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Portrait: Gianni Guaita – Almost 100 Years Old, Reveling in Memories and Talking About His Experiences with Babbel

Posted on June 4, 2015 by


Today we’re presenting another installment of our Babbel User Portraits – snapshots of their lives and their reasons for learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story with us, leave a comment. This time, we’re introducing you to a very special user: Gianni from Florence is a writer with an extraordinary family history who, at almost 100 years old, complains only about one thing: some Babbel lessons are too long for him!

“In November, I’ll be 100 years old. If someone were to ask me what my most important life experience was, my answer would be the love for my wife, with whom I spent 76 years together. She was the most important thing to me and we grew so close that we were like one person. I would have never been able to imagine something like that before I met her. Unfortunately, she died two years ago and life’s been much harder since then. But I try to feel her presence when I think of the memories of the life we shared.

My daughter lives in New York. We’re very close and are in constant contact over Skype. I see her every day and we talk for a long time – it really cheers me up. Love has also been the most important life experience for her, and the reason that she lives in New York now. During her studies she received a scholarship to study in America; she met a guy there and fell in love. She remained in New York in order to stay together with him. Now she’s a correspondent for the Italian paper Il Messaggero. She’s very lively and intelligent, gets along with everyone and is very sincere.

I live in Florence on the bank of the Arno in one of the houses that earlier served as the stables of Villa Serristori. My family also lives in these houses, including my sister, who founded an art printing shop called Il Bisonte. My grandson also works here, and he’s recently given me the gift of an enchanting little girl – I’m now a great grandfather. And it’s because of my great granddaughter that I started to learn English.

She’s two years old as has an English nanny. In order to be able to speak to them, I have to learn English. For that, Babbel is the ideal teaching method for me… simply perfect. To be honest though, I get a bit impatient sometimes because it keeps trying to teach me how to write in English and I’m not at all interested in that. I’ll never write in English; I’m only interested in speaking it. But what I find useful is that you can hear aspects of the language that sound completely different to Italian over and over again. The Italian language is rich in vowels, whereas English, with its many consonants, is completely different. It’s never been easy for me to learn a language. Some of my friends were really good at it and learned languages really fast. My brother-in-law, the photographer and writer Fosco Maraini, for example, learned Japanese really fast. As for my English, up to now I’ve been pretty lazy. As a writer, it was enough for me to understand the English in the Encyclopædia Britannica, where everything is clearly and simply formulated.

A few years ago, the novel Isola perduta (“Lost Island”) was published. I wrote it together with my wife and my children. It tells of our experiences in Sicily, such as how I met the woman that would become my wife – me from Tuscany and my wife from Sicily – and how we moved to this wonderful island together. I became a Sicilian by choice. At that time, Sicily was magical… like paradise. However, there were big political problems at the time. We tried to put up resistance against the Fascism that found itself on the rise. I stood with the anti-fascist Aldo Captini, who resisted violence and convinced me that it’s possible to win with just words and the truth. But then the wars of Mussolini overwhelmed us, and only the partisan resistance made it possible for Italy to overcome this painful experience.

My wife’s father had an agricultural farm and hoped that I would take over for him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and after twenty years on that wonderful island, we moved to northern Italy in order to both start working as teachers at a high school. That’s when my second life began: I became a teacher and also started writing for theater and television.

My daily routine? Getting around on my own is difficult now and I need to use a walker. But I have a lot of help: a woman helps me with my daily chores and a girl explains how I can better use a computer and Skype. I’ve dedicated myself to learning English, but I don’t manage to review a lot of words because the spelling and pronunciation are so different. I’m learning very slowly and sometimes the lessons are too long for me. But I can’t imagine anything better than Babbel. It’s a great way to spend the day. It makes me… yeah… happy.”


I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

I’m not getting anywhere fast with learning Italian….My memory is over 70 yrs old and it refuses to remember what I learn each day! So frustrating.
But Babbel is better than going to classes!!!

Hi Mr. Gianni,
thanks for sharing your life to us. It is inspirational. I am 50 feeling 25. Very recently I fall in love for a Dutch man, this feeling is growing… I started to learn Dutch with Babel Help.
I want to surprise him. He is 10.000 Km far from me.

I hope to share my happy love Story with you in a near future.
Please, keep going. Wish you all the best. Kind Regards.

que historia bonita e motivadora, estudo françes na Babbel desde fevereiro de 2014 e já não sou tão jovem tenho 61 anos e a historia de vida deste senhor é um grande exemplo de determinação e força interior,

its a wonderful story thanks for sharing us. I am exciting to read. Actually I am learning deutsch. I don’t know how to use babble.

