Chapter 2 - Crossing the road

Crossing the road

Language level: intermediate


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Dave and I arrived at Milan’s Central station, but we couldn’t find a taxi to take us to our hotel.

The Italian traffic made me very nervous, but we had no choice. We had to cross the busy road and catch another bus.
 Our bags were very heavy, so walking to the hotel was not an option. 
I saw that no cars were coming, so I stepped into the road. A man on a Vespa was coming towards me very quickly from the left but, being English, I was looking right!

At the last moment I saw him and jumped forward... finding myself directly in front of a car coming the other way, on the other side of the road. 
He started to honk at me furiously (sound effects).
He was very angry that I had put my trembling body between him and the camper in front of him.
Help!
This time I jumped back and found myself in the middle of the road.
 Cars were passing behind me and directly in front of me. I was trapped! 
Finally, there were no more cars and so I ran as fast as the wind.
 When I reached the other side, Dave was already there, looking very calm.
 I saw that he had bought his first Italian ice cream and was licking it happily.

“Can you believe it?” I asked.
 “No,” said Dave, “it’s the best ice cream I ever had!” 
“Come on,” I said, “let’s go and eat.” 
“Wait!” said Dave “your bags!” 
I looked across the street and realised – to my horror – that I had left my bags there, on the other side of the road.
 I simply couldn’t consider crossing that road again and so I said, “Oh, forget the bags, we’re in Italy! The land of style! I’ll buy some more.”

Food, glorious food...

After some shopping we finally found a nice Italian restaurant.

The waiter came to our table:
“Buona sera: abbiamo tortellini, pasta al pesto e branzino al forno.

Of course, we didn’t understand a word.
 “Beautiful language, isn’t it?” said Dave, who was still eating his ice cream! 
“Listen,“ I said to the waiter, “in English, please?”

The waiter smiled: “Yes, of course!.. we have tortellini, pasta al pesto e branzino al forno.”

I had an idea:
“Listen,” I said, “we are new to Italy, so why don’t you bring us the best dish Italy has to offer?” 
“OK!” said the waiter and went to satisfy our order.

A diplomatic incident...

After a few minutes he came back with two plates of “tagliatelli al tartufo bianco”.

The smell was very strong and strange, but no problem, I had a magic ingredient with me: ketchup!

The moment I put the ketchup bottle over my plate the waiter screamed: “What are you doing!?”

I stopped: “I’m putting ketchup on my pasta”. 
“You can’t!” he shouted.
Everybody was looking at us.
“I can’t? Is it illegal to put ketchup on pasta here?” I asked.
“It should be,” the waiter said, “now put it down.”
“
That wasn’t the question!” I shouted, “is it illegal or not!?” 
The atmophere was very tense.
 Dave finished his ice cream and spoke to me softly:
“John, put it down... don’t worry, it’s not important.”

“Listen to your friend,” said the waiter, and, in one fast move, he took my ketchup away.
I didn’t eat that day and I had lost all my clothes, but it was sunny and so I bought an ice cream, too.
Dave was right: it was unbelievable.


Glossary

we had no choice - non avevamo scelta
was not an option - non era pensabile
jumped forward - balzai in avanti
he started to honk at me - iniziò a strombazzare
my trembling body - il mio corpo tremante
I was trapped - ero in trappola
tense - tesa
I had lost all my clothes - avevo perso tutti i vestiti


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