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3 reasons why I learned Italian (and why you should too)

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy”

Giuseppe Verdi

Thanks to Italian cuisine, pretty much everyone in the world speaks some Italian (Pizza! Pasta! Spaghetti Bolognese!) But there’s much more to this beautiful country and it’s lovelier than lovely language than a few well-known culinary terms.

Here are the three reasons why I learned Italian – and why you should too:

1. Location

Although I went to an American university where most classes were in English, the university was located in Lugano, an entirely Italian-speaking town in southern Switzerland. I thought it would be a real shame to study in a place for four years and only know how to say, “Ciao, pizza margherita!” or “Grazie” at the end. Studying Italian on the side allowed me to have a much more local experience; chatting with locals, waiters, taxi drivers, everyone really. Practice makes perfect, and it makes for a much more rounded experience overall.

2. Movies

Italian movies are amazing. I was able to take several Italian film classes at university, with a professor that was so passionate about the topic that it was downright infectious! I got exposed to the neorealist movement, to directors such as Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica and the amazing actor, Marcello Mastroianni. Modern Italian films are good, but nothing beats a classic – especially without subtitles!

3. Italian men

Look up Raoul Bova before reading any further. A little personal anecdote to explain my, ehem… obsession: During my first time in Italy, some friends and I found ourselves on the Spanish Steps in Rome. An Italian man, similar to a Michelangelo’s David statue, walked past us and I just had to take a picture of him. I made some noise, of course, and his friend saw me taking the picture and they ended up coming to us, asking for five euros. This was a joke, but all I could do was stammer. I just didn’t have a clever reply ready, especially not in Italian! Now imagine if I had known Italian at the time. There would probably still be drool, but maybe also something a bit more suave as well, like, “Ciao Bello!”

Now, go learn Italian. And practice it on anyone willing to listen (yes, even that real-life David statue you’re bound to encounter in Rome!)

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