It Takes A Village to Learn Italian!

Valerio Ponte

Intermediate and advanced students of Italian, here is your chance to burst your ability to speak up a notch.  How?  Through crowdteaching in Pontelandolfo this spring!  WHAT???? Here is the back story –

Gli dico ma.. I was in Pontelandolfo’s library having a conversation with some of my wee English students when like a flash-choir three of them blurted out, “Direi – usa condizionale.”  Huh, I replied to the ten year olds who corrected my Italian.  One tyke rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders.  Glielo direi ma, I corrected my sentence – (I was trying to say “I would tell him but…” but had said “I tell him but.”)

Jack and I have been staying longer and longer in Pontelandolfo.  When we first visited my Italian was barely there.  I was great with gestures, acting out what we needed and generally making everyone from shop keepers to small children in the piazza giggle at my attempt to speak la bella lingua. Over the years my Italian improved and just recently I figured out why – CROWDTEACHING.  Hey, if one can have crowdsourcing or crowdfunding – why not crowdteaching? As we became fixtures in the community, more and more people corrected my Italian.  Marilina, in Bar Elimar, made me repeat Caffè shakerato a pazillion times this summer.  If I wanted a decaf espresso shaken over ice and lusciously turned into a summer drink, I had to stop saying decaffeinato shakerooooo or shakirito or shaken not stirred.

Crowdteaching.  Hmmm.  Why not share this concept with other students of Italian and combine it with life in a Southern Italian village?  That thought has turned into Leap into Language Immersion in Pontelandolfo.

Students of Italian who are currently at the intermediate or advanced level, have the opportunity to experience the language in its natural setting, take formal classes and be corrected everywhere and by lots of people.

You will eat lunch in private homes, play cards with the guys in the bar, roll cheese with the Ruzzola Team and improve your conversational skills. Every home that you visit and every social or cultural activity that you attend will include native speakers correcting your speech.  Imagine an extended family of native speakers helping you improve your language skills.  There will be laughter, friendships will be built and you will leave with an increased capacity for conversation.

Included Highlights:

  • Transportation from the Benevento train station.
  • 7 nights, single or double room, with television, refrigerator and breakfast. Five rooms in this cute B&B have private baths.  A two-room suite shares a bath.  Unless it is requested, the last 2 people to register will share a room.  The shared room will be very large. Il Castello
  • 8.5 hours of formal classes and 7 full days of immersion.
  • Welcoming apertivo and snacks.
  • Pranzo at an agriturismo. Tour the property, play with the animals and perhaps hear a tall tale or two.
  • borgo-cerquelle
  • Four (4) meals in local homes. Eat, drink and swap stories with a family in their natural environment.  They will want to know all about you and you will want to know all about them.  Conversation will swirl.  Two participants will be dining in each household.
  • pizza1
  • Wine and artesian food tasting at a local vintner.
  • Pontelandolfo Day – open air market, tasting of locally produced products, and other activities.
  • Explore the Sannio hills with Mario! He has walked the mountain hunting truffles, asparagus, mushrooms and more.  This is a unique opportunity.
  • After a morning of exploring the mountain, pizza pranzo at B&B Calvello.
  • Learn the ancient sport of cheese rolling – La Ruzzula!

Thank You Zorrotropa For Their YouTube Video Ruzzola del Formaggio.

  • Drink beer and chat with the men who sit in front of the bar daily, play cards and hand games like a native.
  • Lecture and tour of the historic church, San Salvatore.
  • Italian movie night and discussion.
  • Lecture “I Gesti.” Before you leap into the local fray, learn the sign language.
  • Learn the traditional folk dances of the town from dance company Ri Ualanegli.
  • Excursion to Altilia Roman Ruins.
  • Lecture on the history of Pontelandolfo.

Date: Friday, April 20  through Friday, April 27 2018

This cultural adventure is limited to 8 people.  For more information e-mail us at info@nonnasmulberrytree.com

Crowd-learning – who knew that it would take a village to teach me Italian!

Ci vediamo!

 

 

 

 

 

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Come With Me to Sardegna!

Forget the tours. 

Ignore the guide with the raised umbrella. 

Travel Independently With

Nonna’s Mulberry Tree.  

 Why aren't the lights in Flagtown this cute?

Come to Sardegna.

Jack and I like to travel and we are particularly partial to Italy.  Friends enjoy our tales of traveling sans a big bus and a tour guide.  Yes, we find our own hotels – sometimes we can’t fit in the shower.  Yes, we figure out how to get fed – once Jack stared at what he ordered and gulped .  Yes, I make language snafus and am often surrounded by lots of laughing folks who haven’t a clue as to what I am saying.  Those experiences are stories to share and learning adventures to build on.  Join us as we improve our Italian language skills at Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera.  I wrote about the school a few months back – http://wp.me/p3rc2m-oW – and readers have asked me if they could study with us next time.

This October 3rd – October 17th 2015 is the “next time” and we are inviting you along.  The trip is restricted to only 15 adventurous people.  People who want to learn or improve their Italian Language Skills, immerse themselves in Italian Culture, live like a local, shop the market and stroll Alghero’s sea wall.

