Daily Failtales: Week 2

Continuing from my Week 1 recap of Daily Failtales, here’s some more funny little tales of fail from this past week or so:

Casually strolling through the Strozzi, nbd

Credit: italyguide.it

My Architecture class takes place in the Strozzi–the same building Day 1 of orientation took place in. Hmmm, this looks different than last time, I thought as I wandered into the Palazzo Strozzi for my first class. I obliviously strolled through an enormous, lavish room that reminded me of Mr. Darcy’s mansion in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. As I looked around for any doors or stairwells, the construction workers inside looked at me. Oh shit…I’m not supposed to be in here, am I? Realizing my error, I hurried out the open door on the opposite side, puzzled. DOVE IS MY CLASE? I thought, as a construction worker at this doorway shooed me away. I then joined a student in walking to the Strozzi common building next to the Strozzi PALACE of Florence that I had just casually strolled through.

LESSON LEARNED: If the building’s interior looks like a palace, it very well may be. So do not continue walking through.

Mouse Maze

The grocery store around my corner is set up like a maze. It begins with the produce, and takes you through a one-way adventure of zig-zagging isles until you finally reach the cashier at the end. While purchasing my food, the employee was trying to tell me, in Italian, that I needed to weigh my produce before. Non capito, and I didn’t know what to do at this mid-purchase moment. There was someone behind me in line, so I said, “I’ll just go put these back then?” and hastily did this awkward speed-walk/jog/gallop through the damn maze of isles until I finally reached the produce section at the start, put back the bananas, and hurried back to the cashier to finish my payment. Hopeless.

LESSON LEARNED: Weigh your produce before paying.

An unintended walking tour

My textbook-purchasing errand involving four different copy stores and bookstores somehow turned into an unintended 2 to 3 hour walking tour all over the city of Florence, thanks to a few wrong turns and some unexpected traffic areas to get around. On the downside, I was carrying around what became a heavy backpack, and the heel of my boot broke on a cobblestone street. But on the upside, I had the fortunate experience of wandering into the final scene of the 1991 version of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves–minus the fighting. (Your movie tastes must be infiltrating my brain here, mamma). I have no idea what church this is, but it has such a beautiful medieval look to it!

LESSON LEARNED: Keep getting lost in Florence, but wear better walking shoes.

That time Chelsea caused a Fiasco

Chelsea, Heather and I finally built up the courage to check out a local bar on our street last Friday night, which we had been very curious but very intimidated about. “Ciao,” a tall, gorgeous Italian man standing outside the door greeted us as we walked in. We ordered beers at the bar and took a seat in the corner, slowly getting acquainted with the place. “Yeah, I can definitely see this is as a good go-to place by our house,” we were agreeing, feeling quite comfortable and pleased with the atmosphere. [Cue fiasco].

Brawny, I think I found your next spokesperson for a brand image makeover.

Apparently the table was wobbly, and with a little kick, Chelsea accidentally clonked the table enough to knock over the beers. Heather’s lap, the table and the floor were soaked in birra. The locals looked at us. The three of us looked at each other with that “Oh shit” look, and before we could get up to seek paper towels, that gorgeous Italian man appeared out of nowhere holding a giant roll of paper towels. “May I help?” he asked. Where the hell did he come from? we were all thinking.

“You know,” he said while beginning to wipe up our mess, “you didn’t need to spill your beers to get my attention.” He then introduced himself (in perfect English!), and we found out that he is one of the owners–Paolo. We conversed a bit, telling him that we are students here and whatnot. A little later, he brought us [very undeserved] drinks on the house…but asked that we drink them instead of spill them.

LESSON LEARNED: No crying over spilled beer–it might lead to something good.

Is this lotion?

Heather kindly ran some errands for me today. Personal products can be confusing to purchase when you can’t read Italian, though. She picked up what looked like a bottle of body lotion, and tried asking the barely-English-speaking employee to make sure. Apparently, it was lotion to be used for–errr, intimate purposes. The old lady behind her gave a strange look. “Ooooooh!” Heather laughed, “no, no.” So she picked up another one, which the employee nodded to.

