My preoccupation with Venice is a bit obsessional. But I do like a good cause – something I can get behind. Something that inspires me and I can see the results of when I make the effort. I like the rallying cry from the city. You can see, and hear, the murmer of revolution in those 900 year old wings. It is potentially an exciting time. Venice is no stranger to fighting for its liberation. So why should now be any different?
And I suppose my Venexiane ancestry only serves to fuel the fire that is my interest in preserving the city and the welfare of its indigenous population. I am well behind the need to curb tourist numbers, to ban the ‘grandi navi’ (cruise ships), even to a charge for entering the Piazza San Marco if it controls numbers and the money is properly invested back into the city for the benefit of its people.
Which is ironic because for all my bleating on about protecting Venice, every time I go there I am essentially a tourist. I try not to be one of the mob. I try to shop at the right places, to follow the rules, to be sympathetic to the problems of the cittidini and imagine how I would feel if I lived there and I had to put up with the hoards. But I know that by agreeing with the city’s cries for help, I could be pricing myself out of ever seeing my ancestral homeland again.
Lord Byron once said of his Carabinieri dealings, as they struggled in vain to liberate Italy from the Austrians in the 1820s:
‘It is no great matter, supposing that Italy could be liberated, who or what is sacrificed.’
And I concur.
This Italian learning malarky is taking over my life. I believe in full immersion in anything that I do and I’m the kind of person that if I don’t keep at it every single day I forget things really fast. I live in England so of course most things are English and you have to work hard to make sure you’re coming across your learner language on a regular basis.
My language exchange group has broken up for the summer, so a bunch of us have migrated over to Whatsapp. So there’s 7 conversations going on already.
I joined Hello Talk this week. I’ve steered clear of the chat apps so far because they take up so much time. But I thought I’d give this one a go. Day one and I’m already having 6 separate conversations. Ironing out my issues with getting ‘sto’ and ‘io sono’ correct (something I was doing fine with but suddenly seems to have slipped) and mastering my sentence structure is coming along nicely thanks to the vigilence of the users there but I am reminded how far I still have to go.
I am rarely corrected on Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter so I’m guessing readers are just being polite and are understanding what I’m on about. Impatience is a major personality hangup of mine. So 6 months in to my Italian language learning and I just don’t think I’m good enough. I’m also obsessed with getting the grammar right. The basic present tense is fine for holiday ‘conversazione’ but I want to write blogs and comment on important Facebook groups and get it right.
I am a perfectionist and whilst this isn’t a bad trait it can get in the way of your enjoyment of something when all you want is to talk like a native – which of course I will never be – 5 generations removed as I am from my Italian roots. The Italian blood is still obviously there but I don’t find languages easy. I gave up French as soon as I could in school and its been 27 years since I’ve tried a languge again. And here we are.
But I have the added positive trait of being one of those people that if I really want something I don’t stop until I’ve got it. I’m also slightly comforted that in the 42 years my g-g-g-grandfather (that’s bis-bis-bis-nonno to my Italian readers) lived in England he never fully mastered English.