Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

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’!

Live and Learn Italian offers you study with qualified teachers, while living and engaging with a small community. For more information, sign up to the newsletter below, drop us a line via the secure form, or tap here to email me.

 

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Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

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...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Barbara Gentile – Italian language vacations

This review is by our guest Barbara Gentile (USA)   'The Live and Learn Italian program really lived up to its name' Having spent two weeks in Agnone in June (2018), I can say that the “Live and Learn Italian” program really lived up to its name. Weekday mornings...

Not Quite Beginner Holidays

Join a group to kick start your ItalianWhen we first introduced Beginner's groups, it was obvious that participants with a bit of Italian under their belts had a much better time and got a lot more out of their stay than those who didn’t know a word. So we created Not...

Live and Learn Italian selected by Tutorful as ‘best Italian resource’

We are thrilled to have been selected by Tutorful as one of the best places to learn Italian in Italy. This carefully researched article - How to become fluent in Italian - Top tools to learn Italian fast - highlights helpful tools such as Best Apps, Best Websites...

Studying with Live and Learn Italian

Welcome to our programme. Not so much a language school, but an experience. When I went to Agnone, no one spoke to me in English, yet everyone was willing and ready to communicate. So I had to speak Italian! It’s not so easy to meet locals in Italy and even harder to...

What to expect on our 5 night Italian cultural and culinary programme

5 nights of Italian food and culture AWAY from the tourist trail. Be immersed in an authentic community, live the slow life, discover ancient traditions.

Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...

 

EnquirePrices

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018

The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops.

It’s a language and culture programme designed to help participants gain fluency, get lots of practise using what they kind of know, and to learn useful modi di dire. Getting out and about, communicating, losing inhibitions – that’s our focus.

This review from Joy Nash, a September 2018 participant gives a great flavour:

How do you imagine your Italian-language vacation? Dodging cars and busses in a big city, or strolling the lanes of a picturesque hill town? Elbow to elbow with tour groups and commuters, or enjoying the vista of a peaceful, ancient valley? Brief words with waiters and shopkeepers, or long conversations with local residents? Making only memories - or friends, too?

I chose Option B

Live and Learn Italian looked great online, and after some deliberation, I went for it. 2 weeks in a town where no one speaks English struck me as a great idea; ancient ruins, farm and vineyard tours, pasta making, festivals… a bell foundry - artisanal bakers, cheese-makers, and candy-makers, too.

I’ve travelled all over Italy, but I’d never heard of Agnone, in the region of Molise. Not surprising. Even some Italians have only the foggiest idea of its location, and there’s a joke going around that claims “il Molise non esiste…” Not true. Molise not only exists, it was once a vital centre of commerce, overflowing with coppersmiths, goldsmiths, and ironworkers.

Renowned for its artistic past during the time of the Bourbon kings, its history is reflected in the many Baroque churches. Home to Italy’s oldest bell foundry, since AD 1040, you can step even further back in time, and find the pre-Roman Samnites, a populous tribe who left behind some truly impressive ruins.

It’s not easy to get to, but it’s worth the effort. The Live and Learn Italian family starts with Londoner Jenifer Landor, whose ancestors hailed from Agnone, and continues with her delightful collection of teachers, guides, and residents - providing a stellar experience for participants. Everyone lends time and patience to helping students improve their Italian language skills, in and out of the classroom. Our group was small, and my fellow Italy-lovers an adventurous bunch; from the US, UK, and Canada, via birthplaces as diverse as Ireland, South Korea, and Syria.

Our daily schedule went like this: wake up to the sound of church bells, then breakfast accompanied by conversation - in Italian! - with B&B hosts. Maybe stop by the shops for lunch items (we had use of our B&B kitchen), or order a panini and/or salad at a coffee bar.

From 10:00 to 1:30, we attended fantastic Italian classes in an old monastery, with qualified native-speakers, then, for the remainder of the day, and on weekends, the schedule varied: a visit to a local specialist shop, a food artisan, or museum, a tour or lecture, maybe a festival or play, or pasta-making in a local home. Students, local guides and hosts dined together in the evening, sometimes at restaurants, other times in private homes. Meals often stretched to three hours, accompanied by excellent wine and conversation - in Italian, of course.

After two weeks, I was thinking and dreaming in Italian, and my conversation and comprehension improved immensely. I learned about all kinds of other things too: bi-yearly shepherd migration, organic farming and winemaking, the secret to perfect pasta from scratch, and how to make a church bell - to name a few. Even more rewarding were the people I encountered. When the program came to an end, I was sad to leave. Now I’m enjoying connecting with my new friends on Facebook and Instagram.

If Live and Learn Italian sounds like an experience you’d enjoy, “mi raccomando” (I’m telling you) - don’t hesitate! Do it! It’s only been a month and I’m already dreaming of going back.

Joy Nash is an architect and second generation Italian-American with a love of travel, writing, and the Italian language. Read her free short fiction at flashbynash.com or follow her wanderings on Instagram @joys_by_joy.

For further information take a look at another Guest review:

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Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

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...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Barbara Gentile – Italian language vacations

This review is by our guest Barbara Gentile (USA)   'The Live and Learn Italian program really lived up to its name' Having spent two weeks in Agnone in June (2018), I can say that the “Live and Learn Italian” program really lived up to its name. Weekday mornings...

Not Quite Beginner Holidays

Join a group to kick start your ItalianWhen we first introduced Beginner's groups, it was obvious that participants with a bit of Italian under their belts had a much better time and got a lot more out of their stay than those who didn’t know a word. So we created Not...

