I’m going to Italy again. This time for 2 months. When I returned last year I enrolled in Italian 1 at Cabrillo College. What a joy! Our teacher was so vibrant and enthusiastic, she turned a group of people sitting sullenly in their seats before class into a lively, sharing community. We all became friends. I got together with people to study and to have meals. When we studied Italian food, two friends of one of our classmates brought an entire Italian meal for all of us and explained everything. Delicious and educational! I am hoping to connect with one of them who will be in Venice at the same time I will. One day we Skyped with the friend of one of our classmates who lives in Genoa. We all asked him questions.
Since the class, I have been listening to Pimsleur interactive lessons and improving my pronunciation and getting the nerve to actually speak. I recommend the combination of learning grammar in a college class, practicing speaking, and then listening to CDs while you are in the car. I got them all from the library.
I’m excited to be staying in rented flats instead of hotels. I found them on HomeExchange.com. Although I placed the offer of my home in April, people semed to have made their summer and fall plans already. But many offered to rent their flats to me. Since I was traveling alone, and had offered my home, the prices they quoted were, for the most part, very low.
The first offer I chose was from a very kind woman named Elisa from Venice. She had gone to London to learn English and had stayed 40 years. She just returned to Venice about 4 years ago. She has a small flat on the top floor with a large terrace overlooking a canal. I foresee many happy hours on that terrace! That is, when I’m not walking my legs off exploring! She will meet me at the vaporetto stop nearby the day I arrive. She was excited that I liked to draw and will introduce me to an artist in her building, and also a university professor. I feel like I am going to visit a friend. I think she lives in another flat in the building. She assures me that she is pleased to answer all of my random questions.
She introduced me to her friend, Grazia, in Camogli, a small town near Genoa. She only rents to friends. Elisa asked if I would be interested. Yes! I said, and so I have my first stop for a week in Camogli, in a house in an olive orchard, overlooking the Ligurian Sea. You take a path through the trees to get down into the village. She and her husband will pick me up at the train station the day I arrive.
Next stop is Bologna, also through HomeExchange.com. After some reading I did this year I became fascinated by the covered walkways in Bologna. Also the food, among other things. I will be there for 5 nights. My hostess, Elisabetta, also offered to pick me up at the train station. Her flat is in the center of the old city. More exploring.
Then it is on to Venice for almost 5 weeks. After that, I will either spend 2 weeks in Florence, or one week in the country and one week in Florence. My landlords last year have rented out the flat where I stayed, so I can’t stay there. The new flat is near the San Lorenzo market (dangerous!) and also near my favorite hangout last year, the OK Bar! I’m so eager to return and speak Italian to them this year! My host, Massimo, offered to drive me to the airport on my last day. I have such a warm feeling about my trip and the people I have already met online.
Today I actually put things together in my suitcase. I realized that my heavy Italian cookbook could be replaced by a book available on Kindle, written by the son of the author of my beloved book. I got Kindle free on my little PC and on my iPhone. I have all my clothes packed. Now I’m working on cosmetics and “amazements” as my daughter used to call them when she was a little girl. Wish me luck!