Learning Italian?

“My husband and I, for the month of August, are only speaking to each other in Spanish,” said a woman in my Friday walking group.

“Well today is August fifth,“ one of the other women said. “How’s it going?“

“Well, we haven’t said anything to each other yet today!“

I had heard before that designating one day a week to speak only in Spanish was a good way to advance our learning of the language. But an entire month?

In less than a second, I knew this would never work for me and Michael. 


Because Michael is learning Italian.

For those of you, dear readers, who are a little bit confused, I understand. 

Yes, just over a year ago, my husband and I moved to Valencia, Spain. And yes, in various ways, in fits and spurts, we have both been studying Spanish.

But in May, after seven years of working and waiting, something amazing happened: I was informed by the Italian consulate in New York that I am now an Italian citizen. 

I promptly registered in the database of Italians living abroad. I put in the information for my address here in Spain. And then found out it could take up to six months for them to process this information before I can even get my Italian passport.

So yes, ideally, within a year, I will be a dual citizen.

And Michael? Well, thanks to marrying me, he has two options. The first is that he can get a long-term visa to live anywhere in the European Union.

But what he really wants? The golden ticket: his very own EU passport. 

Little did we know that back in 2018, the Italian government passed new legislation that requires non-Italian spouses of Italian citizens to pass a B1 level (Intermediate) Italian test. 

“Wait a minute,“Michael said when he learned of this requirement. “You don’t have to learn Italian? But I do?”

“I’m Italian by blood. That supersedes anything,” I said. 

And so it was that Michael decided we should spend the summer in Italy so he could learn Italian.

But I had a few problems with this.

First of all, I’m trying to learn Spanish.

Secondly,  August is the quietest month in this very noisy city. Because most everyone leaves on vacation in August. I like quiet. I wanted to be here in August.

“And besides,“ I said, “I’m traveling for most of July and then we’re going back to the States in September. I don’t want to travel every month for three months.” 

And even though my dream of living abroad has always, in my mind, taken place in Italy, and even though life is short, I’m  not 25 anymore. I like my routines. I like some semblance of normalcy every month or so. 

That didn’t stop me from encouraging Michael to go to Italy. On his own. Because that would give me something I’ve dreamed about for a long time: a house all to myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I like living with Michael. But I also like living alone. Don’t make me choose. Why can’t a girl have the best of both worlds?

I knew that living in Italy was not a requirement for learning Italian. But Michael wanted to walk out his door and hear the language. He wanted to see the words all around him. He wanted to fumble through the supermarket with Google translate like we did in Spain just over a year ago.

Me? Not so much. Not yet.

So Michael is in Italy. I am in Spain.

I’ll make the most of the month of August (mostly by not leaving the house because I’m enjoying the solitude so much!). 

Then I’ll spend the first week of September with Michael in Italy.

Then Michael and I will take a little trip to an island off the coast of Valencia with good friends.

And all of this before heading back to US on September 15. 

Just for  a visit. 

When you see us, feel free to greet me in Spanish. And Michael in Italian. 

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann Linton says:

    Awesome congrats on the dual citizenship…

    Sent from my iPad- Ann Linton


  2. Dominic Bonavolonta says:

    We are so “of like mind.” You have inspired me to revisit my quest to get an Italian passport. I’m still hitting dead ends, but I’m not giving up!

  3. Jenn B says:

    Congrats on achieving your dream of Italian citizenship!
    Also, can’t thank you enough for my actual out loud laugh at the Italian language conundrum. And again at your clutch comment that Italian blood supersedes knowledge of the language.
    Best of everything, please keep writing, and healthy and safe travels to you both. 💙💙💙

    1. Thank you, my friend!

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