Today on Italophilia I am pleased to present my lovely friend Linda Martinez from Rome. Linda and her husband Steve run “The Beehive” – a cozy hostel in Rome. With a passion for community building and environmental friendly products, The Beehive uses ecological goods and recycled paper and the couple support all things organic….! Linda’s story of starting The Beehive is nothing short of an inspiration and even more is her challenge in learning the Italian language.Contrary to popular belief, learning a language in the home country is equally difficult and challenging and something I really wanted all of you to know.
Let’s read what Linda has to say about her life in Italy, studying the Italian language and about The Beehive!
Ciao Linda! Tell us how The Beehive started….
Hi everyone! My husband Steve and I got married in September 1998 after a long and tumultuous relationship. Part of our “master plan” had always been to leave the US and live internationally, but we just didn’t know how we would go about doing it or what we would do and so we came up with a lot of half-baked ideas.
We spent part of our honeymoon in Rome and stayed at a hotel/hostel that Steve used to work at a few years before. That’s when the idea came to us of creating our own hostel in Rome and 8 months later we opened the doors to The Beehive on 11 May 1999.
Did you know Italian beforehand?? How was your experience learning in the first few months??
I had taken Italian for 2 semesters at Santa Monica Community College a few years before we moved to Italy, but sadly had not retained any of it. However, my family is Puertorican and Spanish was my first language. Since Italian and Spanish are very similar, I felt comfortable in Italy despite not knowing the language.
I took a two week course at Torre di Babele at its former location on Via Bixio in Rome, but the course was frustrating as it was filled with a group of students who had no interest in learning the language (have no idea why they were there!) and they were very disruptive.
After that course, I came into contact with an Italian language tutor, and now good friend, Andrea Viviani, who tutored me privately for a while. At that point though, I was a new mother and so my Italian language learning took a backseat. I’ve learned the rest of my Italian on my own which I have to say, probably isn’t the most effective way to learn a language.
That must be tough.. Any tips you’d particularly like to share with the readers learning Italian??
Find a method that works for you whether it’s in a group if you are an extroverted sort or privately by tutor if you prefer one on one.
Both have their pros and cons and you might want to try both initially to see which works best for you. Stick with whichever method works and keep with it and keep learning! That was my problem, I reached a certain level of fluency and comfort and then stopped. This was a mistake because while I have a grasp of the language, I am by no means at a high level of proficiency in Italian and I make a lot of mistakes, basic mistakes too.
It’s difficult to go back, but I do have a friend who has a wonderful YouTube channel –Lucrezia Oddone – Learn Italian with Lucrezia and she has inspired me to want to hire a private Italian language tutor again to expand my vocabulary and improve my grammar. It’s never too late!
I agree it’s never too late, Linda! Grazie mille carissima per la tua ispirazione! Thank you so much for your time.
If you are in Rome, stay with Linda and Steve who have both set dedicated evenings for storytelling sessions and cooking classes! The Beehive is a place made with a lot of love and the whole foundation of community and warmth is evident as soon as you enter!
In the comments do let me (and Linda!) know how this post inspired you. Are you inspired to learn Italian??
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Ishita is an Indian Blogger who is in love with all things Italian. Every year, Ishita seek’s new experiences and destinations in Italy; from the southernmost tip of Sicilia to the Northern most parts of Piemonte.
Ishita works and lives in Delhi.