Tourist are always just that – tourist. Peering through the windows wondering what life is really like.
Our window as tourist changed forever when Bethany married Enzo. Neither spoke the other’s language, but we were joined to an Italian family with all the noisy, often verging on World War II dinners. We didn’t speak Italian and the tones made us think that one or the other would end up dead before the end of the night – but alas, by the time the grappa arrived. everyone was still alive. With 3 sisters living on 3 different floors of the same apartment building, 2 of the 3 were always mad with us depending on which doorbell we rang first. I loved the noisy kitchens with the miniature refrigerators (frigo) and the unending plates of scrumptious food that came through the door. I often botched even the simple task I was assigned. Apparently you are not to pour the extra Marsala (liquor) over the biscotti (cookies) when you are making tiramisu. (It seemed like such a waste to me.)
So in this day of AirBnB and before that “couch surfing”, there is a new website which will connect you the tourist to an Italian who is interested in (1) making a little soldi (money) and (2) meeting people from around the world. The prices are listed along the FAQ, which I recommend you read.
The website is MyItalianFriends
But you do absolutely need to be careful as these homes may be far from the center of a city. You can find an Italian friend in almost every city, especially in the smaller villages. Conveniently there is a map on each location and you can search by area. You can contact them to find the best way to arrive at their home. And as each region has their own specialities, be sure you choose one whose foods you prefer. In Venice, it will absolutely be fish. In Florence, the foods are more along the line Americans think of as Italian.
On my list definitely is Giuseppe Salvatore, of Parma (yes the famous prosciutto), Giuseppe is a chef teaching at the Food and Nutrition Science for Hospitality and Culinary school of Salsomaggior Terme. He arranges a cooking class – and best of all your get to eat what you make and all for 92 Euro. Sign me UP!
Currently there is only one listed in Venice and it is actually far from the town, in Quarto d’Altino, the actual origins of Venice. You can spent a weekend with Silvia learning to make pasta and shop at the local markets. It is a marvelous opportunity to be a local for a short while.