Daniela Sannino is an Italian language and literature tutor at Edinburgh University. She teaches our Italian language holidays in Tuscany and Amalfi.
Which is your favourite Flavours Holiday base?
Well, I was born just up the coast from Amalfi in Naples, so for me, of course, I have to say Amalfi. It is a part of the world I used to go to on family holidays, so it holds a special place in my heart. The villa Flavours Holidays uses there – Villa Praiano – is absolutely incredible, too: built by a famous Italian architect in the ’60s, it is set on terraces that cascade down to the sea, with beautiful outdoor patios overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, and a wonderful private cove right on the water, which you reach by a path down through the villas lemon groves.
What does a typical day look like?
Well, they are very outdoorsy! All the villas we use have absolutely spectacular outdoor terraces – in Tuscany overlooking vineyards and hilltop towns, in Amalfi gazing across the sea towards Capri – so that’s where I set up the class room, al fresco. We usually do a couple of hours in the morning, then a couple more in the afternoon, but as much as possible – and this depends, of course, on the level of the guests – I encourage people to speak Italian. So at lunch, on daytrips to Capri, when we’re out for dinner in Positano, guests to do all the ordering, ask for directions and so on.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I love that the people I teach are all interested in my country and its culture, that they like Italy enough to want to learn its language. They’re usually very, very motivated, and I think it’s just an incredible privilege to be part of their development. I consider myself very, very lucky.
What do you think is the difference between learning Italian at university in Edinburgh, and learning on a Flavours Holiday in Italy?
It’s so different. In Edinburgh my students spend a lot of time practising conversation in language labs then they’re out of the classroom and immediately back to an English-speaking world, so nothing gets reinforced. But in Italy, Flavours guests are immersed in Italian almost 24/7. They are surrounded by real Italian – they live and breath it. More importantly, they have to make themselves understood. It really accelerates improvement.
What one thing do Flavours guests find most challenging about learning Italian?
It’s always the same thing: they find Italians speak too fast. But after a couple of days they normally get used to the speed, and realise they can understand what people are saying, and their confidence improves.