I’m delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone conversational skills and practise with encouraging locals as part if their wider ‘avventura in Italia’.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin it now.” Goethe.

My tip for Francesco & Sandro

As the train neared Tiburtina station I went to retrieve my case - but it had vanished! A little alarmed, I turned to the two young Italians whom I had asked to guard it, and Francesco directed me to a different luggage rack. Relieved, I thanked him, and he then asked me where I was going. Five minutes later, we were still talking; about where I had been – Arezzo to see the frescoes of Piero Della Francesca - and where I was going – Agnone, to improve my Italian.

Arezzo > Roma > Live and Learn Italian, Agnone (click to view)

Francesco and Sandro were interpreters, en route to Naples for a wedding. In the course of our conversation I remembered the exhibition in Arezzo where I had learned the derivation of the Italian phrase ‘un altro paio di maniche’**, so mentioned it to them. They knew the phrase of course, but were not aware of its derivation, so I shared my discovery. They were amazed, “During a chance encounter on a train with an English lady, we learn about our own language!”

Learning, travelling and exploring

By the end of 2018 I had spent two months in Italy, discovering new cities, returning to people and places, seeing art, architecture, and sculpture, and gaining knowledge about the history of Italy. But even more memorable were the many enjoyable chance encounters: on the train with Francesco and Sandro – Maria, other students, and their art teacher in Bologna who told me their favourite places in the city which I was able to visit – Chiara, a teacher in Arezzo who invited me in to the grand palazzo to see her apartment - Ludovico, a Surrealist painter - Robin, a writer in Venice, with whom I drank prosecco - and finally Vera on my flight back from Genoa. She was reading Anthony Trollope in Italian, so obviously I had to talk to her!

Goethe, Jenifer Landor and i miei amici di ‘Live and Learn Italian’ ad Agnone!

When I started learning Italian I “dreamed” (as per Goethe’s quote) of being sufficiently fluent to be able to talk to whomsoever I met, wherever I met them. This level of fluency and confidence has taken much longer than I originally thought to achieve, and I credit Jenifer Landor’s Live And Learn Italian programme in Agnone for having contributed significantly to my success.

Learning in small groups and going out immediately afterwards to practice in authentic situations has no equal, especially if, like me, you start learning in later life. I also have a delightful store of special memories of Agnone and the people I have met there, but unfortunately there is not enough space to tell you more.


Come and join me this year when I go back to Agnone again!


**PS: The meaning of “Un altro paio di maniche”, now that’s quite another matter. In the 1400s, a woman of high birth would order an extra pair of sleeves for a new outfit so that she could change the sleeves for a completely different look. And the expression developed further fascinating meanings over time, including a romantic commitment to engagement, and the the Italian word for ‘tip’!

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