Lights, Camera… Paddle!

Living in Italy has taught me a lot of things, one of them being that it’s quite normal to find yourself in random situations like the one I found myself in last Wednesday afternoon – sweltering in my fur coat under the abnormally warm Spring sun, sharing a raft with a B-list Italian celebrity conducting an interview while my friend and I selfconciously paddled a raft along the river, all the while being filmed for a TV show.

Let me give you some background to the story. The day before my friend Gigi calls me and says he needs a favour. A TV station is going to be filming some ‘tourists’ rafting down the river in the city centre. The tourists he had asked to come had backed out, and as I wasn’t exactly ‘Italian looking’ I could play the role and help a friend out. Fine, no problem – thinking that all I would need to do was sit on the boat, pretend I was seeing Verona for the first time from the river, maybe bring a selfie stick. I called my friend Caroline to come along for the ride, she agreed.

We get to the meeting point, dressed as two ‘sophisticated’ tourists. Both wearing coats that were two warm for that partiular day and time. Waited a while for the TV crew to turn up, asked the rafting guys what the plan was. They didn’t really know. Waited a bit more and eventually the crew arrived. It was Rai! A bit like the Italian version of BBC. What? I thought it was just going to be a little amatuer local thing – not Rai! It was for a programme called Sereno Variabile – and they were doing a whole programme on Verona. We got introduced to the crew and Oswaldo (B-list celebrity), we all got handed a life jacket and after a little more italian faffing it was time to row -I mean go.

Girls, would you like to get into the boat? We got on the boat (with all the grace of an elephant trying to put on socks) and were told to sit at the front. Oswaldo was behind me and Davide (the main River Rafting guy) was behind my friend Caroline. Just as we were getting comfortable we were both passed a paddle. A paddle? We have to paddle? I was there in my leather boots, dark jeans, fur trimmed coat, and they wanted me to paddle? Caroline and I locked eyes and knew that if anything, this would be a good aperitivo story for later.

So there we were paddling down the river, in the centre of Verona, sweating cobs while an interview was going on behind me. Paddling rather awkwardly we would take turns to casually turn around trying to be caught on camera and reclaim some of the dignity  we lost getting in the boat. After the 40 minute ordeal  workout journey was over and we had all scrambled out of the raft we were asked for an interview.

The whole idea of filming the rafts was that the Rafts were taking tourists down the river. The tourists didn’t need to be experienced and it was a fun and unique way for the tourists to see the city. So when Oswald asked me how long I had been in Verona – I panicking, forgot my role as a tourist and replied that I’d been there for 5 years… Oswald, ever a professional, continued with the interview as if nothing had happened. I on the otherhand was praying for the ground to swallow me up as I bumbled and mubbled my answers in Italian.

For any of you who want to see the back of my head sweating in the midday sun, check out Sereno Variabile’s programme on Verona, Rai 2 at the end of March. I’ll be cringing and sinking into the sofa as I relive it with my friends, praying that they cut the interview.

Though it’s not all bad – I’ve got my summer job covered. I’ll just leave my fur coat at home next time.

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