Italian Inspirations

Italian Language, Culture & Cuisine for foodies and travelers

About Me

Ciao, I’m Ashlee and I’m passionate about cooking, traveling, eating and meeting farmers, producers, chefs and artisans around Italy, Seattle & beyond…

I have felt connected to Italian culture since I first began hearing stories about my great-grandpa Louis LePiane, a feisty man who left Calabria at a young age and eventually settled in Montana. Our family has maintained a few traditional dishes he made at the holidays – like the deliciously hearty frittata we still cook at Easter. Stories about his opinionated ways and colorful language always emerge when we gather at family reunions. I often wish that I could have met him to know more about what his life was like in Italy…

I graduated from Seattle Culinary Academy in 2001, then moved to Italy to immerse myself in the rich bounty the country’s language, culture, history and cuisine offer its citizens and visitors. While studying, living and working in Florence for almost eight years, I earned an Italian bachelor’s degree in Intercultural & Interlinguistic Studies from l’Università di Firenze and traveled as much as possible, meeting people who were eager to share information about their culture and local culinary specialties. During the years I lived and worked closely with Italians–fiorentini, napoletani, calabresi, milanesi, sardi, siciliani, etc–I gleaned invaluable knowledge about many facets of life in Italy–varying regional accents, dialects and linguistic peculiarities, work philosophies and the art of loafing, regional differences in culinary approach and ingredients, etc. This hands-on research and total immersion amplified my sense of connection, yet Italy continues to pique my interest and curiosity and offers so much to learn! When I returned to the States, I was saddened to leave behind dear friends, delicious ingredients and acquired traditions, but I left endowed with a cultural enrichment so great that I hardly knew how to express my gratitude.

I moved back to the Seattle area in 2009, earned TESOL certification and volunteered in a community college ESL program. Since I desired to use all those years of Italian language & cultural studies and culinary research for more than just my own personal enrichment, I began teaching Italian language & culture classes. Through my students, I’ve discovered that interest abounds in all things Italian – people are planning trips to Italy, learning and speaking the language, cooking, eating and drinking Italian specialties and shopping for Italian products. So, I’ve developed a variety of course offerings to share my experiences with people who’d like a little adventure close to home or who are planning their own trip to Italy. I seek to infuse my students, clients and readers with la voglia di avventura culturale e di buon cibo (the desire for cultural adventure and good food)…

Please contact me if you are interested in Italian language classes, in-home culinary experiencesartisan cuisine & crafts tours designed for foodies, professional translations, consecutive interpreting, or travel & cultural consultations for answers to questions you may have about l’Italia

Teaching philosophy:

My teaching philosophy is based on having fun using the language for its most practical application in my students’ lives. So, that means that we do a lot of laughing as we focus on speaking the language with a specific goal in mind–preparing for travel, eating out and shopping in Italy, conversing with Italian friends and family, maintaining fluency after living in “the boot”, studying pronunciation for opera singers, specially designed crash-courses for business professionals headed to Italy, etc. Yes, a bit of grammar is necessary to be able to express oneself, but learning it doesn’t have to be fossilized in rote exercises or dreary fill-in-the-blanks! I also like to prepare travelers for some cultural differences and things to be aware of before booking their trips…travel consultations for first-time Italy goers are highly recommended!

In-Home Italian Dinner Experiences:  

Give your dinner party a bit of rustic Italian flair and relax with your company while your private chef prepares a meal designed especially for the occasion, cooked in your home and served family-style. Don’t want to deal with dishes? Opt for a full-kitchen clean-up after the dinner and re-define your experience of “entertaining”…

%d bloggers like this: