Amatrice, the destroyed town that I still call “home”

If you are not living underground or on the top of a very high mountain, you might have noticed that this end of summer has been quite dramatic for most of us Italians. The earthquake that suddenly shook central Italy in the night of August 24th has stolen 296 lives and is still haunting the dreams of the ones of us who have been touched, directly or indirectly, by this reoccurring tragedy.

Yes, “reoccurring” indeed, since it happened before (in L’Aquila in 2009, in Umbria in 1997) and it will probably happen again. The centre-south of Italy is, in fact, one of the most seismically active areas in Europe, and the sheer structure of the ancient towns and villages scattered all over this wonderful country of ours can only make things more dangerous and dramatic when earth decides to do the twist.

mediterranean-earthquakes

That said, I’m not in for controversies about politicians’ faults or cheap indignation about unwise choices in satirical drawings. I’m writing now because my family comes from those places, because a part of me died that night and because I managed to pay visit to my (once) beautiful Amatrice just few days ago.

You know, it’s actually funny to think that, in a country famous for its inherent, somehow fascinating chaos, some places can still acquire a seemingly permanent state of stillnes, as if they were above (or out of) time and space. That was the case of Amatrice: a pearl nestled in between the ancient and colorful mountain chain of Monti della Laga, unique for its wide variety of flora and fauna and its historical and cultural background.

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Being raised in a place like that makes you think that in a world where everything changes abruptly, those mountains will always protect your comfortable nest. And you get the feeling that you will always find a place where everything will be the same as it was, where time gets dilated and embraces the geologic biorhythm of stones laying over other stones, of the slow and yet unstoppable flow of spring waters, of the neverending succession of snow and sprouts and sun and dead leaves on the ground.

Now, imagine this feeling of safety being ripped off from your head in a 2 minutes horror trip caused by a neutral, unstoppable force which comes from beneath the ground and arouses the most ancestral and uncontrollable fears of the human soul, leaving behind nothing more than a bunch of ruins and lifeless bodies… Feeling uncomfortable much? But that is exactly what happened.

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And yet, the sudden wave of destruction was not the more disturbing aspect of this unconceivable tragedy. The aftermath of a natural disaster is always a chaotic succession of news, people, pleas, cries, hopes and fears. And this, for a place which seemed to be stuck in time, is even more devastating than the earthquake itself.

Amatrice now looks like a disrupted anthill, with little powerless insects rushing here and there to save pieces of that once perfect part of universe that once was their entire world.

Children accompanied by their parents arrive in the rebuild school at Amatrice, 13 September 2016. Trento Region build a new school made by containers for the quake victims who need to start the new educational year. ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSII don’t really know how a human being can cope with this. I know it is possible, but I do not know how. And I know there is hope, and I know that life goes on and that one day, hopefully, new babies – maybe not the generation that came back to school just yesterday – will be raised cradled by those wise and benevolent mountains, blessed by the feeling that nothing will ever be able to change their small, perfect world.

Emergency is not over. If you wish to help the population of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto you can donate or participate to one of the many solidarity initiatives organized by NGOs and associations all over the world: a reference page in Italian and in English.

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Let it snow! 5 must-visit winter landmarks in Latium

Brace yourselves, winter is coming! Or, we should say, it’s already here. Temperatures dropped so dramatically during last week that Romans are experiencing somenthing very unusual: a real winter!

Although the idea of the Colosseum covered in snow might be fascinating for many, people in Rome consider the possibility of a snowfall as a real disaster: at the first sight of a snowflake public transportation freaks out (you don’t say?), people just get confused not knowing what to wear and all the streets become an indistinct cluster of dirty snow, ice and mud.
Anyway you should fear not, Latium is stuffed with wonderful places to visit… especially in winter time.

  1. Soratte Mountain. Vides ut alta stet nive candidum Soracte wrote Horace in one of hisveduta_del_mte_soratte odes, and he had a reason to, since he used to own a villa at the slopes of this solitary mountain. Due to its unmistakable shape and its proximity to Rome, the mount Soratte has been through the years a sacred site (dedicated to the god Soranus), a holiday destination for noble Romans, a place of pilgrimage (it hosts a paleo-christian hermitage), a palce of interest for foreign intellectuals (“Soratte stands out by itself in magnificent solitude. This mountain is probably made of limestone and belongs to the Apennines” wrote Goethe) and, finally, a miltary base complete with an enormous bunker during the II World War. Despite legends that that this mountain was host to the gate of hell, or that it had particular esoteric properties, this fascinating place is definetly something you’ll want to visit while its beautifully frosted with snow. You may even revive the emotions experienced by Horace during his quiet winter holidays.
  2. Civita di Bagnoregio. A Few kilometers north from the Soratte Mountain you will find this medieval town, which is known worldwide for its suggestive position and for the fact that it is only accessible through a long bridge that hangs over a deep ditch. Being relatively close to Rome and to other (literally) magical places such as Bomarzo, Civita di Bagnoregio is the perfect location for a magical winter tour: amazing food (the area, the Tuscia, is renowned for its tasty cold cuts and bodied red wines), breathtaking landscapes and an occasion for a detour in the less know history of central Italy, made of small hamlets, old gentry and popular religion.
  3. The Monti della Laga National Park. Placed in between Latium, Marche and Abruzzo, this national park, adjacent to the more popular Abruzzo National Park hosts a variety of landscapes and places of interest that are particulary enjoyable during the winter. 2014-11-20-10-56-15.jpg.1920x810_defaultFrom the exotic view of the Giano Mountain with its colossal (and controversial) tribute to Mussolini to the frozen Campotosto Lake, offering a breathtaking view of the Gran Sasso, this park stretches from the ski resort of the Terminillo Mountain, just near Rieti, to the lovely town of Amatrice, place of birth of the famous bucatini all’amatriciana, and is surrounded by charming mountain villages all along its valley. If you need a break from all the hustle and bustle of city life, you won’t find a better place to go.
  4. Lepini Mountains. A one hour trip by car from Rome will take you to this astounding place, where sea views and mountain sceneries blend in a unique and picturesque territory that is seeping with history and traditions. 4356139063_c16963a733_bAnciently inhabited by the pre-roman population called Volsci, this area is now full of small villages, abbeys, monasteries and places of interest such as the house of Aldo Manuzio (the guy who basically invented books as we know them today) and the necropolis of Caracupa. If you head toward the sea, past the city of Latina, you can also find enchanting coastal lake, which are excellent of bird watching… even in winter.
  5. Mount Guadagnolo. Just few kilometers from Rome, in the comune of Capranica Prenestina, this peak soars, offering a priviledged view on the metropolitan city and its suburbs. Famous for its handamade fettuccine, the nearby village of Capranica is a lovely town which has preserved the charm of the medieval suburban territory.

Have any suggestion? Did we miss something? Leave a comment, we would love to hear your suggestions!

Special thanks to our student Andrea Schorn for her help editing this article!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Questions Americans have for Italians, and Italians have for Americans, and anybody has for anybody

Assuming you are genuinely into Italy and Italian, you should have been inevitably exposed to this video created by Buzzfeed:

The video is actually part of a series in which random people ask random questions to other random people from random foreign countries (Australians to Americans, Americans to Brits and viceversa, etc.). On a first glance, this series highlights two fundamental concepts: firstly, people seem to have a lot of spare time and a lot of not-so-smart questions to ask; secondly, average people (from any country) are likely to be utterly ignorant about other cultures (even if these cultures come from the so called “first world”).

This frist impression is unfailingly confirmed by the Americans to Italians video, in which the unfortunate viewer can admire a bunch of seemingly well educated young people full of tormenting doubts about Italy such as “If I ever go to Italy, will I actually see Super Mario walking around?” (short answer: yes, in Italy we all are Super Marios but we have only one costume so we have to take turns).

