Lingua e Cucina
Lingua e Cucina
Italians are master communicators—due in large part to the way they make you feel. Once their infectious love of life shines through, you’re hooked even if you don’t understand a word that’s being said. If only we all possessed such charm! Lee DeMilo is one woman who does, and she graciously shares her insight on her native language and culture through Norwalk’s Lingua e Cucina, an Italian-language school with a culinary twist that she started in 2006 and runs out of her home.
DeMilo, who hails from San Lorenzello, a small town in southern Italy, writes her own textbooks (which are also used by Westport and Wilton’s adult education classes) and conducts personalized Italian lessons right at her kitchen table. There she instructs adults on how to say and do everything just like the Romans do. “I prepare students for real-life situations,” she says. She offers lessons by phone and incorporates instructional dinners as well. Small groups may come for an authentic Italian buffet or formal dinner—with wine and music, of course. “This is a fun and effective way to learn about Italian culture,” she says. Although all the food is expertly prepared by DeMilo, students help with the handmade pasta (student Tammy Kelley, above left, with DeMilo making cavatelli). Italian conversation runs from food to business and travel situations.
The former radio personality, restaurateur and marketing executive says it was destiny that sparked the idea for the school after she and her husband Frank purchased their dream home—an 1800s American Colonial in Silvermine. But the place required extensive renovations, in the course of which DeMilo developed an autoimmune disorder brought on by an allergic reaction to Sheetrock dust. It seemed that her home and her life were falling apart. “The house was a woman who was losing her identity—like me,” she says. “We were both going through a personal crisis, and 2006 was the year of redemption for us both—the house was renewed, and I realized how much I also valued the life I had in Italy. Bringing the two cultures together is now my life’s work.” To share her story, DeMilo is also writing a memoir.
For info, visit linguaecucina.com.Lingua e Cucina