If you ask an Italian passionate what his biggest dream is, he would probably say “living like an Italian”. Well, with Love Italian, a personal teaching Italian experience, last week this dream came true for a Japanese woman who spent 7 days living, speaking and eating like an Italian, exploring the beautiful area in and around Bologna and making wonderful experiences with local people.
Izumi Kato is a 52 year old hairdresser from Japan with a big passion for the Italian language and culture. In the past, this love for Italy led her to visit several cities such as Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples, but this time Izumi wanted a different, less touristy experience. In fact, her purpose was coming to Italy again not only to travel and explore as a tourist, but first of all to study the Italian language, to sink into the Italian culture and live the country like a local. It can seem impossible, especially if you don’t have any Italian friend and if your Italian knowledge is basic, , but actually, thanks to Love Italian and its professional and well-connected teachers, it was possible for Izumi to enjoy this experience.
Love Italian provides intensive tailor-made individual Italian courses with personal Italian native speaker tutors who live with you for the whole period of your stay, showing you the Italian life-style and travelling with you. Izumi had the luck of joining this project and live for one week with her tutors and teachers, the careful Laura Bizzari and Antonella Orlandi. They were also supported by other helpful collaborators who assisted them in the project and helped them to drove Izumi into the Italian life style.
Together they explored the beautiful city of Bologna, tasting the real traditional food and making real experiences. Going around with Laura and Antonella, Izumi had the opportunity of seeing Bologna from the perspective of a local, enjoying the Italian habits and discovering the beautiful atmosphere you can breathe drinking a glass of good wine in company of new friends.
They also showed Izumi the amazing area around Bologna, taking her out of the bitten tracks that tourists are used to following when in Italy. Under the advice of her teachers, Izumi made up a personal travel plan visiting Modena, Ferrara and Ravenna. They also spent one day in the thermal baths of Salsomaggiore. This way she could always understand the beauties that surrounded her. In fact, travelling through a country with locals always gives you a more complete view over the things you see and the reality you’re facing. She also attended cooking classes, visited a really famous traditional balsamic vinegar farm, and had dinner with locals, having the opportunity of socializing. When visited the Trattoria Annamaria, she met the staff there, she talked to the famous Annamaria, discovering the secrets of the handmade fresh pasta and tasted all the delicious typical dishes you can find there. She also met an Italian hair-dresser and they talked a lot sharing their professional experience.
Now she doesn’t only have a strong a passion for Italian culture, but she also has memories, friends, people who are glad to keep in touch with her and would love to see her again. Meeting locals gave her a really different approach to the Italian language: she had to push herself to improve her speaking and listening skills in order to communicate with other Italian people.
Laura and Antonella where always careful and present to help her to understand, but also really strict as they always spoke with her in Italian. Despite the difficulties, she learned a lot. She did something really different from a normal Italian course: she had a rare experience meeting people, discovering the beauties of Italy and living like an Italian while learning the language. She won’t easily forget all the people she met and all the things she saw.
When leaving she was so sad and touched, she said she will come back next year to improve her Italian skills and meet again all the people that make her experience unforgettable. Looking forward to seeing you again dear Izumi!
Editing by Raffaella Rossi
Review by Ariana Meyers
For another few weeks, until March 26, Palazzo Albergati is holding an exhibit displaying the works of renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The exhibit is part of the Gelman collection: Arte Messicana del XX Secolo.
Frida is known for her self-portraits, and has been recognized as a spokesperson for feminism and Mexican culture.
In some museums, it is possible to enjoy the art without reading the descriptions that accompany them. However, in this exhibit, I definitely recommend reading all of the descriptions and timelines that accompany the paintings, which are written in both English and Italian. The descriptions transformed the experience into much more than just an art exhibit, it was an opportunity to learn more about Frida Kahlo’s life, and the context in which she lived and worked. What was most fascinating for me, however, were the timelines of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s lives. The timelines allow viewers to contextualize the artworks, and provided a deeper understanding of the artists themselves.
The first floor displayed the artworks of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo’s husband and fellow artist, in the context of the 1930s and 40s. Diego Rivera and many of his contemporaries were very involved in politics and activism, and their art represented that. The exhibit gave an insight into the political climate of the time, and the ways in which art can influence and criticize that climate.
The first floor also touched on the tumultuous relationship between Frida and Diego, including many images and videos of the couple. Frida and Diego’s relationship impacted both of their lives as artists, and their legacies are intertwined. One of her most famous quotes that she wrote in her diary is: “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the train [that injured her], and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
The main event, however, is upstairs, where the walls are lined with Frida Kahlo’s famous self-portraits. It is curated to follow the evolution of her life, as outlined by a timeline at the beginning of the exhibit. Frida was plagued with many health problems throughout her life, including polio as a child, and a terrible accident when she was 18 years old that would affect her life and her art. Her illnesses and injuries isolated her, which is perhaps why many of her paintings are self-portraits. What was most striking about her work was her frankness in discussing her various health problems in her art. One of her most famous paintings Viva la Vida, is considered to be a reflection of Frida’s personal frustrations with her infertility.
Along with the art, throughout the exhibit are images of Frida and Diego and their families. It was very striking to see an image of the real person in their natural setting, exhibited next to their work.
Coming from California, Frida Kahlo was a prominent figure that we learned about in art class in elementary school. For us students, there was a certain pride because she lived and worked in California for so long. Even more exciting, was that some of her work was displayed in San Francisco, not far from my house. When I was young, and wanting to be an artist, she was an inspiration for me, as she is for many female artists. Seeing this exhibit in Italy was another moment of pride for me. It shows how widespread her influence is, and how, although her art was very personal, it was able to cross borders and touch people from all different backgrounds.
There are only a few weeks left of this exhibit, so I recommend checking it out!
Tickets and information can be found at: http://www.palazzoalbergati.com/mostra-arte-messicana-frida-kahlo-diego-rivera-bologna/
Review by Ariana Meyers
In collaboration with the association Bologna Connect, Mary Tolaro Noyes will be presenting her book: Bologna Reflections: an uncommon guide, Sunday February 12th at 2:00pm, at the Italian Cultural Society of Sacramento. American by birth but with Sicilian roots, Mary Tolaro Noyes visited Bologna for the first time in 1994 to learn Italian. From that moment on she became immediately fascinated by the medieval city that would continue to attract her in the following years, despite her return to America.
A long standing love, consequently, that still lasts till this day is what brought her to write Bologna Reflection, an out of the ordinary guide as noted in the subheading and subsequently Gathering Chestnuts. Infact, in her books Mary tells the story of her Bologna, the one that intrigued and enchanted her so much that till this day she still returns often for long periods.
Mary Tolaro Noyes guides us on an imaginary journey to the discovery of stories, traditions, and particularities that all make the capital Emiliano so special. Lifelong friendships are not the only way to creates bridges in the world, because through her writing Mary is able to engage her readers and continues to cultivate her experiences during her visits in a place that she considers her second home.
Today Mary lives in San Francisco where she is a Bologna Connect ambassador. Through the Bolognese association she is commited to promoting Bologna and Emilia Romagna in America and throughout the world.
( Translated by Isabella Brown)