Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh No She Didn't! Offending the Italians

Bess had a great fondness for Italy, especially late in life when she chose it as her place of retirement.  However the same cannot be same of Italy's feelings toward Bess in 1785.  Much in the tradition of her visit to France, Bess sowed offense wherever she went.  First of all, whenever she whisked by she left the Italians gagging on her perfume.  Wearing perfume in Italy was a big no-no.  Not knowing your cross-culture etiquette could easily be societal suicide, especially for a determined social climber such as Lady Foster. So it didn't help her ambition any when she caused further offense by freely speaking her broken Italian to everyone.  I would give her points for trying the immersion method of learning a language but at the time it only came off as pompous. 

Next time Bess, try Rosetta Stone and a dab of vanilla behind the ears!

6 comments:

Madame Constant said...

Such a beautiful painting. Such an un-beautiful subject.

Amirak101 said...

well this is a lie about Italians. Several non fiction and fiction books I read,including one where Emma Hamilton personally writes of her feelings towards Italian beauty, expresses just how much they put pomade in their hair, lead on their face, and doused themselves in perfumes so strong [Emma had to leave a wedding once because she could not breathe from the overwhelming scents]. I also remember reading a fist hand account from another history blog by a British traveler remarking that the Italian peasants bathed more than the nobility who covered up with too many scents [and even spices!]ocol

They must not have liked Bess because she was crass, rude, and they saw her as the backstabbing lying hussie she was.

Rebecca said...

Owch, even though i don't like her, i still feel kinda sorry for her.
I suppose it wasn't her fault that every where she went people hated her...unless she did it purposly

Lady Webster said...

Well indeed, one does reap what one sows...

The Dreamstress said...

OK, so now I want references for all the perfumes in Italy sources!

If they did dislike perfume, good on them - there is nothing worse than an over perfumed person at a party!

Heather Carroll said...

@Lady Webster, LOL!

I learned about the perfume from Amanda Foreman, a trustworthy authority!