Meet the Italophile – interview with Ishita

This week was all about gratitude and appreciation. I am thankful for my family and my friends but I am also really thankful for all inspiring people I have met online and definitely one of them is Ishita!

You need to know that I am a big fan of her blog. Ishita’s blog is THE ONLY INDIAN BLOG ON ITALY, how cool is it? Personally, I love it because, first, it is a big dose of inspiration and positive Italian vibes. Second, because it give me the possibility to see Italy with eyes of someone who lives far away from European culture.

I think it was in March when we have called each other for the very first time. Immediately, it was clear to me that we have so much in common, so much more than love for Italy (of course). I am really happy that Ishita has agreed to share  her thoughts and observations about Italy with us.  I am more than sure that it will be a powerful source of inspiration also for you.

Signore & Signori, please welcome

Do you speak Italian, and do you think it’s important to speak the local language?

Yes I speak Italian.  I’m studying Italian since 2015 and currently hover between a lower and upper intermediate level. It is important to speak the language if you’re living in Italy or if you’re passionate about it. Other than that, it totally depends on your aim and focus. Although I don’t live in Italy, Italian is a passion project for me and also my means of living.

But if you’re traveling around in Italy or any new country, it is imperative to know some local words that replace English words such as Please, Thank You, Excuse me, Where, When, Food, Train, Bus etc. Don’t you think??

What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn Italian?

Just jump in and think less. If you’re learning Italian, just talk, talk talk.. without hesitation. This is one of the biggest mistakes I made in my initial years of learning Italian. I wish I had a better sense (and a better teacher) to talk more. Leave your shyness behind and speak to locals.

What is the first Italian word you have learnt?

I think the first word I learnt was Piazza. I remember walking around in the Roman Forum with a map of the city when I saw the word and thought to myself, “it sounds so similar to pizza.”

What is your favourite Italian book and why?

It is enormously tough to pick an Italian author but my current favourite Italian book is Tiziano Terzani’s “A Fortune Teller Told me”. I have been reading this book in Italian since a few months now (I’m slow!).  I’m simply in awe of the author and his travel descriptions of my continent. They are so elusive and beautiful.

What is your favourite Italian song and why?

I am currently on a time travel in the 80s and enjoying songs by Fabrizio de Andre’.

How is it to work with Italians?

Very different from the normal tourist trail of talking to them on the street. I have been professionally working with the Italians for over 2 years now. The ones I have come across (so far) are super meticulous. They are very proper about their time and won’t put in a minute more. They talk a lot! Most of them are extremely thorough in their approach for their work, seeing the current climate in Italy. But then there are others who wouldn’t put in any work unless you poke them 😉

Do you have any favourite Web sites or blogs about anything related to life in Italy?

Tons of them!! But if I had to list the last 5 I have read recently it would be –Sicily Inside Out, LaRosaWorks, MyDearItalia, InstantlyItaly and LearnAmo. These are not just blogs related to Italian life but also focus on Italian food and culture. LearnAmo has an excellent Youtube channel too.

Have you become more “Italian”?

Even though I don’t live in Italy, I certainly have become more Italian. I love Italy with all my heart and try to imbibe the Italian way of living in my daily life. For instance, I study Italian more regularly now so that I’m better prepared to talk when I’m in Italy next year.

I also enjoy a cup from the GRANDE moka pot every single day. My husband and I love taking things at our own pace such as talking more mindfully, enjoying a beautiful sunset together or even a cup of hot tea. I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty of the smallest things, thanks to Italy. I also look in the eyes of the person I’m talking to, something I’ve learnt being in Italy. I miss socializing with my Italian friends. Their warmth and attitude of life is worth respecting!

Meet the Italophile – interview with Teresa

We might come from all around the world, but we are all Italians at heart – this is my tribe:)

 “Meet the Italophile” is all about expat stories who live or lived in Italy; their motivations, challenges, and unique experiences in the new place they have decided to call home.

This is a series of interviews with lovers of Italy and all things Italian and I am really delighted to open this new series with a lovely Teresa! Join us on virtual, sunny piazza, order your drink on us and read about Teresa experience in Florence. She reveals her favourite Italian author, gives us useful advice on how to learn Italian and much more.

Signore & signori, please welcome Teresa!

What is your first Italian word you have learnt?

I think the first things in Italian I heard were “Vieni qua” and “Sei scema” haha, because I grew up with many Italian neighbours.

What is your favourite Italian author/book? Why?

It’s definitely Elena Ferrante and her 4 books of “l’amica geniale”. Each volume is written so detailed that you can imagine every gesture of the protagonists and the appearance of every scenery. I also love that we get to know the life of two Italian girls from their early childhood on till they are like 60. Through their personal stories you get an insight of what life in Italy was like the last 5 decades.

What is your favourite Italian song? Why?

I don’t have THE favourite Italian song, but one of those I like the most is definitely “Laura non c’è” by Nek. My mum often sang it along when I was little.

Do you speak Italian, and do you think it’s important to speak the local language?

Yes, I speak Italian. I think it’s very important to know at least the basics of the language if you want to live in Italy. But – you don’t have to be perfect: Italians themselves often don’t know well another language than their own and they appreciate it if you try to speak Italian, even if you’re not that good 🙂

What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn Italian?

In my opinion it’s important to first learn the grammatical basics in a course or by yourself with a book. When you’re able to build short sentences about daily topics, you should throw yourself in everything that has to do with the Italian language; music, books, films, series, writing diary in Italian, maybe find a tandem partner to practise talking. But you won’t ever get to the point of speaking fluently if you never go to live in Italy, even just for a few months.

5 things you love about Italy?

The food, the architecture, that the people mostly are very kind and that they make decisions based on their heart more than on their mind (that’s at least what I noticed), that the cities and the whole country seem more filled with warmth and life than they do in Germany.

5 things you hate about Italy?

The often confusing bureaucracy, the exam situation at the universities (oral exams in front of all the other students), that you never know when the bus/train etc. will really arrive, that many young people don’t know English and that the restaurants don’t open before 7 p.m. haha

Was it difficult for you to move to Italy? What surprised you the most?

I lived in Florence for half a year and life there wasn’t that different from mine in Germany. I think what surprised me most was that you can adapt to e v e r y situation; whether it’s the condition of the house/apartment you live in, the different perception of time and distance or that it costs you time to find the food / cosmetic products that you’re used to from home.

When did you come up with the idea of living in Italy?

I came up with the idea of spending a semester in Italy about one year before. Studying Italian and French at my university provided a semester abroad, but it was not mandatory.

How living in Italy has changed you? Have you become more “Italian”?

I became more independent and I feel more secure in many situations. If you once had to solve problems with Italian professors, craftsmen or office workers, afterwards every problem you have in your home country seems ridiculous 🙂 Back in Germany I noticed quite a few things that are typical German and that I now sometimes make fun of (for example eating dinner at 6 p.m. or putting the sauce on top of the pasta, when the pasta is already served on the plate).