The Allure of Venice at Night

Venice at Night, ItalyWise

A Warm Light Beckons – Jed Smith © 2017

Those of you who’ve been following my blog understand I have a love affair with Venice. And, it continues to deepen, particularly in regards to Venice at night.

On this particular March evening, we had just attended a book signing event at the Mont Blanc store near Piazza San Marco. I had brought my camera to capture the event. But, I hadn’t planned on doing any photography once the event concluded.

Then, a twenty-minute walk, to meet up with one of our dearest friends, yielded photos of Venice being claimed by nightfall.

I like challenging myself by adding improvisational assignments to my photo explorations. This stroll became a prime opportunity to

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Encountering Real Life Italian Angels

An Italian Angel, Italywise

It all started with a dead battery.

And, it all came to a successful conclusion, thanks to the divine intervention of an Italian angel at a local auto mechanic’s shop. Here’s a brief synopsis:

My car wouldn’t start. How frustrating. We jump-started the car, and I drove it around for forty-five minutes, hoping to recharge it. It seemed to work, but two days later, it was dead again. My battery was less than a year old, and still under warranty, but the Fiat dealer who installed it was in Umbria, and we live in Veneto now.

We jumped my car, again, and drove to a local battery shop. They tested my battery, and deemed it fine but suggested I drive the car to the an auto mechanic’s shop up the road, to have them charge it overnight, and do a more thorough check.

The owner of the auto mechanic’s shop was waiting for me (the previous guy had called ahead to alert the owner of the problem). Go ahead, leave the car, and check back in the morning. I walked home (the shop was less than ten minutes away by foot).

The next morning I returned. A bum battery, despite an all-night charge. Dagnabit! Was I going to have to shell out money for a new battery? The shop owner had me call the Fiat dealership in Umbria, and then I passed the phone to him. He then orchestrated

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Learning Italian? Manu is the #1 YouTube Resource!

Italy Made Easy

Manu explains how you can make the most of his incredible online resources.

This week I close out my interview with Manu of Italy Made Easy and the last interview question. If you’re intent on learning Italian I urge you to take advantage of his engaging teaching style.

Italy Made Easy has over 22,000 subscribers on YouTube

Yes, the public has spoken, with a huge thumbs up for Manu. After only watching a few of his videos I was hooked, and jumped into his large following. The more I’ve experienced his teaching style, the more I’m convinced he’s the best Italian language resource online. My spouse, who is Italian (Milanese), and a very tough critic,

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ItalyWise is Back Online!

Sorry for the hiccup

Just a quick post to apologize to all of you, my loyal subscribers, who may have encountered an error message when attempting to access ItalyWise.com either directly or from an email of this week’s post. I pride myself on being buttoned up, but in the process of making some updates to the site something went awry (possibly user error).

Thanks for your patience and for sticking with me!

I will endeavor to not let this happen again. I want your experience to be smooth and enjoyable. And, I normally don’t post this often, but I wanted to let you all know in case you were stymied getting into the site the last few days.

If you missed the post “The Shadowy Side of Venice” I had to remove it in the restore to back up process (more info than you need to know!), but you’ll find the photos added to the gallery under black and white photography.

 

Speak Italian When You’re in Italy – It Opens Doors!!!

Italy Made Easy, ItalyWise

Invaluable advice on the importance of speaking Italian in Italy

After listening to this week’s interview segment with Manu of Italy Made Easy you’ll understand just why it is important to speak Italian when you are in Italy. In the style that has earned him accolades for being such a great teacher, Manu helps you see this from the perspective of Italians encountering foreigners visiting their country.

When you speak Italian in Italy, your experiences will expand!

My personal experience testifies to this again and again. So, taking the time to build a basic proficiency in Italian will pay off handsomely. Once Italians get to know you, they can be incredibly warm and generous, and you can find yourselves being invited into experiences that normally wouldn’t be available to you. Manu shares a wonderful story

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What Happens When We Wear a Mask?

Carnevale, ItalyWise

Would you laugh with this jester?

My mind and my imagination are still reeling from the bountiful display of pageantry and costumes that I saw during the official kick-off of Carnevale in Venice, just over a week ago. I marveled at the sea of exquisitely designed masks. More than once I had a sense that some of the masks were revealing sides of people normally hidden in the shadows. As I continue to edit the ocean of images, I find myself dancing between artistic admiration and asking “Just what happens when we wear masks?”

Do events like Carnevale and Halloween coax hidden parts of ourselves to the surface?

