Sicilian-American Theatre

The Sicilian Text

This is the first of De Rosalia's comedies that Joe Accardi and I transcribed and translated. The original Sicilian title is, Nofrio Locandiere. For a discussion of Giovanni De Rosalia, some of his other work and to see the original Italian and Sicilian text of this comedy, go to Joe Accardi's Prima Pagina.


The English Translation


Nofrio The Innkeeper
a comedy by
Giovanni De Rosalia
© 1917
Biblioteca Siciliana

The Cast




Nof. (arranging the furniture) After living for a long time in extreme deprivation my grandfather Cuticchiuneddu finally died leaving me a thousand lira! So I thought about investing this money: I spoke with a friend of mine and he said to me like this: "You know what you ought to do? Open an inn, because there are only a few but there are many foreigners arriving!" I liked the idea and opened this inn. I bought chairs, tables, mattresses, liners and many other things and the thousand lira were gone. The inaugural opening was this morning. I had them put up a sign that says:, "Hotel Nofrio." A waiter was supposed to come but up to now he hasn't arrived, but it's better that he doesn't, if there are no customers, how could I pay the waiter since I've used up my thousand lira? You have to have a little patience so for now I'll be the owner and the waiter.


Col. (He's a man in his fifties, with a large pair of whiskers, and a broad brimmed hat; holding a knobby walking stick in hand) Who is the owner of this inn?

Nof. I am!

Col. Do you have a good room?

Nof. In my inn they're all good rooms..

Col. Bravo! Have them put in a good bed.

Nof. There's already a new bed there because this is a new inn.

Col. That's what all the innkeepers say.

Nof. But I can swear to you on the blessed soul of my grandfather that my inn is new..

Col. (gruffly) Enough! One doesn't fool with me. I'm a retired colonel and my soldiers must not give me any back talk.

Nof. That's fine but I'm not a soldier!

Col. That's enough! No back talk! I have to warn you, once one of my soldiers was bold enough to talk back to me, and I, who have an iron fist, broke his face with one punch. I'm telling you this so you'll know how to behave. So, when I speak you must not answer! (a small pause). Are there a lot of foreigners in this inn? (Nof. doesn't answer). I asked you whether there are a lots of foreigners in this inn... Don't you know that I broke the arm of a soldier once because he didn't answer my questions?

Nof. But sir, you just…

Col. Enough! Don't give me any back talk!

Nof. (to himself) So, should I speak or not speak?

Col. Are there a lot of foreigners in this inn?

Nof. Mr. general...

Col. (angrily) What do you mean general! I'm a colonel!

Nof. Very well! Excuse me Sir! Colonel, sir, There is nobody in my inn!

Col. Nobody! This must be an awful hotel if nobody comes to stay here!

Nof. But I opened this inn just this morning!

Col. Silence! Remember that one does not argue with me! (pause) Where is the room that you're giving me?

Nof. In there on the left. (he points to the right of the actor).

Col. Fine. I'll go there. In about ten minutes send me the waiter because I need to give him some orders.

Nof. I'll be there myself because the waiter is not here.

Col. (gruffly) The waiter is not here? And you run an inn without a waiter?

Nof. (aside) (Here we go again!)

Col. Where is your waiter?

Nof. He's sick.

Col. What does he have?

Nof. He has scabbies.

Col. Oh, poor soul! Listen, I know a little bit about medicine, let me see him; I'll examine him!

Nof. (to himself) (What a mess!) He's not here, he's at the hospital.

Col. the hospital? You made him go to the hospital? You must be a heartless prig! After serving you for many years, the poor devil gets sick and you send him to the hospital. For this you deserve a caning. Had you done that to me I would have broken your head.

Nof. (aside) (This character gets excited about everything!).

Col. Maybe even he will break every bone in your body when he gets out of the hospital!

Nof. Never happened, don't worry about it!

Col. How would you know? You have the face of an imbecile, do you think it would be difficult to give you a caning?

Nof. That's not what I'm saying, but…

Col. Silence! None of your back talk! Attention! Salute!… (with a military command tone).

Nof. But I'm…

Col. Salute, monkey!

Nof. (mechanically he salutes) One, two!

Col. I'm going to my room. I expect you there in ten minutes. (leaves).

Nof. Have I opened an inn or an army barracks?


Totò. Waiter!

Nof. I'm the owner, not the waiter.

Totò. That's not apparent! Do you have two rooms available, one for me and one for my sister?

Nof. Yessir!

Totò. We need the rooms for one night only, because tomorrow we leave at dawn. I'll pay whatever the price is but you must do me a favor.