At home I started rubbing it on my skin and instantly knew something was off when a clear, kind of sticky fluid came out. “Ummmm,” I said to Heather–not wanting to sound ungrateful for her running my errands, “this doesn’t feel right.” I inspected the container. “Detergente fluido,” I read. “Detergent? Did I just rub detergent on my arms?” We laughed about it and typed up a bunch of the text on the container into Google Translate (one of our dearest friends here in Florence), and gathered that it’s some kind of cleanser for the skin–but not soap. Honestly, I don’t know what it is!

LESSON LEARNED: Italian translation for “lotion” is “lozione,” and “intimita” means “intimacy”–as in for-sexual-purposes.


Funny miscommunications

Miscommunications are inevitable here. Whether it’s not knowing the language, mishearing an accent, misinterpreting a gesture or not knowing the norm, communications are frequently interpreted the wrong way. These are some funny little miscommunications I’ve encountered so far in Florence:

Volete che ad aprire per voi?

When buying a bottle of vino rosso on my way back home, the cashier asked me a question I absolutely did not understand. I looked at him with confusion–a classic Eli Manning-style deer-in-the-headlights look glued on my face for a drawn-out moment. Figuring I am not retarded but rather foreign, he gestured the motion of opening a bottle, asking “Open?” It blew my mind that they would open the bottle for you and let you carry it down the street that way, so I still had that damn deer-in-the-headlights look expression.

Sono Americano.

Yesterday in my Italian class, I learned that words like “Americano/a” should end in “o” for males and “a” for females.

I have told several people that I am an American boy.


This happened last week, when attempting to converse with a local who, well, fancied me. (He knew VERY little English, I knew pretty much NO Italian, and we both knew poco espanol).

We managed to get onto the topic of music at some point, though. I tried to ask him what kind of music he likes. There was dance music playing, so I tried to ask if he likes dance music, since I could easily gesture in the room to show “dance music.” He suddenly got very excited, apparently thinking that I was asking him if he wants to dance with me–right there in the bar. “Aaaaaah, Lisabetta, si, SI! Vamos bailar!” he exclaimed.

“NOOOOO! Noooo, nooooo. Mi dispiace!” I laughed while effusively waving my arms to signal “no.” He realized it was a miscommunication and asked me “PORQUE?! PORQUE?!” I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain, but at least I could clearly tell him NO to clear up that miscommunication.

“That is danger.”

Also from the same night and conversation as mentioned above… My friends took a picture of Luca and I sitting together. When they showed us, his response was, “That is danger.” The girls and I all burst into laughter. Immediately, he recognized that his limited English vocabulary uttered the wrong word. “No, no! That is GOOD. Is GOOD,” he clarified. His diction mistake made me feel better about my own conversational mistakes.

Learning about hobbits in History class

I really enjoy the topic of my History course, The Social World of Renaissance Italy, and the quirky professor as well. He does have a rather thick Italian accent, though, so lots of attention is required to listen closely.

The professor’s first lecture was about the different main groups of people who lived during the Middle Ages (peasants, citizens, merchants, etc). But at one point he started talking about how the hobbits lived–how they lived humble, quiet lives of simplicity and such. It was like I was listening to Biblo Baggins’ prologue on concerning the nature of hobbits.

HOBBITS?! I thought. No, he MUST’VE said something else. But then the professor said it again…and again…..and again. The hobbits of the land did this, these hobbits did that, etc etc. I sat there probably with my jaw half-dropped in awe, and eyes full of wonder. IS THIS GUY LOONY? DID I MISS OUT ON KNOWING THAT TOLKIEN WAS INDEED WRITING NONFICTION, AND MIDDLE AGES = MIDDLE EARTH? I was at the edge of my seat. The professor must’ve thought that he was absolutely fascinating.

This went on for approximately 15 minutes.

Finally, while saying “hobbits” again, he wrote “inhabitants.” What an accent!