Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 27, 2012

The things people say

I am a bit nosey and often listen in to conversations on buses, trains, in restaurants, on the street…….wherever.

Here are a few things I have heard in lovely Italy.

I was on the train from Lucca to Florence, about a 90 minute trip, when I overheard a conversation between 2 women.

The first one said “You know, I have a friend who lives in London, and she can take from London to Florence in an hour.”

The second one said, “I think it would take a little longer, an hour and a half.”

The first one replied, “No, it takes an hour, it is a special train.”


For more on fabulous Florence click here.


Lucca is surrounded by a magnificent wall which is around 500 years old. The layout of the town inside the walls, and many of the buildings, remain unchanged for centuries.

I offered to help a person who was looking lost. She said, “Can you tell me where is the old part of Lucca?”


To see more of lovely Lucca click here.


I was standing in front of a gelato selection, when the person beside me said.

“This just looks like ice cream.”


To read about Grom gelato click here, and here for Venchi.


In my favourite restaurant in Lucca, Paris Boheme, I heard a woman say….

“Can I have ranch dressing with that?” Luis, the lovely owner/waiter replied, “No, you cannot, you are in Italia and you will have Italian dressing. It will be so much better and you will like it.”


For the full story click here.

The glorious Pantheon in Rome is 2,000 years old and the dome on top is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The enormous granite columns in front were floated by barge from Egypt. This apparently wasn’t enough for one chap who said with an air of disappointment……

“I thought it would be bigger.”


To find out more about my favourite building in Rome click here.


At lunch at a Bagni di Lucca agriturismo, we were served freshly picked and sautéed porcini mushrooms, polenta made from grain grown on the property and pecorino cheese made from the milk of the resident sheep. A woman in the party declared that….

“This needs some maple syrup.”


Click here to see the rest of the meal.


Have you heard any good ones lately?


  1. my favourite post so far …..

  2. ha ha …What about the one when I was in Roturua (home to mud pools and geysers) and was asked what time the show started? I looked blankly and said ‘pardon’? and their reply was ‘Well you know…when do they turn the pools and the geysers on, so we can see the steam and the mud boiling etc?”… Never heard of naturally occuring…

  3. I can just hear Luis saying that – and he was so right! These kind of remarks sometimes remind me of “the ugly American” syndrome which I am always embarrassed to witness. I am thankful for our appreciation and gratitude of other cultures sharing their treasures with us. Thanks for capturing these funny things overheard, Debra.

    • Anybody can make a silly remark, it is not restricted to one country. You just have to look at the funny side.

  4. Okay, this is a darn good idea for a post. I laughed out loud at the ice cream comment. In fact, I’m still laughing as I type this!

    • I am happy to eat either ice cream or gelato…..all good.

  5. I love listening to others’ conversations too! especially when traveling. Sometimes, you hear some great stuff!

    • I love to eavesdrop, it can make a train ride very interesting.

  6. At the amazing fabric store Britex in San Francisco I overheard a woman who was frustrated with the leather selection ask “Well, don’t you have something that’s more square?!” The sales woman replied “I’m sorry madam. It used to be an animal.” I loved that. Great post!!

    • Maybe she should stick to vinyl.

  7. Mama Mia Americani!!

    • Everybody does it sometimes. I don’t think it is restricted to one nationality.

  8. That looks like real ice cream.. ha ah aha too funny. c

    • Gelato, ice-cream….who cares, it is all delicious.

  9. Great post Debra, as you know
    I learned my english in Australia and
    still have a very strong Spanish accent.
    On my last trip to Italy I was asked by an
    american tourist if I was British, When I
    told the story to my daughter in law who
    is from London she almost die laughing.

    • A lot of people confuse Australia with Austria and people are sometimes surprised that I speak English.

  10. BRAVISSIMA! This is so much FUN! Roll on the floor laughing out loud moments! Love this one, Debra. Especially is a summation of your great posts! I remember all those post you linked here. No baloney.

    • I’m sure I have dropped some clangers in my time….that’s life.

  11. The first conversation reminds me of my experience visiting India. I was planning to travel from New Delhi to Taj Mahal; and asked a few local indians how long it would take… From the locals, the time ranges from 2 hours to 5 hours. Maybe not every culture is as time-driven….

    • I suppose it would depend whether you were in a hurry or not.

  12. Hilarious!

    • You have to smile.

  13. Haha, oh those people….well prepared…

  14. Makes you envy the Italians who don’t understand English doesn’t it. Too true Debra. And only the tip of the iceberg. You could write a book I know….

    • I’m sure they say silly things sometimes too.

      • Constantly…

  15. Am I the only one who feels hesitant about laughing at ignorance, which many of these examples display? We’re all ignorant about lots of things and if people laugh at us, we’ll clam up and won’t say anything, which will block off avenues of learning. According to tourist information of Lucca, the outer walls of Lucca were built between 1550 and 1650 which makes them only 360 years old, not 500 (well, OK, the first bricks they laid are now 460 years old).

