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Postcard - Learning Italian in Lucca with Lucca Italian School
Barbara Bombaci (BarbB)
I felt a duty to visit Italy since I am an American with Italian blood. I did so in 2001 and thus began a long love affair with the country and the language. I have always loved foreign languages (Spanish was one of my majors in college) so I set upon a journey of learning Italy and perhaps am deluding myself that I will be fluent someday, but that dream is always with me.
I had taken all the classes that I could in my part of the world. So I decided to travel to Italy by myself and attend a language school. I researched about 20 schools and ultimately decided upon Lucca Italian School (LIS). One factor that weighed in favor of LIS was the city of Lucca itself. It intrigued me, particularly the part about it not being hilly; I did not think there was any part of Italy that was not hilly!
First impressions are important. I emailed the school, asking a lot of questions; it seems that I cannot make a decision without asking at least 20 questions! Daniela answered me within 24 hours, with a whole host of information about the school. In fact, she was wonderful about responding immediately to all of my follow-up emails.
I arranged for an apartment online - my first experience in doing so. I was a bit nervous about it. What if the apartment did not really exist? What if the apartment was not as it was pictured in the beautiful online photos? I emailed Daniela and asked her what she thought. She gave me honest answers and even gave me a website to compare other apartments and assured me that the apartment was within walking distanced of the school.
I arrived in Lucca on a Sunday afternoon in April 2011 and started two weeks of school the very next day. I was nervous, but Daniela, Eva, Antonella and Angelo were warm and welcoming. I was given a test right off the bat, nothing very stressful. I was put into a class with one other woman, Pia. She and I spent four hours with Antonella five days a week. Antonella only spoke Italian with us - when we asked questions, she explained them in Italian. The universal language of hand gestures and drawings on the board came in handy too. In fact, I did not think that Antonella spoke any English until I overheard her speaking English to someone near the end of my stay.
Daniela and Eva
During class, we did listening exercises, grammar review, reading, etc. We used no book but had many handouts. The most exciting part for me was the hour or so of discussion that we had each day - all in Italian - of what we had done the night or weekend before, what exciting things were happening in Lucca that day and a lot about Italy: the politics, the social security system, the health care system, the different regions, the role of women, how aged people were treated, how these differed from the US (me) and from Denmark (Pia). What impressed me was the willingness of the teachers to change their lesson plans to what we, the students, needed, very caring teachers, indeed.
The classes were held in the morning. LIS arranged other activities too. We followed Eva around Lucca, traipsed through the gardens of Villa Real, walked the Devil's Bridge, toured a chestnut mill in the hills, watched a movie, listened to Angelo playing many instruments and singing local songs. Eva held a cooking class for us although we let her do a lot of the cooking, while we did a lot of observing, conversing and "cin-cin-ing" with glasses of wine.
On my own, I attended a Puccini concert at the church, walked with the Palm Sunday procession to the cathedral, explored the open markets, walked the medieval walls and shopped. I lived right around the corner from a bookstore and came back with about 10 pounds of Italian books.
And I made friends from Australia, Germany, Denmark and England. We dined out several times and found some great bars where we caught an afternoon glass of wine. One weekend day, my Australian friend and I ventured to the Cinque Terre and back. All told, we used nine trains on our day trip, where we walked the Via dell'Amore and dined at my favorite restaurant, Il Pirata, in Vernazza.
I felt so welcomed by LIS that I am repeating my educational adventure this coming September.
Lucca Italian School: Italian language courses and cooking classes in Lucca, Tuscany
Other Italian Language Resources: Lessons, schools, articles about attending
Italian Language Classes: list of other Italian language schools that advertise with SlowTrav
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