Psst! Wanna see Italy? Start here!

Picture, I dunno, a tree.

Got an image of a tree in your mind? Brown trunk? Green bushy foliage.

OK, forget the foliage, as it’s almost winter. Bare branches then.

Your tree is Italy (makes a change from a boot, right?)

On the bottom left of the bushy part of the tree, where the leaves start (or will do, when it’s finally spring again), you have the border with France.

There’s a place called Ventimiglia (“twenty miles”) right there, on the border.

A little way along, on the underside of the tree at the angle with the trunk, there’s Genova.

And up from there, into the canopy, like a nesting bird, Turin.

Right of Turin, you’ll find Milan, another bird’s nest.

Keep scanning right across the branches and you’ll see more nests: Verona, then Venice, perched precariously there on the right hand side, about to fall out.

The top half of the canopy is mostly mountains. And the top circumference, international borders.

As mentioned, that’s France, there on the left. At the top, Switzerland, then Austria, and finally Slovenia over there on the right.

Running from Slovenia all the way down the right hand side of the tree trunk is the Adriatic sea.

Over the other side of the Adriatic, (maybe the next tree?) you can see (top to bottom) Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and down there on the right, at about ground level, is Greece.

Scan down our tree to its roots. There’s Puglia on the right, then Basilicata in the middle, and Calabria on the left.

Notice that large boulder to the left of the base of the tree, almost touching it?  That’s Sicily.

And those other two boulders (floating in mid air??) The lower one’s Sardina, and above that is Corsica (which is French, anyway.)

Working our way back up the tree trunk on the left-hand side, you’ll notice first Naples, then Rome, about 40% of the way up.

From Rome, going on up, we see the rest of Lazio, then Tuscany, and finally back to Liguria, where we started (remember Genova, there in the angle between trunk and canopy?)

Well, you’ll admit, that was quite a trip!

Thousands of miles, in fact.

We took in borders, mountains, seas, islands, regions and cities.

There are lots and lots of great places to visit in our tree.

And, of course, if you’re planning a trip to Italy, you’ll want to see as many of them as you can.

Which brings me, rather indirectly, to the point.

If you were to base yourself, say, way down there at ground level, or maybe not even on the tree at all, but say, on that boulder…

Well, that would be very nice. But then getting to all the other places you wanted to go to would be quite a trek, right?

(Imagine you’re a caterpillar…)

Suppose you decided to start your trip way up there, at the top of the tree? (In the mountains…)

Nope. Not a good idea.

Far right (Venice)?

Hell of a trip from there, all the way down to Rome or Naples, on the lower part of the trunk.

So just where would be the logical place to see Italy from?


At the bottom of the bushy canopy, right there!

In the middle of the trunk.

From there, you could go in any direction, and quickly get to the places you wanted to see.

See that point, there?

Right there, in the middle of the trunk?

At the base of the canopy?

You see it!

That’s Bologna.

Right there, where any caterpillar going anywhere in this tree would need to crawl right past.

Sorry, I mean strategically placed on the main historic trade routes across the Italian peninsular.

Which is one of the reasons that this historic medieval city is home to the oldest university in Europe. And is a major trading center.

And would be the ideal place for you to choose as your base, when you visit Italy.

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  1. I love the tree analogy, brilliant! I have a little place 2 hours west of Bologna and am saving hard to be able to afford a language course with you – one day I’ll make it.
    Keep up the good work and your regular emails.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jan!

      I thought two hours west of here would be somewhere in the Mediterranean sea??

      Anyway, in the meantime, check out, which you can study as much as you want, for free!

      Buona serata!


  2. Klaus Knopp says:

    Dear members of the school,

    Thank you for your emails from Bologna. They remind me of my stay at your school and of my two weeks in Bologna. I felt very happy there and I like to think back to those times. Learning Italian at home during a course once a week is rather tedious. It is far more fun to learn Italian in a stimulating environment such as yours. Carry on. I would like to come back to your school in spring, even it would be just for a week. I`m waiting for your next mail.
    Kind regards
    Klaus Knopp