Jack: Buon giorno! [Good morning!]
Federigo the Plumber: [Rapid unintelligible string of syllables and trilling R’s out of which I am able to sift the words “tubi” and “traccia” (pipes and trench).]
Jack: Dove’ essatamento? [Where it is exactly?]
Simone the Electrician (with the tattooed gecko crawling up the back of his neck): [Even more unintelligible string from which I glean the word for inspection box I can only recognize (and now forget) because I’ve faced a dozen similar semi-automatic verbal firing squads this week.]
Jack: Dove essatamento? [Where it is exactly?]
Simone: [Rapid words and gesturing that lead me to believe I know where it should go.]
Jack: Chi? [Who?]
There is a moment of finger pointing (at me). I point back at them with my eyes knit in a question mark?
Both of them: “Buh!” [the universal Tuscan utterance, usually offered with a shrug, that can mean: Huh? Heck if I know? Whatever! Search me! Why should I care? And numerous other indecisive, unaccountable, unmotivated things.]
Jack (new tack): Che profundo? [How deep?]
Both, again (their words tripping over each other to be heard): Quaranta-anta centimetri-etri [forty-orty centimeters-eters].
I walk to the edge of the scarpata (slope) and point around randomly. Dove esca? I ask? [Where it is exit it?)
Both: Diritto! [Straight!]
Jack: OK! [OK!]
Simone: D'accordo! (OK!]
Jack: Va bene! [Goes it well!]
Federigo: Bravo! [Well done!]
And with this final operatic verbal pat on the back, I pick up my piccone [pick] and go to work, happy to have communicated so well, and looking forward to the day I graduate to 3 word sentences.