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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Manu Shares Advice for Learning and Speaking Italian!

If hope you’ve been following my in-depth interview with Manu Venditti of Italy Made Easy. Manu generously gave of his invaluable time to answer what I consider to be very important questions regarding learning Italian. In this post Manu eloquently provides advice for students want to learn Italian.

Manu addresses so many of the components necessary to “sticking with it” and mastering the language.

Manu Venditti

Manu – the master of Italy Made Easy

I sure wish I had come across Italy Made Easy years ago. I think I would be much further along. He addresses expectations and possible hurdles. Believe me, you won’t want to skip over this. I’m all about expectations and thoughtful planning!

Don’t launch your efforts of speaking Italian only to lose steam when you move beyond the basics!

Italy Made Easy, and Manu’s teaching style joyfully will carry you along. I’ve never experienced an Italian teacher who is so kind, funny, gentle and humble. I feel like he’s pulling for me. That’s the kind of teacher who gets the best results.

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Tanti Auguri for a Spectacular 2017

Auguri, Italywise

If you plan on moving to Italy, or spending a fair amount of time here, be prepared to make “auguri”, in its many uses and forms, an integral part of your vocabulary. “Auguri” comes from the verb “augurare”, which means “to wish”. Here in Italy the word is used with great enthusiasm and frequency. And, for English speakers, thankfully it’s one of those Italian words that rolls off the tongue quite easily. You can master it quickly.

Here’s a quick guide to a few uses for birthdays, new births, anniversaries, christenings, holidays, engagements, weddings, new jobs, graduations, etc.):

“Auguri” – “Best wishes.”

“Tanti auguri” – “Many well wishes.”

If you want to be be a little more formal, or specific, you could say something like:

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Buone Feste from ItalyWise!

Venice Santa, ItalyWise

Wishing you the best of holidays my dear friends and followers!

May the season be full of joyful surprises, like the one above that I experienced just yesterday while strolling through Venice. Everything “arrives” differently in Venice, so I guess it should be no surprise that Santa travels by boat here and not by sleigh!

Who knows what Santa will bring me in the way of adventures in the coming year. Stay tuned!!!

Introducing The Net – A New Painting by Jed Smith

Jed Smith, Italywise

The Net, oil on canvas, by Jed Smith ©2016

I’m excited to unveil my recent labor of love, with the current working title of The Net. This is my second oil painting to-date, previously having focused most of my painting career on watercolors. I love both mediums, but working in oil is expanding my horizons, and my ability to work on a much larger scale. This painting is approximately 40″ x 60″, and took at least a year and four months to complete. Mind you, if I had been working on this non-stop I would have completed it much sooner. I decided to live and paint by the Italian credo of “piano, piano” – which means “slowly, slowly”. In other words, be patient!

This new Jed Smith work of art was inspired by a scene of everyday life in the rich and colorful fishing village of Burano, Italy. If you’re not familiar with Burano, it’s a 30 minute vaporetto ride from the Fondamenta Nuove stop in Venice. It’s well worth your attentions if you find yourself in Venice.

I’ve made a promise to myself to not explain or intellectualize why I choose a particular subject matter. I believe that would only get in the way of the viewer experiencing the work without being unduly influenced. With that said, I’ll leave you to contemplate this latest work. Meanwhile, I am moving a new, large, blank canvas to my easel. A new subject has been chosen – one that will provide a dramatically different perspective. Stay tuned….

To see this and other paintings, be sure to visit my online gallery.

I’d love for you to become a direct subscriber to Italywise.com. It’s easy. Just enter your email in the upper right column (or bottom of the page on a tablet). You’ll receive a confirmation email, and then future blog posts will land directly in your in-box!

 

In the Face of a Sheep

Abruzzo, Italywise

 

My recent sojourn with shepherds, goats and sheep in the stunning Apennines mountains of the Parco Nazionale della Majella of Abruzzo left me musing about what I had learned about myself while communing with the flock.

On the day of the journey, we had arrived early morning at Nunzio Marcelli’s La Porta dei Parchi agriturismo, a good forty-five minutes before the trek up the mountains was to commence. I wandered around the property, first stopping to observe the goats being milked (an upcoming post). The shepherd dogs were lounging about, getting their last respite before a full day’s work, while staying faithfully close to their charges, who were safely contained in pens. It was then that I captured the photo featured in this post, and this singular, arresting face of a sheep. Only later, when I was doing my editing, did I realize the reason the image resonated with me so much…

I saw myself in the face of that sheep.

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The Permesso di Soggiorno – Don’t Expect Speedy Processing!

The permesso di soggiorno is essential for stays of longer than 90 days.

The permesso di soggiorno is essential for stays of longer than 90 days.

I am waiting for my fourth permesso di soggiorno. Each year the processing time gets longer and longer. Well, at least it has been for many expats in Umbria going through the Perugia office. My first year took three and a half months. Second year was four months. Third year was four and a half months. And this year already I’m closing in on five months. I have friends who waited six months. Keep in mind the permesso has a year’s validity. Sure you can tote around the post office receipt and application code, which is “supposed” to be a valid holdover until your new card arrives. But depending on where you are in Italy, not having the card can cause all sorts of mischief. For example, for your tessera sanitaria, national healthcare coverage, you may be required to keep going back to the ASL office to get an extension. Again, it depends on who you’re dealing with. It is my understanding that all that is required is your application receipt.

