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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Learning Italian: My Progress Diary (approx 8-10 months in so far)

Background

I have been learning Italian for approximately 8-10 months now since I met my partner who is from Italy, with varying rates of study. Sometimes I’m able to study intensively, sometimes I learn casually/passively and when work gets busy I can go weeks without much learning at all. He speaks fluent English but I firmly believe that learning his native language too is only fair! Learning a language is also interwoven with learning about a culture and vice versa so that’s another important reason for me.

I’ve been off work for the last 2 weeks for the Easter break so have had much more time to focus on learning Italian. In the UK we have been in a third national lockdown for the last four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic which means there hasn’t been much else to do during this time off! I feel I’ve made a noticeable amount of progress over the last fortnight so thought I would write a blog entry tracking where I am after 8-10 months and what I have done so far. The idea is that I will write another entry in around 3-4 months so I can look back and track how I’ve progressed as it is often hard to gauge. My hope is that international travel will resume this summer and that we will be able to get over to Italy in August (4 months from now) and that I will be able to converse on a basic level with locals in Italian.

One thing I knew from previous language learning was that whatever your learning style, it needs to be multi-sensory, frequent and as immersive as you can make it even when not in a country where your target language is commonly spoken.

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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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