CHIAVARI, Italy – Learning to speak Italian is one thing, understanding Italian is something else altogether different. And it isn’t understanding Italian words that is so difficult once you speak Italian, it’s understanding what the Italians do with those words that makes me Clairol Hair Color’s best customer on the planet.
As I had opened the Partita Iva account in Parma, I had to go back to Parma to close it, or send the documents through the mail. Since I lived closer to Milan than Parma, I opted for the latter. However, knowing the efficiency of the Italian postal service at the time, I wanted to call the Partita Iva people to confirm that the documents had indeed arrived and that they had indeed closed the account. Small glitch. I didn’t have the telephone number for the Partita Iva Office, which is part in the Internal Revenue Office in Parma.
|Guardia di Finanza Dressed for a Parade|
Well, after about half an hour – actually if I remember correctly it was more like an hour and a half – I gave up. As it happened, the office of the Internal Revenue Police, the Guardia di Finanza, was just around the corner from my apartment. When I saw that they were back from lunch I went over and was buzzed in by a skeptical young officer. After all, who goes to the Internal Revenue Office unless they are summoned?
|On the Job|
“Signora,” he said, “this is not a difficult problem. You are looking for the phone number of the Ufficio delle Entrata in Parma, the office of the Internal Revenue in Parma right?”
I shook my head yes.
“Very simple. It’s under Office”.
“Yes, like Office of the Internal Revenue”. He didn’t look suspicious any more, he looked confused. I could almost hear him thinking, is it possible this woman is that stupid? How could she not know that? Instead, he said, "ma e logico no?" It was logical, no?
Not to me.
I have heard the words, “ma, e logico no?” so many times since I moved to Italy, I can’t even count them anymore. And each and every time I can honestly answer that no, whatever the discussion was, no it was not logical, not in any way, shape or form. In fact, it was totally illogical to me.
Then I realized that they
apply that same principle to other things, like lawyer’s offices. A lawyer’s
office is called a “studio”. So if you are looking for the law offices of Pinco
Pallo, you would look under “Studio Legale Pinco Pallo”, Legal Office of Pinco
Pallo. It’s the same for hospitals. San
Martino Hospital in Genoa is listed as Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San
Martino because a few years back the government decided that hospitals were
businesses and so they all became “azienda”, which is the Italian word for “business”.
The same holds true for the Customs Office, the Registrar’s Office, the Tourist
Office and just about anything else that’s in an office. How could I not have remembered that?
|Can You Help Me? Please!|
Truthfully, these days the Yellow Pages search engine is a lot better than it was in the past and sometimes you can find stuff by just typing in the thing that you want. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. Of course there are always going to be those times when no matter what you type in the little box, it ain't gonna work. Those are the days you pour yourself a glass of wine and put out the "gone fishing" sign. Everything will work itself out tomorrow.