calabrian women’s summit 2007

I’m going to go ahead and say it. The Internet is the best invention ever.

I’m speaking from the perspective of an American who has moved to the middle of nowhere, and although beautiful, is not the cradle of expats by any means.

If you’re a regular reader, you probably get the impression that I love living here, and, indeed, I do. But sometimes you need some female, English-speaking companionship–next to impossible to find down here, but this past weekend, it was the order of business as we held the first Calabrian Women’s Summit, which also served as our belated celebration of International Women’s Day.

And all this came together because of this fancy network of invisible wires that make up the World Wide Web. Thanks Al Gore!

Blogger-to-be (no pressure!) Dawn and I traveled to the big city of Catanzaro to meet fellow blogger Cherrye of My Bella Vita who is in the process of opening a Bed and Breakfast with her soon-to-be-marito Peppe.

In fact, Dawn and I were their first guests. We were greeted with adorable welcome baskets complete with my new favorite Kinder snack–and Cherrye only had to make up our little tags twice with Italian help from Peppe.

Bless her heart, Cherrye’s going through what both Dawn and I have experienced already–the early days of learning Italian. I’m not sure that Peppe will be happy with the types of information we shared this weekend, but we thought it all rather essential. Cherrye’s in for some interesting times as she perfects her language skills–more frustrating than fun, to be sure, but she’s doing fabulously.

And speaking of fabulous, the B & B is simply gorgeous–comfortable, homey, and a great location.

Other than hanging out at the B &B, we had a nice if expensive lunch at a pizzeria, which surprised both Dawn and me since nothing is even open for lunch where we live…and pizza? During the day? Unheard of!

But we went, we ate, we got charged 3,50 euro for flat Cokes, and now we have organized a campaign against such unscrupulous business practices. So, yes, if you’re down in these parts, that’d be us wearing signs that say “We got robbed at Ciro’s” on the side of the road.

Unfortunately it rained most of the time, so we were stuck indoors with only our mouths to keep us occupied. Luckily, as it turns out, we do rather enjoy talking.

But it wasn’t all bad weather. Once the rain stopped, we were able to go down to Lido on the seaside for a walk and an aperitivo before lunch.

Now I wouldn’t want all of you who couldn’t make the gathering to feel left out, so I’ve compiled the minutes of the inaugural Calabrian Women’s Summit at which we discussed and reached conclusions on many important topics.

Some highlights:

(1) We will be settling our own village so that we can invent our own language that we’ll call Calatalglish.

(2) In that village, there will be only what we call “delusional mirrors,” i.e., those that instantaneously perform the type of airbrushing that magazines do all the time on stars. It’s only fair.

(3) For fear of offending anyone, some words in Italian should simply never be used: scopare and fico are at the top of the list. Some tips on avoiding them: Say you’re cleaning the floor instead of sweeping it, and always refer to figs in plural even when it’s incorrect. We concluded that they’ll forgive you faster for a mistake in number than for an offensive remark about a vagina.

(4) Leaving someone at the altar can actually be quite a funny story years later, but only if it involves gnocchi.

(5) Not all gay men have good taste in ties.

(6) When you call your own home in America, you shouldn’t call back when the person who answers tells you that he doesn’t know you and to stop calling. It’ll only end in assumptions that a non-native English speaker has broken into your home and is willy nilly answering the phone saying “hel-lo?” And that won’t go anywhere good.

(7) The movie “The Da Vinci Code” would have been greatly enhanced had the nun simply shrugged and responded “Boh” when when Silas asked where the key was.

(8) The southern Italian response of tsking while jerking the head upward should be outlawed. It’s confusing for foreigners when the mouth says no but the head says yes.

(9) Attending southern Italian weddings can make you poor.

(10) Fancy soap dispensers, even if they cost only $8 in Wal-Mart, should be screwed into the sinks if possible, because they are fair game for visitors.

I know, now you’re all wishing you had been there to bat around ideas on these pressing issues, but don’t worry. There will most definitely be another summit soon, and I’ll keep you posted.

The admission price is simply a book or magazine written in English that will likely end up spread across a kitchen table and discussed in great length.

Alla prossima!


[tags]calabria, girlfriends, friendship, first meetings, life in calabria, learning italian, learning a language, bed & breakfasts in italy, bed & breakfasts in calabria[/tags]

25 Beans of Wisdom to “calabrian women’s summit 2007”
  1. KC

    Wow, that summit sounds like it was a lot of fun. It makes me wish I lived in Calabria. Maybe next time, y’all can open it up to your Campanian sisters?

  2. Wendy

    Sound like fun! I wish I could attend one of your meetings. I hope to get to travel to Italy someday. It has been on the top of my “Places to visit before I die” list for a long time. I’m so glad I found your blog so if I can’t be there in person I can at least see it through your eyes.

