With any country, a visitor can get by with a phrase book, some broken language and plenty of hand gestures, and for some, just speaking in their own language louder and slower hoping the person they speak to understands is the norm. But to get under the skin of a country, to see life as a native and to get a greater understanding of what is around you and what makes a country what it is, nothing beats speaking the language.
When in Rome, so they say, do as the Romans do and when visiting Italy on vacation or for business nothing could be closer to the truth. Italy is a wonderful country that comes alive by speaking the language and not just in Rome but any city, small town or rural village. Language lifts a layer off a country, a whole new country opens up and with Italian you really can do as the Romans do.
There are countless tourist attractions to see and visit in Italy and it is easy for anyone to simply visit, look and then check off the bucket list. But what would it be like visiting these attractions knowing you can converse, understand the signs, feel the emotion?
There is a place in the middle of Venice called Isola di Burano that is famous for its colourfully painted houses. It is a popular tourist attraction and many people just book their tickets, have a look around, snap a selfie and consider it as seen. But if you spoke Italian you would suddenly be able to go beyond the colourful houses and strike up a conversation with a local. Going a little beyond just good morning and very much passing the time of day, you will be a tourist who is able to experience the life and culture of one of Italian’s own.
It’s the little things that bring Italy to life when you speak Italian. Theatre trips can be taken because you understand what is being said, a small local village play can be as marvellous as a performance at La Scala in Milan. Simply because you speak Italian, you understand and what would normally be reserved for the Italians, can be enjoyed by you.
All the many works of art that Italy is famous for can be visited with a whole new confidence when you speak Italian. Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper can be talked about with Italians as you gaze at the masterpiece, you might even get better ticket prices just because you speak Italian. But you can absorb works of art and question if you must in the local language, conversation can be struck up with an Italian art student and suddenly a whole new perspective on a painting or sculpture is found and appreciated.
But it is not just the leisure tourist who wants to get close to the arts of Italy who is a winner by speaking the language. As a business visitor, your host, customer or supplier will feel confident in inviting you to real Italian events and places when you can converse, this will allow you to get closer to the people and the Italian way of life that may very well be the difference between you winning your company the business.
Each and every attraction has a whole new appeal when visited with a speaking knowledge of Italian, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Sistine chapel, the Colosseum in Rome or just a stroll through the vineyards of Tuscany become places with deeper meaning and greater understanding that create a better memory allowing you to really say “L’Italia e Bella” – Italy is Beautiful as the sun sets on your visit.
Love is a curious thing and both France and Italy must be very close to if not at the top of the list for love and romance. But, how do you open the conversation with a stranger in Paris, Venice, Nice or Rome?
Chat up lines around the world can be humorous, perfectly charming, completely misunderstood or unintentionally rude and insulting if spoken by someone in a language other than their mother tongue. What may work in one language may not work in another, and very often a joke about a country, city or icon in spoken in English is never going to work.
One of the worst English chat up lines to use in a French bar for example, would be “Are you sure you are not a tower? Because Eiffel for you….” it may get a smile, if the person understands English, but if they don’t, it will mean nothing.
Having a grasp of a second language when in Italy, France or any other country, will always open up doors that would otherwise remain closed. When it comes to meeting, or just chatting up a potential Miss or Mister Right, language can open up the door to romance and maybe even marriage.
Pick up lines make great content for any stand up comedian, and some when literally translated could make you feel a little unwell. In France, one French chat up line that is so bad it is actually good goes “J’ai un problème avec mon portable, il manque ton numéro!” and quite literally means “I have a problem with my phone. It doesn’t have your phone number!”. This chat up line could be spoken in any language but somehow it sounds a little less corny and more romantic in French. Even the classic “is it hot in here, or is it just you?” sounds much less corny in French “Il fait chaud ici, ou c'est juste toi?” Speaking another language gives you the tools to use the language to your advantage and opens up a completely new dating pool.
The Italians are stereotypically famous for their chatting up of the ladies and any chat up line, no matter how bad, corny or even crude sounds wonderful in the flowing Italian. The most basic and simple “would you like to go out for a cup of coffee?” has no real charm or lustre in English but when spoken in Italian it becomes something almost operatic “Ti va di andare a prendere un caffè?”. Even just asking if someone would like to go out sometime with you oozes romance and beauty “Ti va di uscire qualche volta”
Italy and France are the most romantic countries in the world, partly because their language is so colourful and so full of radiance. Everyday conversations become lessons in love, being upset or angry in French or Italian is full of expression, and the emotion can often be lost in translation. Such is the power of the language.
Visiting France or Italy, whether for business or pleasure is made easier, more interesting and wonderful when you can speak the language. You may not intend for romance to happen, or it may be intentional, but in truth, it never will be unless you Parlez Francais or Habla Italiano. Learn the language today to avoid corny chat up lines tomorrow!
Italy is a popular tourist destination and a country that has many hidden gems. For the vast majority of visitors the main hubs are the only places they get to. It is often because firstly they do not know about these places, and secondly, because they cannot speak Italian and ask about them to know about them. Here are five places that the Italian language can unlock in Italy.
Montefalco in Italy’s Umbria region, is a sleepy Italian town famous for Sagrantino wine and magnificent scenery. Montefalco is a little off the beaten track, and its peace and tranquillity makes it worth a visit alone. The San Francesco Museum houses some of the best works of art in Italy. Speaking Italian will open up this amazing, less travelled place.
If you are flying on a budget airline to Venice, there is a good chance you will land in Treviso. Treviso is a picturesque walled city, 20 miles outside of Venice. Seemingly untouched over the centuries ,once you enter through the medieval gates, you will twist and turn your way around the city through a maze of narrow cobbled streets. Many of the streets were once water courses, and it is not difficult to picture the town in days gone by. Peaceful, intriguing and somewhere where speaking Italian will open up a whole new world. Treviso is a must.
Lake Como is very much a tourist Mecca, but it has a smaller, less familiar, but equally beautiful smaller sister. Lake Iseo is popular with hikers and Monte Iseo is the smallest lake island in Europe. With no cars and fewer than 2000 residents, Monte Iseo is a place that can only truly be experienced when one speaks Italian. The calm and the quiet make this a truly hidden place in Italy, where the real Italy can be experienced.
Gargano is an Italian national park with the perfect balance of sun soaked, sandy beaches and tranquil pine forests. This is one of the top places for Italians to take a vacation in their own country. In peak season, virtually the only language heard spoken is Italian. If you visit here, speaking Italian is very much essential, but speaking Italian will ensure that you vacation as Italians do. This region is barely known by tourists and is one of the best kept Italian secrets.
The best way to describe Portovenere is the sixth Cinque Terre village, officially, there are five but Portovenere has no railway station. Portovenere is peaceful, not full of tourists and a wonderfully friendly little town by the sea. A number of other, equally tranquil villages are found nearby and when you speak Italian the whole Liguria region opens up in a friendly, colourful bouquet of places to visit and stay.
Speaking a language will always open up a country and allow you to see it, and experience it, in a completely new way.
Speaking Italian will open your eyes to one of the most wonderful countries on earth.
Learn Italian at VLLC before you go and open your eyes to a whole new world!
Travelling is an exciting opportunity which can be enhanced by learning the language before you go. This blog contains some interesting articles about language and travel.