There are many countries where language is not a problem for Laurent or I – the U.S., England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, France. Sure there may be the occasional problem understanding quaint local accents and idioms and often the natives have trouble understanding our mid-Atlantic or Québécois accents – though in the case of the later its mostly done to let you know that you are from a former colony (lost to Britain back in 1763) and therefore your French is inferior to the nasal, English-laced, honking of the average Parisian. But we can get by.
Here in Rome it has become obvious that getting by just won’t do, learning Italian is a must. In the major tourist areas English may be the lingua franca but here in Nomentana it’s Italian. Not that anyone is obnoxious about it – we’re in Italy not France – just that the average person here doesn’t speak English. I do have some vocabulary based on years of listening to opera but the chances of having to scream Ohime and faint into the arms of a fat tenor or husky barihunk (Ohime!) are extremely remote. Laurent has Spanish and there are enough similarities that he can get by for basics. But we are going to be here for four years and frankly Sunday night when we had to explain to the maid upstairs that water from her flower pots was cascading onto our balcony and soaking our guests, basic wasn’t enough.
So starting next Monday (27 agosto – Santa Monica) I will be spending four hours a day, five days a week in a classroom – Laurent will be taking a more intensive course in late September. At the moment we are five in the class – two young girls from Africa, a French chap, an Iranian woman and I. The school, Ciao Italia, has a good reputation and has come recommended by several friends and colleagues. We’ll see how good they are – if they can teach this old dog some new linguistic tricks they are good!
21 agosto – San Pio X Papa