aloha per l’italia!

I started a beginner’s Italian language class this week, and I am completely enamored.

Back in my university days, I studied a fair bit of Italian art, memorizing key painters, places, dates, techniques, and contexts.  But though I loved the subject matter, my appreciation was somewhat detached and analytical.  I was concerned more with possible slide exam questions than getting emotionally involved in the art.  I didn’t get swept away in Italy, as others did. The relationship was strictly professional.

Since I didn’t want to work in a museum or teach (because hey, what else can art history majors do?), after graduating I eventually chose a career in administration.  Years later, I find myself doing work that doesn’t resonate with my spirit, or remotely reflect all those beautiful things I once studied.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Underneath my 9-5 facade, my spirit has longed for creativity, art, and joy.  But I have been suppressing this part of myself.  Perhaps not intentionally, and not always consciously…but suppressing nonetheless.  And until recently, things reached a point where I felt I had become, as I often put it, ‘a ticking time bomb’.

Sometime last fall I began to feel a pronounced sense of urgency to change certain aspects my life, intuiting that the consequences of not doing so would be far more serious than the general boredom and lack of vitality I had become so accustomed to.   Having made the recent decision to leave my ‘secure’ job, the past few months have been marked by a growing awareness of my need to dream, imagine, and visualize what I actually want in this life.

And through this process, Italy has resurfaced.  A little whisper inside has grown progressively louder.  What if…what if I just go?  How would it feel to soak up the art, the history, the food, the wine?  How would it sound to be immersed in Italy’s music of passion and joie de vivre (ok, I know that’s French) and sing-songy accents and life?

Though my mind would really love to convince me that this is not practical or possible or feasible, I’m finding it hard to listen.  The language has arrested me.  I’m completely smitten, and there is no logic in this state.


I think about my art history days.  Perhaps I never allowed myself to fall in love with the essence of Italy, because I could not access it within myself.

Italy represents what I have been deeply missing in my life, and what I’m ready to experience now…culture, art, beauty, history, pleasure, romance, vibrancy, abandon, amore, and passion.

My Italian class isn’t just about learning a new language.  It is so much more.  It is me saying yes to new possibilities, to doing something for the sheer fun and joy of it.  It is the act of consciously allowing a dream to filter into my ‘real’ life in some (seemingly) small way.  It is testing the dreaming waters, wondering…what might this open up for me?

I hear my own voice differently when I speak Italian. It’s full of laughter and joy.  I smile the entire time.  And this makes me perceive myself in a new light.   In rediscovering Italy, in speaking her tongue, in engaging with her and taking delight in her, I am recovering the hidden gems within myself.  And it is a true treasure trove indeed.

12 thoughts on “aloha per l’italia!

  1. Pingback: italy won’t go away | alohaleya

  2. I was always intrigued by the description in “Eat, Pray, Love” of the Italian language and why it’s so beautiful –
    And your post reminded me of one of Stuart Wilde’s sayings (I’m paraphrasing, cuz I loaned his book to someone)
    “If you consistently ignore the voice within, it will get louder and stronger until you must listen – and if you choose to still drown it out, then, Viola! Your car is wrapped around a tree and now, you must lay still, heal and LISTEN!”
    😀 After reading that, I started listening much, much better! I can’t afford a new car…


    • i might need to re-read the italian part of ‘eat pray love”…to remind me to keep this dream alive. because it’s true, the ‘practical’ voice keeps trying to come in and overthrow things. actually i had a dream last night that i cancelled one of the italian language courses i was taking, and was totally disappointed in myself.
      in my dream i was in the same building where the course was being taught, but i didn’t go in the room. huh?

      i don’t want that voice to be drowned out!!


      • My dad quit smoking and a few months later, in the evening, he was really craving a cigarette – that night, he dreamed that he smoked and he awoke so disappointed in himself, that he said he never struggled with cravings again – –
        I think the dream might be a similar “nudging” –
        RE: the book – best as I can remember the description, the official Italian language was created, with intent, to be powerful and beautiful, not simply a gradual evolution/homogenation of existing dialects –


          • You’re welcome, as long as it felt like a nudge and not a shove… 🙂
            A PBS documentary on dreaming had one researcher stating he believed our dream life to be a type of training ground for our waking hours – where we try out different things and see which ones work and which ones don’t –
            That statement has really stayed with me…


  3. go go go! I spent a week in Rome alone – one of the best trips I have been on. I can’t say much about the language unfortunately, but the sights and sounds of Roma are really one of a kind. Now I want to go back…


  4. Italian is such a musical language isn’t it! I started learning Italian a couple of months ago, I just have a language course that I play whenever I’m driving, and it’s surprising how quickly you can pick up a new language. I love everything about Italy though, and my boyfriend asked me to marry him when we were there just a couple of weeks ago, so it will forever have a special place in my heart.
    Love, Jane x


    • it is so musical! i knew i’d enjoy the class but had no idea how happy it would make me. i just want to talk like that all the time! i’m definitely going to get some audio once the course is done, to keep it up. and how perfect that you got engaged in italy…molto romantico!! congrats! 🙂


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