All’ICCC (At the ICCC) – Estate 2024 – Letter from Claudia Gentile Sims

Ciao, Amici!

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

Here is a true story that illustrates how knowing a second language opened an unexpected door for my husband and me in a most delightful way. We were on our first trip together to Italy. In Naples, we stopped by a tourist office (pre-internet, pre-cell phone) to figure out our next steps. It was very hot and very late in the day. Two groups of travelers stood in line ahead of us while behind the counter sat a grizzled grumpy clerk with a bristly gray five o’clock shadow. As each group approached the desk with their touristy questions, clearly irritated and weary, the clerk growled or barked his answers and quickly dismissed the group. Then it was our turn to approach the desk, apparently the final tourists of the day as it was closing time.

“Scusi, posso farle un paio di domande?”, Excuse me, may I ask you a couple of questions, I said hesitatingly. He immediately looked up surprised and said, “Ma lei parla l’italiano?” You speak Italian? “SÌ, un poco,” a little, I said bracing for a growl or a bark.

That was it! He got up from his desk and walked over to the door, smiling back at us over his shoulder as he flipped the lock. It was closing time, and we were locked inside the office with him. Immediately, he was asking the questions: he wanted to know where we were from, where we were going, where did I learn to speak Italian, etc. etc. He pointed out several Neopolitan places of interest on the large wall map that were not to be missed. He was happy and excited to be telling us about the wonders of his city. He was revived and transformed from the grizzled grump he had been just a few moments earlier. We asked for a dinner recommendation, and he knew just the place for us he said, his favorite trattoria. We thanked him profusely, shook hands, and assured him that, yes, we’d to be careful out there as he gallantly unlocked the door and ushered us out.

But that’s not all. When we walked into his favorite trattoria in all of Napoli, it was like the Second Coming. The tourist office guy had called ahead, and the staff was waiting for us to arrive. Before we knew it, my husband was in the kitchen with the owners and one of the cooks, going through the refrigerators to pick out exactly what he wanted them to cook for his dinner. The evening ended with the owners sitting at our table sharing their special private stash of limoncello. It was an experience we’ll never forget. A door was opened to us because I could speak some Italian, un poco.

I’m sharing this very true story with you to urge you to give yourself the gift of the Italian language by signing up for classes at ICCC. It’s the best way to connect with the culture and have the culture connect with you in a meaningful way. We offer classes at every level of proficiency plus classes for travelers and conversation classes. Our teachers are highly competent professionals, and our schedules are flexible with both in-person and online classes available. You will never regret the time you invest in learning the beautiful language of Italy. Doing so will give you a glimpse into the heart of Italy like nothing else can.

Don’t forget to download the latest issue of La Voce Italiana Magazine to be updated on all the ICCC activities and to enrich your knowledge of Italian Culture.

Click here to download the PDF.


A presto,
Claudia Gentile Sims, President