I was saying the other day that I have a deep suspicion that many Italians can speak more English than they are letting on. And now I have solid evidence.

Last week, I fell over on my ankle quite badly. I was wearing shoes with a very tiny heel. Being a super klutz at the best of times, I never wear high heels. I saw an Italian woman the other day sporting sky high stilettos and she was gliding over the cobblestones. Not teetering. Literally gliding. How do these Italian ladies do this I ask?

I was merely walking around a corner and my oh-so-tiny heel went into a crevice in the uneven cobblestones. Over I went. In front of some Italians walking towards me. How embarrassing. One of them did rush over and mutter something in Italian. Probably something like foreign klutz, are you okay?

In the face of such humiliation, I got up quickly and dusted myself off whilst internally raging at the chaos and dangers of Rome’s cobblestoned streets. My right ankle, which took the brunt of the fall, seemed fine at first. But by night-time, you guessed it – swelling and painful throbbing. I decided to ignore it and hobbled off to work the next day. That was dumb-ass because my poor ankle wasn’t getting any better.

Over the weekend at the casale, I had my foot propped up on a chair and I spent Monday of this week working from the apartment. I decided the ankle needed as much rest as possible. I did hobble out to a farmacia (or pharmacy) in Testaccio and decided that I would attempt to get some anti-inflammatory cream. But how to describe what happened in Italian? Or how to describe that the ankle hurt?

I fronted up to the counter and asked parla Inglese? (you must be sooooooo impressed with my Italian dear reader!). He shook his head. So I proceeded with my charade of showing him what happened. I pointed to the street outside; muttered Splat; pointed to by ankle; and made a sad face. The pharmacist nodded and said ah si, capisco, then trotted off to a drawer and searched for a specific gel.

He brought it to the cash register and rattled off some Italian. No idea what he said. Then I heard sette, which I know is seven and so I coughed up seven Euros. As I was leaving, the pharmacist said IN ENGLISH: don’t forget to rub it in and use three times a day.

Without blinking an eye, I said grazie and exited. I can draw one of two conclusions. Either the pharmacist is some sort of Einstein and drew down from the Universe the How to Learn Fluent English In Less Than Five Minutes manual. Or…..he can speak English but declined not to at first. I’m going for the latter.

At least he prescribed a gel that has significantly reduced my puffy fat ankle. It’s more of a slightly fat ankle now.