A New Year in Italy. It’s that season again when we all reflect on the year that has been (or maybe not this year), and look forward to the one ahead. We make resolutions and then promptly break them before January is even finished. Like going on a diet, for example. Yes, I need to lose a few pounds, but kicking off the New Year with cotechino and lenticchie isn’t a good start.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with this New Year in Italy tradition, cotechino is a large sausage, made entirely of fresh pork taken from the cheek and shoulder of the pig. The flavor is fairly mild, but it’s a heavy dish due to the high fat content. It is served with lentils, which symbolize money (coins). The more lentils you eat, the more prosperous you’ll be in the New Year—or so the legend goes.
The cotechino sausage, improbably, represents luck. For the life of me, I can’t work this one out, because when I’m lying in bed trying to digest this enormous pork bomb at 3:00 a.m., I certainly don’t feel too lucky. But there you have it.
So I’m not too optimistic about my dieting prospects for the New Year. Regarding my blog/writing, however, I pretty determined to step up my game after slacking off a bit this last month and a half. Here are some of the things that I have in mind.
Refocus the blog. I get easily distracted and tend to wander off on topics that, while interesting to me, don’t really engage my readers. The other day I took a quick glance at my site’s stats and it reconfirmed what I already knew. My most popular posts are about intercultural relationships (i.e. hooking up with an Italian), food, learning the language, and travel. Therefore, I’ll be writing more on those topics in the coming year.
BUT…believe it or not, even more popular than these themes is the discussion surrounding the quixotic “Battle Against the Beast,” also known as navigating Italian bureaucracy. With this in mind, I’ve completed a couple of posts and an eGuide to spell out the exact steps necessary for victory. You can download the guide here: Il Permesso di Soggiorno
In the coming months (maybe March or April), I’ll be setting my sites even higher. I’m hoping to conduct an interview with the Italian consulate to clear up some of the nebulous visa questions once and for all.
Improve my Italian language skills. Yes, this might seem like a strange goal at this stage of my journey, but I have a very strong motivation. My daughter is now 16 months old and she’s really picking up the language fast. Her vocabulary is incredible, as is her pronunciation. I think I’m safe for another couple of years, but the day when her Italian is better than mine is in the foreseeable future. The race is on!
Therefore I’m returning to my beginnings and starting back with the software again. For using the language nothing beats living in Italy. But for studying the language, I’ve found the software to be the best method by far. And at this point, I can jump right into Level 3/Advanced. I feel that I’m fluent enough, but now I really want to work on my accuracy again. Specifically, I’ve never mastered the passato remoto tense. And since my daughter is half-Sicilian, it’s best that I learn this before she does.
Revive my podcast. I’ve been wanting to (re)do this and I think that the time is right in 2021. Starting in late February/early March, my plan is to restart my weekly Q&A sessions, inviting questions from readers, or listeners, or anybody that wants to chime in. Again, this is part of my overall effort to refocus the blog on what the readers want instead of what entertains me late at night when I’m sitting alone at my computer with bottle of Averna.
I’ll probably ask some guests join me from time to time, and soon I’ll be sending out requests for juicy questions. Start thinking of some good ones now!
Visit a new region. It’s been a long while since I’ve ventured off my own beaten path. In 2014 I discovered Romagna, and I look forward to going back there one day. But it was such a magnificent surprise, that it made me wonder, “What other regions have I foolishly left unexplored to date?” Right now, I’m looking at the opposite geographic extremes; Puglia or Piemonte. Any suggestions?
Learn to cook. Like anybody living in Italy, it’s not hard to get caught up in the food culture. I’ve done a great job of acquiring a lot of second hand knowledge about regional specialties and the overall philosophy of how to “Eat Like an Italian.” However, my own skills in the kitchen are sorely lacking. It’s time to “get my hands in the dough,” as they say.
Inspiration came this last summer when I spent 4-5 days at an authentic organic farm in Umbria called Fontanaro. The mother and daughter owners, Lucia and Alina, were extremely patient with me as I had my first lesson in making fresh pasta. And when I say fresh, I mean the egg that I used was still warm from the chicken when I cracked it over my little mountain of flour. With their help, the dish turned out perfect. But I’d like to be able to do that on my own without a safety net.
Write another book. A few years ago, the idea came to mind to write a series of books about life in Italy. I did that, published them on Amazon, and have seen a fair amount of success in that venture. Who’d have thought? Those books were written on a whim, really, and I didn’t understand much about publishing or promoting a book at the time.
Now I’d like to revisit that idea with the benefit of more knowledge and experience. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with non-fiction, such as a memoir, or if I’ll try my hand at a short story collection. We’ll see, but by the end of 2021 I’d like to have at least one more book on my Amazon bookshelf.
Speaking of books, I’m also working with Alina from Il Fontanaro on compiling a small book of some of the recipes from her family’s organic farm. If you’re interested, you can download it for free here: Italian Organic Recipes
Get my Italian citizenship. This might be my most ambitious goal of all, and even if I begin the process now, I’m quite certain that it won’t be completed until at least the following year. I guess my main motivation is that my daughter is a citizen, so I’d like to share that with her. She’s also the reason that the government will let me “fast-track” the process (well, “fast” by the Italian government’s standards). The law says that as a parent to an Italian child, I may apply for citizenship after 18 months…she’s seven years old now, so hopefully I’ll have my passport by her 18th birthday. In any case, I’ll be carefully (painfully) recounting the process for the benefit of all to see.
See you all in 2021!