I recently had the opportunity to spend 23 days in Italy visiting and working with Italian Alexander Technique teachers. There are approximately 40 teachers in Italy, mainly from Rome north, many of whom are musicians, too. I was fortunate to meet 14 of these teachers.
My visits took me to Milan, Coccoglia (near Brescia), Padua, Rome, Florence, and Nugola (near Livorno). I also made sightseeing side trips to Venice, Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, and Lucca. And, as I am learning to speak Italian, I attended a language school at Salerno for a week.
All in all, this was a richly rewarding experience. At Milan, Padua, and Nugola, we organized group dinners and exchange parties. In the other cities, I usually met one on one with a teacher. [An Alexander teacher exchange is when we come together to work with each other.]
The Italian teachers with whom I exchanged work, from the recently qualified, to those with many years experience, are all very skilled with their hands and their understanding of the Technique. I was very impressed with the depth of collective experience across Italy.
I’ve often suggested to my own students that when traveling they might seek out Alexander teachers along the way. Going a big step further, to actually organize an itinerary through a whole country based on where the Alexander teachers are, provided a baseline of intentionality that supported my value of “equilibrio” (poise), while at the same time exploring a complex, beautiful, and unique country and its people.
We had so much fun sharing stories of our trainings, our experience of the challenges maintaining a teaching practice, and the intricacies of balancing companion careers (i.e. as professional musicians). There, as here, the challenge is one of education. Educating the public that there are healthy alternatives to the quick fix, modern medical model.
One teacher in Padua, Giorgio Ravazzolo and his wife Sophie Babetto are dreaming a holistic health center near Padua. They envision a center for The Alexander Technique, Tai Chi Chuan and other healthy practices.
I also enjoyed visiting many of Italy’s finest museums and churches, from St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, to the Milan Cathedral, to the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The city of Venice is a work of art not to be missed.
Of course, all of our gatherings included incredibly tasty Italian food and drink. In addition to family, food is an enduring Italian passion. Their passion for food has rekindled in me a desire to treat myself better in the gustatorial sense!
Next time you ponder a vacation destination, how about lengthening and widening your way around Italy with Alexander lessons? Who’s to say all that extra space you create internally might not accommodate more Italian food, as well as enrich your life in unexpected ways!
Here’s a list of the 14 warm and welcoming teachers whom I met in Italy:
|Antonella Benatti (Milan)
Andrea Bolzoni (Milan)
Sara Carissimo (Milan)
Michael Magg (Milan)
Stephanie Ong (Milan)
Eleonora Tedesco (Milan)
Paolo Frigoli (Coccaglio)
|Giorgio Ravazzolo (Padua)
Claudio Zancopé (Padua)
Antonella Massimo (Rome)
Federica Felici (Florence)
Riccardo Parrucci (Nugola)
Elisabetta Gori (Livorno)
Francesca Marchesi (Livorno)
To find a comprehensive list of the Italian teachers, organized by region, visit: http://www.collolibero.it/tecnicaalexander/elenco-insegnanti/
1) Lascio/lascia il collo libero – [let my/your neck be free]
2) Testa avanti e su – [head forward and up]
3) Schiena lunga e larga – [back to lengthen and widen]