In the words of our guest, Andrea from Calgary

Sometimes you find a foreign place you feel you could live in forever because it seems to express and represent you so deeply.

I discovered my passion for Italy seven years ago. After having many experiences in Italian schools in Canada and classes with some fascinating private teachers, I decided to go to Italy to put what I had learned into practice.

In her bilingual book “In other words/In altre parole”, Jhumpa Lahiri talks about her own experience learning Italian:

“…to know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.”

Of course, in Italian it sounds so much better!

“Per conoscere una nuova lingua, per immergersi, si deve lasciare la sponda. Senza salvagente. Senza poter contare sulla terraferma”.

That’s what I decided to do: to leave the shore and speak Italian for real.

Andrea with teacher Simona

I found “Live and Learn Italian” via a YouTube video and after devouring information on the website I realized it was exactly what I was looking for. How wonderful to go to a place where no one could speak any other language. I would listen and speak Italian as much as possible, which, in my case, was all the time!

I embarked on this adventure not knowing what it would be like and to my surprise the experience exceeded expectations. I wanted to live as a local, to meet new people, to eat with them and learn about their culture and traditions. In Agnone, Italian is everywhere, and it doesn’t go away. Learning starts at breakfast and goes on until bedtime. The rhythm of the city is punctuated by the sound of church bells and people on the streets talking to neighbors. In the morning the TV news is in Italian while kindly and attentive B&B owner Tonina prepares breakfast and talks to us about life.

Then it’s time for class! The two teachers are amazing, so welcoming, helpful, and lovely. In a small class with few students there’s lots of in-depth conversation. At breaktime we have coffee at Caffè Letterario, a cute place close to the library where we have lessons. After class, I stop by the fornaio (bakery), caseificio (cheese store), or fruttivendolo (fruit store) to buy something to eat and talk to the vendors; taking in the many old churches, flowers spilling out of urns, lively birdsong, and colourful clotheslines, all things we have in mind when we think of Italy. In the afternoon, activities, tours, and little trips keep us busy until dinner, where we eat and talk more with local people and with the teachers.

Andrea with teacher Carla

I left Calgary really only expecting to improve my Italian. I found much more; affection, friendship, empathy, and joy. People proud of their region and so available to us. I found students eager to share thoughts and feelings through Italian words. I found love and attention from kind, generous people sharing the beauty in their lives and the amazing traditions of their culture. I found a passionate entrepreneur with a great idea and the determination to put into action a brilliant and unique concept : Jenifer’s attentive presence and the high quality of all the things we did really added to this experience. 

Andrea with Jenifer, Live & Learn Italian owner

In conclusion, learning the Italian language is, for me, one of many ways to exchange life experiences, to meet awesome people and find new friends. In his book “L’appello”, Alessandro D’Avenia says:

“the subject I teach is not ‘science’ because the subject is always and only ever will be ‘life’, and ‘science’ is a way to understand something of this mystery.”

When I study Italian, I realise that the language allows me to know myself better and so to understand life better. I still make mistakes, but the most important things I have understood.

Andrea, Calgary, Canada.


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