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When you take the Strada delle Crete, the road that leads down from Siena towards the south, the last strip of Tuscany before Umbria, you need to drive carefully. Every 100 metres or so there will be somebody who has pulled their car to a halt along the side of the road, and is taking photographs, totally enrapt, unaware of anything else.

Of course, tourists and travellers from all over the world have been crisscrossing Tuscany for centuries, but this more recent phenomenon begs the question of whether this desire to bring home a memory of this land is merely an example of the, very common, compulsion to collect beautiful images, or whether it is the result of a deeper intuition.
Could it be that the traveller discerns something of how this landscape has become so beautiful? How the people of this land have consciously moulded, protected and cared for it.
This countryside reveals its history, a history that is carved into its curves and apparent in its hills, in its fields, in the olive trees and cypresses. The cypress trees have become a symbol of Tuscany, although they were originally brought over from the Middle East. They still seem to beckon to us, evoking lost memories and celebrating a forgotten way of life.
The Strada delle Crete winds through gently rolling hills. The beauty belies the challenges of cultivating this poor soil: the grand, now empty, houses and a few hardy trees, casting no shadow, are the only remnants of the souls who once walked here. The seasonal changes of the landscape are sudden and stark. From light grey to burnt umber, from lush green to shimmering gold.
At the end of this road the city of Montepulciano appears before us. It climbs the steep hillside and stretches out over the top of the hill, dividing the Val d’Orcia from its neighbour, the Val di Chiana, a few dozen kilometres away.

ilsasso.com

ilsasso.com

The Val di Chiana is completely different, greener, bordered by lakes and mountains. Visitors continue to take photographs here, astonished by the contrast. From the higher hills the walled towns continue to look down over the valley, as if protecting the territory they have administered autonomously for so many centuries.

This land is generous, its vineyards and olive groves among the most famous in the world. Life here is more intense, and the countryside full of houses, in testament to the density of the population that once lived here, in the not so distant past. The Val di Chiana is the site of an immense hydraulic engineering project that was completed just over 200 years ago – a project that was four centuries in the making: the reclamation of the marshland that covered the entire area. This landscape, too, is the result of a project, a challenge, and human toil.

ilsasso.com

ilsasso.com

The lakes that border it are the remnants of this immense humid area. This land, too, reveals its history, captivating anyone passing through: it is not only the natural beauty that inspires such passion, but the histories of women and men, of their tenacity and creativity.
Perhaps this is what they feel, the visitors who are compelled to put images of this part of Tuscany in the virtual suitcase of their experiences. It is worth taking the time to travel these roads slowly, with eyes and ears open. There are endless ways to appreciate this landscape: just go beyond the superficial, and leave behind the rush and bustle of our everyday lives.

by Silvia, teacher in ilsasso.com, Montepulciano, Tuscany

 

Study Italian in Toscana

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It so happens that the 2 oldest continuously family-owned firms in the world are Japanese – One constructing shrines and holy buildings since 578, and the other, inn-keeping since 718.

And the 3rd oldest continuously family-owned business in the world is in Molise, Italy – in the small town of Agnone where my grandfather’s cousins have been making bells since the year 1000.

liveandlearnitalian.com

liveandlearnitalian.com

La Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli is the oldest bell foundry in the world and continues today to use the original ‘lost wax’ technique of its founders. Artisans first imprint a wax form of the design onto a brick structure covered in clay, which is then overlaid with a second layer of clay to form a ‘false bell’.  When the wax inside is melted, it leaves the design imprint on the inside of the ‘false bell’. Still today, using an ancient wood-burning furnace, the molten bronze is heated to a temperature of 1200c (2200f) and poured into the space between to form the bell.

Study Italian in Italy:Agnone

liveandlearnitalian.com

liveandlearnitalian.com

Depending on the size of the bell, the process can take up to 10 months and is done entirely by hand. The work takes enormous strength, courage and concentration as any false move can ruin the process. As the pouring takes place, a local priest blesses the bronze and the workers pray. As the bell begins to cool, good wishes are exchanged.

