The Gift of Winter in Italy.

Winter in Italy

An Umbrian Winter © 2018 Jed Smith

A confession right up front: for most of my life I’ve despised winter (even winter in Italy) and looked on it as something to just get through. I adore warm weather and living in shorts and flips flops. Sure, I know how to dress warmly and keep the colder elements at bay, but I’ve done it with a certain amount of resentment and an attitude of “less than.” This is my fifth winter in Italy and, thankfully, this normally-challenging season is opening my eyes to the beauty that I’ve refused to see for most of my life.

The beauty of being stripped naked.

Why haven’t I seen this before?

Read More

Buone Feste! Let There Be Magic!

Buone Feste, Italywise

Buone Feste! May you have the happiest of holidays! © 2017 Jed Smith

I am indeed fortunate to be living in Italy and experiencing yet another magical holiday! I confess, a long career in advertising and marketing had almost depleted my stores of holiday cheer. Yes, a bit of “too much Christmas” for commercial reasons. Yours truly had become a bit of a Scrooge. Until my move…

Thank You, Italy, for bringing back a hearty Buone Feste into my life!

Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of holiday lights with ancient architecture and streets steeped in history. Maybe it is a matter of letting go of the former life and being able to see with fresh eyes. Maybe it’s the unfettered enthusiasm with which Italians celebrate the holidays. Whatever the answer, I just know I’m grateful to feel like a kid again.

Wherever you are, may this holiday season be full of magic and warmth.

Jed

 

Relax into the Unknown

Relax into life, Italywise

Let the river take you…

This has become my mantra.

Why? Because, for most of my life I’ve tried to master and control my experience. Trusting life and knowing how to relax into the unknown were things I gave good lip service, but knew little about in reality.

LIfe continues to heap lesson-upon-lesson in this regard. In response to experiences asking me to “let go”, I’ve usually answered by whining. That is, until I’ve remembered that life has a tendency to repeatedly serve up lessons that can vastly improve life. They aren’t meant to make life miserable. For me, ignoring the lesson “relax into the unknown” is what resulted in pain, unhappiness, and exhaustion.

Moving to Italy requires an enormous amount of thinking, planning and doing.

I realize how fortunate I am now that I’m clearly on the other side of all that up-front stuff. You know, getting the elective residency visa, closing up “shop” (job and home) and getting my permesso di soggiorno and residency. The list goes on. I share this because, if you’re about to do the same, or are in the process, you’ll understand how easy it can be to get stuck in high gear. And when it comes finally to downshifting, you may find yourself mired in hypervigilance.

Read More

I’m a Fan of the Sisterhood

Nuns, Italywise

Sisters Just Wanna Have Fun – Photo by Jed Smith ©2017

This week’s post is going to be short, and a break from the two previous posts dealing with the very un-glamorous, but necessary, topics related to driving in Italy and car ownership.

Shall we talk about the nuns?

When I’m out and about with my camera and have my longer lens, so I can work more furtively, I go into high-alert when I spot members of the sisterhood. If you saw me at work you’d think I’d spotted George Clooney or Angelina Jolie. Yes, I chase the nuns with my camera like I’m a member of the paparazzi.

I love it when I see the nuns smiling and cutting loose a bit. Take for instance these animated sisters enjoying the festivities at the annual Barcolana, a huge sailing regatta in Trieste, Italy. These girls are happy to be part of the fun. Their faces and body language say it all. I’d say the ringleader of this group is the sister on the left. You almost expect her to start jumping up and down with excitement.

And when the nuns go shopping?

Read More

Big Life Changes and the Shifts of the Soul

Life changes

What will be your guiding light as you embark upon major life changes?

When you decide to up-end your life completely and plop yourself down in a completely different culture like Italy, you might want to be prepared for your soul to start asking some questions. At the very least, it’s going to start poking at the status quo. 

First, I offer the following disclosure: What I share is my experience, and I don’t claim that my particular situation is universal. I share my perspective in case any pearls of wisdom emerge to help you along if you are considering similar monumental life changes.

Where “are” you, as you live your life?

My soul has been asking me this question, a lot. The answer? With a foot planted in each of two worlds: the worlds of thinking and being. And I’m learning that putting most of my weight in the realm of thinking leaves me feeling unsatisfied, small, and with limited options.

Yes,  I’ve favored the world of thinking. It has been my default stance in life for far too long. Somewhere along the way, I decided that if I could intellectually deconstruct any situation and then analyze the hell out of it, I could control it. In many ways, this has served me well. But there’s been a price to pay because, rather than reserving it for good ol’ logistical problem solving, too often it’s taken over the rest of my life. I realize this now and I’m asking the universe to show me how to live without trying to figure out and control everything in advance.

Read More

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.

 

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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!!!