“All things could be done much better if you could do it twice.”
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, “Journey to Italy,” 1816
Lives in: New Haven, Connecticut
Age: 59 years
She attended: Italian language course at the “Passepartout” school
Stuart, your desire to study Italian took you to Milan for four months. Can you tell us about the experience?
“With pleasure! My husband is a professor and works in Connecticut. Last year he decided to take a sabbatical year and we came to Europe. We spent six months in France, in Paris, and then we came to Italy. When I was a child, at school, I studied French and then Italian at University. Resuming my study of the Italian language seemed the perfect thing to do in Milan, because I did not know the city or have friends there. Enrolling in an Italian language course at the Passepartout school provided a perfect way to meet people and brush up my Italian, which I knew would make my stay more enjoyable. I found the school by doing a search on the internet, I contacted them and they responded immediately and, after a small interview by their very kind director, Roberto, I was initially included in a class, where the lessons had already started. I finished the semester with them and then I was began the second semester with another class. In these classes I met many other students close to my age, as well as younger students. Students came from Germany, South Africa, Korea, China, Khazakhstan, Mexico and Switzerland. I found the teachers at Passepartout very competent. Both Barbara and Marzia, and their staff are always kind and helpful. With my husband we rented an apartment near the Milan Cathedral. In the morning I went to classes and in the afternoon I did my homework, visited museums and churches or sometimes had lunch with friends or went shopping. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to be able to use my Italian here in Connecticut, where I have just returned. Here there are many Italians and also several universities where you can study the language of the Bel Paese”.
During your stay you saw other parts of Italy. Where did you go?
“Before going to Milan, I went to Tuscany and I visited Siena and Florence. From Milan I made small trips on weekends: I visited Stresa on Lake Maggiore, where I also visited the three beautiful Borromeo islands, reaching them by boat. For Easter, I went to Palermo in Sicily, where I witnessed a procession of the “Passion of Christ.” The intensity of this event struck me greatly. It was unlike anything one might see in the United States. The music in particular reminded us of scenes from “the Godfather.”. I discovered a part of Italy that I did not know at all and that I will not easily forget. I also returned to Northern Italy to revisit Verona and Mantua, which I had seen briefly during a bike trip my sisters and I took in the fall with the “Backroads” company. I wanted my husband to see them and I had not had enough time to visit them. I really like riding a bike, but my teachers advised me not to ride in Milan, as the drivers are “not used to dealing with bike riders.” I might add that my teacher rode her bike daily, but she said she was more familiar with Milan’s drivers!”.
What did you pack when you returned to the US after your semester in Italy?
“Balsamic vinegar glaze for salads, which I love, a few pairs of shoes and a new leather bag. I like Italian fashion and, of course, food! But when I was in Italy I used a technique that I recommend to everyone: I joined a gym where I rode a stationary bike, swam, and once a week, I did sport with a personal trainer and this helped me to keep fit despite everything I ate! I also walked to school. In my suitcase, I also brought a birthday present from my husband: a fancy custom made leather dog collar. In reality, we do not yet have a dog, but we plan to get one in the fall! We already have the Italian collar!”.
Thanks to Stuart Warner for editing the English version of the interview