Why Naoise Dolan Learned Italian for Her Book Tour

Nov 22, 2023 643

At the beginning of 2023, I went to Santa Maddalena, a writers’ retreat run by the Baronessa Beatrice Monti della Corte. It was dark when I arrived at the train station and was driven up a bumpy Tuscan hill. I entered the threshold of the big stone house, and someone in the blur of new faces called out: “Buonasera.” I returned the greeting.

“Parli italiano?” they said—you speak Italian? “Solo un po’,” I said—just a little. They replied with something I didn’t understand, and I repeated in panic: “Solo un po’!”Over the next few days, I began to venture further attempts. By some hostly instinct, Beatrice complimented me whenever I most feared I’d botched a phrase. 

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