Italian the language of poets.

Once again I have completely mangled the beautiful but difficult Italian language.

This morning I stopped at a bar with Mrs Sensible, I ordered a spumante and received a frosty look from Mrs S.

Spumante! at 9 O’clock in the morning!

Yes I love one in the morning, it’s full of vitamins.

Spumante!!!

Just as I started to go through my mental dictionary of Italian words and phrases, this normally doesn’t take too long. A glass of prosecco arrived in front of me and my wife raised an eyebrow.

Better than orange juice

But I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice, didn’t I?

No you ordered Spumante (Prosecco) not Spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice)

It was still a good way to start a day.

Do I need to tell you about ordering Minced dog (Cane) instead of minced meat (Carne) at the local butcher? The poor woman stood there looking at me with big round eyes and her mouth hanging open, until her husband stepped in and solved the problem by mooing and barking.

Yes moo moo half a kilo of moo moo

I still have to stop and think when I want to say egg or grape, one is uova and the other is uva. At the moment I can’t remember which is which.

But try asking for six grapes at the corner shop, or try explain how you spent the morning collecting eggs so your friend could make some wine.

Uova treading or is it uva?

Speaking of the corner shop, I once asked for five fish pesche instead of five peaches pesce, Maria came back with fish fingers, dried fish, frozen fish and asked me which I wanted, I was a little perplexed we both thought each other was related to the village idiot, while I was stood pointing at some peaches in the corner of the shop with the sign don’t touch!

Another word to be especially careful of is year (anno) it must be pronounced with a double sounding n. Just to be sure, I normally add a couple more n’s for example: annnnnno, otherwise it might come out sounding as ano. How can I politely explain what ano is on my blog? Hmm, may I suggest you go over to google translate and tap ano in. 🤪

Oh let me finish off with my all time favourite.

One Christmas I asked for una bottiglia di prosciutto. Prosciutto is ham and prosecco is fizzy plonk.

I’m sure you guys also know words that have caused you problems, feel free to add them in the comments

It’s official, I’m getting old

It started with a trip to the local supermarket.

After the young girl blipped my wine, cheese and crisps. She asked me if I had my pensioner discount card.

I politely asked her to repeat her question. It sometimes takes two or three attempts for me to translate Italian to English and even then I can make some fantastic mistakes and misunderstandings and confusion follow.

Do I have my pensioner discount card?

I quickly looked over my shoulder to see which old man she was talking to.

Never too old for flip flops

And then today I received this delightful E mail

Don’t need you for another 40+ years

I send them a very polite E mail.

Dear sir,

Thank you for your kind E mail, however the cost of my funeral will be the least of my worries when I die.

May I suggest you contact my wife, Mrs Sensible. She is the worrier in our family.

Kind regards

Pecora (feeling remarkably healthy) Nera

I wonder if they will reply.

On a happier note, at my birthday party last week, we had a barbecue, drank lots of wine, sang and generally had a good time.

Château Lafeet 👣

Château Lafeet 👣

Today started off much like any other Saturday morning at Casa Pecora Nera.

I was gently snoring as Mrs Sensible deposited a mug of English tea next to our bed and said get up.

Englishman In Italy

The two most important things in life, English tea and mosquito spray

Get out off bed.

Erh why, it’s Saturday?

Because YOU promised to help Tracey with her grape harvest.

While Mrs S went upstairs to have a bath, I naturally went back to sleep.

I was rudely awaken by the sound of those big bells they tie around the neck of goats, sheep and even cows.

englishman in italy

We don’t wear bells!

As I lay there listening to the sheep bells in the lane outside our house, I wondered whether to invite the shepherd and his sheep into our garden, because I think the last time the grass was cut was sometime in June.

Miss Jessica did a great job cutting the grass in June, even if I did distract her by accidentally spraying her with the hosepipe.

Englishman in italy

Miss Jessica, a little wet but good fun

I was just about to get out of bed, when the sound of the bells was suddenly coming from our garden. Problem solved, no invite needed.

When I looked out of the window, I was amazed to see, not sheep and goats but three scabby dogs running around my garden, complete with bells around their necks. All the cats had mysteriously disappeared, even Mishmash.

Two of the dogs shared an amazing resemblance to Gilder, the incredibly fat but short legged dog.

Englishman in italy

Gilda always had trouble running because her tummy scraped along the floor

I am sure you remember Gilder’s escapades with Scooby Doo the Machiavellian cat.

Quickly I ran outside and heard Dottoressa Paula telling the hunter off. It seems she was also annoyed that the hunter had no control over his dogs.

Englishman in italy

My friend the amazing dottoresse Paula

Dottoressa Paula is famous for rallying the local policeman’s car in the vineyard.

While Dottoressa Paula remonstrated with the hunter and told him to unload his rifle while she was shouting at him.

Best picture of the hunter

I used some of my newly acquired italian to also shout at him.

Dott Paula: (In perfect Italian) If you can’t control your dogs, they should be on a leash!