I am learning Italian with Babbel. I was very interested to see Gianni’s story and very encouraged to read how well he is doing in English – I am 55, so if he can succeed, maybe so can I! If he wants to email me in English, I can maybe try emailing back in simple Italian and we might be able to be e-mail pals?

What a wonderful story and a wonderful family. Very inspiring. Best wishes for all generations of Gianni’s family. I have a soft spot for south Italy and specially Sicily and i loved the story.

Hace un tiempo pense que a mi edad, 75 años, ya no había futuro, para que creer que se pueda iniciar nuevos proyectos, como estudiar ingles o aleman que tanto me gusta. pero al leer la historia del Sr. de 100 años creo que aun hay posibilidades, gracias .

Dear (Mr.) Gianni Guaita and Family,
Miraculous Blessing from The Almighty – Great Success, Wonderful Long-Life, Excellent Brain! ! ! At your AGE, you are still YOUNG, HANDSOME, and SEXY – there is NO AGE IN STUDYING ! ! !
Good Luck ! – – – Beatriz

I find the Story of Granny wonderful and very exiting. I am seventy years old and I have decide to do the same like Gianny, but I don`t believe to speak English like Gianny
very well, because I have fear to make many mistakes in speaking!!!

Keep going

Inspiradora historia ;tengo 60 años vivo en Costa Rica soy profesor de Inglés y deseo aprender Italiano me encantaría intercambiar información con Gianni y poder ayudarnos mutuamente.

It is not wonderful if you want to learn English.
But English is not language which I want to learn and know.

please send me by this mail i want to learn German language properly

Hello Girma,

Thanks for your message! Please contact Babbel customer service directly at for further assistance.

Incroyable mais vrai. Bon courage. Et c’est un exemple à suivre.

That’s a challenge for many. Nothing seem impossible if you believe.

Learning a language is a conidence builder and a good therapy it is like meditation… I love studying through Babbel but ı have not taken my lessons so seriously as ı did not believe ı could really learn to talk in French, Gianni’s story is great! and a good evidence that it is possible at any age!

What an amazing story! Gianni is an inspiration. gave me renewed encouragement to learn Swedish to be able to speak some to my grandson Dylan.

Fantastic ,with this seniority he is really an example that,babbel is the best

Well if my Italian ever gets to your standard of English, I’ll be more than satisfied. What a wonderful story and what a fascinating life you’ve had. Bless you, Gianni. You’ve proved ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is utter nonsense!

Gianni, a wonderful story thank you for sharing. I’m learning Italian and have just started with Babble and I love it. Keep up the great work

Hello Gianni what a wonderful story! Please continue learning and writing. Warm greetings from Switzerland

Exraordinary man ,and good choice to realized his dream.

His will and courage for learning a new language in this age is really admirable. He is a good example of people who never stop growing and improving themselves. I’m envious to him and hope that his attitude affect my my manner. Also, I wish him a happy and healthy long life with fulfilling all of his goals and dreams.

That is a great story. I am a 70 year-old Canadian and besides my native English, I speak French, Spanish, and at a less fluent level Italian, German and Portuguese. I started learnig French at 13 in school and always wanted to be able to speak such a beautiful lirical language. I spend time in France every year and likle to fit in as a local for that time and read as many books in French as English. I chose Babbel to learn Swedish as I have become interested in Scandinavian mysteries in translation but thought knowing some Swedish would help me “get into” the mood of the novels. It will help a little when travelling. Just because English is the main international language is no reason to not learn other languages. It opens the world to you and allows you to better be a part of the local culture you are visiting. Babbel allows me to learn a language (Swedish) where there are no classes here in Toronto to learn it. I can take my tablet with me and use the Babbel app to continue my lessons wherever I am and am connected to wifi. Having a history of language learning definitely gives me a leg up when it comes to learning a new language but each new language has its own challenges and Babbel has the resources to overcome them. Michael. Toronto

The Della Scala’s (SCALIGERI) were the founders of Verona, I think also in Tuscany, I am the last of the family, & sadly will not be able to visit the ancestral place.
Mastino Cangrande I, Founder & my father also named Mastino; I Owned a Fine Art Gallery; What kind of prints do they produce?

I’m only 73 so there is hope for me yet. English is my native language Having spent 7 months in Java and 2 months in Sumatra I speak a little Bahasa Indonesia. I would love to become fluent. Now I know that age will not stop me. However I’m on a pension so cost is a big factor.

Yes I like this very much I have always had an affinity to learn German,But at 84 years old I am finding it very difficult However as I live on my own I have all the time in the world t learn .This message is to say thank you for putting this on the Internet
Sincerely Chas Willmore

What a wonderfully inspiring story.

