If international travel bans put a dent in your 2020 plans to hone your Italian-language skills in the land of gelato and pizza, we may have found the next-best thing.
One of Sydney’s OG Italian-language schools is partnering with a bunch of the city’s Italian restaurants and creatives to bring you four hands-on language and cultural experiences that’ll trick you into thinking you’re in the country that gave us pesto and fusilli, and words such as “paparazzi” and “sprezzatura” (the art of effortless elegance).
CoAsIt – the group behind the immersive experiences – was established in Sydney in 1968, under the direction of the Italian government, to support post-war migrants and to preserve and promote Italian language and culture in NSW. More than half a century on, with schools in Leichhardt and the CBD, CoAsIt still offers language and community programs. Basically, these are the people you want to learn all things Italian from in Sydney.
Its new two-day Italian Language Experiences, launching this month, are aimed at beginners and will be spread across two three-hour sessions. You can choose from four themes: coffee, pasta, pizza and art. On the first day you’ll learn some basic Italian that’ll actually come in handy on your next Roman holiday – vocab relating to the theme you’ve chosen (think “I’ll have a bottle of fiano, please” and “pass me the parmesan”).
But day two is when the fun really starts.
If coffee’s your calling, you and seven others will head to Schibello Coffee, a decades-old coffee roaster based in Rhodes. There you’ll learn the basics of making an authentic brew, leaving both caffeinated and properly acquainted with the Italian words for “cup”, “beans” and “more, please”.
Those who choose the pizza-themed experience will travel to Luigi Esposito’s diner Via Napoli in Hunters Hill to learn how to make Neapolitan-style pies in the woodfired oven. You’ll emerge with a belly filled with slices and a noggin chock-full of pizza-related lingo.
If your Italian dreams involve The Birth of Venus, go for the painting experience. You’ll visit Peach Black Gallery in Chippendale, where Italian artist Matteo Bernasconi will teach you simple painting techniques (with a side of cheese and wine).
And finally, the pasta experience will take you to Pasta Emilia in Surry Hills – which is as close to the Emilia-Romagna region we’ll be allowed to get any time soon. You’ll learn the secrets of pasta-making (including the best local organic ingredients to use), and traditional techniques that only nonnas know.
And don’t worry – there’s no homework. “It’s designed to be fun,” CoAsIt’s general manager Thomas Camporeale explains. “It’s a social thing, an opportunity to meet like-minded people. This is as close as we can get to Italy.”
At the end of your Italian Language Experience your desire to travel to Italy will probably be stronger than ever. But hey, at least you’ll have a chunk of the language under your belt, ready for when that day finally comes.
CoAsIt’s Italian Language Experiences run on various dates starting September 29. Prices range from $175 to $185. Book here.