Actually I’m having two love affairs. And for those of you who know me really well…don’t get excited. These affairs aren’t with an Italian man (but have no fear on that count), but with the Italian language and, of all things, fruit!
I’ll begin with the fruit because I can’t express how much better the produce is here than in any other place I’ve lived. You pick up a tomato and it practically knocks you over with the fragrance emanating from it. I’m actually buying produce which I don’t normally eat because I feel I should give the Italian version a chance. The apricots are amazing and you’ll forgive the picture I posted below, but really you have to see them to believe them. I’ve gotten to know the fruit and vegetable vendors (fruttivendolo) and this is essential here to make sure you aren’t getting the smushed and ugly fruit that they reserve for tourists! Preparing my new finds is a little bit of a challenge as I’m not sure of a lot of Italian recipes. But on this count, my neighbor Marinella is happy to help out with suggestions for my lunch. Every day she asks, “Che Cucini?” This means what are you cooking, and I was just answering pasta,insalata etc, but now I can be a little more specific. Gabriella gave me a simple recipe for porcini mushrooms over pici pasta, so I made that today. I added some of the gorgeous asparagus I bought at the market this morning, and it was delicious. I am going to start putting up some of the Italian recipes I’m learning here on the blog, so stay tuned for that. I actually learned the proper way to clean an artichoke, which is great since they are in season and practically call your name when you pass by.
My other affair is with the Italian language. After a few years of being a very lazy (pigra) studente, I’m falling back in love with the language that captured my heart over ten years ago. I began lessons this week at Il Sasso, the language school here in town and I’m loving every minute. I was supposed to start on Monday, but my tutor, Valentina, didn’t show up. They were all in an uproar over there, probably thinking I wouldn’t come back. Little did they know how important my desire to communicate in Italian is!!!! I received three calls that day, and rescheduled for the next morning. When I arrived, the owner of the school met me and took me back to the classroom. I thought this was nice, but unnecessary. I had no idea he would be tutoring me personally! I’m not sure what happened to Valentina, but Alberto is terrific and I love him already.
I’ve had three lessons now (with homework no less!) and there is of course good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m speaking the entire time in Italian. And when I automatically switch to English when I am stuck, Alberto acts like he doesn’t understand me. I know perfectly well he does since I overheard him having a full conversation in English with another student at the school! But the fact that he’s forcing me to speak is what I needed. I felt a little bad for him today because my homework assignment involved writing about moving to Italy and I got a little emotional when I was talking about saying goodbye to my friends. Thankfully he didn’t run screaming from the room, but it was quite embarrassing. Nothing like crying in front of your teacher during the first week. Wait until he sees me if I can’t find a job! The bad news is that Alberto tells me I will never sound like an Italian. That I will become fluent and may even master the “conditional” and “pronouns” (I find this unlikely), but that I will always sound like an American. I find this a little disheartening, because I love the musical quality of the language when spoken by Italians, but I understood his point. If I tried to imitate what I was hearing, it would be fake (finta) and not me. I guess I’ll have to settle for speaking correctly even if it never sounds bellisima to my own ear!
In addition to my love “affairs,” I found out this week that the town approved my residency and so I’m at least here officially now. My citizenship application is in progress so that’s good news too. I’m off to stalk the movie set of the Twilight sequel–they begin filming this evening. You can’t believe the number of teenagers that have descended on the town; they arrived by the busload this morning! They are mostly girls of course, starring in their own “love affairs’ with the main actor in the film. I have more sensible goals like finding some work, but I may not be able to resist a peek at the leading man. I’ll bring Cinder. I keep meeting interesting people when she’s with me. And you never know where the next affair may lie….