The first thing that people understand when they visit the website www.ishitasood.com, is that its founder is “a lover of all things Italian”. The blog name Italophilia is saying a lot about Ishita. As Italian I’m very curious to understand what made her fall in love with Italy. Let’s find out, shall we?
I know you’re not a simple tourist, but you split your time between India and Italy. How do you find out your love for Italy?
Ciao Emanuela! I am from India and stay and work in Delhi. My love affair with Italy started many years ago when I first traveled for the first time. I instantly felt a connection for the country, the culture and the people. After that, there has been no looking back. Traveling to Italy is my goal every year and somehow I make it possible.
Usually how long do you stay in Italy? Do you plan to travel to different cities every time or you always stay in the same town and from there you visit places along the Boot?
It is usually about 3 weeks, though my shortest trip has been for 5 days in 2016 for the Mantua Literature Festival. I volunteered for those 5 days and explored Austria and Hungary thereafter. I usually try to see at least 2 new cities in every trip. I don’t do rushed travels. They are usually in a good place where I can enjoy local life and savour good food.
In 2015 you’ve decided to learn Italian. According to your experience, what methods will be more effective?
The Italian language is a whole other game for me because my own mother tongue, Hindi, is no way even close to it. But over the past few months I have realized that the most effective way to learn the language is by speaking more even if to yourself. Also, watching Italian movies and listening to music is very useful. I somehow don’t even realize I know the lyrics of the songs but listening to them repetitively has been the best way for me, apart from usual studies.
In your blog, there is a sentence that has brought a smile on my face: “Italy is a country full of wonderful people, they go out of the way to help you. I have so many instances small or big where I was helped by a complete stranger. It makes travel memorable and you want to keep returning to thatplace”. Can you tell us one of these anecdotes?
It indeed is and one such anecdote that stays with me forever is of my travel experience from Orvieto to Perugia. I was cornered by two strange men for my bag and belongings at the Orvieto train station. Somehow I missed it luckily and took refuge with an Italian couple sitting inside the station. My train was late by an hour and I was worried. But the Italian couple stayed with me throughout. They did not know English but they understood me somehow and they made sure I reached Perugia safely. They helped me with my train travel, made sure they sat next to me in the train, provided me with taxi numbers and even went out of the train to say goodbye and make sure I wasn’t scared. Had it not been for them, I would have possibly been in a mess. So much for meeting kind Italian strangers!
You are an avid reader and in your blog you have listed some must-read Italian books. How useful do you think is literature to understand Italian culture?
Reading comes naturally to me. I have been a reader since I was very young, maybe 3 or 4 years. Hence, my reading choices in the past few years have been on Italian culture or books written by Italian authors. Literature greatly inspires culture and helps the reader understand society even better. There are some points about daily Italian life that even a person who has not visited Italy would know. For instance, a small example that an author can use is having a caffe from the moka pot in the morning. So Italian!
In your post The Medieval “Festa dei Ceri” in Gubbio, you’ve described this outstanding historical and religious event. What did impress you the most? From North to South, there are a lot of “feste” and traditions. In what way they are different from Indian festivals?
When I booked a trip to Perugia to visit the Festa dei Ceri in Gubbio, I had little or no idea about it except from the pictures I saw online. However, being there was almost as if I was back in time. It was surreal and a feeling I cannot explain. I found the festival very interesting and unusual too. But I should add that the festivals in Italy may be different from India in terms of deity but the aim of the celebration is the same - to uphold local customs and appreciate our culture. And how can I forget food!
Is there anything you wish to add?
I thank you for this opportunity to be online at The Italian Midday. Ci vediamo presto ;)