So here it is, I am off to Italy next week, for about 6 weeks, with hopes of learning Italian and clearing my head! The food, wine, and coffee all convenient side benefits!
I have always wanted to learn another language and actually took a mini-course in Italian a few years ago prior to a cycling trip in Puglia (the ‘heel’ of Italy) as I figured I needed to know some basics in case I got lost. I did get lost and the course did come in handy! It was also great fun to call out to the olive farmers as I rode by and their return comments always included “Buon Viaggio!” (have a good trip). In the smaller villages many of the natives were very interested in who we were, crazy Americans riding through their towns! So a little bit of language skills certainly helped!
So now it is more serious, a 4-week course in Siena, Tuscany. I start on Monday, July 18th with classes all morning and then afternoons are open to practicing out in the environs which include excursions organized by the school.
I have spent a lot of time researching language schools over the last few weeks but really have no idea what to expect until I get there and start living this experience!
I started out thinking I would study Spanish as it seemed like a more practical language. There are many schools in Central America that offer extremely inexpensive courses and have good reviews but I didn’t want to spend 4-weeks in any one country and while the lessons were very affordable the flight costs of hopping from places like Guatemala to Panama, etc, were challenging and expensive. I then looked at Spain, and had a plan pretty well worked out which included time in Seville, Valencia, and Madrid but then I started to reflect on what exactly this “not quite a mid-life gap year” is really all about for me and had to go with my heart; it needed to be Italian.
All my personality tests point me in this direction, too, the art and music in particular. Not to snub other countries, but Italy is the home of the Renaissance and I love all varieties of music, including opera, and as Puccini is my favorite composer Italy just feels like where I belong right now. I will certainly visit Puccini’s hometown of Lucca, which conveniently is in Tuscany.
My time in Siena also concludes with the Palio festival which is a mad-ass bareback horse race that takes place in the Piazza del Campo and dates back to medieval times. Apparently it is not uncommon for riders to be thrown from their horses so this is quite a dangerous endeavor. How can I resist with my love of horses?
After Siena the rough plan is a long weekend in Rome followed by a week in Florence where I will probably take more lessons. Then onto Ireland to see my mother and visit some relatives I haven’t seen for a while.
So the beans are spilled (cannellini, borlotti, or fava with a nice chianti?).
More thoughts in the days to come! Right now I am heading to Borders again!