It’s been 34 days since 2016 began and despite it only being the young days of February it seems as though my New Year’s resolutions were made a lifetime again. Is anyone still on track?!
For me, the answer is a simple no. The only inroads I’ve made to my Italian-inspired New Year’s resolutions is looking up the translation of ‘have you made any New Year’s resolutions?’ It’s ‘hai fatto dei buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo?’ in case you were wondering.
I’ve been terribly delinquent in following up my number one resolution of resuming my Italian studies. I was slightly cajoled the other day when Eat, Pray, Love came on the telly and I suddenly had whimsical fantasies of spending my Saturday mornings sitting on the floor with an espresso in one hand and and an Italian newspaper in the other, practicing my vocabulary a’ la Julia Roberts.
With my next trip to Venice looming on the horizon I certainly need to get my Italian skates on if I’m going to suitably impress the locals (or at the very least, my husband) with my Italian linguistic brilliance.
I have on my itinerary plans to do a bit of island hopping of La Serenissima’s lesser known islands, including Lazzaretto Nuovo, where the sailors of yesteryear would dock their visiting shipping vessels for 40 days to ensure they weren’t carrying, and about to unleash, any diseases on an unsuspecting Venice. Tours of the island are held at weekends during the warmer months, but only in Italian, so I most definitely need to brush up on my Italian if I’m going to understand anything other than ‘quaranta giorni’ (40 days, in case you, dear reader, are also struggling with your Italian studies).
Whilst I have fallen down the metaphorical Italian language hill, I have however been gemming up on my Venetian history by reading Paul Strathern’s very excellent book, Spirit of Venice: From Marco Polo to Casanova. Whilst some history books (and by some, I mean a lot – it’s okay, I can say this, I read History at University), Strathern’s book is remarkably refreshing. He weaves the personal stories of Venice’s most intriguing characters with the history of the Venezia itself, eloquently bringing to life their stories in a compelling manner that will have even the self-confessed non-history buffs steadily turning over the pages. I haven’t been able to put it down. I thought I knew the history of Venice, but really I only had the gist. Strathern really gets into the lives of the people who made – and fell – the city.
When I’ve not been actively ignoring my Italian studies resolution with Strathern’s page turner, I’ve been dreaming of a man. Francesco Da Mosto to be more precise. With my visit to Venice in my mind, I’ve been daydreaming about serendipitously bumping into my fellow historian and Venetian hero in a busy calle, introducing myself and meandering off for a cosy coffee together. Rather than leave such an incident to chance, as I have done in previous years, I’ve decided to cut out the middle man and have invited him to coffee directly via email.
I’m still awaiting his reply. To be fair, it’s only been a week and he is an Italian – it could be February 2017 before I hear from him.
Yes, it’s a long shot, but I’ve learnt that if you don’t ask you don’t get. After all, it was thanks to my Christmas present ideas blog that I came to acquire Strathern’s great book, owing to my not so subtle hints to my husband of things I wanted from Santa. I should have hinted I wanted to take a trip on the Orient Express, though something tells me that it’s more likely that I’ll meet Francesco than my husband treating me to that one.
Anyway, whilst I’m awaiting Francesco’s reply I’m off to sit on the floor with an Italian gossip magazine with a biscuit in one hand and an Italian-English dictionary in the other. Not quite as sophisticated as Eat, Pray, Love, but hey, it’s a start.