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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaitatzis

That Place in Language

What does it take to convey a message in a foreign place?

Palermo, Italy

We've spent the last couple of days in Palermo, and we've spoken English, French, Spanish and Arabic to communicate with the people we meet here.

But we keep thinking in Greek because that's what we've been speaking more frequently for the past month!

We knew that someday, we'd travel to a place where we would need to grapple with more than one language to get around with efficiency and communicate effectively. We just had no idea that place would be Palermo. It's hands-down the most diverse place we've been as far as language is concerned.

It's Ivy's second time in Italy, but first time in Sicily. She lived in Florence for 5 months about 8 years ago. It's Tony's very first time in Italy!

People we meet on the street, at the market or in the stores assume we speak any language except English. One man assumed we spoke Spanish. Another assumed we spoke French. A different guy assumed we knew Arabic. Many folks here assume we speak Italian. It's fascinating to be in a place where many locals assume we're either native to the country or that we're visiting from some other very specific country. One guy assumed I was definitely from Cuba!

It's difficult to keep track of the languages we know. Thank goodness we know a little bit of each. We knew we'd have to flex these muscles sometime but damn. What a cool experience to immerse ourselves in a place where Africans, Italians, Ecuadorians, Asians, Francophones, and so many more ethnicities come to explore, and we're not the tourists that everyone's gawking at when we walk down the street.

I've never experienced any place quite like Palermo. We love it here! Bonus points for being cheaper than San Francisco. ;-)


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