When I moved to Italy and discovered that Halloween “dress-up” practically was non-existent, I was a sad little puppy. Back in the States I loved Halloween, and those of you who know me, know I adore dipping into my creative reserves to design and embody vastly different characters at Halloween. Usually my characters have a bizarre twist. I love playing freely behind the costumes and masks I create. I often wonder what a psychologist would say about the collective assembly of characters and masks I’ve worn. Hmmm…

I guess you could say I’d been going through costume and mask withdrawal, until I hit the jackpot of all costume jackpots

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How to Avoid the Biggest Pitfalls When Learning Italian

Learning Italian

Manu shares important insights about where new students get tripped up.

Today is the fifth in the interview series with Manu, the best go-to resource online for learning Italian. In this short video Manu eloquently speaks to the common mis-steps that new students of Italian often make. In his usual engaging and inspiring teaching style, he helps you master important basics that will help open doors and endear you to the hearts of the Italian people.

When you learn Italian understanding how to address people with respect is paramount!

I confess this is one of my pet peeves, and I wince when I hear fellow Americans blithely tossing “ciao” around to everyone, including strangers. You can be doing yourself a disservice by

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A Colorful Dove, with Great Fanfare, Launches Carnevale in Venice

 

carnevale, Italywise

Il lancio della colombina – the launch of the dove kicks off Carnevale 2017

Man, was I lucky this year (2017) to have a front row seat for the official kick-off of Carnevale in Venice. Life keeps offering up these incredible opportunities. This time it came in the form of a pass into the “inner circle” at the heart of the official Carnevale launch, Sunday, February 19. But, let’s first back up to the adventure of arriving in Venice and making our way to Piazza San Marco.

If you’re brave (or crazy) enough to put yourself in the midst of the spectacle of Carnevale’s first official day, be prepared to go early and patiently navigate the crowds.

This is no small matter. If you don’t like crowds or cramped spaces, I’d advise you to stay home and watch the events on TV. I’m not a fan of crowds, but being six-two, at least my head is above most of the crowd. As long as I can breathe I can vanquish my anxieties of tight spaces.

Carnevale, Italywise

Patiently waiting a security check on the way to Piazza San Marco

The big event, Il lancio della colombina (also called The Flight of the Angel), was scheduled for noon. We arrived at the Santa Lucia train station at nine-thirty, and promptly made our way to the vaporetto stop, where we queued for at least half an hour. Four vaporetti later, and we were on board. The journey to the San Marco stop took at least forty-five minutes. Our progress was impeded when the boat was halted to make way for a regatta with a police escort.

I was ready to hop off and make a beeline to the center of the piazza. But, oh no, we came to a virtual standstill at a small bridge heading over

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Learning Italian? Manu Says Focus on These Three Things!

If you’re like me, your adult brain can be intimidated at the prospect of learning Italian. Once you start putting your toe in the water, it can feel overwhelming, and you wish you could go back to that time in your childhood when your brain was ripe for tackling a new language. But, as an adult, you still can prevail. It just takes the right teacher, and the right focus.

Manu, of Italy Made Easy, is the teacher who will make learning Italian a joy.

His engaging and well-crafted teaching style will keep you going. He’s patient, and you won’t despair under his tutelage. Manu is a master of guiding you through a curriculum that is logical. He teaches you how to tackle the fundamentals, and then build from there.

In this week’s featured video Manu offers excellent advice on where to concentrate your efforts.

When learning Italian, so many things can vie for your attention. You can find yourself saying “Where do I start?” I urge you to watch this video and follow Manu’s advice. I was particularly happy to hear Manu emphasize learning and understanding the grammar. While I learned a great deal from Rosetta Stone, it didn’t teach me the grammar. It’s not enough for me to be “passable” when speaking Italian. I want to have the ability to be more expressive and poetic.

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Layers of Solitude

 

photography, Italywise

Layers of Solitude – Jed Smith © 2017

I’m enamored with the emotion and scenes of solitude. When my mother, who was also my life-long art teacher, began exposing me to the bountiful world of artistic expression, I found myself drawn to the likes of Edgard Degas and Edward Hopper, and their depictions of people steeped in solitude. Think The Absinthe Drinker by Degas, and Nighthawks by Hopper.

I love solitude.

Yes, at my core, I am an introvert. A psychological test I took years ago confirmed this. BUT, it also confirmed that I was just left of center on the scale. This means I also have important extroversion needs. Yes, I love being with friends, family and small groups of people. It feeds my soul. As for the introvert part, I now recognize having the balance of significant alone time is crucial to my overall sense of well being. I think of it as important time to pause, reflect, and process all that I’ve taken in when I’m with other people.

Perhaps, by sharing this photo, I’m also taking you behind the curtain and helping you to understand what makes this artist tick. Maybe I’m also sharing this to prompt you to ask similar questions about

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