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!
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.