According to Luisa Crawford, she and her husband, Forrest, brought the taste of Italy a little closer to the heart of Texas by opening up the Piccolo Stivale Ranch Coffee Shop in Jacksonville last April.

Now, they are bringing the language to Jacksonville, too. The owners offer free Italian lessons every Thursday at 6 p.m., at the coffee shop.

“He thought it would be a good idea — a little different thing just to have some fun,” Luisa said. “It’s nothing really serious.”

Luisa said the couple started hosting the classes at the shop about three weeks ago, and already there is quite a following.

“Last Thursday we had six. The last (Thursday) before there were nine,” she said. “We have some who can’t always make it every Thursday, but we catch up. It’s a very informal class. They just sit down on the big, stuffed chairs and sip some coffee, and we really have fun.”

Luisa, an Italian herself who came to the United States in 1998, teaches the class.

“I’m not really a teacher — that’s not my profession,” she said, “and I’m not a good speaker; my English is not very good. I pretty much teach from what I know. It’s not a very easy language because there’s a lot of grammar and a lot of different verbs — different than the English language. I teach what I’ve learned, and I try to make it as easy as I can.”

Luisa said she teaches basic phrases that would help a traveler get around the country.

“Once you travel, you need to know the basics, and pretty much we go with that,” she said. “‘Good morning,’ ‘Good evening,’ all that kind of stuff. We’re still in the beginning of the class. We’re not going over all of it, because it would take years probably, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Luisa and Forrest, who live in Rusk and have been married for about five years, also hope to lead a trip to Italy.

“Maybe next year there will be a really good following,” she said. “We are trying to organize a trip with the students to Italy. This is all my husband’s idea.

“He’s pretty good with coming out with ideas of this kind,” she said with a laugh.

Piccolo Stivale — that’s “Small Boot” in Italian — is located in Jackson Village, at 1009 South Jackson St., Suite 350, in Jacksonville.

Hours are Mondays through Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call 903-589-8397.

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