A Personal History Lesson about the Mafia
With the images from my beautiful excursion around Mount Etna still etched freshly in my mind, I got ready for another day of Italian studies at the Babilonia Language School. After a relaxing breakfast on the scenic terrace of the Hotel Villa Nettuno, admiring the gorgeous view over the Ionian Sea, I was prepared for another day of school..
View towards Mount Etna from the rootop of the Babilonia Language School
Punctually at 9:30 am our lesson started and our language teacher Carlo taught us the intricacies of Italian pronouns and prepositions. These are always complex topics in any language, but with all the exceptions to the rules, Italian has definitely introduced a few additional complexities. I really enjoyed Carlo’s teaching style because he provides feedback and corrections in a consistent but humorous way. After some grammar practice we got to apply what we had just learned, so we closed our books and Carlo threw sentences at us that we had to put into the correct grammatical form.
View of Taormina’s Saracen Castle from the Babilonia Language School
Just before noon I sat down with Alessandro Adorno, the founder and director of the Babilonia Language School. He had invited me to have a typical Sicilian treat: a “granita” – refreshing ice with a taste of lemon, orange, peach, strawberry, melon, coffee or various other flavourings. We sat down on the sunny terrace outside the “Mambar” and each enjoyed a granita, accompanied by a sweet brioche, a favourite breakfast for Sicilians. The brioche is dipped into the ice-cold granita and savoured with each bite. Alessandro explained that granitas are consumed at all times of day, as breakfast, as a snack and a dessert. He also explained that Italians usually only drink cappuccino for breakfast while tourists will have cappuccino at all sorts of other times of day.
An orange and a coffee granita, with a brioche
We started to talk about the specialty courses that Babilonia offers: programs that include hiking, biking, diving, golfing, cooking and pottery offer additional challenges and rewards to language students. Alessandro pointed out that hiking often happens in very small groups or even one-on-one which provides a very intense nature experience. The cooking courses take place with local families and really give students a great taste of Silician home cooking which always uses high-quality fresh local ingredients to create an aromatic dish. During the lesson the students help with the food preparation, and afterwards the meal is enjoyed with the local family, providing many more opportunities for cultural and linguistic immersion and a reason to actively communicate.
Fascinating balconies in Taormina