Every year, I’m surprised by how quickly the warm weather comes around in Milan. Just two weeks ago everyone was wrapped up in scarves and gloves, but yesterday we reached a whopping 21°C (69.8°F).
This is the time of year when Italy really starts to feel like Italy. Social lives fill up with long, lazy lunches, wine with friends on the terrace after work and weekend trips to explore the countryside, lakes and beaches.
Italian is the very first language I learned, back in 2008. To this day, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Why? Because being able to speak Italian has led to opportunities and changes that have made my life better in countless ways: some big, like moving to Milan and falling in love with an Italian, and some small, like learning how to pronounce gelato like Italians do.
Learning a new language always brings new opportunities and exciting changes. If you’re thinking about learning one but you’re struggling to decide which, here are a few great reasons to choose Italian:
1. The people: There’s something about warm climates that seems to make people more sociable. Italian culture, more than any other culture I’ve experienced, is all about people. Not just da family as the stereotype would have it, but everyone. Italians love meeting new people: they’re curious, friendly and take a genuine interest in you. Needless to say, this is a huge plus when it comes to trying out your Italian skills on the locals. When you give Italian a go – even if you can only string a few words together (that’s how I started) – most Italians are warm, patient and want to help. Also, from a purely linguistic point of view, many Italians feel more comfortable speaking their own language than English. This gives you a real world reason to use your Italian, which helps you learn quicker.
2. The food: OK, so I promised not to mention pizza, ice-cream, limoncello and nutella. But I couldn’t write a whole article about Italy without mentioning food. One of the cool things about learning Italian is that you suddenly start learning more about the Italian words that made it into our culture. For example, did you know that the word panini isn’t the name of a long, flat sandwich? It’s actually the word for sandwiches in general. One sandwich is called a panino, while two or more take the plural form panini. Or did you know that the word bruschetta is actually pronounced brusketa, with a hard “k” sound in the middle? There are loads of examples like this and finding out more about the original words as you learn gives you a great sense of satisfaction.
3. The lifestyle: I’m sure I don’t have to sell Italy to you as a holiday destination. It makes it onto almost every list of the most desirable places to visit in the world. But when you visit as a tourist, you only scratch the surface of Italy. Speaking the language gives you the chance to get up close and personal to the culture and its people so you can get your own little slice of la dolce vita.
4. You already know Italian: I’ll let you in on a little secret. Learning Italian is not as hard as you think it is. I’ll give you an example: how do you say the word option in Italian? Go on, guess. Wave your hands around like Italians do and pronounce the English word with your very best Italian accent. That’s right – it’s opzione pronounced optzi-owny. Now try again with the word fantastic. That’s right, fantastico! There are 1000s of words like this and many are in everyday use, so you can start using them straight away.
Ready to get started? Learn Italian with me
Now I’d like to hear from you. What language are you learning at the moment? Why did you choose it? Join the conversation in the comments below!
p.s. If you know someone who’ll find this post useful, pass it on. Grazie!