Nof. What must I do for you?

Totò. Since my sister and I are being stalked by an individual who wanted to abduct my sister, you mustn't tell anyone that we are lodging at this inn.

Nof. Rest assured!

Totò. I'll go fetch my sister. I left her in an enclosed carriage. I'll be right back (he goes).

Nof. So it goes! Now you see what kind of people there are in this world! It wasn't enough that he wanted to abduct his sister, he's stalking them besides! Anyway, it looks like my inn is beginning to thrive. I already have three customers.


Totò. Come in, come in Franceshina, we're safe here! Here's the innkeeper, a good person and he won't tell anyone that we're sleeping here.

Fran. (whimperingly) Mr. innkeeper, I entreat you, don't say anything, or it could result in a thrashing.

Nof. (aside) (So, in my inn we talk of nothing else but beatings) Rest assured, miss, I son't breathe a word not even to my own father!

Fran. Father! What a sweet word! Even you have a father?

Nof. Yes miss, I've had several!

Fran. Father! It conjures up all the charm in this world!

Totò. (whispers to Francescina) (Franceschina, for heaven's sake, don't let the innkeeper understand that you're not my sister).

Fran. (whispers to Totò) (I want to go back home to my father. I regret what I've done, though I haven't done anything wrong, because so far you've respected me as if I truly were your sister!)

Totò. (whispers to Franceschina) (I fear that your father, justifiably angered, could kill you!)

Fran. (whispers Totò) (It doesn't matter! I would die in tranquility!).

Nof. (aside) (They must be reciting the holy rosary!)

Totò. So innkeeper, can you tell me where the rooms are?

Nof. (pointing to the door to the left of the actor) In there! One room is on one side and the other one is on the other side.

Totò. Let's go, Franceschina! (they leave).

Nof. Poor kids! If I were to encounter this cali who is stalking them, I would say to him: (addressing himself to a chair as if he were speaking with a person) But what are these poor kids doing to you that you should bother them like this? What are these two poor innocents doing to you?


Col. (forcefully beating his cane on a table that will be located near the door to his room) I thought I had told you that you had to come to my room.

Nof. (trembling as a result) (Holding a club!) You told me to be here in ten minutes and it hasn't been ten minutes!

Col. Yes it has! You son of a cod fish!

Nof. Well to me it seems it hasn't been ten minutes!

Col. I tell you that they have passed, you son of a cod fish.

Nof. As you say brigadier, sir!

Col. What's this brigadier? It's colonel! See to it that you don't make that mistake again. You son of a cod fish. How is he?

Nof. Who? The cod fish?

Col. No! your waiter!

Nof. (aside) (What fable do I have to make up for this devil?) Colonel, sir my waiter is feeling better and I believe he will be here tomorrow to serve you.

Col. Tomorrow? That's useless? I won't be here tomorrow.

Nof. (muttering) (Thank goodness!)

Col. Did you say thank goodness?

Nof. Not exactly! I said thank goodness my waiter is now feeling better because earlier he was very sick!

Col. Did he suffer a lot?

Nof. Oh yes, the kind of thing that would break your heart!

Col. Yet you had the heart to send him to the hospital.

Nof. You know, colonel sir, since he had scabies I was afraid he might pass them on to the people who came here.

Col. Ah, you're right! And what if he passed them on to you?

Nof. Never! he couldn't possibly pass them on to me.

Col. Yes, you must also have scabies.

Nof. I assure you I don't, sir.

Col. I'm telling you that you do have scabies!

Nof. OK, whatever you say!

Col. I'm not worried that you'll pass them on to me because I'm leaving tomorrow morning. I have to continue until I find my daughter and her seducer: I have to kill both of them. I have sworn to avenge myself of the outrage that I have suffered. I must tell you that I had a daughter who was in love with a young man and this vile character ran off with her yesterday. But I'll find them! They must be hiding somewhere. As soon as I see them, I'll kill them! As well as all those who gave them lodging. In fact, now that I think of it, innkeeper, I'll give you a picture of my daughter, in case she and her seducer should come to this inn, you can send me a telegram and I'll come via an express train to kill them.

Nof. Very good! at your service!

Col. Here's the picture of my infamous daughter! (he takes a photograph out of his overcoat).

Nof. (looking at the photo) (Dear mother! She's the one who's in there!) (he begins to tremble).

Col. What's the matter? Why are you trembling?

Nof. I feel cold!

Col. With this heat?

Nof. I always feel cold in the summer!

Col. Anyway, I'm going to my room for a moment and I'll be back (exits).

