I meant to share yet another short story of how I came across some German-speaking Italians in Apulia.
On another sunny day – I had a visitor from Switzerland – we had decided to take a little bike tour in the natural and marine park of Torre Guaceto. As I had heard that there were even turtles in the area, I was very excited.
We cycled for a while along the beaches, which became less and less populated the further we left behind the general bus stop. But whenever we saw a neat beach, we would think a little of whether to stay there… only to decide that we could always return, but should first see whether there was an even nicer beach.
After a couple of hours of cycling in the hot sun, this lead us to reach the end of the park without having settled. Since we were getting hungry and thirsty, we decided to rest at one of the beaches outside the park, where we would find some sunchairs and a bar for a cool drink. It did not work out all too nicely though, this part of the beach was crowded with people and it was very windy. In the end, we sat down in a little bar set back from the shore, where an Italian family was just finishing their lunch. Timidly, we asked for two „Radler“ (beer with lemon juice) and sat down at a table right next to the owner’s family. Surely, we were the only guests that afternoon.
As it is often the case in this part of the world though, you do not sit alone for long. I do not remember how it happened, but somehow the father of the family turned around and started speaking to us in German. He must have been in his late sixties… and before we knew it he was telling us how to cook an Italian pasta dish. Sure enough, his wife joined in, sharply disciplining her husband that he was talking about an Italian recipe not even knowing how to cook himself! So she continued with the details – all in German, of course, with a Southern German dialect to it. After that, we learned that the family had lived in Germany for many years, their children, the daughter of which was now running the bar, had grown up in Germany and spoke the language fluently. Once more, I heard about how the Italian workers that came to Germany in the 60s/70s would work very hard to earn their living, often several shifts in a row, and often in some chemical factories. It seems to me as if a lot of the Italian guest workers in Germany came from the very South of Italy, where the prospect for work has for a long time been very poor.
During our conversation, „dolci“ were passed over to our table and we enjoyed some of the delicious pastry that these generous Italians offered to us. Unfortunately, we could not be of great help when they asked us about a good recipe for the famous German cheesecake. Yet when I returned from the bathroom, a piece of homemade cheesecake sat there waiting for me. It was delicious, and they clearly did not need a different recipe! I learned the nicest story about the cake only after we had left the family: A piece of cake had been offered to my friend while I was away, and he was told to eat it quickly before I returned (“schnell, schnell”), so that I would not know of the amount of sweets that he had eaten!
Anyway, this was an extremely nice and refreshing afternoon encounter. On our way back, we finally settled at a quiet beach protected from the wind, and even if we did not see any turtles, we did find a lot of beautiful colourful fish in the shallow waters while snorkelling.