Saturday, August 6, 2011

Italia: Breaking Language Barriers; and A Shopper's Gallery

In San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval village in the Tuscan countryside, we did a good deal of browsing and shopping.  One store, La Luna nel Pozzo, offered the kinds of souvenir items, kitchen gadgets and such, that we wanted to purchase as gifts, and that were small and durable enough to pack easily. 

I was not sure what the store's name meant...I knew "luna" was, The Moon in the---Pozzo?

I asked the shopkeeper, "Come se dice en inglese, pozzo?"  What is the English word for pozzo? Without hesitation he took from under the counter a well-worn English-Italian dictionary. He looked it up.  Pozzo means "well".  Thus: The Moon in the Well.  We both learned something that morning.

Most of the locals I spoke to in Italy knew English, or several other languages, but nevertheless allowed me to practice my Italian, and were patient and even happy to allow for my fractured sentences and hesitations.  One hotel manager even assured me that he would prefer to practice English (I think he was being kind and polite).  No matter who you encountered, just about everyone had a language in common, and I was able to get by in Italian, some German, and a good deal of Spanish as well as English.

When you're trying to learn a language, there is nothing better than visiting the country where it is spoken, and plunging in and speaking it.  That way, you know what you need to learn more of.

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Here's a photo gallery for all of you shoppers.  Mark and I tended to avoid the high-end districts and chain stores, preferring instead to frequent those small, individually-run stores and open-air markets that offered unique merchandise, and not just tourist-trap junk.  I enjoyed recording the images of these various experiences in shopping.

The above photo was of a small sundry-winery-bakery we discovered on our first day In Rome.

Mark is buying a card for his Mom at an open-air market in Rome near the Tiber River.

A couple of entrepreneurs selling souvenirs outside of the Colosseum.  The euro-dollar exchange rate was not in our favor, so it was rather expensive to make purchases.  At least SOMETHING was free...!

Mark and our leader Yvette browsing and buying goods in a typical food market.

A photo taken through the front door of this gorgeous store of dishware.

The Gelateria, or the gelato shop, was ever-present throughout our travels.  Notice the sign in English and German.

A sumptuous baker's shop window.  The chain-mail was also for sale...I wanted to buy it to wear to the office..

An alabaster shop where you could see the artisans at work creating all sorts of lovely pieces.  (Notice the print of Picasso's "Guernica" behind him.  He is inspired by the best!)

Peppers are a staple of Italian cooking.  Here's a chart to help one decide the appropriate level of heat.

This shop traded in gold-leaf artifacts. The shop itself was the site of an historic excavation.  There was a glass floor so you could see the finds underneath.

"Genuine Products of Tuscany"...Indeed!

Notice how the grocer arranges the produce for a pleasing composition of color. This was in the Florence Food Market.

A Florentine Jewelry Store.  Images of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were all over the towns we visited.

A refuge from the busy streets of Florence was this garden-like porcelain shop.

   ...Still-Life with Cookies!

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