Nof. Darn the guy who told me to open this inn! So those two are not brother and sister. That young woman is the daughter of this fire breather who would even kill a saint. What am I to do ? If this bavarian while he's staying at my inn, were to kill me, her, and that con artist who abducted her! I'll call them and send them off (he approaches the door of Totò and Franceschina's room) Hey Mister what's your name! Hey mister whatever! Hey mister brother of your sister!


Totò. (coming out) Stop shouting, my sister has a headache.

Nof. Your sister? You have the nerve to say she's your sister?

Totò. What do you mean by that?

Nof. I mean that you have to leave my inn, you and your sister.

Totò. Tell me why?


Fran. (is looking on).

Nof. I've got to tell you that I know that that young lady is not your sister.

Totò. Who told you that?

Nof. Her father himself told me!

Totò. What? You know her father?

Nof. Yessir!

Totò. And where is he?

Nof. He's right here in my inn!

Fran. What am I hearing? (she approaches and loudly says) My father is here? I want to see him! I want to ask his pardon!

Nof. (He makes a hopeless gesture as if to say: "Now everything is finished for me!") Dear mother! If that wild beast hears us from in there he'll cut us all to pieces!

Fran. Let me see my father! (she screams).

Totò. Franceschina, for heaven's sake, stop screaming.

Fran. I'm done reasoning; I want to see my father!

Totò. But he'll kill you!

Fran. I don't care!

Totò. And he'll kill me too!

Fran. I doesn't matter to me!

Nof. Young lady, your father will kill me too.

Fran. It doesn't matter to me!

Nof. But it matters to me. Mr. whatever, for heaven's sake, use your strength to take her inside, otherwise we'll all get exterminated like rats!

Totò. (resolutely, he puts one hand over her mouth and another around her and takes her). Come on, Franceschina. (they go).

Nof. Francischina, what a handful!


Col. (coming out) I heard some screaming.

Nof. (aside) (Too bad he wasn't deaf?)

Col. Who was screaming?

Nof. It's nothing, the cook's helper didn't want to wash the dishes.

Col. But I thought it was the voice of a woman.

Nof. (aside) (If I told him, this sharpshooter will surely kill me!)

Col. So, who was the woman who was screaming?

Nof. It was his wife who didn't want to wash the dishes for him.

Col. It's up to the wife to wash the dishes!

Nof. That's just what I said to her!

Col. You shouldn't interfere in arguments between a man and his wife. It is said: "Don't interfere in domestic quarrels!" Send the servants wife to me and I'll give her some fatherly counsel.

Nof. (aside) (But this guy is worse than a horse fly!) My dear sir, the wife has gone out to buy feed for the chickens!

Col. Do you mean to tell me that you send a woman to buy the chicken-feed? The husband should have gone! I'm not surprised, you're doing everything upside down. That's why nobody comes to this inn!


Fran. (impetuously comes out). Papà!

Col. (greatly surprised) What do I see? And what does this mean?

Nof. (softly) (It means that Francescina is about to start an earthquake!)

Fran. Father, pardon me, I am innocent.

Col. (at the limit of his exasperation) Where is the one who took you from your paternal household?

Fran. He has respected me just as if I were his sister and he is worthy of your pardon.

Col. Well where is he?

Fran. Papà, he is also innocent!

Nof. (softly) (Now begins the massacre of the innocents!).

Fran. (she goes near the door and calls). Totò! Totò!

SCENE 10.a

Totò. (timidly enters, edging behind Nofrio.) I am here.

Col. (raging like a beast) So! I finally found you! Thank God! I had decided I would kill you just as soon as I found you, but now, seeing as how you have repented your error, I pardon you.

Nof. And all the rage left him!

Col. But since I gave my word to kill whomsoever had given you lodging, I must keep my word. The innkeeper who gave you lodging must die.

Nof. I knew it had to end up that I would have to pay for everything!

Col. (to Nofrio) Now it's up to us, how do you want to die? Should I shoot you? Should I stab you? Poison you?

Nof. Sir, captain of the fortress, I had no idea that this was your daughter and this was your son-in-law, otherwise I would not have allowed them to enter my inn.

Col. Do you swear that on your honor?

Nof. Certainly!

Col. I believe you. And now to compensate you for your troubles I want to give you a gift of some money…

Nof. Thank you, but I don't want any! Everything that has happened this morning has convinced me that I've had my fill at being an innkeeper. Tomorrow I'm going to sell it…

And I swear, though it brings me to tears,
On the soul of my dearest grandmother,
Though I live another hundred years
As inns go, I'll never open another.


Translated by Joe Accardi and Art Dieli.
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Last updated 6/8/2002