A few pages from my book “Florence, Dante and Me”

A few years ago I posted several passages from my book “Florence, Dante and Me.” It’s based on letters that I wrote to my girlfriend who had remained in Canada to continue her studies. The year in question is 1960-61. I was on an all-expenses scholarship funded by the Italian government. Back then you could buy a bottle of good table wine for twenty cents. Rent was about twenty-five dollars a month. Small wonder that I could live on the $100. a month which my scholarship paid for! Here’s the passage.

The damned inconsiderate bums! As I was having supper at my usual trattoria last night three young North Americans entered, two women and a man. They drank three liters of wine and smoked 150 cigarettes (The waiter told me he counted them!) Anyway, these three got all boozed up and emotional and laughed and cried and during their four hour supper had only one thing
to say to the waiter: Niente da fare! (Nothing doing!). They were pathetically proud of this aggressive little idiom and used it on him several times throughout the evening. Can you beat this for sheer insensitivity and stupidity? These are the types who give Americans and Canadians a bad name over here.
With the exception of the Canadian CBC, Italian radio stations put ours to shame. They offer everything from German lessons to Rigoletto. By the way, I hope you borrowed the LP of Madame Butterfly from the UBC library. I was stumped by the word celia in the libretto but, sure enough, the colonel was able to explain it to me. It means ‘playful and jesting’. I’m sure you’ll like
this opera as much as you do Porgy and Bess. It’s just as real and the music as good, if not better.

Note: If you are reading this posting I apologize for such a short excerpt. My computer refused to cooperate with the “copy and paste” and only moved about half a page for me. If you would like to read more pages from my book visit my website and click on the cover of “Florence, Dante and Me.”


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