ITALIAN for beginners

The film left me with the impression that it was produced by an English company. And I could understand that. But it isn't. And its title is originally Danish: Italiensk for begyndere. Although the idea stems from Evening Class by Maeve Binchy.
Danish. Italian. Irish. English. If it wasn't for the problems with the euro you whould think that Europe is working.

I started to spend most of my time in Italy when I bought a house in Gioiella. The very reason for my nickname. I wanted to live among the Italians. In the meantime I have made some Italian friends. I go cycling with Italians. I was deeply moved by the accident in which seven Italian cyclists were killed. I can feel the emotions when I think of the other men of the village, sitting in the evening on the panchina in front of the bar, the tears instead of the laughter of the social and socializing five-o'clock-meeting at the centre of the village.

But we moved to another house. Outside a neighbouring village Porto. On its own, at the top of a hill. And very alone. No problem with my German friends, who own a house in Gioiella. Or my English friends, who bought my first Italian house. But my Italian friends are more distant now. Oh, I still see them, the contact is still hearty and we kiss when we meet. But it's slightly different and they do not call me anymore when they go for a ride.
I also now have Italian neighbours. Un tifo di Fiorentina - di Prato. Un Milanese, direttore di un azienda. They live and work around Firenze and Milano. And they are here a few weeks a year. Ferragosto. A few weekends. Ponte dei Santi. Perché è seconda casa. I have an English neighbour too, and also a German neighbour, who we hardly ever see. Second, or even third home.

But there is nostro vicino il pastore e sua moglie la pastora. As Italian as you can get it. Sardi. We see them almost every day. More then once a week we join for a drink. Or we have a meal together. Stasera ceniamo insieme, Leonardo! It's almost an order when Ausilia invites us.

My wife likes the place where we live. But she misses the village too. Although she came here about at the time when we moved from Gioiella to Porto. So she never had the chance to socialize with the Italian people like I did. No problem in speaking with il direttore. He is very communicative. So there's no need to speak English. But meeting with Ausilia and Vittorio is a different story. When I am around and Auselia comes along, then it's my wife who gives the orders: stay with me, I need you here and now! When I try to do something in the meantime in another room or around the house, always at hearing distance, I'm commanded by Ausilia: Leonardo, vieni. Aiuta!

We thought it a good idea for her to have some lessons. But she is not the type to sit in a class. And it's always difficult to learn Italian from a native Italian who only speaks Italian. Luckily she found a friend, Mary, who moved from England to Porto. A teacher who now earns (part of) her living with teaching English to the Italians of Porto and Gioiella. And who found herself another niche in the market: teaching English women to speak Italian.

As I keep saying: the best place to learn Italian is among Italian people.
But no doubt, my wife's English has improved enormously.
In the supermarket, and tutti i negozi, she never had, and she still has no problem to find her way.
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