Ciao, bella – bella, ciao

With International Women’s Day just around the corner, here’s a look back at what happened last year. Mimosa, party horns and drag queens: long may they thrive.


Middle-aged drunk woman has a party horn. It’s got silver tassles on the end, which she waggles around, watching them catch the light. As she passes the English girls she blows the horn hard and is rewarded with laughter. She tries again, but fails to get more of a reaction, so moves on. There’s a statue of a naked woman at the end of the room, and she heads towards that. There’s a broad smile on her face and a wicked glint in her eye, and it looks as if the statue is going to be the brunt of some mischief. Sure enough, the party horn is placed on the poor girl’s marble hair. This doesn’t cause enough shock in the crowd, however, so drunk woman ups her game. She starts tracing circles around the statue’s non-existent nipples. This garners a hysterical gasp and a storm of giggles from a passing teenager. Drunk woman, in the best clowning traditions, repeats the action: if it makes someone laugh, do it again. And again. And again, but bigger. Hilarious!

le donne e gli uomini

It’s International Women’s Day. This is the one day a year when women can escape and go wild down here. And they do. There are a few hundred women in this hotel, and they are all determined to enjoy themselves. The DJ banters over the microphone, egging the crowd on to cheer ever louder. Come on ladies – we’ve got a surprise for you. Let me hear you! Every woman in the room raises her voice as loud as she can – and this being Italy, that’s pretty loud – as Pino, the resident drag queen, shimmies into the room to the strains of Bella, Ciao*.

Pino pulls some bananas out of a plastic bag with a triumphant flourish. The room dissolves into shrieks of laughter. Who’s the head of this table? Everyone points in different directions. She homes in on the woman who’s trying to shrink herself under the table and look inconspicuous. You. What’s your name? The woman turns beet-red and shakes her head. Pino changes to confidante mode, flutters her eyelashes and wheedles, Come on, darling, what’s your name? Through her blushes and laughter, the woman manages to say, Maria. Pino smiles. Do you like bananas, bellamia? It’s a rhetorical question. Maria’s going to eat the banana whether she likes it or not, and she’s going to make it look good. Pino takes her time peeling the skin, keeping a beady eye on the crowd through her enormous false lashes. She makes a suggestive moue and runs her tongue along her top lip before shoving Maria’s head back and pushing the banana into the poor woman’s mouth. Maria promptly starts choking – with laughter, thankfully – and the room erupts.

The floor show continues in a similar vein at each table. When she reaches the English girls, the drag queen stops, a small smile playing around her mouth at the sport she can have here. There aren’t going to be any allowances made. The banana act is repeated, as the whole room whoops and cheers. Her work done, Pino is about to strut away. She turns, but doubles back: she’s just realised that her chosen victim is pregnant. But, signora … What happened here? Well  – she rolls her eyes – we can *see* what happened,  but how far along are you? Only 4 months? With a 6-month-old at home, you say? There is a brief twitch of amusement from her lips before she delivers her final, killer line: Well – I see *you* have no need of bananas, signora …! She sashays to the front in triumph, waving her highly manicured nails at the DJ, who grins and puts on another song. You all know this one – come on everyone, on your feet!

Later, Pino is sitting on a stripper’s lap, bouncing up and down, wide-eyed and smirking. The stripper looks mortified. Little does he know that his evening is just about to get a whole lot more embarrassing – or entertaining, depending on your point of view. Middle-aged-drunk-woman is powering her way up the aisle, scattering bystanders as she goes. The drag queen’s eyes widen and a flicker of amusement crosses her face before she is pushed out of the way. She tries to protest, but without conviction. This show is just far too funny. Middle-aged drunk woman grins at the stripper, who is looking more terrified by the second. The blood-filled bumps on his chest where he’s waxed too enthusiastically flush scarlet, and he adjusts his sunglasses, as if they can protect him. He puts his hands out in a gesture of supplication, but drunk woman’s having none of it. Batting his protests aside, she plonks her not-inconsiderable weight onto his skinny, waxed lap and starts to wiggle. Pino is in convulsions of laughter, as are the rest of the room. Drunk woman is loving it, and plays to the crowd as she has been doing all evening. She makes a triumphant gesture towards the table of English girls – Who’s having fun now, eh?! Well, actually, I think we all are. Happy Women’s Day, lady.

* English translation of the lyrics to Bella, Ciao here

Images by sukkulaaticagiflickr and seeminglee (Creative Commons)

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About Kate Bailward

Kate Bailward is a cat-loving, trifle-hating, maniac driver. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
This entry was posted in Living Like a Maniac and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Ciao, bella – bella, ciao

  1. LindyLouMac says:

    I remembered it is coming up and have just changed my FB header to Mimosa :)
    LindyLouMac´s last post ..Sunday Song – Lucio Dalla Tribute.

  2. Roxanne says:

    Bella, Ciao is the soundtrack to my day and your images of bliss are accompanying it too. Thank you for that, and happy women’s day!
    Roxanne´s last post ..Staring at the hearts of lilies

  3. Jenny says:

    I just found your blog and felt compelled to comment on the first entry! This is too funny! I can see it all happening and now I want to be in Italy next Women’s Day! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Katja says:

    Lindy, I didn’t get *any* mimosa this year. Last year I was given loads! Calabria 1, Sicily 0 – must try harder … ;)

  5. Katja says:

    Happy women’s day to you too, Roxanne (a day late!). I’d never heard Bella,Ciao before the event described in this post, but now that I both (a) know it and (b) understand it I love it.

  6. Katja says:

    Thanks Jenny! Do come to Italy – it’s a wonderful place to be, and not just on IWD.

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