    • I don’t think people will run out of silly things to say. I’m sure we all do it occasionally, and a sense of humour never goes astray. I don’t mind being laughed at now an then. Travel broadens knowledge and experience and opens us up to new and exciting things, and if we put our collective feet in it occasionally there is no harm done.

  16. Hilarious, Debra! I really enjoyed this. Some comments that people make puts in doubt whether they have any brains…!!!

    • Hopefully travelling will help.

  17. I’m with Heather. I know my own ignorance of many parts of the world is encyclopaedic.


    On my first trip to the US we opened our theatre tour with a performance of Aboriginal writer Jack Davis’s play Honey Spot in Seattle.

    Following the show, a middle-aged lady came up and congratulated us on the performance but had to ask, ‘Where is Australia exactly?’

    ‘Way down south,’ drawled one of the Aboriginal actors.

    She thought for a moment, puzzled. ‘Like, near Texas?’

    There’s rather more awareness of what lies DownUnder these days, and in Vienna you can buy t-shirts – ‘No kangaroos in Austria’.

    • I was in Newport ( when Australia won that yacht race) when a woman said to me…..seriously…..”I do declare honey child, Australia, isn’t that a little south of Florida?”
      We all do it, who knows everything????

  18. A fun post, Debra because you’re right, we hear some glorious clangers on the bus, sitting in restaurants, not to mention the ones we make ourselves but rarely catch … 🙂

    • The post was meant to be fun, we all say silly things sometimes.

      • Don’t we just! I quail to think what’s slipped out of my mouth over the decades 🙂

  19. Maple syrup?! I have to confess that I love to eavesdrop too – you hear so many interesting and strange things. I love your selection although it did make me realize that I probably say say odd things myself from time to time.

    • I love maple syrup, but it belongs on waffles. I know I have made dumb comments too on occasion.

  20. These are hysterical!!! too funny.

    • I do love listening in on conversations.

  21. Fabulous! I’m a terrible sticky beak too and once overheard an American tell a Japanese man “In L.A. we have the best sushi in the world”….hmmmm

  22. A classic I heard in Rome a couple of years ago. An American (sorry Americans!) family were trying to select thier options from the menu. Father turned to mother and said “how do I say lasagne in Italian?”

    Another good one, my daughter this time. On the station looking up at the destinations for a particular train she said “shall we go to terminus?” She turned to me and asked “Is it nice there mum?” And no she wasn’t that young!! Needless to say, we haven’t let her forget but she has a good laugh about it now and admits it certainly is the way to learn!

    • I’m sure Terminus is delightful, and we should all visit soon.

  23. Ah yes … humanity doesn’t limit its clueless nature to one spot in the world.

    Meanwhile, love the wide-ranging journey in this post!

    • I think we all have things to learn when we are away from home.

  24. Love, love, love the “can I have ranch dressing?”!!!!! Great post, Debra. 🙂

    • Luis is a scream. It would be difficult to be offended by his replies.

  25. Love it. We ate frequent travelers to Disneyland and we overhear the most outrageous things. It seems most of the time the blind are leading the blind. It takes every bit of self control for me not to take over and plan their day for them.

    • I think it is better to observe from a distance.

  26. I’m glad that beautiful meal didn’t have maple syrup on it… it’s just a shame it wasn’t for my dinner!

    • Maple syrup is delicious and has its place, but it is not on porcini mushrooms.

  27. Ah yes, Lucca. What a magnificent place. Thanks for the memories. 🙂

    • I think Lucca is one of the loveliest towns in all of Italy. I go there regularly when I am in Italy and I never tire of it.

      • Lucky you! 🙂

  28. Hehe those are hilarious quotes! 😛 I loved the one about the gelato 🙂

    • People say the funniest things…..especially when they don’t mean to.

  29. Thank you very much for liking my blog about Visiting the Colosseum. Prompted by this, I came over to check out this site, and really like it. It really evokes Italy and brings living there back to me in a very powerful way. There are so many things that really capture Italy on here. Nice work!
    PS: I visited Australia last year, and loved Sydney and Brisbane….
    PPS: Italy, Australia… what’s not to like? 🙂

    • I am very lucky to be able to spend 6 months each year in Italy and Australia…the best of both worlds.

  30. This is a wonderful post. I love Italy, and even though I don’t live there I try and visit as much as I can, despite my wish to visit other destination as well.

    • We bought the house in Bagni di Lucca partly as a base from which to travel to the rest of Europe, but we love Italy so much we have trouble leaving it.

  31. Just revisiting. I totally enjoy this. 😀

    • People do say funny things.

  32. […] Debra on “The things people say” from Bagni Di […]

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