1924     Pope Pius XI grants Papal status to the foundry – hence, its official name is       Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli

1954     Italian President honours Marinelli Family with gold medal for their prestigious     work and status as the oldest family business in Italy

Some of the famous bells created at the Marinelli Foundry:

1923     Pompeii –restoration of the Mariano Sanctuary

1950     Monte Cassino – reconstruction of the Church of San Benedetto, destroyed during the     battle of Monte Cassino in WWII

1961     Rome – commemoration of 100th anniversary of the founding of Italy

1992     Washington DC – to commemorate 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America

1995     NYC United Nations Building

2000     Rome – Jubilee Bell for St Peter’s Square, inaugurated by John Paul II

liveandlearnitalian.com

liveandlearnitalian.com

2004     Pisa – Leaning Tower, a 600k replica of the 17th century bell damaged in the bombing       of 1944

 

 

the Marinelli Bell in Pisa

 

Take a look at the foundry …

Agnone is a simple and modest place, its inhabitants are fiercely proud of their heritage and the traditions of their ancestors.

liveandlearnitalian.com

liveandlearnitalian.com

 

 

 

 

the Marinelli brothers today, Armando and Pasquale

LIVE AND LEARN ITALIAN invites you to combine study with exploring the traditions and everyday life of the region, mixing with the community and engaging in local activities. Of course, a visit to the Foundry is high on the list of special events.

Few places left for this summer! Book your Italian course in Agnone, Molise

Read more:

The last undiscovered region of Italy: Molise

Italian courses in Italy:few places left for  this summer, join Jenifer in June and July 2015, live and learn Italian,off the beaten track

Burning the old year in Molise

Discovering the real Italy: off the beaten track

 

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While getting ready to visit Puglia for the first time, try to learn a few Italian words in order to get more familiar with the Apulia’s history and culinary tradition: masseria, mar Ionio, mar Adriatico, Bizantino, Romanico, Barocco, torre costiera, centro storico, piazza, castello, panino imbottito, carciofo, spumone, pasticciotto… ready,steady,go!

Day One: our first stop will be in the same area of Brindisi Airport, where surprisingly you can visit a lovely Church, Santa Maria del Casale, a special portrait of the Romanico art, built around XIV century, get in and admire its amazing “affresco” (fresco).

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Then, ready to get to the centre of the town, and start our walking from the sunny port, where it is possible either to have a delicious gelato, or start going up the fantastic stairs leading to the Roman Columns, symbol of the town. According to their legend, they represent the end of the Appian way, in the past Brindisi was one of the most important port in the Mediterranean sea, connecting the East with the West. From the top you enjoy a great view over the port.

Day Two: we are leaving the Adriatic Coast, driving on the Appian way in order to get to the Ionian Sea. Let’s stop in the first town on the way, Mesagne, about 10 km from Brindisi. It is one of the first towns as example of Barocco. Firstly, let’s visit the master of the town, the Castle Normanno Svevo, located in the heart shaped historic centre. Enjoy a visit inside to see its tower, court yard, museum, the noble first floor.

Later, get to the back of the castle and take a picture of the beautiful piazza Orsini and its gem, la Chiesa di Sant’ Anna. And following the cobbled small streets come into the most important church, Chiesa Madre.lacanto.it (1)

After such a lovely walk, you might like the idea to have a glass of the local red wine and enjoy the locals specialties made up of artichoke (carciofi), a great vegetable from the nearest countryside and the old ice cream, spumone.

It is still possible to see the Roman’s evidence getting to the only archaeological site, in its peculiar position, under the modern Theatre. Try also to find the nearest Palazzo Nervegna, a lovely palace, where there is an amazing display of the original Roman capital.

In the town you can also find evidence of the later historical time, the medieval one, thanks to the picturesque balconies, Fontana Tancredi, Loggia Balsamo, il Portico dei Templari. Even more interesting is the temple San Giovanni al Sepolcro, built in Crusade Times around XI century, as justifying why many crusades came over Brindisi before reaching Jerusalem.

After our delicious meal, we are ready to visit Oria, the unique town posted on the top of the hill, so rare to get so many like that because of one of the flattest area in Puglia. In Oria is still possible to visit an old Jewish ghetto, flourished in VII and X century. You can still visit the Jewish Gate. Then, wondering in the small streets surrounded by beautiful balconies and facades of the centro storico, you climb to the Castello Svevo, such an important monument because the German emperor Frederich got married.

To complete our trip today, we enjoy a lovely panino imbottito, an interesting sandwich with the local fresh bread reminding of a French baguette, stuffed with mortadella, provolone cheese, salami, tuna and pickles. It represents a traditional old snack.

Day Three: let’s leave the town in order to get as soon as possible to the coast and see the mar Ionio. After less than 40 minutes we are already driving along the scenery coastal road, with its massive old towers, fortress dating back the XV century.

Enjoy the sandy beaches and the fantastic panorama, by also taking over the natural lacanto.it (4)reserves of Porto Cesareo and Porto Selvaggio. Next destination Gallipoli, considered the pearl in the Ionian Sea. In the peculiar circular centro storico, guided by the local breeze, we visit the cathedral San’Agata, symbol of the local Barocco, together with the church San Francesco di Paola and San Francesco di Assisi. But even more interesting the fantastic private palaces we can admire from theirs facades as evidence of the large number of noble people living here in the past.

