Although I don’t have an ounce of Italian blood in me, I am in love with Italy and Lucca, in particular – think of me as an older version of the kid from Breaking Away, the 1979 coming of age film about a young teen who drives his family crazy with his all-consuming passion for everything Italian.
– Bob (Roberto) Powers
“Bob and I have spent much of the past two decades in Italy, where we go by the names Roberto and Donato, as in San Donato. Sometimes I think Roberto’s running for Mayor of Lucca, as he seems to greet everybody in the walled city. Keti, at Pasticceria Buralli, says he speaks Italiano di Roberto. In other words, he’s fluent, like a toddler, yet everyone seems to understand him. I think he gets by with that because of his love for the Lucchesi, all people actually, and nothing pleases him more than to help others enjoy this amazing country. Roberto firmly believes that if you speak even the most limited form of a language you will have a far richer travel adventure and I agree.
– Donald (Donato) Clement, marito di Roberto (Bob’s husband)
In many ways Roberto is a natural candidate for helping others learn to speak Italian. He has spent much of his professional life assisting others to attain what they set out to do, from teaching Africans how to run a small business to leading the training department of a company with one million employees. He has also presided over a 10,000-member international society aimed at improving workplace performance, while attending to the human side of business. He’s consulted with some of the world’s leading organizations, such as AT&T, British Airways, General Motors and the Indian Ports Authority, to name a few.
His upcoming book, Becoming Italian: How to Butcher a Beautiful Language, Fall in Love and Stay Young, a travel memoir much like My Year in Provence, is aimed at inspiring readers to learn enough Italian so that they too can butcher the beautiful language, keeping their minds and spirits young and enjoying a rich Italian adventure. He has written seven books, including Instructor Excellence: Mastering the Delivery of Training, A Manager’s Guide to Sexual Orientation in the Workplace, A Family and Friend’s Guide to Sexual Orientation and contributed chapters and articles to numerous publications, including The Handbook of Human Performance Technology, (Jossey-Bass), What Works at Work: Lessons from the Masters, (Lakewood Press) and others.
In 1994, Roberto penned and performed in Ode to Barry Manilow, a play, which was selected for inclusion in the Solo Mio Festival, then the world’s premiere gathering of solo performers. He was on the bill with Claire Bloom, Allen Ginsberg, and others.
Roberto and Donato live in Portland, Oregon and Lucca, Italy. They have three wonderful grandkids, Brady, Chase and Kendall, all of whom speak the teeniest bit of the beautiful language. One day they will definitely surpass the author.