Dame Helen Mirren is learning Italian because she now spends six months a year in the European country.

Dame Helen Mirren is spending six months of the year in Italy

Dame Helen Mirren is spending six months of the year in Italy

The Oscar-winning actress and her husband Taylor Hackford have bought a farmhouse in Puglia in Southern Italy and they now spend around half the year there - and Helen, 78, has been doing her best to improve her communication skills.

During an appearance on Italian TV show ‘Splendida Cornice', Helen shared: "I would say we spend around six months a year in Apulia [Puglia]. I am now in Apulia, I am talking to you from Salento ...

"I have found nothing but kindness in the part of Salento where I am, in the small council of Tiggiano and the town I speak to you from, Tricase. Here everyone is kind ...

"I think people in this part of Italy are kind, being kind is part of their DNA."

Helen revealed she's become very close with a neighbour, who brings her locally grown produce. She said: "My neighbour Maria Rosaria always brings me broad beans and chicory. I buy them chocolates and sweets, I bring some cookies from England."

Helen went on to reveal she's been busy learning Italian and is keen to master the local Salentino dialect. She added: "I am now starting to understand something of ‘Salentino’. And my Italian is getting better".

Helen isn't the only British acting veteran to have decamped to Italy in recent years - Dame Emma Thompson has also got her sights set on living abroad for much of the year after buying a house in Venice.

Last year, the 'Love Actually' star revealed she still lives in London officially so she can look after her elderly mother but she hopes to spend more time in Italy eventually.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper's Eden Confidential column, she told Italian publication Il Gazzettino: "Since I was a child I have dreamed of living in a magical place like Venice.

"Now, I have realised my dream. I have moved into a house in the city and when I can, I spend at least two or three months there. And, in the meantime, I'm studying Italian, which I want to know and speak as best as possible ...

"I still live in London, in the same street as my children and my mother, who is 91 years old and needs me, but my greatest desire is to settle in Venice for the whole year. Meanwhile, I'm happy to be able to enjoy the city for at least a couple of months."

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