Italy vs France

Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy

Here is a photo of Vernazza, one of the five villages that makes up the Cinque Terre in Italy. I was there last month, walking the paths β€”Β  often just some stones raised off the slanting ground to flatten it β€” between the five villages. I could go on about the pesto, the gelati, the welcoming atmosphere, or the loudness of children, but this is a blog about France, not Italy. So why am I mentioning Italy? Because it’s only through going to a country where none of my (two!) languages are spoken that I realised just how much improvement I’ve made in French. The Cinque Terre itself is full of American tourists even at low season, so getting around the five villages isn’t so difficult (and walking on the paths, you never know whether to say “hello”, “buon giorno”, “hola”, “guten tag” or “bonjour”). However, on the way to the Cinque Terre, I was in a restaurant where I wanted a fruit juice. I know the word in French, but not in Italian. None of the Italian staff knew the English or the French word, so I followed the staff to their drinks fridge and pointed. I ended up with iced tea. Apparently, juice is just not available in some restaurants in Italy. The language frustrations continued right up until we reached the border back to France: we stopped just before the Frejus tunnel to fill up with petrol (there was a petrol strike happening in France at the time). There was some problem with my bank card and the man said something in Italian. I asked if he spoke English. Nope. French? Yes. Result! We managed to establish that the card was fine but the machine’s connection sometimes played up, and fears that he was charging me twice were alleviated when he explained in French what the writing on the first cancelled receipt said. Thanks Italy β€” for the food, the welcome and for the reassurance that my French has improved more than I realised (but your kids really are very loud).


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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8 comments on “Italy vs France
  1. Penny says:

    That looks so beautiful. I always feel a sense of relief when I return to France from Italy, as at least I can make myself understood! As you say, its reassuring to see the progress πŸ™‚

  2. LWEurope says:

    It’s true then, kids’ behaviour is widely different between the European countries? Which country do you find has the best-behaved children?

  3. After seeing that beautiful photo, I’m making plans to visit…next Fall…without the kids.

  4. barbara says:

    Hello there, from an Italian lady πŸ˜€
    It is true, Italian kids are very loud. I can see the difference with Irish kids, they are so quiet compared to ours.
    I hope you had great time in Italy despite the language barrier.

  5. Wendy says:

    Barbera, yes I adored my time in Italy: everyone is very friendly and willing to try to communicate regardless of language problems!
    Samanthat, glad to have inspired. :O)
    LWEurope, I don’t take enough notice of little people to know, but French kids are certainly very quiet (it’s their parents who are noisy with their ‘SHHHHH!’s that I can’t get used to).
    Penny, it really is a beautiful place.

  6. Angelica says:

    WOW!! beautiful place and photo.

  7. Rozmin says:

    Just found your blog and really like it. But I don’t think that’s Monterosso. I’m almost certain it’s Vernazza. πŸ˜‰

  8. Wendy says:

    Rozmin,you are of course right about it being Vernazza. Thanks for letting me know. Glad you’re enjoying my blog despite the immediate and obvious error!

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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