Live and Learn Italian selected by Tutorful as ‘best Italian resource’

We are thrilled to have been selected by Tutorful as one of the best places to learn Italian in Italy. This carefully researched article - How to become fluent in Italian - Top tools to learn Italian fast - highlights helpful tools such as Best Apps, Best Websites...

Studying with Live and Learn Italian

Welcome to our programme. Not so much a language school, but an experience. When I went to Agnone, no one spoke to me in English, yet everyone was willing and ready to communicate. So I had to speak Italian! It’s not so easy to meet locals in Italy and even harder to...

What to expect on our 5 night Italian cultural and culinary programme

5 nights of Italian food and culture AWAY from the tourist trail. Be immersed in an authentic community, live the slow life, discover ancient traditions.

Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...

 

EnquirePrices

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Barbara Gentile – Italian language vacations

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Barbara Gentile – Italian language vacations

This review is by our guest Barbara Gentile (USA)

 

‘The Live and Learn Italian program really lived up to its name’

Having spent two weeks in Agnone in June (2018), I can say that the “Live and Learn Italian” program really lived up to its name. Weekday mornings were spent in stimulating classes, learning Italian grammar points and engaging in interesting Italian conversation, all in a very open and relaxed atmosphere, thanks to our teachers Filomena and Alessandro.

 

Meeting a fellow ceramicist and discussing technique

 

What we learned in class helped us later when we had the opportunity to listen to talks in Italian, ask questions of the lecturer, and participate in conversations with our B&B hosts and the other Italians with whom we had contact. There were plenty of “Live and Learn Italian” activities.

 

Maria showing us how it’s done - we made delicious raviolli

For example – and this is just a short list - our cooking lesson in Maria’s home had us all involved making ravioli, Italian empanadas and two fruit crostatas at Maria’s direction, and then enjoying our labours with lively conversation with her and her husband around their dining room table; the visit to the nearby archeological site at Pietrabbondante of the ancient Sanniti people (Samnites in English) featured a lecture at the site by the historian Nicola Mastronardi who has written books on the Sanniti; and the visit to the famous Marinelli bell foundry included a guided tour of the museum, an explanation of how a bell is actually made, plus a demonstration of the beautiful bell sounds by their bell ringer.

I Dragoni in rehearsal

The highlight for me, however, was the evening spent with I Dragoni, the local folk dance troupe, a group of about 30 people, some multi-generational, aged 6 to adult, who performed dances for us with such enthusiasm that it seemed the music totally transformed them.  I was struck by the number of teenaged boys in the group, three of whom played the Organetto (small accordion), which along with the tambourines and guitar, propelled the dancers in their fast-moving steps.

 

Music and dance all together

After the dance performance, we were invited as honoured guests to join them for dinner with music in the adjacent hall.  I had the pleasure of sitting next to Bruno, one of the principal adult dancers, who explained the stories of some of the dances they performed. One, which was fun to watch, centred around boys and girls sneaking flirtations and kisses during the Vendemmia out of sight of their parents; at the time, the only way boys and girls could meet.

Talking to Bruno and Pepé at the Dragoni dinner

In discussing costumes, which the dancers didn’t wear that night, I mentioned our visit to the museum in Isernia to see traditional Molisani costumes and jewellery and how we had marvelled at the beautiful handiwork. Bruno said he had his grandmother’s costume at home, so off he dashed to get it, and when he returned, one of the dancers put it on and paraded into the hall to model it!

Alicia modelling the costume worn by Bruno’s grandmother

Bruno explained its history and the details of its handiwork. The entire hall of people was in awe with many phones snapping photos. He said it was the first time he took the costume out in public. It was quite a special moment for everyone and, for me, of Molisana heritage, to experience the strong pride these Molisani have for their traditional culture was an unforgettable highlight of my time in Agnone.

Barbara Gentile, USA

 

Thank you Barbara for sharing your impressions, and delighted you enjoyed the local folk dance troupe so much. You can read all about our guests experiences in our testimonials here.

And you can see a video performance by I Dragoni here:

Explore more posts:

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

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...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Barbara Gentile – Italian language vacations

This review is by our guest Barbara Gentile (USA)   'The Live and Learn Italian program really lived up to its name' Having spent two weeks in Agnone in June (2018), I can say that the “Live and Learn Italian” program really lived up to its name. Weekday mornings...

Not Quite Beginner Holidays

Join a group to kick start your ItalianWhen we first introduced Beginner's groups, it was obvious that participants with a bit of Italian under their belts had a much better time and got a lot more out of their stay than those who didn’t know a word. So we created Not...

Live and Learn Italian selected by Tutorful as ‘best Italian resource’

We are thrilled to have been selected by Tutorful as one of the best places to learn Italian in Italy. This carefully researched article - How to become fluent in Italian - Top tools to learn Italian fast - highlights helpful tools such as Best Apps, Best Websites...

Studying with Live and Learn Italian

Welcome to our programme. Not so much a language school, but an experience. When I went to Agnone, no one spoke to me in English, yet everyone was willing and ready to communicate. So I had to speak Italian! It’s not so easy to meet locals in Italy and even harder to...

What to expect on our 5 night Italian cultural and culinary programme

5 nights of Italian food and culture AWAY from the tourist trail. Be immersed in an authentic community, live the slow life, discover ancient traditions.

Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...
EnquirePrices

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