Of all the continents to visit, Europe remains one of my favorite destinations. The eateries, the festivities, the pubs and museums and art galleries and flowerbeds… and oh my, the shopping without end! It, therefore, is within reason that Jo Linsdell’s pocket-size ‘Italian for Tourists’ guide would catch my attention, only to be further delighted that she would grant OEBooks an interview.
Jo, I truly appreciate you taking the time to provide this interview.
Jo Linsdell, freelance writer, regularly writing (in both English and Italian) for websites, newspapers, and magazines.
She's also the organizer of PROMO DAY, an all day online international networking event geared to the publishing industry.
How long have you lived in Rome?
I came to Rome in July 2001 with the intention of staying just 3 days. Days, weeks and months went by and I was still here. After about 6 months here I finally decided that I was staying for good and changed jobs from the hostel I’d worked at since my first week here, to a regular office job (where I wrote articles about the dental industry) and rented an apartment.
What prompted you to write 'Italian For Tourists' and how does it differ from other guides? Also, how long did it take you to complete the guide?
When I first came here I didn’t speak or understand Italian. There were a lot of phrasebooks out there but most contained too much information (the large part completely irrelevant to everyday life) or were confusing. I decided to write the book that I needed back then in my first weeks here.
Italian for Tourists is different from the other phrasebooks out there because it’s simple, easy to navigate and only contains the basics that people actually need.
It only took a couple of days to write as when I wrote it, I knew Italian well. A couple of weeks of editing, formatting and getting my (Italian) husband to check for mistakes and the first edition was ready. In fact Italian for Tourists started out as an e-book. The print version was born following numerous requests from the public and then in 2009 I released the Italian for Tourists: Pocket Edition.
Since Italy is the fourth most visited country in the world, I’m curious to know how many languages are taught (in schools) as secondary languages, and if most young people interchangeably speak and/or write in other languages, as well as Italia?
English is taught as a second language from the ages of 5 or 6 years although in many cases it’s not taught by a mother tongue and therefore mistakes are common. In recent years there’s been a great improvement in language learning here though.
I’d say the second most common language they learn is Spanish. This is much easier for Italians as it’s similar to their own. In fact, although I don’t speak Spanish, I can sometimes understand the conversations of Spanish tourists and if I reply in Italian they seem to understand the most part too.
Are there cultural differences unique to Italy/Rome that tourists need to be aware of?
Italians often speak with their hands, making bond gestures. This and their often animated way of talking can be misunderstood. I remember in the past friends of mine from England thinking people were arguing when in fact they were just chatting normally.
Italians are very open and friendly. If you strike up a friendship it’s common to kiss both cheeks when greeting. This is the case for both women and men. If you’re not expecting it, it can take you off guard leaving you embarrassed and the Italian (maybe) slightly offended.
Something else that is worth keeping in mind when visiting, especially in cities like Rome, is that everywhere is an historical treasure and should be treated with respect. Italians can get angry and large fines will be given for people who leave rubbish in the Piazzas or bathe in the fountains. I mention this because many of the monuments might not seem like monuments as such. For example, Piazza di Spagna with its staircase. The steps are a common meeting place for both Italians and tourists to sit, relax or chat with friends. As they are situated in an open Square with so many people coming and going, people sometimes forget that it’s actually an important monument.
Other than restaurants and hotels, where are other places Italian For Tourists will come in handy?
If you get ill there is a whole section about health covering; parts of the body, how to say where it hurts, ask for a Doctor etc…
Other sections that can be useful in general are; Shopping, Transport, Greetings and introducing yourself, Sightseeing, Asking for directions and Signs and notices.
The Offices and bureaucracy section can come in useful for getting documents or understanding documents you may be given e.g. if you lose your passport.
The Basics section covers various topics e.g. numbers, colours, weights etc… which can come in handy in many situations.
What is one must do, must see, and must eat while in Rome?
Hard to choose but I’d say, must do is St. Peters and the Vatican. Must see is the Coliseum and must eat would have to be Bucatini Amatricana or Spaghetti alla Carbonara (typical Roman pasta dishes).
Okay, here’s a favorite of mine. I love beaches. Which beach might tourists really enjoy?
The nearest and easiest to get to is Ostia. You can get there using the metro which means it’s cheap too (€1,00 for a ticket).
Born in the 1800s, Modern Ostia is the ‘seaside of Rome’. It’s also home to historical ruins and architectural creations that are well worth seeing if you have time. In the summer it has a fantastic beach life with events, concerts and theatres all near the sea front. There’s also a large variety of restaurants and nightclubs including some on the beach itself. People often go to the beach to relax and sunbathe during the day and stay on to party in the evening.
Parts of the beach are free and open stretches. Other parts, although free to use, have showers, bars, toilets, and rentable sun beds (all at a cost). These tend to be much cleaner too.
What do you love most about Rome, and Italy?
It’s total chaos but relaxed at the same time. It’s full of history and yet modern at the same time. The more I think about it Rome is a contradiction of itself on many levels. One thing for sure, is that it’s the only place like it in the world. The blend of old and new, the character and atmosphere, can’t be found anywhere else.
You are also involved in Promo Day, “the all day, online, international promotional event for people in the writing industry.” Where can those in the writing industry go to participate, or to learn more?
Promo Day is an annual online event I organise for people in the writing industry to promote, network and learn. It’s free to attend and open to everyone. I have a great line up of workshops by various experts from the industry for this year’s event, taking place on Saturday 15th May.
The new forums section is where people can promote their writing, chat with publishing companies, network with illustrators and others offering services to writers, view book video trailers, post their writing samples and get feedback and much, much more…
People can find out more about the event at PROMODAY and be kept up to date with news by following the official blog for the event at http://promoday.blogspot.com/
Have you written any other books?
Yes. I wrote ‘A guide to Weddings in Italy’ following my own wedding in 2006. It’s the guide I wish I’d had back then. Italy tends to be little tricky in terms of wedding regulations and has many wedding traditions. This guide aims to make the preparations and celebrations go as smoothly as possible.
I’ve also written several eBooks on various topics.
And lastly, is Italian For Tourists available locally (in Rome), or by eBook, as well as online?
Yes, it can be found in Rome at Libreria Internazionale San Lorenzo, Via dei Volsci 41 and online at http://wwwlulu.com/jolinsdell
You can also visit Jo Linsdell-Feliciani at the following websites: