The third day of a two week Italian language course in Lucca.
So I had an idea that needing to think or at least speak in a different language for hours at a time would be exhausting, but didn’t think I’d need a daily pisolino (nap) every afternoon to get through the day!
What also (probably) didn’t help was drinking several Italian beers with my new mate Bjorn from Norway while watching the parade last night. While the parade and the associated celebrations have a significant history, the people participating and those in the crowd exude a sense of pride in the event and the whole night feels rather enchanting, a large portion of the two hour procession consists of groups of people walking down the street not singing, dancing or in most cases, smiling. So beer and pizza helped with the entertainment. In any case, it was a late night even without the beer, so there was no early morning stroll for me today!
I did though manage to leave early enough to have my morning cappuccino (al bar) on the 15 minute walk to school (and it was much appreciated).
This morning was our the first real grammar lesson, as most grammar is taught at a very high level as things come up that people don’t understand. During the first two days the lessons were focused more on reading a text, trying to paraphrase it in our own (more limited) vocabulary and discussing it with a classmate. We then go through the text again and have the teacher or another student explain what the word means but all in Italian (so no cheating!). So lots of learning but not necessarily grammar rules.
Today’s topic was conjugating verbs in the conditional tense and also when to use the future tense. As everyone had studied the future tense to some degree, the focus was more so on the conditional tense. After getting a high level overview of the rules and how it’s used, we had to write a short description of our dream house, which followed on a reading of a text from a newspaper about what Italians want in their ideal homes. The conditional tense is the English equivalent to “I would” do something. So instead of saying “I want a coffee”, it is much more polite to say “I would like a coffee”. So using this tense we described our dream as, ‘it would have this, it would be located here, etc’.
While I like the grammar side of learning Italian, I like that the grammar lessons are taught quickly and at a high level so we then spend our time learning through writing and speaking. As the teacher told us, by doing this, we start to use it and it starts to sound and come to us more naturally, or at least that’s the idea! One of the characteristics that I said my house would need is “Dovrebbe avere un piscina con un uomo muscular per pulirla” (It should have a swimming pool with a muscular man to clean it). I’m not sure if the teacher thought I was funny or not … I then clarified that it could also have un ragazzo di piscina. Unfortunately for me, my speaking partner was the only man in the room so he probably doesn’t find me as funny as I do!
After class, a few of us went to a trattoria for lunch (Da Nonna Clara) and I had another lovely dish of pasta. With it being another hot day (over 30 degrees and humid), it was a bit hot for a big pasta dish, but I still loved it! For most of the lunch we chatted in Italian and I tried to teach them some of what I learned in my class since they’re all in a different class to me. They were learning future tense that day so we all got a chance to practice it over lunch. Yes we are nerds and yes we all like it!
After returning home for a bit of a pisolino (I love that word!), I went for a walk along the walls to see how pretty it was in the early evening light. I would say more pretty at night, though a bit more busy.
After the walk it was time to meet Bjorn (from Norway) and Sheryl (From the US) for dinner. Since none of us knew where we wanted to eat, we ended up walking around for a while and finally settled on getting a glass of wine at a small bar before we started off again to look for a restaurant. We ended up at a tiny place called Il Baccanale Wine Bar Bistrò. We should have left when the waiter would not speak to us in Italian, though everything we said was in proper Italian. The wine was nice though, so it wasn’t a total loss!
After a glass of vino, we continued walking around the town, which while in Lucca, is never a bad thing! We eventually came across a restaurant with a small section outside but mostly enclosed by plants so it makes a little courtyard on the side of the street. Lit up with ‘romantic lighting’ it was molto carino! The restaurant is called Osteria del Manzo and when we told one of the waitresses that we’re students from the Italian school she was very nice and did her best to talk in Italian in a way we’d understand. She was lovely and the food was so good! We ordered the special of the day as an antipasti – bread with roasted figs, gorgonzola, honey and procuitto. Simple but so tasty. Even though Lucca is landlocked, we all ended up ordering the three different fish dishes and everyone was pleased. And all this while sharing a lovely bottle of vino rosso. And to top off a lovely meal and an even lovelier conversation with my new international amici, there was a concert going on at the palazzo next to the restaurant so we had background music! Then when we went to pay for the bill, we had a very nice chat (all in Italian of course) with the owner who told us about the history of the restaurant. It couldn’t have been a nicer night!