Before leaving

by Beryl Singleton Bissell /
Beryl Singleton Bissell's picture
Jan 13, 2010 / 0 comments

My husband Bill and I recently took a three week journey to Italy. During that time, we traveled through Rome, the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Riviera, the Italian Alps, Tuscany and Umbria. We also met with 24 of my deceased husband Vittorio’s friends and family members. Because they speak little or no English, I crammed Italian before leaving.

Rather than the costly Rosetta Stone series of language lessons, I ordered Buongiorno Italia, a well-received CD program produced in England that besides providing a companion study guide also included substantial sections of  travel essays– in Italian!  


Buongiorno Italia


I lived with earphones clamped to my head for weeks prior to leaving, hoping that by study, and osmosis, I’d absorb enough material to get along in situations where Italian was essential. I was feeling fairly competent, until friends asked me to "say something in Italian.” I was stymied. Just what would I say? Would I treat them to the "ordering a meal" dialog (lots of meal-ordering, and direction-asking in this little book) or did I describe the house that Geraldine wanted to buy near Orvieto?

The dialogs on Buongiorno Italia, though repetitive, were marvelous aids in determining when to use "da" or "di, " or "ci" and "si," and the like. Hear a phrase often enough and the association of “ when to use what” slides into a conversation more easily. I thought of those phrases as “embedded reporters” ready at all times to leap into the fray and supply what was needed in terms of language. As it turned out, my paltry language skills were essential for negotiating the Italy we traveled, beginning on day one of our arrival.



The Minneapolis Star Tribune named Beryl Singleton Bissell as a "Best of 2006 Minnesota Authors." Her book The Scent of God was a "Notable" Book Sense selection for April 2006.

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