Monday, August 15, 2011

Faking out the Swiss Guard

For the Assumption Day holiday, Dear Hubby and I decided to take off for an adults only quickie trip to Rome. I faxed the Vatican offices several months before our trip in an effort to secure tickets to tour the famed Vatican Gardens but never heard back from them. When we headed into Vatican City this morning I decided I was getting in those gardens one way or another. Armed with the original fax I marched right up to the Swiss guards that were blocking the entrance to the Vatican offices. “Buongiorno, Signora,” they said to me in heavily Italian accented English, “how can we help you?” My first instinct, in any foreign country, is to speak the only foreign language I know: French. So, I started explaining to the Swiss guards how I sent my request months ago and never heard back but I thought I should still be allowed into the office to see if tickets were waiting there for me. Both of them looked at me dumfounded, as IF they had NO idea what I was saying. How could this be? since Switzerland is known the world over for having not one, but THREE national languages: French, Italian and German. Well, these Swiss guards must have been from the Italian only section of the country because they did not appear to speak or understand a word of French. I then decided to use this fact to my advantage. As Dear Hubby stood silently by, I berated these guys non-stop in French, pointing at and waving my fax (which was also in French) in front of their faces until they finally gave up trying to communicate with me and simply waved us inside the gates! I felt like Lois Lane in the second Superman movie. The one where she distracts the gendarme with her French phrase book and then slips right into the crime scene undetected. Unfortunately, for me the folks that worked inside the Vatican offices were not nearly as monolingual as the guards. They had several French speaking Italians working there who quickly ascertained we had neither tickets nor clearance to be where we were, and promptly kicked our asses back out into St. Peter’s Square. So, the moral of the story is if you are ever stopped by the Swiss guard in Vatican City speak French, it may not save you completely, but it should buy you some time to formulate a plan.


  1. Love it... Pity I don't speak any French at all. Would bad German or Dutch do do you think?

  2. LOL! yeah, I'm pretty sure bad German, good Dutch, even Pig Latin would work on them. As long as it isn't English or Italian, you should be good to go!