Me: ( My version of Italian) My cat now on roof, you going him fetch?

Dott Paula: Unload your gun, while you are talking to me.

Me: Your dogs going my garden fetch now!!

Susie Stupid Pussy Cat waiting for the all clear.

Our little tag team went on for a good five minutes until the hunter decided to shuffle off down the lane, with five assorted dogs following him.

As he left us I asked.

Do you know word I’m sorry? Yes or No?

He stood there looking confused, maybe he was trying to understand my question or what the word sorry means.

After a quick espresso with the kind but formidable Dottoressa I went off to pick grapes at Tracey’s

Tracey runs a bed and breakfast near me, her website is http://laroccaitalia.com and each year I help her and her friends to pick the grapes and ultimately drink some of the wine.

So why have we named this years wine Château LaFeet?

Englishman in italy

The lovely Alyssa and Des

Because it is traditional for the girls to tread the grapes before we send them off to be fermented into wonderful wine.

I raise a glass of Château LaFeet to all my friends in bloggo land.

Please put your teeth in.

Visiting my doctor always fills me with joy,

Today there is a new notice on the door for me to try to translate.

Quickly I ran through the days of the week and worked out today is Giovedì, wonderful the good doctor has yet again changed his surgery days.

Just as I was about to leave I decided to ask an old guy if the doctor was coming this morning.

Although my Italian is not progressing as fast as Mrs Sensible would like, I can normally have a simple conversation with the natives. If we are discussing wine, all the better.

Today’s conversation was a little more challenging, the man in the waiting room was not wearing his gnashers!

Please put your gnashers in

He gummed his way through a sentence and I squinted and furrowed my brow in a pitiful attempt to understand him.

It took three attempts before I understood.

My question was.

Is the doctor here today?

And his response was.

You used to live in our village, why don’t you change doctors, or isn’t there a doctor in your new village?

I tried to explain that changing doctors is way too complicated and we like our doctor.

Lord help me to understand him

And then a woman appeared and joined in our conversation, as you can see, she was also struggling to understand my new friend.

Between us, we worked out the new sign wasn’t important and the doctor would arrive at 10:30 The time now is 9:00.

As I have some time to kill, let me share one of our doctors favourite notices.

Underlined in pink, orange and green

Twenty minutes before the surgery is due to close, the doctor counts how many patients he needs to see and then he locks the front door to stop any more patients from entering the waiting room.

This normally works, unless the person outside has a friend inside who will quickly and quietly unlock the door and let him in.

The next time the doctor enters the waiting room there will be a sea of innocent faces and one new patient who appears to be studying his shoes. To date I have never seen our doctor confront the new patient or complain, he just sighs and re locks the door.

Thursday evenings surgery is only for people who work and can’t visit during during normal surgery hours.

A couple of months ago there was a little dispute between the patients when on a Thursday evening a non worker was sat with us workers.

You don’t work!

My wife does!

But she isn’t here.

Obviously she isn’t here, because I am.

But you don’t work, why don’t you come in the morning, Thursday evening is for people who have to go to work.

Because I want a new prescription for my wife and she does work so I am here.

There was a little logic in his reasoning, nobody was happy about a non worker sharing the surgery with us, even if his wife did work.

Oh, on a final note a friend of mine has started going to night school to improve her Italian and she has hinted once or twice ‘normally when Mrs Sensible is within earshot’, that I should also go.

So far I have managed to avoid joining the night class, but I think it is only a matter of time before I end up sitting at the back of the class waiting for the lesson to finish.

The Badante

I am writing this post from the safety of my mother in laws bathroom, the length of this post will be determined by how soon they notice I am missing.

Yup, I am in hiding

First a little background, every year in June I send Mrs Sensible south on Easyjet to her mothers and I drive down during August.

We stay with her mum and dad and use their small bedroom as a basecamp, a place for our bags, laptops and anything we purchase to bring home.

Cheese Wine Olive oil Wine

Mrs Sensible’s mum is not very well, so Mrs S has spent most of the holiday caring for her. Earlier this year the family employed a badante (care giver) to help care for my mother in law and to help clean the house.

Yesterday while we were changing in the little bedroom, Mrs Sensible was huffing and sighing. She told me our little bedroom was untidy and we should straighten it up.

Has your dad complained?

I will tell you later, she whispered to me.

Very quickly I collected up various phone chargers, put my laptop away etc etc and we went down to the village for granita and brioche.

Mmmm chocolate cakes

Mrs Sensible told me the badante had mentioned our little bedroom (base camp) was a little untidy.

I nearly choked on my cappuccino.

What did you say to her?

Nothing.

Hmm! wait till I see her.

I was given strict instructions not to mention anything to her, especially using my wonderful self taught Italian. Actually self taught is not strictly true, the little children I teach in the schools, have been helping me improve my Italian.

As soon as I returned to the house I obviously made sure the little bedroom looked like five children had just finished playing in the room.

I scattered phone chargers and books everywhere

Each morning the badante also moves things around the house, it is really weird.