And so, I give myself the advice that I dole out so often in all matters of Italian bureaucracy…

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Embrace the mystery of life, and prepare for things to change…

Mystery of life, Italywise

Contrary to a life-long desire to figure “things” out, and arrive at a metaphorical destination in which I finally can relax, I’m learning that constant seeking…a constant insistence on being able to explain things, instead keeps me stuck and limited. These days I keep finding myself being invited to embrace the mystery of life, and to trust that, when I do, life will carry me along to unforeseen, and unimagined places of creativity and possibility.

And, I’m reminded that I don’t know squat. Most of the time, that’s actually is a huge relief, and I feel something inside of me let go, and relax. My, what a price we pay for being on high alert while simultaneously trying to lasso life and manage it to our liking.

Might life have better plans for us than even our most lofty ideas? I believe so.

This is the scariest part for me – actually to keep moving forward while trusting in the mystery of life. Moving to Italy and throwing myself headlong into all my creative passions (writing, painting, photography) feels like a huge roll of the dice. My inner judge tells me I’m being indulgent and irresponsible. It then tells me “Well, if you insist on this path, step aside and let me manage the process.” Yikes. Talk about a creativity killer.

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Via Garibaldi, Rome – Photo by Jed

Photography, Jed Smith, Italywise

Via Garibaldi – Photo by Jed Smith

I love capturing images that imply mystery. Often I search out a spot that offers a nice composition, like this corner looking into Via Garibaldi in Rome. Then, I wait for the right moment with the right character/s, and the right sense of movement. Sometimes I wait, and wait, and snap many images, hoping to catch that split second when it feels like a story emerges, and when all the elements work together. While I like this strategy, I also know I can’t try controlling what happens. I have to “be” there, be alert, and then be open to what presents itself.

This has many parallels in my life. I’m reminded again of the credo that a good friend, and mentor taught me:

“Show up. Do your best. And, be unattached to the outcome.”

I’m employing this sage advice with my art, my writing and my photography. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my right brain, all vying for expression. Easily I can become overwhelmed, and frozen into inaction. It’s like my rational, thinking left brain doesn’t know where to start. It also is pretty insistent on knowing that we’ll safely (and perfectly) arrive at our destination before taking action. That’s a recipe for going nowhere.

My latest, and rather huge, revelation is that I’ve spent too much of my life sitting around thinking about stuff, rather than leaping into the unknown, and sayings “Let’s see what happens!” to the Universe. That’s changing, thankfully.

My mom, Liz Smith-Cox, readily leapt into the unknown with her art. A wonderful photo of this wonderful, artistic muse adorns my studio wall, and serves as a reminder to show up, to do my best, and to be unattached to the outcome. Liz would add, “Don’t forget to play!”

To see this and other photographs, be sure to visit my online gallery.

I’d love for you to become a direct subscriber to Italywise.com. It’s easy. Just enter your email in the upper right column. You’ll receive a confirmation email, and then future blog posts will land directly in your in-box!

Remembering Morris

Watercolor of Morris

Morris – Collection of the Artist

I’m still getting familiarized with the holiday schedule here in Italy. Many of the biggies correspond with those in the U.S., but others, like Father’s Day, vary significantly. So, since Italy’s Father’s Day was celebrated in March, and since I’m not receiving a barrage of advertisements for the U.S. event, Father’s Day, as I have celebrated it, almost passed me by. Tributes to dads, ramping up on FB, reminded me to pause and be thankful for being blessed with not just one, but two great dads. My birth dad, Ed Smith, died twenty-three years ago, and his passing came too soon, and the pain cut me to my core. But, soon, another wonderful dad came into my life, and his presence helped ease my pain – especially since his presence brought so much joy to my mother Liz Smith-Cox.

Morris Cox, was an extraordinary man, and a wonderful stepdad. Mom married Morris in her early 70’s, a few years after my dad’s death. I remember Liz remarking, after the first years of being married to Morris, how fortunate she was to have experienced “love like this” twice in her life. Morris made a point of telling her, everyday, how much he loved her and how fortunate he was to have her in his life. This was a powerful lesson to me, as Morris exemplified the belief in gratitude. Studies show (check out this article from Greater Good) that our brains “light up” when we remember and practice gratitude.

Morris also demonstrated an engagement with life and with keeping one’s mind and passions engaged. He was an English professor (and Dean of the Liberal Arts College) at Clemson University, yet in his 60’s he became a student again, this time of law. He practiced law (this is how he met my mom) into his 90’s.

Morris was the epitome of a fine, southern gentlemen. Whenever he and my mom were out and about (often in his baby blue Rolls Royce), he would race around to Mom’s side of the car to open the door for her. He was keen on having impeccable manners and always being kind and generous.

I am incredibly grateful for Morris’s loving presence in my life. His marriage to Liz also brought three wonderful step-siblings into my life, and we enjoyed many “big family” gatherings.

In 1999 I painted the watercolor above of Morris, after a trip with Mom and Morris, and my sisters Shelley and Dale, to Santorini, Greece. I always loved watching Morris. I found his face rich with character, intelligence and kindness. Painting him was my expression of love for this remarkable man.

Morris, I miss you. You lived an extraordinary life, and you gave handsomely.