Ispirazione: Smitten with A Merry Feast

Heather Carlson and I connected over our mutual Italy love many years ago and have been in touch through emails and Instagram messages. Heather and her family lived in Italy for about 3 years until 2015 before returning to their home in Idaho. Her life move and Italy story is real and fascinating and even more real is her two cents on learning Italian. Let’s hear on what Heather has to say about it!

Welcome to Italophilia, Heather. Tell us… How did Italy happen?? What made you think of choosing it??
Ciao a tutti! My husband Chris and I have been traveling to Italy for years and like many other travelers, secretly dreamed of living there someday when the kids were grown and on their own. We never imagined that we’d get the opportunity to move our entire family there when a job opportunity arose for Chris in Milan in late 2012. We didn’t hesitate, and soon we were eyeball deep in the details of relocating our family of 4 (plus 2 pups) to Italy.

Paola Colleoni for Flytographer-2
Heather and her beautiful family

Did you know any Italian beforehand?? How was your experience learning in the first few months??
When we arrived in Milan, our Italian was limited to what I’d call “travelers Italian”. We knew enough to get around well by car or public transportation, ask questions and of course, order at restaurants! None of us had time to formally take lessons before the move, so we all dove into lessons headfirst soon after we arrived. I have to admit that I had no idea how unprepared I was until we moved into our house and started getting settled.

“Vacation Italy” is very different than everyday living in Italy, and I quickly realized I was in over my head when I had to shop for cleaning supplies and laundry detergent at first. So many unfamiliar words!

Those first few weeks I about lost my mind in the minute details of homemaking (like trying to understand the super lengthy instruction manual on trash and recycling in Italian, or learning how many appliances could run at the same time without blowing a fuse!) Piano, Piano… as they say. Little by little things became more familiar and easier to navigate.

What tips would you give to readers who are learning Italian??

I am so thankful for the entire experience of living in Italy, and of course looking back I would do many things differently. Mainly I’d tell myself not to worry so much about messing up when trying to speak and appreciate each day as a learning opportunity.
Some of the tips I’d recommend are:

● Scheduling time to study in whatever way you learn best (I do better with audio, for
● Watching movies in Italian or try a dual language book you are familiar with.
● Giving yourself a lot of grace, and remembering that each word and phrase you learn will deepen your travel experience even more.
Grazie mille carissima per la tua ispirazione!

Do visit Heather’s online Italy themed goodie shop called Smitten Italy. Whether you are a fellow Italophile or not, I guarantee you, you will simply love the designs she has.

Follow Heather on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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14 thoughts on “Ispirazione: Smitten with A Merry Feast

  1. Yeah living in a country and holidaying there are two pairs of shoes, no doubt! The suggestions are great to learn Italian. I would maybe add, reading books in Italian. That helped me to learn English. Also I used to a have a pen pal organized from my school, from Milan to learn Italian and I think the pen pal relationship was quite a boost in confidence that you can learn the language too, of course step by step. These days email and chat rooms make it easier. 🙂

    1. Very true. I am trying to read in Italian but frankly I am not consistent. I think I need to be. It really does help. Pen pal relationship makes me think of a great era. times gone by…. wish people wrote more..xx

  2. Its lovely to see you creating a community of Italiophiles and supporting each other. I checked the Smitten Italy store – it looks classic like most Italian brands do.
    Italy is one of the few countries that I really want to go. My biggest reason is the fact that Italy has the maximum number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world and I need to see them all. Fingers Crossed.

    1. Thank you, Anuradha 🙂 So kind of you. I really hope you do and soon. Smitten Italy is such a lovely shop, I wish the shipping costs wasn’t as high 🙁

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