We have known each other for 12 years now, so I decided to tell you how I feel about you. I met you in the summer of 2005. Following a very long journey through, your dear friend and neighbour, France.
I had loaded the car with all my worldly possessions. It was so full it seemed like I was a fugitive of my country. Escaping from some peril. This was true: I was escaping from the monotonous daily routine I had become trapped in.
My entrance into your beautiful land did not come without adventure and challenge. The removal van which had followed us some days later got stuck in a narrow road. It was unable to get round a corner and over a narrow bridge. This resulted in an incredibly exhausting task of unloading the lorry with the workers and transferring the items onto a smaller vehicle and then, finally getting them into my new house. So, I thank you for that, Italy. Because that effort is what I look back on every day. It is what keeps me here.
As the years went by, slowly I learnt your beautiful language. A wonderfully descriptive language which requires many words to say something I could say in just a few in my native dialect.
Although I discovered that this country, like others, has a numerous amount of local dialects. Some of which seem like a completely different language.
As I learnt the language, I learnt your routine. Your people love breakfast as I learnt.
They usually eat biscuits with milk in the morning. However, sometimes people will eat a croissant, which is originally from France, or a sweet cake. It is rare that they miss breakfast, though more seldom that they miss their coffee at breakfast.
You see, Italy, coffee is everything in your land.
It brings people together in the morning to plan the day. It unites business people who make crucial executive decisions. It consoles the brain after a heavy night out at the disco. Above all, it stops you for those vital few moments in your day. However, it is not just about the coffee. It is the whole routine. The bar as a meeting place is so important. If it is not welcoming, people do not come back. If I am not greeted with a smile, through that door once more I shall not walk. If the coffee machine is not of high standard, the quality of the coffee will reflect that. So coffee is an important part of your wonderful culture, Italy. I also thank you for introducing that to me.
Which brings me to the people. Of all the people I have met, I have never met anyone who has a cold heart. Although some have needed a little warming up. Let me give you an example.
One day I was cycling through the forest on my mountain bike, when I had a nasty fall. I hit a tree stump and cut my head open. At first, I was a little stunned, though I quickly came to my senses when I saw the blood dripping onto the ground beneath me. I got up and found my bike intact, even though it had flown through the air at an alarm speed and interrupted trajectory. Wisely enough , I decided to push it back to where some bathers were enjoying the sun by the lakeside.
They quickly came to my help and tried to clean my wound. However, what made me love your beautiful country so much more, Italy, was the way people will stop what they are doing and do everything to help a person in need. Regardless of who they are. I still remember to that day how a man was trying to fix my bike as its handlebars were slightly misaligned. All this happening while a lady was trying to stop the bleeding.
Which brings me to tell you about health in this land of yours. People live a lot more healthily than in most other parts of Europe They tend to live longer and live happier. I think this generally relates back to food and their passion for it.
Italians are a nation of expert athletes. Mainly professionals who have expertise in mountain sports. It was only last night, that I was hearing a story of a mountain rescue worker who had walked through the night and then on skis to arrive at a site where an enormous avalanche had hit a hotel in #Rigopiano, Abruzzo.Embed from Getty Images
This hero of a rescuer obviously had incredible stamina and determination to reach such a beastly place in incredibly challenging weather conditions. This is something of a normality to him. Although to the likes of us, he is a national hero, along with his colleagues. This is what makes you shine, Italy.
Which brings me onto the sun.
It always shines here. We are in the winter season, yet there is no snow here. The sun continues to shine like it is summer. However in summer, Italy, you are the only place to be. Countless beaches to choose from, mountains to climb, forests to shelter from the burning rays. Picnics in the park areas with copious quantities of food and wine. Even on the beaches, the average Italian has a wonderful skill of producing a small banquet from a cooler box. Oversized watermelons and an array of marinated vegetables, wonderful cheeses and salads all come out of this bottomless container.
Which brings me back to the Italian kitchen and the house. Italians love the kitchen, but most of all the things they use to make their lives easier. I have countless items in the kitchen which, although they appeared to be a miraculous invention, were in fact a complete waste of time and money. Take a look at the portable juice extractor.
You have a cylindrical object, which you twist into an orange or other type of fruit with a skin and fleshy fruit inside. The juice should rise up the cylinder and by opening the cap at the top, you should be able to drink from the fruit itself. This is all very well, though it makes a lot of mess and doesn’t empty the fruit’s contents.
Moreover, the Italian house is a place of worship for its cleanliness. Women will wake up at the crack of dawn and proceed to clean the house from top to bottom like there has been an epidemic. They can even be seen sweeping the road outside their houses to which I have never really understood this need as the following day it is just as dirty, and a street cleaner often repeats the process later in the day.
Which brings me to your industrial culture. Your people are an industrial nation, ignore any contradiction to this.
Take a look at the traditional crafts and professions that are still alive today and have been going strong for centuries. This is because a good business is based on family ties. A family business is often successful for the passion that has been put into making that business work. There are certain traditions which you host, Italy, that can never be automated or replaced by modern technology.
Which brings me to talk about technology.
Italians are predominantly technophobes. Italy, did you know only 65% of your population use the internet? That means that there are 35% of people who do not use the internet at all! We are talking about a figure around 20 million people! What are they doing? However, with a population of around 60 million how is it that there are around 92 million mobile phone subscriptions, or 1.5 phones per person. The joke I often hear is that the average Italian has 3 phone subscriptions: one for business, one for the wife or husband, and one for the lover! This probably explains why they do not use the internet.
But let’s get back to boring statistics. Of those 40 million people who use the internet, only 15 million have broadband! This means that 25 million people are navigating the internet with inadequate upload and download speeds. How can people communicate online like this? Let alone participate in my English lessons online.
And thus, I come to my final phase, Italy, education. Let’s look at what I know best, English as a second language. The problem with this in the schools, Italy, is that it is not taught by mother-tongue teachers.
I am sure these teachers are very good and do their job well. However, you cannot learn a language well from a non-native. Sure, you can get by, that much I will give you. You see, what I have spent my last 12 years doing here in Italy is trying to correct a style of learning that I’ve seen in robots. If I test an Italian on their knowledge of verb tenses and participles they will reel them off like a robot. Although, when you try to get them to talk naturally, using a variety of tenses and they have no idea. They are using the past simple, when they should be using the present perfect, the present perfect when they should be using the past simple. The present simple when they should be using the present perfect. It is a total confusion. Why? You ask me, Italy. Because they are taught by Italians who don’t know the fine points of these tenses. Whose fault is it? The Italians who taught the Italians? Who can we blame? No one. They are just doing their job. The problem lies with the whole culture. You see, Italy, that brings me to tell you about what can be done.
First, TV should be in English. Second, conversation should be taught in schools and classes. Not just grammar. Some grammar is important, but not as important as knowing how to use it naturally. So Italy, help me bring about a change in this country. A language revolution! I want to stand up and say to you all. Let’s make Italy great again! But wait. No, it is not necessary. Italy is great. It has always been great and it will always be great. Nonetheless, we can make it greater if we all come together and speak good English. For knowledge is power.
So Italy, I must go now, though I will write again soon and tell you of all the wonderful news I have for you.
I love you very much that it brings me to tears.
Lots of love.
This article was written based on a writing task: Reinvent the Letter Format
I really hope to see you in my virtual classroom very soon.
Thanks for reading.
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