Everyday in Italy, I try to speak as much Italian as possible. Somedays are better than others, and the weekends are especially hard because of traveling. It's hard enough to speak Italian, but this weekend, I had to try Sicilian? Woah, Buddy. That's another language all together. I did manage to have a few conversations:
I'm not sure how I met the girls in the bar, but I ended up befriending two Sicilians.
"Sono americana, ma sto studendo a Firenze. Siete Siciliane?"
"Si, si," one of them answers. Between the noise and the dialect, what she said next was German to me. We drank, danced, sang, and talked about the boys in the club, girl code at its finest. Then the girls wanted to recommend songs. They chose Tranne Te, while I asked for "Americano vecchio," which the DJ decided was Get Low. Hilarious.
The Fruit Stand Man
"Comè mangio questo?" I ask, holding up a coconut. The man rails off in Sicilian, way over my head. Thank goodness for the whole talking-with-their-hands thing. He took a mallet and started cracking open the coconut. My eyes and smile widened as I drank the coconut juice. He mirrored my smile as I thanked him and wished him a happy easter.
In the train station, I realized I never really interviewed anyone, so I tried talking to a police man.
"Ciao, sono una studentessa di giornolismo e ho una domanda..."
He smiles, "no, no, no," he says. From what I got out of the rest of the conversation, he said, "I need to keep walking around, I am a police man, that is my job. Write that."
Again I explain myself to the Sicilian stranger. He asks, "Sono americana o italiano?" I explain myself. Boy, am I getting good at that line. What we talked about was pretty basic: His name is Angelo, and he likes working with trains and traveling, he has been working at that station for 32 years and has two kids. What was interesting is that he was more curious about me than I was of him. He asked me a lot of questions and was very friendly. Seems like the conversation broke up his day a bit, well at least I hope it did.
My final Sicilian conversation was with two men on the ferry. I told them how I ripped open my spring jacket from the railing as I was walking up the steps. Well, I didn't really tell them. I acted it out. My Italian isn't that good. They taught me the words "ago" and "filo" which mean "needle" and "thread." We talked about his work, which I didn't understand, but I was in Sicily, I wasn't about to ask too many questions. I told him about my traveling. He had a friend with him who only spoke in Sicilian dialect, so I would talk Italian to him, then he would translate it to Sicilian. We chatted for a while covering topics such as how beautiful Italy is, how Sicily compares to Florence (and how the food is better in the South). We talked about our parents and what they did for work, joked and laughed, and double cheek kissed goodbye.
Sometimes its intimidating to speak with the locals, especially in another dialect, but its worth the risk to have a nice conversation.