Learning Italian From Dogs and Cats (aka: Cani, Gatti 101)

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Meet Peggy.

She lives in Rome most of the year, but spends long summers in a cottage near the shores of Lago Bolsena. Most mornings she visits a local coffee bar. While her owner sits at a terrace table sipping cappuccino, Peggy lays on the cool tile floor and laps water from a bowl that the barista provides. (After all, Peggy’s a regular.)

DSC_0021She also enjoys longs walks along the lake, being petted on her head – especially by her ears – and (I’d bet money on this) she would enjoy meeting you. In fact her tail is probably already wagging in anticipation.

I don’t know her owner’s name – haven’t a clue. But I do know that she clearly loves Peggy, and Peggy loves her back – probably tenfold. (Both sets of adoring eyes tell that whole story.)

And here’s the really interesting thing about Peggy. She’s an Italian language tutor – and the best kind too. She doesn’t instruct, judge or correct, she just listens. You gotta love that!

Actually, she’s one of countless canine – and feline – Italian language tutors that you’ll meet when you travel throughout Italy. Even if you don’t speak a word of Italian, stop to chat with a few Peggys and phrases like come si chiama?, lei è un cane dolce, and che bello! will start rolling off your tongue in no time.

In fact, over the years I’ve practiced my Italian on dogs and cats whenever I’ve gotten the chance. (I still do.) They’ve never once cared about mispronounced words or incorrect grammar, and it’s almost certain that you’ll make friends with their owners, as well.

So here’s to Peggy – and Fiama and Birba and Hugo and Piumina and Mamma Gatta and thousands of other Italian dogs and cats – who are happy to become your Italian tutor. The cost? Usually a pat on the head – or sometimes a hug – is more than sufficient.

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pamela off stradaPamela Haack is an Italy travel consultant and author of Off the Beaten Strada: Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites. She specializes in creating personalized experiences and group trips for active travelers, helping them to better explore Italy – off the beaten strada.

From art experts and operettas to authentic cooking classes and ancient Etruscans, Pamela helps visitors experience the spectacularly beautiful, endlessly interesting regions of Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio in an up-close and personal way.

Pamela lives with her husband, Luigi, in Umbria, Italy.

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