As I entered the jewelry store, my recent amicas (friends) immediately questioned me about the shorts I had worn that morning. The inquiry came in the form of broken English and much Italian but mostly through gestures. I understood after the younger woman said piazza (town square), made her fingers walk across the air, and hit her legs with both hands near the spot where my shorts hit me.
I responded with many gestures, English, and minimal Italian. With my whole body, I demonstrated hiking while saying Santa Maria (the mountain I traversed each morning). Suddenly and all at once once, the two women were yelling at me in only Italian and making furious hand signs that were meaningless to me.
Within two minutes, I caught on to what they were saying. Yet, the women feverishly continued to expound on the topic for about seven minutes, and in the last two minutes or so, they used some English within the yelling and gesturing.
The gist of their wild gesticulating and frenzied words was that I needed to be aware of viperas (vipers/snakes), biting motions,, and morte (death). Viperas patrolled Santa Maria. The big ones were harmless, but the small ones were vipers. One bite would kill a person within the hour. Their last point was that I needed to wear long pants since the vipers’ mouths were too small to penetrate the fabric.
After leaving the jewelry store, I went straight to the sportswear shop and bought the most expensive pair of pants I have ever purchased. I appreciated the care my new amicas had shown me.