Tag Archives: Italian

1910. Grandfather Giuseppe

Giuseppe felt out of place. Several months earlier he’d come from his home in Italy to see his daughter and meet his three grandchildren for the first time. It hadn’t worked out well. His grandchildren couldn’t speak Italian and he couldn’t speak English. After the initial excitement of the first meeting tension simmered.

Still, he maintained a positive attitude. With his daughter – now a solo mother – at work he was left to mind the grandchildren during the day. It was summer. They took advantage of him, especially the oldest who was fourteen. Giuseppe suspected, gauging things from the tone, that some of the English words used at him were not the politest.

Now with the summer over and the grandchildren back at school, Giuseppe set sail for home!

1563. Wash that mouth out

Jason was staying with an Italian family. He was in Italy to perfect his Italian. He’d learnt it pretty well at school and his parents thought that to send him to Italy on a home stay for several months would be the icing on the cake.

Through some agency or other a nice family to stay with was selected. The family lived in Bergamo, a city in the Lombardi region not too far north of Milan. What an adventure!

It didn’t take long for Jason to be gabbling away fluently in Italian. In fact he was masterful. He even joined the local library and read books in Italian as well.

The Giunta Family were delightful; so kind and welcoming. They had two sons, quite a bit younger than Jason, and a daughter roughly the same age as Jason. Jason and Klarissa got on well. It was therefore quite logical that Jason should ask… ask her… what were…

If there was one thing Jason didn’t know about the Italian language it was the dirty words. You don’t really know a language until you can swear in it, with proper cause of course. So Jason asked Klarissa. “Could you tell me what the swear words are in Italian? What are the dirty words?”

Fourteen year old Klarissa rushed to her father. “Jason has used some naughty words to me! Jason wants to talk naughty words to me!”

Jason was on the next plane home.

1403. A decent education

My son came home from school and said they were going to study Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I said what the hell do you want to study that crap for?

I told him it’s one of a string of plays that Shakespeare set in Italy, bits of them at least. Shakespeare probably never went there. Besides Romeo and Juliet, there’s The Merchant of Venice. Then there’s All’s Well that Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Winter’s Tale.

Shakespeare seemed to have a thing about Italy. And yet as far as I know there’s not a single mention of spaghetti bolognaise or for that matter any sort of pasta. Not even a tomato. Nor pizza. Romeo and Juliet are young and so are all their friends. You’d think they’d be eating pizza all over the place. But no! I mean, where’s the bloody piatto del brigante, or the rafanata, or ciaudedda, or the baccalà alla lucana? Minestrone? Did Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus tempt Julius Caesar with tiramisu or calzoncelli before stabbing him? Not on your nelly.

It shows you that Shakespeare knew sweet little about Italy and Italians. In fact, I find the lack of reference to Italian cuisine quite racist. That’s why I said they shouldn’t be teaching this crap in schools. It’s divorced from reality.

So I’ve taken my son out of school and he’s getting a decent home education without all this xenophobic brouhaha shoved down his throat. I said to him if he learns proper stuff he’ll get that job at Pizza Hut I told him to aim for.

752. All Hallows

752hallows

(Today, in some Christian traditions, it is the Feast of All Saints. Some call it All Hallows. It is where we get the word “Halloween” from: “All Hallows Evening”. To commemorate this day I’m going to re-tell a traditional tale from Italy. I didn’t make it up; but it’s one of my favourite folk stories! It could be added that hagiography is a genre that today rightly suffers – mainly through its own fault – from a great deal of unpopularity…)

Saint Joseph was married to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

There was this man who prayed only to Saint Joseph. He completely ignored God, and Jesus, and everyone else. The only person he ever prayed to was Saint Joseph.

Eventually the man died. Saint Peter met him at the gates to Heaven.

“You can’t come in,” said Saint Peter. “You only ever prayed to Saint Joseph. You never prayed to God. Only those who prayed to God can enter.”

Saint Joseph appeared at the gate.

“Let him in,” he said. “If you don’t, I’m taking my wife and Kid elsewhere.”

Listen the story being read HERE!