Il bel far niente…or Why I Want to Learn Italian

“Oh this is the night, it’s a beautiful night
And we call it bella notte.”
from Lady and the Tramp‘s “Bella Notte”
I ordered four books today, which I expect to receive next week: Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton, The Particular Sadness of the Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Passage by Justin Cronin, and then Rick Steves’ Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary by, well, isn’t it obvious? 
The fourth book is one I’m particularly excited about because its purchase was inspired by the book I am currently reading, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. It is Gilbert’s quest for pleasure in Italy that left me jealous, envious, and hungry for not only the food she eats on her travels (including the best pizza in the world) but of the language she learns through study and practice with true Romans. But I’m not here to summarize, only to warn you that if you have never traveled to another country, then don’t read of Gilbert’s ventures through Italy (I am near-finished with this first section of her memoir; next is her journey to India).
But why do I want to attempt learning Italian (at least some phrases)? It is not just because of the book (though the book often feels like an infomercial for the Italian language), but because my grandmother, Nicoletta, was Italian. Before she passed away, she would speak to her nursing home roommate in foreign whispers. I couldn’t understand any of it, but it was all my grandmother would speak for several weeks; it is when she seemed happiest even with all the grim. Now all I have left of her is a photograph and my middle name: Nicole.
So in honor of her and in a quest to teach myself something outside the realm of publishing, I will attempt the language of Dante, the language of love.
Veni. Vidi. Vici.       

2 thoughts on “Il bel far niente…or Why I Want to Learn Italian

  1. Alexa L. says:

    This means we can go salsa dancing one of the next times I come down!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love the fact that you are learning something for YOU. So often do we set out on a narrow path for a long journey and lose sight of things that are important to us, we forget to breathe. I am on a similar journey and next semester have enrolled in a salsa class, a scary yet exciting adventure for me. Hope this helps us remember to just be 🙂

    Jessica G.


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