I have a paperback book next to my computer with the title “Not in a Tuscan Villa”. It was written by an American couple who studied Italian at our school a while back.
The back cover reads:
What happens when you decide to make a dream come true? Newly retired and looking for more than a vacation, John and Nanacy Petralia intrepidly pack a few suitcases and head to the “perfect” Italian city for a year.
The “perfect” Italian city in question is Bologna. But it seems that, having booked an appartment sight-unseeen from someone that turned out to be rather untrustworthy, “within days their dream becomes a nightmare.”
Bologna, like a lot of cities with upwards of a quarter of a million inhabitants, turns out to have noisy roads, graffiti, and dimensions such that carrying your shopping home might be a strain if you don’t live right next to a supermarket. Oh, and it’s hot in the summer.
Perhaps, John and Nancy, if you’d booked your accomodation though a professional you might not have ended up in a poorly-furnished, expensive appartment with no air-conditioning located on a busy main road a long way from the centre?
Madrelingua’s accommodation-finding service is free to clients: we only work with people we know and trust, appartments are a few minutes’ walk from the school, and landlords who have not got along with our clients don’t get repeat business!
Not everything about Bologna sucked, apparently:
In early June we start two weeks of classes at Madrelingua, a local language school. The owners, Stefi and Daniel, are professional and upbeat.
Well, that’s nice, I’ve never been called upbeat before. Thanks guys! But we’re truly sorry, and a little surprised, you didn’t like our wonderful city. Many of our clients enjoy their stay so much that they never want to leave. Some DON’T go home. Others return year after year.
Bologna hosts thousands of visitors of all ages from all over the world each year. Some of these study Italian at our school, sometimes for lengthy periods. But never once has anyone told us they didn’t like the city.
We’re sorry the staff in the tourist information office were reluctant to speak English with you. As you mentioned elsewhere in your book, most Americans can’t speak a foreign language. A lot of Italians don’t either, and that includes the stressed employees in the tourist information office, who mostly work with Italian, or Italian-speaking, visitors.
In fact, there’s another reason why Bologna makes an excellent base for learning Italian, rather than say Rome or Florence, which are over-run with foreign tourists and where and you’ll often hear English being spoken in the streets.
Oh well, judge for yourselves:
- John and Nancy’s book can be found on Amazon, here
- Information about our Madrelingua’s free accommodation-finding service is here (check out the pictures of gorgeous appartments bang in the center of the city)
(Have YOU visited Bologna? Was it a “nightmare”? We hope not, but leave a comment and tell us what you really thought of our city!)
P.S. Last call for CILS exam registrations, which officially closed yesterday, but hey, this is Italy, so you have until Sunday night to book your course in November/December and get a FREE A1 or A2 CILS exam (December 5th, details here.)