At first I as surprised to read a new language at 100. However, after reading the article, I understood. This man comes from an academic background. I myself speak English and German, a spattering of Spanish and am now trying Arabic, a huge challenge

Well done. I am English learning French with Babbel and age only 77. Mi husband and i have lived in Italy for 11 years and I use Skype to speak to my daughter in France. Good luck and regards


A wonderful example and very encouraging for those of us trying to master Italian.

Egregio Signor Guaita, io sto cercando di imparare il danese con Babbel, ma, dato che di primavere ne ho 72, trovo difficile memorizzare tutte le parole. Abito a Cambridge e sono cittadina britannica, parlo anche il francese e ho insegnato latino e italiano nelle scuole qui a Cambridge. Ora sono in pensione e per questo cerco di imparare un’altra lingua. Il Suo esempio mi ha incoraggiato a continuare anche se avevo deciso di smettere.
Cordiali saluti

Inspiring story of a very well lived life.

its a fascinating story.

that’s awesome, yeah…wow really inspired me and gave me motivation to keep learning greek

that’s awesome, yeah…wow really inspired me to keep learning greek

Well done, Gianni! What an inspiring story. Bravo. Just wonderful. All power to your elbow!

Truly Inspirational Life And Aspirations Well Done

Go Gianni go!

Fantastic ,with this seniority he is really an example …..

I was interupted before I could finish my comment.
My birthday is also in November but I am not as old as Giani,for I will be only 91 years of age.
but like Giani I have a loving family and I also like to learn and keep my mind active

I am a painter, an American who wanted to learn Spanish because her father’s family had been Venezuelan. I moved to Mexico and taught painting and became fluent. I later did the same thing with French, my living in France. I have just discovered Babbel and I love it! I and hope to use it to learn Italian and eventually Portuguese.

Mybirthday also falls in November,I am not as old as Gian

What a beautiful story, I have visited Florence and Sicily whilst on cruises and loved them both. I lived in Mallorca 24 years ago and managed to get by speaking Spanish but with not using the language everyday I’d forgotten quite a lot so I’ve started from again from scratch with Babbel and I’m quite surprised at how much I’ve remembered, looking forward to my holiday in Spain in August when I can find out how much I have improved. I am 71 years old and I am really enjoying my lessons with Babbel as I can learn at whatever time I like and at my own pace and I don’t have to travel to Spanish lessons which are usually in the evening.

What an inspiring example. Thank you for sharing the stories, memories & history.
God bless you, your family and the businesses!

::SIG. Gianni , Stato e credono , io sono un insegnante di inglese Communicator .:: Voila::. Si crea esso! La fede viene dall’udire . Romans 10:17.

me encanta la historia de este señor, el dice que a aprendido mucho, pero el corre con suficiente dinero para pagar el curso , pero de verdad que esto debe tener un costo alto y por lo tanto yo carezco situaciones económicas, pero muchas ganas de aprender el idioma,si se me puede ayudar, me pueden dirigir a recursos humano, dios los bendiga, y espero su respuesta en mi correo gracias

I now feel much better as a mature women I’m trying to learn Italian and being English I some times find it difficult with certain Itslian words Gianni has inspired me to keep trying ready for my trip to Italy in the summer.

me gustaria aprender ingles desde cero, pero de castellano a ingles gracias

Excellent portrait! I would like to read the book “Lost Island”. Congratulations!

That’s very inspiring Gianni! Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.

Congratulations to Gianni. Like him I lost my wife of 50 years three years ago. As a “mere child” of 78 I am now engaged in learning French from scratch.


I love to learn Germany

I like to learn Italian, to improve my talent
this is my first time of learning with u hop it well be easy for me

Forze Gianni e complimenti 🙂

Good for you Gianni. I’m learning Italian with Babbel, it’s going great. After that I will learn another language.


Inlove with your pretty words & story Mr. Gianni Guatia 🙂
I loved how you described your wife ♥
Anyway, My name is Layla, originally I am from Iraq- Babylon, but now I live in my Another Lovely home country Sweden, I left Iraq due to wars.
When I came to Sweden I thought that I would never be able to talking swedish fluently like nowadays! The sounds, letters, pronunciation completely different at all .. but I learned it in 1 year 🙂 Only

Then I want to say that I agree with you to keep learning with Babbel, and I started with English also by Babbel, it’s very useful

How can I pay for the lessons. All my effort to see a way for payment was not successful.


Thanks for your message! Please contact Babbel customer service directly at for further assistance.


very very good,i am 71 and afread to get started

It’s great to hear that age is no barrier. I am trying to learn Italian and sometimes get frustrated at myself but keep persisting.

That’s a good example to keep going with babbel , in fact babbel is the best 🙂

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