The tea pot on the dresser is sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right, it is like sharing the house with a poltergeist.

Spooky

For the past 14 years the dining table has only had a simple cloth and maybe a vase on it.

How it should look

Now it looks like chaos.

Chaos

Even a container of pencils have been added to give it a homey touch.

I asked Mrs Sensible why she was keeping quiet about the antics of the badante, after all I am yet to find someone Mrs Sensible is scared of, even if the badante does look like Mrs Trunchbull.

The Badante

I was informed the woman was leaving at the end of the week.

Hopefully the poltergeist will go with her and I won’t have to move a giraffe, tube of pencils and three ornaments every time I want to use the table to play Scopa with my father in law.

Summer Fruit Recipe

If you have recently walked down your garden, you are probably wondering what to do with all the fruit hanging off the trees. If you live in England the problem may be all the fruit the wife keeps buying from ASDA or Tesco.

I phoned Mrs Sensible and she suggested I turn it into jam. Obviously I instantly dismissed her sensible idea and decided to turn it into a Rumtopf, or to be more precise a Grappatopf.

First you either have to pick the fruit from the garden or pinch the stuff the wife has bought.

Only use soft fruit ie strawberries, plums. Apples, pears etc don’t absorb the alcohol very well.

Englishman in Italy

No they are not cherry tomatoes, they are little plums

Wash and cut the fruit into bite size pieces, if they have stones take them out. I left the stones in the little plums, because if I had removed the stones there would be nothing left.

Preserve it in alcohol

Try to make sure the fruit is relatively dry or the water dilutes the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that would we. Add the fruit to your jar.

Englishman in Italy Rumtopf

My little jar

When the fruit is in the jar add sugar. The ratio of fruit to sugar is 1 kilo of fruit and half a kilo of sugar.

Add a suitable spirit to completely cover the fruit and sugar. The Germans use rum, but it makes the mixture a dirty brown colour. I prefer a nice rosy red colour so I use either grappa, gin or bacardi,

12 year old grappa 

Keep layering fruit, sugar and grappa until the jar is full. This can be done over several months, personally I prefer to do it all at once for example when Mrs Sensible is unlikely to catch me or when she is in Sicily.

The fruit, sugar and alcohol create an incredible liqueur and the fruit is wonderful with ice cream or on its own. Each mouthful is an explosion of fruit and alcohol.

It takes about four months before it is ready, I normally check it every couple of weeks, give it a little stir and taste it, adding a bit more grappa if it has evaporated Hic!

VERY IMPORTANT

To avoid any chance of discovery.

1) Thoroughly clean the kitchen.

2) Dispose of the empty spirit bottles.

3) Find a suitable cool dark place to hide the Grappatopf. I chose the cellar because in 13 years I think Mr Sensible has only ventured down there once.

Englishman in italy

Remember to hide it

At the moment I have lots of skinned lemons in the fridge, because I have made some Limoncello and all the lemons are good for is squeezing and adding to gin and tonic.

If you are going to make a gin and tonic, do it right

There is a nice recipe for limocello lollies Here

If you have any other ideas how to use the peaches, plums figs etc please let me know…. as long as it isn’t jam.

Bomb the House

Last night I managed three hours sleep and five hours searching the bedroom and the internet trying to find out what was biting my feet and ankles.

Alternatively go bite Pecora Nera

For sure it wasn’t a mosquito, I know what a mosquito bite looks like. I have plenty of them on my arms.

These things were ankle biters.

My google search narrowed it down to black fly, papatacci, or … cat fleas 😱

I used a complete bottle of mosquito repellent on me the bed and the floor and tried to go back to sleep.

It didn’t work

At 4:30 I awoke to another three bites and an interesting article on how to bomb your house to eradicate fleas.

I was hooked, there was also several articles on why you should not bomb your house… but I was in no mood to read them.

4 should do it

This morning at my local shop, using my fabulous Italian I asked for information.

Me: I need bomb house for beasts.

Shop Assistant: Pardon?

Me: Look leg

Shop Assistant: oooohh! How big is your house?

Me: This big, pointing to his warehouse

Shop Assistant: You need 3 bombs

Me: I buy 4

Shop Assistant: Remove all your pets from the house before using the bombs

Me: Really! No possible leaving cats in house, solve 2 problems?

Flea bitten Scabby Cat

I tried to persuade MishMash to enter the house and watch the bombs going off, but she said she would tell Mrs Sensible what I was up to.

Your in trouble when Mrs Sensible returns

Mrs Sensible is currently visiting ‘the family’ in Sicily and MishMash knows she might have some reservations about me bombing the house.

Run Pecora Nera Run!

I detonated the bombs starting at the top of the house and quickly exited through the front door.

Currently I am sat in a bar drinking Gin and Tonic and waiting for the dust to settle.

I only had 1 or 2

Oh! if you want to know the name of the bars where they don’t measure the gin, message me and I will send you a list.

To date I don’t know if the bombing worked, but I do know I have time for another Gin and Tonic

Happy Days