Learning Italian: My Learning Diary (20 months in)

I intended to write the second language learning diary after my 12-day trip to Italy in August 2021; I wanted to track my progress soon after spending some time in the country, surrounded by the language. However, the return to school in September and a few stalls in my learning meant I’m only just getting round to it now, 8 months after the first entry.

My first diary entry detailed the methods I had used and the point I had reached. Admittedly, I don’t adhere to a strict learning schedule as I work full-time and it’s harder when you don’t live in the country of your target language, plus it’s not urgent as my partner speaks fluent English. I have picked it up a bit more recently as I am entered in for GCSE Italian at the school where I work with a colleague, and we are helping each other. I also recently returned from a 6-day trip to Italy where I got to practice some more speaking than usual (more about that later). You can read about two of those days, spent in the Alpine region of Trentino, here.

These have been my main methods of learning Italian since my last blog entry in April 2021:

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Little Tastes of Austria in Italy: Two Days in Trentino (Italian Alps)

A trip to Italy in the winter to visit my partner’s family made for an interesting experience to see how il natale (Christmas) is celebrated there. The first couple days were spent in his home city of Reggio Emilia to visit his sister then the latter days were spent in Ravenna visiting his mum. We had a couple of days between destinations to go somewhere different and while lots of Italian locations are better suited to the summer, it seemed apt to go to a wintery place this time.

I’d never been to the Alps and having not long seen the movie House of Gucci (where some scenes of the film were shot), I was intrigued to see some of the region and another part of Italy.

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Some Notes on Love and What I’ve Learned and What You’re Worth

Written: Tuesday 3rd August 2021

Ravenna, Italy

Read: Friday 5th November 2021

Bandaged Moments, Gravity Festival

The Reader, Calderstones Park, Liverpool

This is all about healing and love after negative or toxic relationships.

It’s a journey and a half but the growth, learning and happiness and peace are all yours when you perform a little bit of alchemy and convert it into something that serves you, rather than diminishes you, and I want to share that with you.

If ever, in your life, at some point, you’ve unfortunately found yourself deep in the mire of a relationship with a person who has caused you unfair, undeserved and sustained misery, you often can’t see clearly for the fog.

You’re stuck in the mud, searching for the light, searching for sense.

It’s a wretched wasteland where nothing good grows; you have no compass or torch to guide you to the exit. Somebody else’s shadow is eclipsing your light.

It takes many forms and every relationship is unique but there are plenty of patterns and behaviours in common when you read about it and the one objective in common always seems to be that the abusive partner seeks validation by detracting from other people and it’s a rough ride and it’s horrid and it’s all a ploy, it was always a ploy all along and that’s what it was.

It was a con.

It was all a hoax to con you into thinking you were lesser, inferior, unworthy.

They do this trickery because your self-esteem becomes their currency, furnishing their impoverished reserves by stealing it from you. The problem is, when you’re in the middle of this, you don’t always see it for what it is: a hoax, a con, because they cloak their sorcery with smokescreens that they’re right, you’re wrong, you got it wrong, they’re the good guys. They’re always right, apparently. Dissonance.

They do their best to dim your light. It dazzles them.

Continue reading “Some Notes on Love and What I’ve Learned and What You’re Worth”

Viva Venice! Two Days in Venice and Burano

Venice

On a recent trip to the north of Italy, after completing five days of quarantine in Quattro Castella in the Emilia-Romagna region, we had a couple of days to visit somewhere before heading on to the second part of our trip to Ravenna on the northeast coast.

Friends who had visited Venice had always spoken so well of the unique canal city and photographs always looked stunning, like a glimpse back in time to a golden era of opera, elegant dress, ornate balconies and orchestras. I’d always thought of it as a place I must visit in my lifetime but had never really made any plans to do so, with other trips and destinations occurring first.

Venice was a mere two-hour train journey from Reggio Emilia with a quick switch at Bologna, so this was the prime opportunity to go!

I liked the idea of travelling to Venice by train, and when we got off at Venice Santa-Lucia station, I was delighted to see that you step off and step out into the street and you are immediately there in the middle of the city, boats sailing along the grand canal, past even grander buildings, people milling round in a watercolour blend of blues, whites, lilacs and golds. It looked like a still-life on a giant canvas, despite all the movement.

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Living La Dolce Vita in Lake Como, Italy

Ten years ago, I booked flights to Milan but they were later cancelled by the airline however I never forgot about my wish to visit Lake Como. When my friend Lawrence suggested that we finally go, I didn’t have to think twice.

I’d seen plenty of photographs of Lake Como but let me tell you this: it is even more stunning when you see its vast, shimmering blue expanse before the surrounding mountains in reality.

I wasn’t disappointed when I finally made it there after all these years and I can definitely see a return trip there in the near future.

So, I’ll talk you through our two gorgeous days in Lake Como, what to see there, what to do and of course, being Italy, what to eat and drink. Oh yeah- one word you will hear a lot while in Italy is prego; it means ‘you’re welcome’ but they seem to use it for ‘thank you’ too. Handy to know.

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