Life in Little Italy
Torricella Travel Blog› entry 70 of 113 › view all entries
October 2nd, 2008 – by: afredrix
Directly behind the chatty klatch of cappuccino sippers, is Lake Trasimeno and its collection of outstreched piers and slumbering motorboats.
I'm volunteering for the week at La Casa sul Lago hostel. A large school-to-hostel converted oasis for vacationing families and stray backpackers. For five hours a day, I help with breakfast, make beds and clean the occasional toilet. In exchange I get a room of my own and all the pasta I can handle.
The owner is a short, italian man named Giangiacomo. He has a big heart, but small attention span. He's been known to interrupt a story or two with the belted-out lyrics of "Don't Worry About a Thing.
Giangiacomo has a habit of walking through the hostel halls, yelling names, "AMANDA!" "VALENTINA!" "NADIA!" in lieu of quietly searching out his target. In fact, they all do this. And after hearing every neighboring geriatric shout their greetings at passing acquaintances, I'm fairly convinced it can just be chalked up as "typical Italian." There were multiple times I ran to the window thinking there was a fight between patrons at the facing cafe, only to discover it was simply two old friends discussing how great it was to see each other.
The Italian language wants to be heard and begs to be understood. In contrast to the french, who have a tendency to swallow the last half of each word, there's not a single syllable that passes through an Italian's lips that hasn't been carefully considered and pushed forth with purposeful enthusiasm. As a foreigner and student of the language, I'm grateful for this straight-forward approach to speech.
Much of my previous training in Italian has evaporated with the years, but basic sentence structure and key phrases are thankfully still lingering. When Giangiacomo couldn't be bothered with my "how do you say that?" questions, I turned to alternative sources. I had a few sit-down lessons with his non-english speaking friend, Maximello, and on-the-go lessons with the housekeeper, Nadia.
When the cleaning was done, I took advantage of bike paths around the lake, increasingly summer-like days, quick train rides to nearby towns like Assisi, and the steady stream of friendly, interesting guests that stopped by for a few days.
For my last couple days, two more Help-Xers joined me in the hostel cleaning duties. Dane and Rory are two traveling brothers from Halifax, Nova Scotia and my company when the other employees left and guests were kicked out of the common rooms. It will be interesting how they get along without me as their interpreter.
Leaving Torricella, I again feel like the time was too short. It's my lesson learned for the next time I travel with Help Exchange. I'll miss the people, the simplicity, the flowing wine, cappucino and food that allowed me to spend a whopping total of 8 euros in 9 days. But as usual, on I must go. Ciao bella Italia!
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