If you ever want to see my relatives in Italy laugh, speak to them in dialect. They are tending not to speak it in the newer generations themselves, but to hear ME, a straniero (“foreigner”), speak even a word or two, makes them roll over with laughter. To demonstrate to people how dialects are truly other languages, the title of this blog is a phonetic (since I’ve never seen Calabrese written) of the translation for “A little piece of Calabria” which in Italian would be “un piccolo pezzo di Calabria.”
In addition to my relatives, I spent a lot of time with their dogs and cats because this was getting toward the end of my trip and I really missed my Yorkies, who I had only seen once live from Rome with Skype and spoke to noticing that they recognized my voice. It was great to see most of my relatives there, and I got pictures of most of them, but a few of my uncles and aunts are having major health problems and are in the throes of their treatments. I also got to see two of my newest cousins, the daughters of Giusi and Ramona. It was strange being in Italy for the first time in my daughter’s life without my daughter there, but seeing my Mom and grandmother is important, although I see my mom throughout the year as she lives in Hayward near me when she’s not in Italy. It was nice to see both my mom and her mom at the beach too.
I got to feel like a native Italian doing some grocery shopping to cook in my little kitchen, speaking the language and showing off how much better I am at it than most Americans, although I couldn’t speak it as well as the black, east Indian and Asian people I saw walking around in Rome who are the true Italians of the future as they live, breathe and literally eat their ways into the culture, which if one really thinks about it, was always multi-cultural. As you will see, I had to take a sign in Chinese on the street I was staying on. I even learned how to make espresso with the very clear illustrations in English on how to do that with the little espresso machine the apartment came with.
I did get to the Coliseum, as you will see, which happens to be by the nicknamed “Gay Street”, There are no official gay establishments to my knowledge in Rome, but there are some gay parties in various venues. Gay Street and the Ice Cream Bears establishment where I’ve been to before and had to see again, was walking distance from where I stayed on Via di Porta Maggiore. The only video I took was of the piazza inside the building where I stayed. You wouldn’t necessarily think that there were several elevators and hundreds of units with very high ceilings beyond these very plain doors facing the street, but the buildings aren’t that many stories high, after all.
I did stop by one of the more famous “gelato” parlors and got lots of good coffee while I was in town, not really getting an explanation but being secretly happy that there are NO STARBUCKS in Italy, not even in the airports.
I did Bear Monday, which was very well attended for a non-holiday Monday night, but some of the people I knew from online or would know online or who saw me on Growlr last year even came up to me there and knew who I was. I also made some friends who lived directly across the street from where I stayed, and it was helpful to use their electricity and internet when I had a fire in my apartment. There was an apparently electrical overload with the air conditioner when I went out for the evening, so there was some charred wall by where my head would have been. When I got back the electricity was off so I just went to sleep and texted the landlord, who was actually just next door. Meeting them and making friends with lots of the local Italian men was a great experience. I do feel very much more at home in Rome now that I ever did. The city itself used to intimidate with its crime and corruption, even when I had gone there with my ex wife and tried to buy something from a street vendor. Now I realize I have to be like a savvy New Yorker rather than a gullible American tourist, and truly let my passionate culture come out, even if I am only 5/8ths!
I’m estimating September 1973 this was taken. I went to Hillview Crest, in Hayward, California, for kindergarten. Fortunately my parents had started teaching me English, because even though I was born in San Pedro, California, I started talking when we were living in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy (my mother was from Calabria).