Les Promenade des Anglais in Nice had been magnificent. Everything a young buck of a backpacker from Canada could’ve hoped for to satisfy his wanderlust.
He had his own room overlooking Baie des Anges where topless beauties carpeted the beach. It was like a dream, better than any postcard sold at Rue Paradis.
He spoke passable French, and charmed local femmes. But it was a different story when he crossed the border and landed in Rapallo.
He spoke no Italian, memorized only a few phrases. But life for foreigners in Europe, he’d learned, was kinder to Canadians.
“Sono Canadese,” he proclaimed to the clerk in the grocery shop. “I am from Canada.” And, for good measure, he tapped the maple leaf on the front of his t-shirt.
“Si, Canada!” she exclaimed. “Desidera?” she asked, which he understood to mean desire. He was thirsty and hungry, and desired water and bread.
“Dove acqua?” he asked. She brought him bottled water.
“Dove pene?” he asked. She laughed, shifted her gaze to below his waist, and brought him a loaf.
Later he learned “pane” meant bread, and “pene” something else. He’d unintentionally asked, “Where’s the penis?”
Soon after he headed by train for Rome. Then, by plane, to London, where he was sure not be misunderstood.
It was there he met a maiden who offered him a bed for the night. When he awoke next morning, he asked for food.
She smiled, and brought him a steaming helping of her speciality, Spotted Dick.