Friday, March 31


When I first moved here, I had been offered work in an art gallery. I planned on staying for the summer, learning Italian then going back to London to carry on working as a make up artist. The monthly wage in the gallery was the same as two days work in London but I had some money saved and as long as I could pay my living expenses I didn't really mind.
The job was very simple. If I actually sold a painting I was to call the boss who would come from his other shop and make the sale. I wasn't trusted to do that. All I had to do was talk to the clients, explain the paintings and try to get them to buy.

The people working in the surrounding shops were very friendly. I was given a lovely ceramic mug from one shop as a welcome to the area and everyone shared cookies, cakes stories and gossip.
Then after about a month my boss called me from his shop. "Close up and come here-we need to talk".I was sure I hadn't done anything wrong so I confidently went to see what he wanted.

A lot of families here inherit properties from relatives and then argue about who gets what. This can go on for years and many properties are left unused and derelict because no one can agree who it belongs to or who should use it. The family I was working for have quite a few properties divided between them but at some point they argued and now will have nothing to do with each other. The people I worked for were related to the nearby shop owners.

I was told that I had been seen talking to these people and was not to talk to them anymore. They were 'bad people'. I was told to stay inside the gallery and keep to myself.
The lovely man who brought me coffee every morning and gave me linen bags of herbs and spices. His son who brought me a botticelli angel purse from his visit to Florence. The girl who gave me the beautiful mug and shares cookies with me. These were not bad people. Besides, I reasoned to myself, I was working 8 hours a day, 6 days a week for only 1000000 lire (about 500 euros). What did it matter who I talked to, as long as I did my job?

I carried on as before but then one day the bosses son came and told me that he didn't like the people I was socialising with after work. They were the 'wrong type of people'. He invited me out with his friends, telling me these were the people I should socialize with. He tried to set me up with his cousin and his best friend. These were the two most boring dates I have ever had.
Eventually the boss caught me one day just as I accepted a coffee from the 'bad people'. He summoned me again and gave me my last warning,he would fire me if he saw me talking to them again.

So I quit. I told him I was old enough to decide who to talk to and I was nothing to do with his family feud.
I spent the rest of the summer on the beach talking to whoever I wanted to, learning Italian much faster than I expected. Most of the friends I made that year are still my friends, including the 'bad people'.


  1. What an interesting story... imagine the blood fueds that are still going on here in Albania.. there just isn't a culture of 'forgive and forget'.
    I've put you on my blogroll... we're practically neighbours!

  2. there was a saying in ischia that if it weren't for families fighting with eachother other property, the lawyers would be out of work!


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