Also in Gallipoli, as in many other Puglian towns, you can find one more castle, recently restored, surrounded by the port and all the fisherman coming back from work. And if we are able to arrive into the town early in the morning, one of the first stop will be in the picturesque fish market, in fact Gallipoli is one of the best place to eat fish.

Book now your Italian summer course

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Day Four: destination Otranto, on the other side of the coast, facing the Adriatic Sea. Before getting there, we will not miss a stop in one of the most interesting and elegant town, Galatina, and its beautiful church Santa Caterina di Alessandria, Unesco Heritage.

Let’s drive over along the way surrounded by olive trees and Masseria. In this way, we are arriving to the furthest Eastern Italian area, Otranto, one more Unesco Heritage.

As usual we will find an important and beautiful castle, and the first visit will be in the fantastic cathedral, where it is possible to admire one of the best mosaic floored. The special feature is that the cathedral represents a previous important art to Barocco, which is called Romanico Pugliese, around XIII century.

Once we get out of the church, we will wonder around the town, surrounded by walls, a blue sea, a port and along its small streets it is possible to have a feeling of being in Greece or Spain because of its lovely white houses and balconies.

As soon as finished our visits and shopping, a great idea is to enjoy the local beach to swim and sunbathe.

Day 5: waking up in Otranto, on this day the most sensational feeling will be to get the first ray of sun in Italy, and once blessed we will be ready to continue our journey. Destination Lecce, one of the most beautiful art town in Puglia. Before getting there, it’s worth a great driving along the coast, one of the driving road in Italy, because nature is absolutely breathless.

lacanto.it (19)In Lecce we get in the direction of the centro storico, and we go through one of the three main old gates. One of the most beautiful piazza will be in front of the Duomo. Then, in order to have a better feeling and understandable meaning of Barocco, let’s visit the important Basilica di Santa Croce. And from there let’s find more historical notes, and discover a Roman anfitheatre, a strategic historical point from where it is visible the evidence of three different architectures at the same time: Barocco, Roman, Fascist.

Day 6: in the morning there will be a better departure, such as a cup of coffee without any sugar, but together with a sweet pasticciotto, short bread cupcake stuffed with custard.

We need to leave only because we are short of time,and our wish to come back to the heel of Puglia will be filled with a warm sun and a lovely breeze! Arrivederci Puglia!

by Michela, teacher @ L’Acanto.it

Book now your Italian summer course

 

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That in Puglia, the land of sun and sea, it snows is rare and that it happens in Villa Castelli, country of wine and oil, is definitely an event!

But we have greeted the 2015 in this way!

On December 31st, each of us, every “castellano” stood up and, opening the windows, found a unusual, magical and sweet Villa Castelli, a  snowy Villa Castelli!

Could it be a message for the new year? A magic 2015?!? Well … let’s keep our fingers crossed!

We did not missed the opportunity to get out on the street and meet all of our friends and students in the snow coming down in big flakes … oh wait, I forgot: Maya Louise saw snow for the first time and like any self-respecting Pug, she was virtually nestled in the snow and did not want to come off as the most immense surprise it was for her!italian tutor homestay

Every roof and every street was immersed in pure white snow and the cones of the trulli were so white that were almost mingled with the sky!

The old town, with the ravine and its Mediterranean maquis were completely white, only a few leaves differed. The children made snowmen and grandparents were at home making  “purcidduzzi”. What are “purcidduzzi“? Hmmm a typical Christmas sweet (another)! So, for dinner everything would have been all ready: all at grandparents’ house for dinner near the fireplace, to hear their always “legendary” stories and look at snowflakes from the window.

The view from our trullo was enchanting for me and the students! It seemed to be in one of those countries of the fairy tales where in the vast expanses of snow you meet the reindeer and the elves, maybe even Santa Claus (ah yes, he has already come and we wait for the Befana!), but we are in Villa Castelli, in Puglia!

italian tutor homestay

The landscape was quite charming and a great surprise for us!

It was a shame (or fortunately) that lasts little, but tomorrow the sun will shine again and, to be honest, as an 100% Apulia…I can’t wait!

by Maria, Italian host tutor in www.italiahomestay.com, Villa Castelli, Puglia 

Live & study in your teacher home: follow Maria 

Learn Italian in Italy

 

 

 

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According to a report from the British Council, the Languages for the Future report identifies Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese as the languages most vital to the UK over the next 20 years. They were chosen based on economic, geopolitical, cultural and educational factors including the needs of UK businesses, the UK’s overseas trade targets, diplomatic and security priorities, and prevalence on the internet.

