My love affair with la bella lingua began decades ago in an Italian language school in Italy. Beyond immersing myself in a mere language, I acquired a passport into a world of new experiences.
“You cannot separate our language from our culture,” one of my instructors told me. “When you learn Italian in Italy, you enter our history, our art, our music, our eno-gastronomia, our literature, our traditions.”
I became so besotted with Italian that I wrote a book about the language that beguiles the mind, captivates the heart, and comes closer than any other idiom to expressing the essence of what it means to be human. Readers from around the world—many alumni of Italian language schools—wrote to share their own linguistic love stories. Whatever our countries of origin, we communicated in Italian, the language of humanity—and therefore everyone’s mother tongue.
Worldwide Italy is synonymous with breath-taking natural beauty, fascinating history, magnificent art-architecture-sculpture-painting-literature, incandescent opera, iconic cuisine, superlative wine, sublime fashion, extraordinary design, quality craftsmanship, unsurpassed creativity, incomparable life style, and—worthily representing all of these—a language universally perceived as the most beautiful and romantic in the world. Italy itself is an artistic masterwork, and the teachers in Italian language schools are its guardians, preserving and passing on this living legacy. Their students serve as global ambassadors for Italy's language and culture.
It is a pleasure for me to support a group of Italian schools for foreigners, scattered throughout Italy, that have come together in the LICET (Lingua Italiana Cultura e Turismo) association to overcome this difficult moment together. Their classrooms have been empty for a year; they have received neither help nor attention from public institutions. They cannot reopen until international travel resumes, but without urgent measures to assure their survival, many will be forced to close forever.
These are the same schools that taught us the language, that enriched our stays with cultural experiences, that helped us to experience Italy like Italians. I urge the Italian government, the appropriate ministries, and everyone committed to the promotion of Italy’s language and culture to act now. We cannot, must not, neglect the educators who have dedicated themselves with love and professionalism to offering us, foreigners who come to Italy for more than a carefree vacation, a life experience that often becomes unforgettable.
Please join us by adding your name to others who share our appreciation for Italy and all the gifts it offers the world: