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July 12, 2012

Cos’è l’Italia per voi?

Italian Language and Culture Centre SEMA

Ah, Italy! What images does Italy conjure up for you? Fashion? Ferrari? Cappuccino? Gelato? Art and opera? Italy has long held a fascination for both me and my wife, especially since a good friend of ours introduced us to the Liguria several years ago.

This year, though, we decided to combine our vacation with a language course. My wife is already proficient in Italian, but for me it was a long overdue exercise. I love Italy, but with every holiday it becomes more and more frustrating not to be able to communicate in Italian and to have to stand there like an ignorant Englishman while my wife does all the talking. And what makes it all the more difficult is that the Liguria is really a region where it’s almost impossible to get by with English; the majority of tourists who visit the area are Italian.

We have been holidaying in the Liguria, the Italian Riviera, for several years and were fortunate to find a language school in the area. The Italian Language and Culture Centre SEMA is located in the small coastal town of Sestri Levante, between Portofino and the Cinque Terre. We both registered for one-on-one classes, but the school of course offers both individual as well as group courses: full or soft immersion and crash courses.

Io mi chiamo …

My tutor was Stellina, the proud owner of a pink Vespa (Stellina chose pink to stop her son from continually “borrowing” her scooter!), who first off led me through the basics with a few key phrases. Through the week, which consisted of two hours a day for five days (plus homework!), we looked at pronunciation, masculine and feminine nouns, adjectives and agreements and essential verbs, regular, irregular and modal.

By the end of the week I felt confident enough to put together a few basic phrases and to put my skills to the test while shopping in the streets of Chiavari and Sestri! Mostly it is now satisfying to listen to Italian and to be able not only to distinguish individual words but also recognise masculine and feminine nouns and understand the declensions.

Attending the course felt like a genuine step forward in understanding both the language and the culture of a country which draws me back year after year, and made the holiday even more enjoyable and worthwhile.

About SEMA

The Italian Language and Culture Centre SEMA offers language classes for foreigners for each level: Basic (A1-A2), Intermediate (B1-B2), Advanced (C1-C2) courses.

All the teachers are Italian native speakers, are highly qualified (DITALS Certification) and have many years’ experience teaching Italian as a foreign language.

[From SEMA brochure]

For more information about the Italian Language and Culture Centre SEMA, go to

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