CatturaWe know it’s just for fun (although this last question was not funny, even if the satisfied and sardonic face of the cute girl asking it seems to suggest otherwise) and to be fair, not all questions asked are that pointless or stereotyped. Some of them, actually, might require a very long and complex explanation: for example, clearing up why in Italy we have so many dialects would demand a long dissertation about italian history, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the XIX century. And, well, this subject might not be cut out for Buzzfeed.

That said, two good things came out from this collection of commonplaces about italian sun, seafood, pasta and grazie\prego: the fact that people are showing genuine curiosity (which is never a bad thing, my mom used to say) about italian language and culture and some smart replies from italian youtubers and comedians. Enjoy:

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Neapolitans are such stuff as dreams are made on, part 2

[Continues from the first part]

'A capa

‘A capa

'O puorco

‘O puorco

Pullecenella

Pullecenella

'O muorto che parla

‘O muorto che parla

'O chianto

‘O chianto

As we already said, under law, Tombola has to be considered a gaming. Nevertheless, it is universally acknowledged that it may not be the most exciting game in the world, except if you are planning to play it at home with your italian family during Christmas time…in this case it may be even worst. Is the coup of grace imposed by Christmas tradition after the blow-out meal and from which we can not escape. Tombola is technically a gamble because every participants shall be obliged to pay a significant sum of money which is then redistributed as prizes to the winners. The staggering figures ranging from 5 cents to figures much higher, infact some daredevils pay even 1 euro. Tombola is usually played in a family context. We are talking about biblical reunion with realtives until the seventh line of relatedness, most of whom you didn’t know they were relatives.
Let us get into the rules of procedure.

Ground rules

cartella

Traditional italian dish: cartella with rigatoni

One player is chosen for the role of croupier and has at his disposal a backboard on which there are all the numbers from 1 to 90 and a dice-box with pieces numbered similary. His hard task is to extract the pieces at random and announce to the other players the number rolled, sometimes with the quote of the Neapolitan Smorfia. For the difficult task you need the following features and abilities:

  1. Eyesight of a hawk
  2. Discerning 66 from 99
  3. Discerning 69 from 96
  4. Deciphering the dash under 6 and above 9

Players generally purchase one or more folders; every time a number is drawn, if it is present on one or more folders, the player has to cover the appropriate box.
In the homemade Tombola folders are simple cardstocks printed or written by the player himself and numbers are covered with beans, lentils, pasta, shredded paper, chickpeas or little pieces of tangerine peel.
Croupier has to extract numbers and announce them. Here’s a typicall scene:

tombola_bomporto

On the first row from the right you can appreciate the infamous dash under the number 6.

Croupier: 68 ‘a zuppa cotta
Player 1: Cosa? 78?
Player 2: Asino cotto!
Croupier: No… 68, sei-otto
Player 1: Ma il 78 non è uscito?
Croupier: sì, è uscito 10 minuti fa
Player 2: Ma come? Allora ho fatto ambo!
Croupier: Siamo per la cinquina

Usually prizes are awarded to the following scores:
AMBO: 2 numbers on the same row of the folder
TERNO: 3 numbers on the same row of the folder
QUATERNA: 4 numbers on the same row of the folder
CINQUINA: 5 numbers on the same row of the folder
TOMBOLA: 15 numbers, in other words all the numbers of the folder
TOMBOLINO: the second TOMBOLA after the first

Croupier has to deal with players like…
Croupier: the first number is…48 “morto che parla
Player X: AMBO!
…or with impossible rhymes such as:
– 78 (spelled: settantotto) Asino cotto
– 50 (spelled: cinquanta) La gallina canta

The ultimate objective must be cover all the numbers on the folders before the other players, which usually requires a time ranging from 2 hours until + ∞.

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

#WeAreTheGreatBeauty, the thousand souls of Rome in one photo contest

On the occasion of the grand opening of our new headquarters in Via del Boschetto, 32, we are happy to launch the photo contest #WeAreTheGreatBeauty, focused on the relationship between Rome, romans and foreigners.

