The year was 1980. My husband Frank and I were excited to be back in Italy to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and Frank’s 30th birthday. Frank was a big sports fan so the timing couldn’t have been better; we would be in Rome for the Italian Golf Open at the prestigious Acquasanta Golf Club.
Founded in 1903 by British Embassy workers, Acquasanta is the oldest golf course in Italy and one of the most memorable places to play anywhere in the world. The club is located along the Appian Way, just a few kilometers from the heart of Rome. The views of the ruins of ancient Roman aqueducts on the front nine are nothing short of spectacular. We planned to spend a beautiful day walking the roughs and watching the tournament; in the evening we would celebrate Frank’s birthday in the elegant dining room.
Fate brought us together in 1974 when we both signed up for a backpacking tour of Europe. We had seats next to each other on the flight from New York and we hit it off great. We were both Italian; Frank spoke the language fluently while I barely knew enough to put a sentence together. The in-flight movie was The Godfather and Frank delighted in translating much of the dialogue for me.
Neither of us knew anyone else on the tour so we spent all our time together, sharing the stories of our lives. We enjoyed each other’s company and found we had much in common. By the time the tour was over, we were in love. We tied the knot in New York in 1975 and now we were back in the place where it all began.
Our first day at Acquasanta was fantastic; the sky was clear, the sun shining and the temperature mild. The place was busy but not overly crowded and everyone looked quite pleased to be there. Smiling, friendly people greeted us with “Ciao! Come stai oggi?”.
We decided to stop at one of the concession stands for a bite to eat; a few bistro tables and chairs were set up for spectators to sit quietly without distracting the players or disturbing the other visitors. Everywhere we looked the scenery was breathtaking with Mediterranean pines, cypresses and eucalyptus trees dotting the undulating terrain.
As I glanced around enjoying the view I couldn’t help noticing a group of men running in the opposite direction of the greens. More and more people joined the group; curious, Frank and I followed. As we got closer we saw a gorgeous young woman wearing a bikini; the sash she wore revealed she was Miss Italy 1980. There was a sign where she stood and a long line of eager men of all ages.
Frank suddenly started roaring with laughter. I asked him what was so funny; he pointed to the sign, doubled over with laughter as tears ran down his face. Practically hyperventilating, he managed to gasp out the words “It seems they got the translations wrong. What it really says is ‘For good luck, Miss Italy will kiss your balls’. It should say ‘kiss your golf balls’!”
I guess they made those men an offer they couldn’t refuse!
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