoppers. Lesson one: don't go shopping on a Saturday afternoon! (duh!) Everyone and their mothers were out in force.

Ho Capito!!

A funny thing happened at the check out. A woman got in line behind me (and my very full cart) and she only had a few things. I overheard her telling the woman next to her how frustrated she was to have to be behind us with all of our things when she only had a few (I had already decided I would let her go in front of me, as I usually try to do, even in the states in this type of situation, as I would hope someone would do for me). I looked at her and said "Prego, signora and motioned for her to go ahead." It was obvious to her now that I understood what she had said (one look at me and she knew I was not a native Italian and she assumed I wouldn't understand her! Now that think about it she must not have been speaking dialect!) She got all embarrassed and said "Ha capito!" (You understood!) and laughed good naturedly, thanking me for letting her go ahead. I got such a kick out of that!

We have stayed pretty close to home since arriving on Friday afternoon. To tell you the truth, we were just tired and felt kind of worn out. The stress of finding a place, packing, moving out, driving down here, unpacking and everything and I suppose just all the go-go-go of these past months, plus both of us being sick there for a while, we just needed a rest. We may wander around Vietri a bit today but this week we plan to take it easy and not try to do too much.

We want to take some photos to show you what it looks like here, as soon as we find out ourselves! We know we can see the sea from our terrace and when we walk down to the beach we can see Salerno's harbor. We are enjoying watching the big ships come and go and the sun come up and go down. It's pretty quiet and peaceful and I love the sight of the big cliffs around us. We are in a protected little bay here, the Bay of Salerno and the mountains wrap around the little harbor of Vietri. Above us is the town and there are steps that lead up in different places. Saturday, the centro was hopping with traffic and people. All the shops were open and the shoppers were out. Right now we want to leave the car behind and just walk around and see what there is to see and as soon as we have something to show you we will post it.

We're starting to feel a bit more settled now that our clothes are all in the drawers and we have found a place for all of our stuff. At first it felt very strange and we were immediately homesick for our friends in Verona. And we know that just across the sea lies Sicily and for some reason, that's a comfort. We don't really know what we will find and how this experience will go but we know that so far everything has turned out pretty well and with open hearts and minds we go forward, ready for whatever the next day brings.

Thanks for coming along.
Rosemary and Bob

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