#WeAreTheGreatBeauty

Participation is free of charge and open to everyone. The participation deadline is May, 20th 2015.

The contest is sponsored by Municipal Department of Culture and Tourism, Biblioteche di Roma and Dante Aligheri Society. Furthermore, the whole event will be followed by Radio Roma Capitale FM 93.00.

The best photographs will be exhibited and published.

Please read our terms and conditions and submit your photos!

We are really looking forward to take a look at Rome and its thousand souls and color from your point of view!

Tra Roma e il Giappone

Another story From students to students! Today Yogo, a musician from Japan, tells us about his experience in Rome… in his own very peculiar style!

Io sono un musicista Giapponese.
Da lungo tempo volevo venire a Roma.
perché ci sono nato.

Fortunato, dopo 2 settimane che sono arrivato a Fiumicino,
ho potuto avere un concerto.

In quel momento potevo dire solo “Ciao mi chiamo…”
però dopo il concerto, ho sentito le voci
“Braaaaaaaaaavooooooooooo”
“Biiiiiis”

Gli ospiti italiani erano molto calorosi.
Da allora io ho iniziato a frequentare il Pigneto.

Nella discoteca, come sono differenti “Roma” e “Giappone”?

Il cane
A Roma c’è
In Giappone non c’è

I bambini
A Roma ci sono
In Giappone non ci sono

I bambini che fanno i compiti a casa
A Roma ci sono
In Giappone non ci sono

Il ristorante in cui posso mangiare la pasta
A Roma c’è
In Giappone non c’è

Sul palcoscenico, qualcuno legge una bella poesia.
A Roma c’è
In Giappone non c’è

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

An Italian in Japan – episode 6

Mi guardano con aria interessata, ma sono sicura al 100% c he abbiano capito cosa sto dicendo...

Mi guardano con aria interessata, ma sono sicura al 100% c he abbiano capito cosa sto dicendo…

Come avrete già potuto intuire dagli ultimi articoli del nostro blog, sono reduce da una straordinaria esperienza al Salone dello Studio in Italia, tenutosi presso l’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tokyo il 7 e l’8 novembre. Si tratta davvero di un appuntamento immancabile per tutti i giapponesi interessati al Bel Paese: in due giorni di fiera sono state numerose le persone che hanno deciso di partecipare all’evento, incuranti del maltempo che si era abbattuto su Tokyo (in realtà quando le locandine all’esterno dell’Istituto hanno iniziato a muoversi vorticosamente ho intravisto un velo di terrore negli occhi dei presenti). Questo grazie all’amore che i giapponesi provano per l’Italia, una passione probabilmente dovuta alla spontaneità e ospitalità che contraddistingue noi italiani, in grado di fare breccia persino nel proverbiale contegno nipponico.

Dal giovane studente universitario che pianifica il suo futuro al sessantenne che attende con trepidazione il pensionamento per fare il viaggio di una vita (e chi non farebbe altrettanto?), alla ragazza impaziente di frequentare lezioni di cucina per imparare finalmente a preparare la pizza (però vi prego, niente calamari…), tutti hanno manifestato il medesimo entusiasmo di fronte a quanto gli veniva offerto nell’ambito della fiera: degustazione di prodotti tipici della tradizione culinaria nostrana, presentazione di eventi e manifestazioni legati all’Italia e infine uno spazio espositivo riservato alle scuole di italiano.

Naturalmente Kappa Language School non poteva mancare e, grazie all’aiuto della mia valida assistente Satomi, ho potuto conoscere tante persone interessate a intraprendere una vacanza studio o semplicemente amanti del Bel Paese a caccia di lezioni di italiano da consultare per poter migliorare le proprie abilità linguistiche senza muoversi da casa. Devo dire che l’accoglienza che ci è stata riservata si è rivelata davvero calorosa e spero davvero di poter ricambiare presto l’ospitalità… vi aspettiamo tutti a Roma!