  3. Annika

    Three beautiful women, one gorgeous B&B, silly conversation and I’m sure hurting cheeks from all the laughing – who could ask for more? Wish I had been there!

  4. nikinpos

    Hmmm, looks like fun. How far away are you guys from here I wonder?

  5. Cherrye

    Beautiful recap, Michelle! I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t…I’ll link to your post…and, btw-I was lol at the memories…

  6. Christine

    That sounds like it was so much fun! And I cannot imagine moving to Italy where you don’t know a soul. Although I would probably prefer it to my six weeks in Milan living with my uncle and his wife. No, no, I would definitely prefer it.

  7. BecsLifeOnline

    Lovely pics 🙂 Sounds like you had great fun at the ‘summit’.

  8. bella

    Awesome! Awesome! I loved reading this!

  9. Ms Adventures in Italy

    That was great!! I can help organize the next women’s summit if you want to include us “northerners” 🙂 Sounds like your conversations were great and the price of admission is one I could do any time! 🙂

  10. 1lifelonglearner

    I am so jealous. There is nothing like a girls weekend to blow off stress!

    BTW, I am from Pennsylvania and I am going to Italy in April. Needless to say, I am hooked on your blog. Reading your stories, I feel like I am already there.

  11. sarala

    Sounds like a great summit.
    Your story about the head gesture reminds me of how confusing the word si is in French. If you ask someone if a question and they say si it means they are saying no or contradicting you. It sounds like a double negative to an English ear. Then there was the time American me wanted to look at a pair of below the knee pants in a British shop window and I asked for the knickers. The shopkeeper kept trying to tell me they had no underwear in the window. I had thought we spoke the same language but no.

  12. Kelly Parra

    Sounds like you had a great time! And the B&B looks awesome! 🙂

  13. Something...

    You had me rolling around laughing.
    Calabrian parents to blame, I speak the dialect and have been ex patted from Australia to Luxembourg. Do you think I qualify to join your group? Or maybe it would be an idea to start one in Positano?

  14. sognatrice

    I’m glad that the laughs we shared came across in the post, because honestly, this was the most fun I’ve had in ages–and from the looks of it, we’ll have to arrange more with our fellow southern sisters, and yes, even those northerners can be allowed in (maybe you’d have to bring *2* books though to make up for all those “conveniences” you have up there) 😉

    For anyone who is in a foreign country and for some reason not hooking up with fellow expats that are nearby…do it! I’m only sorry it took us this long to finally get together.

  15. Giulia

    Sounds like fun was had by all. Good for you gals!

  16. jessica

    In fact, I have the same sentiment this week!! I’m going to a girl’s weekend for bloggers in Germany. i adore the blogging world for this.

  17. Shan

    Sounds like a great summit. Loved seeing the pictures.

  18. Miss Eliza

    mmmm… i could use a weekend like that. sassy ladies with nothing to do but eat, chat, and drink wine sounds like HEAVEN.

  19. Karina

    Sounds like a great time. Are preparations in order for the next summit?

  20. sognatrice

    Thanks ladies for your comments; it was such a blast!

    Right now Cherrye is in the States, but when she comes back, we’re on it 🙂

  21. andie summerkiss

    I agree with you. Internet is such a great media to meet new people, and it improves our chances of finding great people to be friends with. I am so happy for you.

  22. sognatrice

    Andie, love this internet thing–and blogging makes it all the better!

  23. 11.07.2009

    Since my boyfriend doesn’t speak English very well… well pretty much not at all just a few phrases, we only speak in Italian. Although I did learn in extremely quickly, and I now understand it really well, I have to admit that being exposed to it 24/7 while in Italy can be very overwhelming. The summer of 2008, I was there for 3 months, and my ears were just aching for some English to be heard. During the day I would listen to the Italian news while my boyfriend was at work. When I could no longer stand listening to Italian, I found the BBC and listened to that to keep me sane. And expressing yourself at time is very challenging and frustrating, especially if you can only speak Italian with the other person you’re speaking to. Sometimes I just want to blurt it all out in English, but then my boyfriend will never understand what I said. lol

    I totally understand the ‘scopare’ and ‘fico’. I confuse fica and fico all the time and not even on purpose. There’s also il freno, which can be confused with a curse word in my boyfriend’s dialect (add an ‘a’ at the end instead of the ‘o’ and nasalize the ‘n’)

    Hahaha…I hear you. My OH doesn’t speak English either. It’s been a great way to learn more Italian 🙂
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Canto della Terra =-.

  1. [...] first guest blogger is my fellow American in Calabria who you’ve heard about before, Cherrye of My...
  2. [...] Last weekend Cherrye of My Bella Vita, Dawn (blogless! scandalous!), and I met up at Il Cedro in Catanza...
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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