Yearning for a bit of Italy

In the midst of a cold and dark British winter many of us are probably dreaming of ‘la dolce vita’ and the warmth of a Mediterranean summer.

Friday, 18th January 2013, 9:21 am

So it’s no surprise that a group of people get together regularly to celebrate all things Italian.

Voglia d’Italia - which means yearning for Italy - was launched 15 years ago to cater for people in north Notts and South Yorkshire who want to share their love for the country.

And you don’t have to speak the language to join.

President Barry Lamper and his wife Pat, who is secretary, joined 12 years ago after seeing the group advertised in the Worksop Guardian.

Barry, of Devonshire Street, Worksop, said: “We’ve had quite a few holidays in Italy and we like the way of life they have there.”

“I really enjoy Italian music, like Puccini and Verdi, and we like Italian food and try to eat a Mediterranean diet because it’s healthier.”

“We don’t speak Italian but we like the language, and the sunshine of course.”

The Voglia d’Italia group meets at Tickhill Pavilion on the first Friday of every month from September to June and has an impressive programme of events.

On 1st February comedian John Slater will be sharing his thoughts on visiting Italy, followed on 1st March by Sicilian chef Gianluca Etiopia demonstrating pasta making.

Future meetings will include a look at the life and works of Verdi and a talk about the unification of Italy in 1861.

Pat said one of the most interesting speakers they have had was fourth generation Italian Michael Massarella, whose family were ice cream makers in Sheffield.

Group member Diane Watson, of Mill Haven, North Anston, fell in love with Italy after visiting Venice in 1987.

She said: “I always wanted to go to Venice after seeing the film Don’t Look Now. I was supposed to be going to Lake Garda but that holiday got cancelled and I ended up going to what was then Yugoslavia and getting the hydrofoil across to Venice.”

Diane began learning Italian at night school and then gave up her job to go to a language college in Florence for three months, living with a local family, and then moving on to Rome to teach.

“Luckily my husband Richard loves Italy as well so we’ve been all over the mainland and the islands. We go walking in the mountains and the Dolomites in particular, I love the scenery.”

“I love the history and the architecture and the weather.”

“Our favourite wine is a Sardinian one called Cannonal which we have never been able to find over here, until this new year when we were visiting Ludlow in Shropshire and found it in a wine shop.”

Italian wine is served at the Voglia d’Italia meetings and at the end those who can speak the language take the chance to have a conversation in Italian.

Voglia d’Italia was founded by Melanie Rees, of Doncaster, who lived in Verona for ten years, working as a translator and interpreter.

She is still involved and said: “It’s really satisfying for me that it is still going strong and attracting new people all the time.”

For more information about joining call Brenda Fedorenko on 01709 814106.