Ciao, Professoressa!

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"In true Italian fashion, I decided to take the month of August off from blogging. I’ve been chiuso per ferie (closed for holidays) for awhile now, and my time off was filled with travel, relaxation, family, friends and food.

Really, what more could a girl ask for especially after a summer like the one I’ve had? Let’s recap:

3 months in Italy and France (with brief stops in England, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany) – check!

Firenze from Piazzale Michelangelo

Firenze from Piazzale Michelangelo

Time spent with amazing people in amazing places eating amazing food – check!

Moules Frites

Moules Frites

A new job for the fall – check! (Which leads me to the title of this post…)

That’s right, I’m going to be a professoressa d’italiano (Italian professor) at Wlifrid Laurier University (Canada) for the fall semester. Basically, it’s my dream job. I just hope I don’t turn into the Maestra Maldestra by the end of the term…

What does this mean for Not Just Another “Dolce Vita”? Hopefully that I’ll have even more time to get down to writing and filling your inboxes with all sorts of great tidbits about Italy. That’s why we’re all here, isn’ it?

And Back to Italy She Goes

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"

Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” — Anna Akhmatova

What have I been doing in the last few weeks since I haven’t been blogging, you ask? Well, let me tell you:

1. I’ve been working on other writing projects for Panoram Italia Magazine.

2. I’ve been finishing up the first part of the Teaching English as a Second Language course that I’ve enrolled in, in hopes that it’ll give my career a bit of a boost. (If you’re wondering why my career needs boosting, click here to read the post about how I got kindly ousted from my most recent lavoro).

3. I’ve been looking for a job. Need to feed my salvadanaio (piggy bank).

4. And last but not least, I’ve been trying to find a way to get back to Italy. Obviously.

So how did I do? Sono riuscita. I succeeded. In all of it.

Articles to be published in April? Check.

Part 1 of TESL course passed? Check.

Found a job? Check.

Found a job that is interesting to me? Check.

Found a job that is interesting to me and pays me to go to Italy? Check, Check, Check!

Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with the way life is going right now. I’ve still got a bit of time (73 days, but who’s counting?!) before I leave again for bella Italia but the fact that I know I’m going placates my Italylust just a little bit.

So what is this lavoro dei sogni (dream job) that I’ve landed?

I’m going to be the Program Manager for a study abroad program to Italy. Bello, no? (Nice, eh?) Now, I’m sure it won’t all be Prosecco and la dolce vita - I will be working, you know – but it’ll be a great experience all the same.

I’m sure this next sojourn in Italy will provide me with much more fodder for Not Just Another “Dolce Vita”, and I’ll be sure to chronicle the best of my (mis)adventures for you right here!

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Closer to Life – Zona a Traffico Limitato

Once again I find my mind wandering to the many ways in which my life in Italy makes me feel as if I live more in tune with life, more in harmony with life, closer to life.  In my first post on this subject, I used the example of finestre aperte - open windows – and how my open, screenless Italian windows helped me live closer to life. Now I’d like to share with you how the Zona a Traffico Limitato (ZTL, pronounced “zehdda-tee-ehllay”) doesn’t limit me, as its name may suggest, but invites me to get out into the world.

In my Italian home, the charming, medieval city of Siena, the historic town centre is almost entirely free of cars due to the ZTL that encompasses most of the centro storico (old town centre). Siena was the first city in Europe to outlaw cars from its centre, allowing only some taxis, few buses and a minimal number of motorini to wind their way through the labyrinthine streets. For most people, the main mezzo di trasporto (method of transportation) is the heel-toe express.

ZTL at Porta Pispini – Siena

How annoying, people lament when I tell them this. You mean you have to walk everywhere? They actually feel sorry for me. What do people with cars do? They park them ouside the city walls (like in the photo), or get a special permit if they live inside the walls. But isn’t it inconvenient? Not really. I actually quite enjoy it. Oh, I could never do that much walking.  You could if you had to. Well, we’ll just not visit Siena then. It sounds like too much trouble. You’re the ones missing out!

In Canada, I live in a lovely suburban neighbourhood. I go for walks to get my exercise, but I can’t actually really go too many places of interest on foot. In Siena, I find that all the walking makes me feel like the city is my home in Italy, where I belong in Italy. My feet are stepping on the same stones that the Senese people – nobles and peasants alike – have been treading on for hundreds of years. It’s a connection to the past. With every step I take I’m making the city my own. I’m becoming familiar with it. It’s becoming familiar with me. I feel the breeze (or lack of one) come from the countryside. I feel my legs working to climb the many hills that adorn the city. In my sandals, my feet sometimes touch the cobblestones that they’re attempting to navigate.

I also notice that when I’m camminando (walkingand not preoccupied dealing with the gas-brake-horn-horn-HORN-blinker-gas-gasssss-brake-horn-horn-horn cycle of driving, I’m able to pay more attention to my surroundings. As I walk (or sometimes stumble embarassingly) over the uneven cobblestones, I find myself thinking not so much about my destination, but about the people and places I pass on my way.

I might notice a shop, bar or restaurant that I haven’t seen before, then duck inside to check it out. I might pass a friend in the street and stop to chat. I’m more inclined to follow where my curiousity may lead, to explore, to discover. As I look, I appreciate.

Exploring the alleyways of Siena

And funnily enough, in Siena, I don’t use music to block out the world around me. When I drive, the radio is on. Always. When I go for a walk to get some exercise, the iPod is on. Always. When I walk in Siena, you’ll never see me with my earbuds in. Never. I welcome the sounds of Siena.  All the walking and being in the street amongst the other pedestrians, with the odd vehicle slowly cruising by, the odd horse being led around – it’s nice. It makes me feel as if I’m a part of something bigger – a feeling I wouldn’t necessarily get from driving around cooped up in a car.

ZTL, you don’t limit me. You help me live closer to life.