We’re partnering with Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera, a world class Italian Language school, to facilitate our adventure. Check out their web site. (http://www.pintadera.info/home)

Here’s the deal – You make the Decisions!

Language and Culture      €550  (Time to learn how to convert $ to €)

First night Welcoming Gathering at a local bar.  First glass of wine is on us.

Through shaky lenses we discover it might just be...

Jack is waiting for you!

Sunday – October 4 – Un Pasto e Conversazione at a local restaurant.  We’ll share a meal and plan the week.

Monday – October 5 – You start your 2 weeks of Italian Language Classes with a native speaker. These are full immersion classes and I think the best way to learn.  The first day you will be given a placement test at 8:30 AM.  This insures everyone is grouped appropriately.  Classes run from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Monday thru Friday with a midmorning coffee break.

Included Cultural Courses:

Alghero – Walled-City walking tour with a local. Discover the ancient city, through the history and architecture of the old town center. (OK, this is the one time you might follow an umbrella – but it’ll be a whimsical one.)

Finding your Family – I’ll tell you my tales of researching my family,  visiting the village my family is from and reconnecting with relatives that I didn’t know I had.  Genealogical short cuts, services and hints will be shared by all.

The Dark Side of Sardinia – Banditry   The origin of banditry in Sardinia from the Spanish colonial period up to the end of ‘classical’ banditry. The link between the isolation of the island and criminality, and the culture of vendetta and kidnapping.

Dolce Vita or Is It?   Ex-pats share their stories of what works for them and what drives them insane.  I will be joined by other ex-pats who spend all or a great deal of the year in Italy.  We will hit topics like health care, daily life, taxes and of course money.

If you want to take even more classes – for an extra fee – you may.  Here is the list: http://www.pintadera.info/course.html#cultural

Travel to Sardegna – You Decide How and How Much

Use your air miles.  Look for the greatest deals.  You book your own transportation to Algerho planning on arriving on Saturday, October 3, 2015.   At the airport you can take a taxi to your apartment  .

Housing and Sustenance 

Pintadera will provide assistance choosing the right housing arrangement for you.  Want to live with a local family? Want your own apartment?  Want to meet new folks and share an apartment. Depending on what you want, the cost will range from about €400 to €600 for two weeks . Check out this link to the service Pintadera offers us. http://www.pintadera.info/accommodation.html#costs

Last time I swim with the dolphins.

Fresh Tuna Tonight?

This is a chance to explore the restaurants and markets of Alghero.  Shop the markets and cook in your apartment!  Or grab another student and hit the local eateries.  You decide where to eat, when and how much to spend or whether you want to stay in and cook your own meal with fresh ingredients purchased at the market.

Registration and Payments

This trip will only happen if a minimum of 10 people register to go.  Send me an e-mail, call me or leave a comment telling me that you are definitely in.

To summarize the cost –  A €550 language classes and cultural actives fee. €400 – €600 housing for two weeks.  Pretty Cheap!

After I am sure we have the minimum of 10 people joining Jack and I, I will then send you the information needed to send a €200 deposit to Pintadera using the easy and inexpensive wire service: https://www.xoom.com/how-to-transfer-money-using-xoom  This deposit is for the Language Classes and Cultural Activities.  On the first day of class you will pay the remaining €350.

Then you coordinate with Pintadera on your housing.  Upon your arrival, the housing cost will be paid in euros.

You will need to have your debit card handy and bring euros with you.  We use our debit cards in every country and have never had a problem.

Any Questions?

Send me an e-mail with your phone number and I’ll give you a call.  As we get our group organized I will be sending additional hints and information.

Buon Viaggio!

Learning Italian in Sardegna – Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera

Learning a language can be an onerous activity – especially if you are in your garret reading your verb lists by candle light.  I studied French for 4 years in high school and can barely buy bread in Paris.  Italian wasn’t spoken to me at all – well pass the mapeen and sta zitta – but that was it.

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My first real brush with the language was after my first trip to Pontelandolfo – in a year when the dinosaurs roared in tongues over the earth.  I was twenty-something and had come to visit the village of my heritage with my Aunt Catherine and two cousins.  We assumed that since Aunt Cat was born here and left when she knew the language well that she would be our translator – NOT.  She spoke the arcane dialect of Pontelandolfo.  I knew we were in trouble when we landed in Milano and she asked a question to be told “we don’t speak Spanish here.”  Thank the Universe I had a trusty Berlitz phrase book with me. 

I played with learning Italian but didn’t get committed until 1999 – the year I returned to Pontelandolfo with my family tree in hand and found my dad’s first cousins.  When I got home,  I went to Brookdale College, Somerset County College and finally Dorothea’s House in Princeton.  All experiences had their pluses and minuses.  Next, to nudge Jack into learning the language I researched immersion schools in Italy.  I would go to websites, send an e-mail and hear nothing.  Or worse, I would call – all saying they were multi-lingual – and no one spoke English and could tell me about the place.  Than I found Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera!  The school is located in Alghero on the magical island of Sardegna.

