Guest post by Nathalie Salomonsson
When you hear the words love and story I bet you start thinking about two people poetically in love. Add Italy and you can already picture the two of them sharing dinner at a ristorante like Lady and The Tramp with candles slowly burning between their glasses of wine. And even if a love story about Italy often involves a man with dark eyelashes and a charming accent, we'll leave the men for now.
I’m never quite sure what it is about Italy and why she has so many people under her spell. It goes deeper than Tuscan sunsets and perfectly produced wine. Is it a longing back to the past? Or the lack of passion for life and romance in this modern world? Maybe that’s the charm of it all, that we do not know for sure.
Although I grew up in a small town in Sweden while imitating Spice Girls with my friends, I was drawn to another type of music. During my teens I discovered artists like Dean Martin who is still one of my favorites. But it wasn’t just the music. I began to fall for the Italian language and how Dean and many others in his genre mixed it with English and made each song sound like a bilingual love story. Once you have fallen for a language you will discover the country and its culture sooner than you can say ”Ciao Bella”. So grazie Dean for showing me la dolce vita d'Italia, all wrapped up in mandolins and words that turned me into the hopeless romantic that I am today.
Until I graduated from high school I studied every English course available. Spanish was my third and dreaded additional language. To learn a foreign language from scratch was fun yet scary and I experienced my first real doubts about myself: Am I capable of learning a third language? Even though I could manage my Spanish quite well I never felt that passionate about learning. I had no time to reflect on what I was doing, only to memorize things for the never ending exams. The joy was absent in the joy of learning. To learn a language as an adult on the other hand, purely because of an interest and not because you are forced to do so, is one of the greatest experiences one can have.
And that great experience for me is called italiano.
What comes to mind for most of us regarding Italy are traditional things like pasta, wine and Bocelli. Many cliches about Italy and Italians might be true and I love them as much as you do. But I'm far more passionate about things that goes beyond them such as traditions in different parts of the country and language accents. The food culture of North and South and the togetherness of being a supporter of an football club (forza Juve). And my favorite part of it all: the beautiful connection you develop out of love and interest for a common reason with both natives and expats. It’s a language and culture that makes people feel like they are Italian at heart and soul even if they are born on the other side of the world.
In all honesty, who can say no to all of that?
Holding tightly to my interests has helped me develop myself and the way I see the world. Now that I am in my late twenties my writing and curiosity for languages and exploring new interests have together turned into my biggest passion and I am constantly finding new paths that brings me closer to who I am because of it. A creative writer. A bilingual poetry writer and Juventina. A curious soul and believer in the law of attraction. A hopeless romantic who cries whenever Il Mondo by Jimmy Fontana is played in movies. But most importantly I led myself into new opportunities and like-minded people once I stopped keeping my interests to myself only. A touch of Italy and an open mind has given me connections all over the world and no matter how I spend my days, something or someone always keeps me connected.
I would like to believe that this could be some sort of adulthood manifestation for following our interests and dreams, no matter how big of a cliche this statement might be today. Some days I am a small town girl, but other days I feel like the whole world is waiting for me.
Italy started as a musical influence and grew into an inevitable sweet little part of my everyday life. What’s your passion?
As my beloved Dean Martin once said:
Baci e abbracci Nathalie Salomonsson
Nat is the creative media and communication girl from Sweden. When she’s not writing you can find her dancing to her favorite tunes, catching up with friends or just smelling those famous roses while learning italiano and sipping on a glass of vino.