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Italian Confrontation and a Slow Travel GTG in Bologna

The day of our Slow Travel GTG, we met at the restaurant "Al Sangiovese" for lunch at 1:00. In attendance were Jerry, Sandi, Marcia, David, Jan, Ken, Ida and her cousin Ada, Judy, Tom and I.


I have come to know the owner, Rocco, and his lovely wife after three trips to Bologna, and at least 6 great meals there.

For lunch, I had a half portion of burrata ravioli with butter, parmigiano and truffles (from my mother's town, Gioia del Colle), and a half portion of gramigna con salsiccia.


The restaurant is small, and when we arrived, there were two couples, and a group of 5 Italian men already dining. Our large table for 11 took up much of the rest of the restaurant. During our lunch, many of us noticed that the group of Italian men were looking in our direction, laughing, and making fun of "gli Americani", or "i stranieri".
Their rude comments about us continued throughout lunch. They obviously had no idea that three of us could understand everything they were saying. Ida, Ada and I were becoming more and more annoyed.

When I quietly told Ada I was going to say something to them, she panicked. She said, "No, we don't do that! It could start a fight!" I assured her, that I would speak to them outside the restaurant, politely, and that I wouldn't cause a scene or start an international incident!.

When I saw that the men had finished their espresso, and and were paying their bill, i thought it was the perfect time to go outside for a cigarette. : )

The following was all in Italian:

As they came out the door, I stopped their "ringleader" (he was the worst), and said,
"Excuse me, sir. May I speak to you for a moment?"

"Of course, madam, what is it?"

"It is true that the group of friends at my table are mostly Americans, and one Canadian. But there are also Italians at that table. One woman lives in Italy, another owns a home here. My mother was Italian. All of my aunts, uncles and grandparents were born in Italy. I may not speak perfectly, but we all understood everything you said." (At this point he turned white as snow.)

"All of these friends are passionate about Italy and we come once or twice a year. We save our money to travel to Italy. We spend money here. I have been here for three weeks studying Italian. Excuse me for saying this, but it is not right that you make fun of us."

(Now, he has taken my hand, and all the men are apologizing at once.) "What you say is true. It was wrong. I am so sorry. I am so sorry. It is the truth!"

"I would hope that if you came to my city, I would be kind, and helpful, and polite. If you did not speak English perfectly, I would try to help you communicate, not laugh at you. I would also hope that other Americans would make a good impression (una bella figura). All the people I have met in Bologna have been very kind until today."

At this point he asked where we were staying, and how long we would be in Bologna, and were we at the hotel on this street? I think he wanted to send us some wine or bring a gift to our hotel. I wished them all a nice day. They wished us safe travels.

I felt GREAT! Not only was I assertive, but I did it all in ITALIAN! The words just kept coming. I was on a roll! The next morning, I repeated what I said to my teacher, and he said it was PERFETTO!

Well, here are some photos of the gang at lunch:

4 Pomodori (and Vino): all together in Bologna!


David and Ken:


Marcia and Tom:



Ada and Judy:


Jerry and Ida:


Jan, Palma & Sandi:



Comments (12)


You go, Palma!! A great story, and a great example!


I'm impressed! I'm not sure I could have managed that in English;) My mouth always gets the best of me and I'm sure my husband would have me hog-tied and muzzled in the corner before I could get out the door. From all the smiling pictures I see that those men didn't interrupt a good time!

Brava Palma! You got your point across in a calm manner. Cigarette smoking came in handy! :)

I like to think I am an ambassador for my own country, whether at home or abroad. Helping the German family fill up their car with gas, the Japanese couple trying to find a hard to find restaurant and taking them there, or giving an English couple a decent map when trying to find their way to Muir Woods.

Shelagh (SJ):

Well done, you!
You were assertive, polite, and those men will never "assume" about North Americans again...ever!
Sorry it had to happen at all, though.


Brava Palma! Hai fatto bene! Sei stata molto brava e mi fa davvero piacere che hai potuto parlare con quelli signori. Complimenti!!

Barb Cabot:

Brava Palma! Well done YOU!

Mindy Smith:

Brava! Brava!! Good for you for speaking up to those men. I hope they learned a lesson.

I've loved your posts so much! When ya goin' back? **baci**

Good for you for confronting them and showing them how poorly they were behaving. Brava!



Brava!!! Good for you! I hope next time they will think twice before trashing people at another table.

I am so impressed that you did that! I know how to be assertive but not in Italian. Those language lessons really paid off!


wow! its good to see Ada! its been years. she wasn't in town last time i went to Vico

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