Love the school. Could I win the lottery and stay here?  I spoke with one of the directors, Nicola, and was assured that the classes were small – which they were capping out at about six people.  She speaks multiple languages flawlessly.  She told me about the teaching staff  – think Ph’ds who aren’t yawners.  The facility was up a flight of stairs in the heart of the old part of the city.  That location puts the school in the middle of the art and culture that makes Alghero fabulous.  It also means you are within walking minutes of the sea.  When she told me the price – I was sold!

On a sunny May day, Jack and I packed a notebook and pens and headed for Sardenga.  The sea surrounds the city, May means fewer tourists and cheaper airfare. We were not disappointed in our choice of schools or the location.  

Why didn’t someone tell me when I was younger that studying language in the place the language was spoken not only makes great academic sense BUT – you meet really cool people.  People who like to travel like we do – sans reservations, sans itinerary.  Just go, explore and do!  The people we met in our classes – Jack and I weren’t together – I was a bluebird and he was – well – on the little bus – anyway the people were GREAT. 

Jack has no idea what Mascha is saying.

Jack is studying – but who – I mean what?

We met two smart pithy women from Germany, a tall handsome Dutchman, and a really interesting guy who lived in Dubai but was from Tasmania!  Instantly, we all bonded over caffè, were forced to speak Italian or – gulp- English.  Since of course, everyone else spoke their language plus English. 

alghero 10

Caffè and Conversation Between Classes

Since I can’t keep two languages going in my brain at the same time, the small full immersion classes worked for me. The faculty not only had advanced degrees in languages but I swear were all actors.  You have to be a an actor to communicate with six wildly wicked adult students who want to learn your language but really don’t understand a spoken word. 

alghero 9

Jack gets personal attention from a great and talented teacher.

The classes focused on both grammar and conversation.  The homework did not make me pull out my teeth.  Every moment was very interactive.  No one wanted to put their head down on the desk and snore.

Smile guys the audienc is clapping.

Check Out Who Sings With the Professional Classical Group? – Yup, our teacher!

Not only does the school have a great graded curriculum, but they made all of the living arrangements for us too.  We rented a charming house for the two week course that was right in the heart of the historic center of Alghero.  That meant close to world class bars, restaurants and shops.

alghero 8

Our New Dutch Pal Cooking Dinner at Our House.

Marion, another Berliner, sows up fo the last pizza party.

In a great local joint with our new found school pals.

Every morning, following the narrow cobblestone streets, we would walk to the school.  Classes ran for about four hours every morning – with a break to speak to the locals and have caffè.  Then we would find a charming place for lunch, Jack would go for a walk and I would sit, stare at the sea, pretend to write and drink Prosecco. The school also ran cultural immersion classes I took a cooking class that was scads of fun.  The hunky chef owns one of the local restaurants.  We started out shopping and then back to his kitchen to prepare a meal that we then ate paired with fabulous local wine.

Last time I swim with the dolphins.

The Tuna Was Really Fresh!

Note our Chef/teacher in the backgound  - cute too.

We Were Shucking and Yucking in the Kitchen.

Jack and I were so in love with the place that I convinced pals from Dorothea’s House to come too.  We went back one January – which means during Epiphany – the city was alive with holiday spirit and the staff of Pintadera made sure we knew what was going on and participated. 

DSC00810

La Befana Was Everywhere!  Even Lots of Women Dressed as La Befana!

I would love to be in Alghero every January – anybody want to send me?  Huge gangs of men dressed in black and sporting berets moved as one up and down the narrow streets singing in tight harmony.  Children raced from one La Befana to another asking for treats.  The spectacular theatre featured free live entertainment.  The Living Manger Scene really touched me, the actors were all persons with disabilities who took their roles seriously and were applauded by all.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Living Manger

There was so much to do and experience that sometimes “my dog ate my homework” for the next class at Pintadera.  The extras that the school provided included a wonderful walking tour of the historic center filled with tales of the season.  Another fun filled extra was a class on the use of your hands when speaking Italian.  No – we did not learn how to flip the bird – that is not – OK maybe they do it  – but it is not Italian.

Chiara uses those gestures when we are BAAAAAAAAD.

How About A Class in Italian Hand Speak!

Through shaky lenses we discover it might just be...

Great Bar Beneath January Apartment – All LOCAL Wines and Foods

In May the city is filled with sun and walking on the sea wall is magical.  In January it gets dark a lot sooner but walking on the sea wall is still magical.  I felt like a princess wrapped in a cloak an walking the castle walls looking out to sea, waiting for my prince to return.  There was so much life in the city during the holiday season that it was impossible to feel cold.  Also, it wasn’t as cold in Alghero in January as it was in New Jersey.

Why aren't the lights in Flagtown this cute?

Sea Wall At Night!  During the day I stared and stared.

Go to Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera and create your own story.  http://www.pintadera.info/

Associazione Culturale
Centro Mediterraneo Pintadera
Vicolo Adami 41
07041 Alghero (SS)
Tel: +39 079 917064 / +39 079 983311
Mobile: +39 328 885 7367
Skype: pintaderalgheroP