Adventures in Italian Salons

A few weeks ago, I was in desperate need of a haircut. I was blessed with fine, straight hair so as soon as it’s time for a haircut, my hair becomes really stringy; it looks messy and flat, even if I just finished blow drying it.

Chiara had told us about Vaniday, a new app for finding and booking beauty appointments. I was searching through, trying to find a place with good reviews and that wasn’t too far from my apartment. I was going between Google Translate and the app and I thought I found the perfect salon. I sent a screenshot to Chiara to confirm that the Italian reviews were, in fact, positive.

She gave me the green light and I started figuring out what type of service I needed for a simple haircut. I narrowed it down to two options, but I couldn’t quite tell the difference between them. I sent the screenshots to Chiara and our convo went like this:

Emily: I can’t tell the difference between these two other than one is €10 more, 30 minutes longer and I think it’s telling me that it’s a quality cut and a look that I’ll love. Do you think I should do the €20 or the €30 one?

Chiara: So for the first one, “oribe” is a very expensive product. And actually, “piega” means style, not cut.

Chiara: And the second one is for a style for an event, like the theater.

Thank goodness for Chiara, or else I would have ended up with really expensive product slathered in my fine, uncut hair and a nice wedding up-do to cap it off.

Luckily she took it into her own hands and scheduled me with her personal hair stylist for the next day, although she did warn me that he didn’t speak English.

Considering Google Translate had already failed me on hair terms, I found a blog that gave phrases to tell your stylist, one of which was “please cut off my dead ends.” Great, exactly what I needed!

I spent Friday morning sending video recordings back and forth with Chiara perfecting the pronunciation of my line: vorrei tagliere solo le doppio punte.

Armed with my newly learned Italian phrase and WhatsApp queued up to one of Chiara’s recordings should I need it, I walked to the hairdresser.

When I got there, it was very apparent that they knew I was the “American”. They were trying to talk to me but I wasn’t sure what they were trying to say. Finally, after a few minutes, a chair opened up, they pointed to it and I sat down.

Michael, the owner, introduced himself and looked very concerned about how we were going to do this. He spoke to me in Italian and I’d blush, smile, then attempt to mime cutting my hair. I finally blurted out my Italian phrase, which I’m sure was just butchered, and you could literally see the relief on his face. So however I pronounced it, I at least got across that I just wanted a little trim, nothing tricky.

Things went much smoother from there and I’m sure it was very entertaining for the other two employees watching us “chit chat”. Michael informed that his name was “Michael, like Michael Jordan!” and he pointed at my shoulders and then mimed swimming. I told him that no, I wasn’t a swimmer, but a gymnast. He looked very confused and I’m not totally sure if it was because he didn’t understand the word “gymnast” or if it’s because he didn’t believe that a 5’8” 30-year-old with broad shoulders could really be a gymnast.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience and I definitely had a few laughs from it. And the best part? It was only €26.

Here’s a lovely selfie that I took on my walk home to show my Mom my brand new Italian haircut.



2 thoughts on “Adventures in Italian Salons

  1. I already knew the story and you still have me laughing out loud! And if that had been me I would have sat in the chair saying “prego, prego ” to everything 😬


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