All posts by corinne4janet

Non-Fiction: An American Chick’s Guide to Italy.

The Disneyland Connection…

It was one of those oppressive, hot, arid Southern California August days. Hubby and I were arguing about dinner plans and I thought him insane for thinking about leaving our air-conditioned house to enter the crowded portal of Disneyland. He won.

We soon plowed our way down Main Street and settled down for a cold drink and some people watching.

Kids screamed from exhaustion, parents were on the brink of nervous breakdowns, while others stripped down to the degree of nakedness Disney would allow just to keep cool.

While sipping on ice water, I heard a conversation between two young girls at the next table. I had six Italian lessons under my belt and recognized the language immediately.

I braved a “Siete Italiane?” (Are you Italian?) They responded with a full-fledged conversation in their language. I lifted my hand and asked…”Dooooo youuuu speeek English?”

“Si, I speaka poco Englese. My name eese Monica.”

Her friend’s large blue eyes sparkled with mischief. “I am Francesca. No Englese.”

My husband thought them adorable, and we proceeded through a series of facial expressions and sign language to exchange a few words. By the end of the evening we had also exchanged names and addresses.

Three months later, they wrote to us and informed us of their upcoming semester at a language school in San Diego. And the rest, as they say, is history. That was fifteen years ago. And it was the beginning of a friendship that extended to their family and friends.

What I love about Italy, above the beauty, art, history, and energy of this country, is the intimacy and friendships that are so easily forged. My hope is, after reading my book, you will look at Italy in a different light. That being a tourist will not override the joys of just being there. I want you to linger over a coffee and feel the rhythm of the village or city you are visiting.

Rome is my favorite city. Is it any wonder the writers and poets of old yearned to spend their time in the Italian sun? Of Rome, Byron said. “O Rome! My country! City of the soul!” Henry James wrote in one of his letters that, “At last—for the first time—I live! It beats everything; it leave the Rome of your fancy—your education—nowhere. It makes Venice—Florence—Oxford—London—seem like little cities of pasteboard.”

My desire is that all who travel to Italy will fall in love with this country as I have. That you will enjoy the funny stories, learn from the mistakes I have made, and use the highly recommended restaurants, hotels, and villas where I return again and again.

Train Travel in Italy… Know your final destination!!!!

Well I did it again.

I didn’t pay attention. And we didn’t know we were on a local train. There are three things that are vital to know when traveling by train in Italy. First, know what kind of train it is: e.g. local, bullet, non-stop, etc. Second, know the final destination of your train. Your stop may not be on the boarding schedule. And, finally, know the NUMBER of your train. That way, you will be certain of the Bin in which your train will depart or arrive. For example, let’s say your traveling from Rome to Orvieta. The name of that little city will not be on the posted destinations. It will most likely be Florence. But if you know that and know the number of the train posted on your ticket, then you can easily find the bin number for your train. A BIN, by the way, is short for BINARIO, which is the Italian name for the track for departures and arrivals.

On a local train, they make no announcements and you must read the sign naming the town. In May four of us traveled from Lake Como to Lake Lugano in Switzerland. A quick 30 minute train ride. Did fine on the way to Switzerland. Easy to navigate. On the way back to Como, we went through customs and our train was local and crowded due to work traffic. Como was the second stop. Since we were chatting and not paying attention, we were almost to Milan when we realized our error. Fortunately, I speak Italian and someone helped us. We got off the train, trudged to the other side and found our way back to Como and our hotel. Not a huge deal. But for a first time traveler, if might have been a bit scary. If you pay attention, you’ll do better.

Also, please note there is no one to help you with your luggage. TRAVEL LIGHT.

Everything Italian

My desperation to preserve my language skills has enabled me to take every opportunity to immerse myself in the Italian language and culture. In Orange County, California, there is an organization called OCICA… Orange County Italian Cultural Association. They sponsor Italian movies at a local theater on the last Tuesday of the month and have book clubs reading Italian authors. But best of all, a small group of us have managed to find a dedicated Italian teacher who for several years has taught us in private classes. Know how to speak, taken classes and learned the grammar? Join us for a fun class….parliamo sempre in Italiano!!!! We thank Roberta Bocus for her dedication to our class. And if you happen to be in Venice, her father owns the amazing Osteria Il Milon….housed across the street from the home of Marco Polo.

Join OCICA and start enjoying the culture and language that is Italy.