The report shows that only 40% of the adults are able to speak a second language well enough to hold a conversation.  Employers stress the importance of foreign language skills for the UK workforce. This year’s CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey revealed that 70% of UK businesses value language skills, but only 36% are satisfied with those of their employees.

French is the only language spoken by a double-digit percentage (15%), followed by German (6%), Spanish (4%) and Italian (2%). Arabic, Mandarin, Russian or Japanese are each only spoken by 1% – while Portuguese and Turkish are each spoken by less than 1%.

Read more: Languages for the future

Study Italian in Italy 

How do you speak Italian? Test your Italian

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Anni  fa durante una docenza in Gran Bretagna, ho consultato una cartina geografica su un libro trovato nella biblioteca scolastica. Appena l’ho aperta, a prima vista la cartina si presentava molto carina con bei colori e bei disegni, ma poi ho cominciato a riflettere… mancava qualche piccolo dettaglio. Sul bello stivale comparivano le tipiche immagini per ciascuna zona italiana ben nota ai turisti stranieri. Il Nord era rappresentato dalla Gondola su Venezia, dal Duomo su Milano e dalla Torre di Pisa sulla Toscana, il Centro dal Colosseo a Roma… e il Sud? Solo da una grande distesa di alberi di arance! Ah no, dimenticavo i peperoncini sulla regione della Calabria?

Dunque dopo attimi di smarrimento mi sono subito chiesta dove fosse andata a finire la Valle dei templi in Sicilia, I Bronzi di Riace in Calabria, il castello Normanno Svevo a Melfi in Basilicata. E in Puglia dove erano i miei Trulli, la Via Appia, Castel del Monte e il Barocco Leccese?

Ero un po’ arrabbiata con gli editori del libro. In un secondo momento però, mi sono detta che tutto ciò che non era stato descritto e rappresentato su quella cartina poteva anche rappresentare un piccolo tesoro ancora nascosto. Una buona consolazione, ma anche una triste consapevolezza che forse così tanti tesori preziosi non siano stati ben visibili anche agli stessi italiani.

Il Sud d’Italia è spesso stato demoralizzato e scoraggiato nei secoli passati da politiche di arretratezza e di impoverimento. Spesso è anche definito ‘la palla al piede’ dell’intera Italia.

Personalmente, mi sento orgogliosa di potermi definire cittadina del Sud d’Italia ed anche pugliese, sentendomi anche responsabile dei vari stereotipi legati a tutto ciò… ‘al sud la vita è più lenta… al sud non si parla l’italiano… la gente non è puntuale… Ma come è possibile che io arrivi sempre molto puntuale e che il mio italiano non abbia inflessioni dialettali così come un romano, toscano, o un milanese?

Visitare il sud d’Italia per la prima volta potrebbe mettere ansia perché non si conosce ancora bene cosa si potrà trovare sul serio. E’ come vedere il film italiano Benvenuti al Sud!.. Armiamoci e partiamo! Cosa ci aspetterà? Sicuramente all’arrivo si troverà subito gente ad accogliere i nuovi ospiti con un grande sorriso. E’ dai tempi dei Romani che l’ospitalità è considerata una grande arte e l’ospite è sacro, mai fargli mancare nulla perché si apprezza la lunga strada che ha percorso per arrivare fin qui.

La Puglia è una nuova meta turistica non solo per i turisti stranieri, ma addirittura anche per gli stessi italiani del nord negli ultimi dieci anni. Tutto questo è giustificato anche dal fatto che fino a poco tempo fa i maggiori aeroporti pugliesi di Bari e di Brindisi non avevano tanti voli che collegavano la regione con il resto dell’Italia e dell’Europa.

La regione pugliese è piuttosto singolare, prima di tutto per la sua forma. Comprende lo sperone e il tacco dello stivale, è molto lunga con circa 800 km di costa, tra Mare Adriatico e Mare Ionio, c’è tanta campagna, ci sono le colline più verso il nord, c’è tanta pianura verso il sud e ci sono circa sessanta milioni di alberi di ulivo!

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Come giustificare tutta questa ricchezza? Se non con il fatto che i Romani avevano davvero un gran fiuto per un buon posto dove stabilirsi . E’ qui che arrivavano con le loro truppe da Roma lungo la Via Appia per arrivare al suo punto finale nella città di Brindisi e da qui attraversare il Mediterraneo per approdare in terra greca.

