It has almost been a month in Italy, and I’ve seen quite a bit of Rome, some towns and countryside, and some parts of South Italy. What seems completely ubiquitous all across Italy, is the consistent use of prego, a wonderful Italian word, that is used for… almost everything. Prego seeps through conversation like water, keeping conversation afloat. It’s the go-to word if you don’t know what to say, the wild card that can unlock conversational Italian for even the most language-stunted tourist.
“Prego!” Shouts the lady selling jewelry on the street at oblivious tourists
“Prego” The waiter responds as a welcome, with a smile to your mispronounced “Grazie”
“Prego…” says the tour guide to poor lost souls looking for directions amongst the ruins in the avid heat of Pompei
“Prego!” simply meaning yes, yes you can help yourself to more bread
“Prego,” To allow the old lady behind you (with an amazingly packed shopping bag) a place in the super market line
“Prego?” you say to the rapidly speaking Italian woman telling you’re walking in the wrong direction
You get the picture.
The word seems to document the most important cultural experiences I’ve had here so far; the generosity and boisterousness of the locals, conversations about food and eating, the cluelessness of tourists and the Italian smugness of their incredible language and country (and rightly so).
Look for my next article about my Southern Italy trip and my first wine tasting, and why the two resonated so much in my quest of gluttony.
No gelato update this time, I seem to have run out of reasons to convince my friends to eat even more sugar and fat.