Reaching for the Stars with Dante

In the present day we’re speaking in regards to the Italian language. Its magnificence, its historical past starting with Dante Alighieri, and the way we are able to use this time when many people can’t journey to Italy, to have the ability to assimilate as soon as we land in Il Bel Paese.

All of us are inclined to equate Italy with antiquity, and with such huge historical past it’s simple to imagine Italy as a rustic is kind of historical itself. So, lots of people are stunned to study that Italy, a unified Italy as we all know it at present was solely established in 1865. The identical 12 months our Civil Struggle right here within the states got here to and finish.

So, what in regards to the language? Properly, we owe modern-day Italian very a lot to the Florentine poet, Dante Alighieri who broke with custom of writing poetry in Latin and selected as an alternative to put in writing his Divine Comedy within the on a regular basis tongue he spoke, the Tuscan or Florentine dialect.

In fact, like Shakespeare to the English language, fashionable Italian has modified, however the influence of Dante on the language is simple.

With out making you’re feeling like you’re again in English class, simply take heed to the primary few strains of the Inferno, his journey by hell.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,

che la diritata by way of period smarrita.

Ahi quanto a dir qual period e` cosa dura

Esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte

Chenel pensier rinova la paura!

Tant’e` amara che poco e` piu` morte;

ma per trattar del ben ch’i’ vi trovai,

diro` de l’altre cose ch’i’ v’intra

In the midst of the journey of our life,

I discovered myself in a darkish wooden,

For the straight manner was misplaced

Ah! How arduous a factor it’s to say

how that wooden was so wild and harsh and powerful

that the considered it renews the worry!

It’s so bitter that dying is little extra so

However to inform of the great I discovered there

I’ll inform of the opposite issues I noticed

And so, begins Dante’s journey into hell. It’s barely harking back to this tough time to me, and thru numerous darkish woods of my life, I’ve discovered a type of consolation in Dante.

So? What is the level, proper?

Properly, miei amici, the purpose is, it is a arduous time we face, for a lot of causes. Sickness, job loss, worry of each, thrilling plans cancelled, journeys to Italy cancelled, could not all of us use one thing good to give attention to? A technique to not solely higher ourselves however make these journeys we hope to absorb the not so distant future much more particular?

One factor we are able to do, wherever we’re, is study the Italian language.

Is that this a necessity when visiting Italy? Not likely. Most Italians, particularly within the tourism sector communicate English very effectively if not fluently. It should, nevertheless, elevate your expertise past your creativeness.

I stumbled into my first go to to Italy, because of my mom educating good previous Dante and wanting to go to his hometown of Florence along with her college students.

With out realizing the primary phrase, I really feel deeply in love with the nation, and with the language. Its intonation, its music, its pleasure. The mere sound of it captivated me.

These first few journeys, I nonetheless knew nothing of the language past, “Ciao”, “Grazie”, and “Prego”. Italy had my coronary heart, however I wished to belong, to be part of the place and its tradition, so I took all of the lessons I may and even majored in Italian in school.

I’ve already instructed you ways my husband and I met finding out Italian there. Between working, transferring, and saving, it took us 4 years after we have been married to have the ability to go to Italy collectively for the primary time.

Inside moments of being there and talking with folks we discovered ourselves at first tripping over phrases till our story turned simpler. Folks would ask, “However, why do you communicate Italian?” Italians are reasonably romantic, so listening to we met finding out their language made folks immediately heat to us.

My household, pals, and I have been all the time handled splendidly as vacationers. But, we have been nonetheless handled as vacationers. Somebody who will come and go and can doubtless by no means be seen once more.

When Matt and I went and will really chat with locals, issues modified.

One second that stands out to me is once we walked by Rome’s Borghese gardens and to the attractive terrace that overlooks Piazza del Popolo. There was slightly purple cart there promoting snacks and refreshments. We purchased a beer and had simply eaten lunch, so we weren’t too hungry.

We ordered in Italian, easy sufficient, “Due birre per favore”, and the person couldn’t imagine it. We talked with him for a couple of minutes till extra prospects got here up, and he insisted on giving us a bag of chips to take pleasure in as we walked round, a thanks for loving his nation a lot.

Later that day as we explored, we have been passing in entrance of the enchanting Spanish steps. A bunch of pals perhaps 18-20 have been strolling by us chat and we overheard certainly one of them speculating that I used to be from Milan and Matt was from Russia. We nearly died laughing as Matt is the one with Italian heritage however since he studied in Milan most Italians routinely suppose he’s Russian.

Seeing the distinction in that first journey, regardless that we have been rusty and made numerous errors, we related with folks like I by no means had earlier than.

Since then, each time we return, the same old dialog of how and why we discovered the language within the US lands us in probably the most unimaginable conversations.

Again in February we stayed in certainly one of Florence’s most charming mattress and breakfasts. Gordana, who I’m in contact with continuously throughout regular instances hugged us as quickly as we walked within the door and greeted us each morning as we might head out to discover the town.

On a residential avenue a bit faraway from probably the most touristy eating places proper by the Duomo we found a tiny trattoria run by a household of three. The conversations started as they all the time do, “The place are you from? Why do you communicate Italian?” Earlier than we knew it, the 5 of us sat speaking. About their scrumptious meals and home wine from San Gimignano, and about life within the metropolis. How the dad hated driving a automotive. We merely chatted, and it was beautiful.

On the partitions have been two little indicators that learn,

“La vita ei sogni sono fogli di uno stesso libro” “Life and goals are pages of the identical e-book”,


“Addormentati semper con un sogno. Risvegliati semper con un proposito.” “At all times go to sleep with a dream. At all times wake with a objective.”

Attending to know this household it appeared that they lived the phrases of each, as will we.

Throughout these few days, regardless of the place we went for dinner, the household would invite us in for cantucci e vin santo, a standard Tuscan welcome that made us really feel like we have been at house.

These are the moments, the connections that we’re blessed with once we study the language. You would not have to talk it completely. Goodness is aware of I must follow extra! The factor is, if you present that you’ve put within the effort and time to study, it says, “I select this place. I need to belong. I need to perceive.”

And the folks reward your efforts by assuring you that you just do certainly belong and can all the time be welcome there.

My coronary heart, lots of our hearts, little question aches proper now to be there. It breaks for the individuals who have suffered a lot, misplaced a lot, and worry for his or her futures.

This has in a way been a type of hell for many people and for numerous causes. And but, like Dante, allow us to give attention to the great that may come of it. Perhaps this time once we are so disenchanted to have needed to cancel or postpone can really make our experiences infinitely extra significant once we can lastly get there.

Dante, father of the Italian language ends his Inferno, having traversed the darkness of hell and all it taught him with what to me is probably the most stunning line in all of literature,

“E quindi uscimmo a riverer le stelle”.

“And so we got here forth and as soon as once more beheld the celebrities.”