Tra i  luoghi incantevoli da visitare o in cui soggiornare ci sono le straordinarie Masserie, si tratta di grandi residenze nobili, dove un tempo si svolgeva la vita di un’intera comunità dominata dallo quattro stagioni, in cui i contadini lavoravano le terre del feudatario e si produceva il necessario per l’economia locale.

 Nel frattempo non bisogna dimenticare i Trulli, sparsi qua e là per le campagne o concentrati nella città di Alberobello e nelle zone limitrofi.Per quanto riguarda altro tipo di arte, quella Barocca e quella Romanico Pugliese si presentano in grande contrasto tra loro. Entrambe sono rappresentate la prima dalla città di Lecce e la seconda da quella di Bari. E’ come passeggiare in un museo all’aperto.

Inoltre, grande cultura è qui considerata anche quella culinaria! Altro stereotipo ‘ Ah, in Puglia si mangia troppo’…. Ma questo non è vero, perché qui mangiamo bene e salutare. Anche perché la nostra è solo dieta mediterranea. La Puglia è grande produttrice di una vasta varietà di verdure, tra le migliori le cime di rapa! Per esempio qui si fa una passeggiata in virtù di una cosa da mangiare a fine percorso, come un gelato la domenica pomeriggio o un panzerotto la domenica sera.

Come si presentano le città? Al di fuori dei circuiti più turistici, le piccole città anche di un certo interesse culturale non hanno mai molti turisti, qui è possibile conoscere da vicino la cultura locale, come per esempio vedere solo uomini in mezzo le piazze la mattina o la sera per la loro passeggiata quotidiana, oppure ci sono ancora donne anziane che vestono di nero con un fazzoletto in testa… questo è nel Sud, e non in un film.

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Dunque, la lista delle cose da scoprire, vedere, visitare, gustare e imparare nel Sud e in Puglia sono tante, difficile elencarle tutte. Allora non resta che prenotare un volo e venire a visitarlo. Nel film già citato Benvenuti al Sud, una frase memorabile dice ‘ Al sud si piange due volte, una al suo arrivo e l’altra alla sua partenza…’

di Michela, insegnante d’italiano presso la scuola d’italiano  L’Acanto, Puglia

Continua a leggere:

Learn Italian in Italy- special offersLive the Italian Dolce Vita in Puglia,

 Summer in Puglia

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La mia classe di Daniele Gaglianone

 An actor plays a teacher holding Italian classes attended by a group of immigrants who play themselves. They´re working in Italy and need to learn Italian to get their papers, become integrated, and make a living in their new home. Since they come from a variety of countries, each brings his or her own world into the classroom. During the shooting, however, something happens, and reality takes over: when the director shouts “Cut!”, the whole cast invades the set. Now they all become actors in the same true story, all in one “true fiction ” film: La mia classe.

With Valerio Mastandrea, Bassirou Ballde, Mamon Bhuiyan, Gregorio Cabral, Jessica Canahuire Laura, Metin Celik, Pedro Savio De Andrade, Ahmet Gohtas, Benabdallha Oufa, Shadi Ramadan, Easther Sam, Shujan Shahjalal, Lyudmyla Temchenko, Moussa Toure, Issa Tunkara, Nazim Uddin, Mahbobeh Vatankhah, Remzi Yucel

11 October 2013    20:30    NFT2 (BFI Southbank)

13 October 2013    12:30    RENOIR        

More on bfi.org                      

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Guardate i primi 2 minuti del video e rispondete alle domande:

 

 Livello B1+

Il colosseo

era alto…………

conteneva ……………..spettatori

aveva ……………. piani

l’arena era grande come……………….

il colore interno originale era………..

è stato costruito………………………anni fa

ma è stato costruito in meno di ……………….anni

Controlla le tue risposte:Il colosseo answer keys

Learn Italian with videos

Learn Italian in ItalyPugliaSorrento Amalfi coastMontepulciano , Pistoia inTuscany, Rome

Impara la lingua italiana con i video:

Video quiz:Un’intervista

L’italiano secondo Pasolini

Le origini della lingua italiana

Se fossi italiano

Cook like Italians

Italian gestures

Un viaggio intorno al mondo

Sing and learn: Italian verbs

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The lost tape of the legendary jam session between a famous Italian band and Jim Hendrix is the catalyst for a trip across Emilia in an old Volkswagen van driven by Freak Antoni, who is accompanied by his daughter Marguerite.

 Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 6.30pm

Venue: Italian Cultural Institute

Free event book here

Read more about the movie

 

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