It was five years ago around this time of year that I started hatching a plan to go study Italian in Italy. I was beginning my third semester of Italian classes at a local community college and began dreaming about learning Italian in a town where I would have to speak the language each and every day. I bought a book and commenced my research into schools all over the country. I read it cover to cover and formulated lists of pros and cons of the various schools.
Eventually I came to the realization that I did not want to be in a big city like Florence or Rome-just too many tourists and just as many opportunities to speak English. Initially I thought I should not be in Tuscany at all and started focusing on schools in other parts of the country. I had just about settled on a school in a small town in Le Marche when I realized that I kept returning to the website for a school in the town of Arezzo. The more I read about the town, the more I felt drawn to enrolling in school there.
Cultura Italiana, located in the heart of the centro storico, was everything that I had hoped it would be. The classes were small and it was all Italian all the time. The day began with a few hours of grammar and finished with a few hours of conversation. The teachers were incredibly patient and understanding in addition to being very thorough. There was homework every night, but not too much. One of the things I enjoyed most were the afternoon excursions that were offered (not mandatory) to places around Arezzo and further out into Tuscany.
I spent a month at Cultura Italiana back in 2008 and enjoyed it so much that I returned last year for another two weeks of private classes. At the time the school was affiliated with another branch in Bologna. Since then Paola, one of my instructors who also was in charge of running the school, has taken over the school and made it her own. What luck for all of the students as Paola is very talented and dedicated to her students. I spent many a morning across the table from her and enjoyed every minute. If you are considering studying Italian in Italy I whole heartedly endorse Cultura Italiana.
As for why you’ll for Arezzo:
It’s a real Italian town-very few tourists and lots of locals enjoying their town.
You’ll love the evening passegiata.
Everyone is speaking Italian and when you are out and about and in the shops, you will be forced to use your Italian too!
Prices are good here-restaurants and lodging are less than in many other Tuscan towns.
Great train service-it’s only about 50 minutes to Florence with great connections to the rest of the country.
The monthly Fiera Antiquaria-Arezzo’s famous antique fair on the first weekend of the month-probably the best in the country.
Authentic Tuscan food, need I say more?
Some of the most famous frescoes around by Piero della Francesco in the Basilica San Francesco-a must see-these are gorgeous.
A small town feel where they’ll remember how you take your coffee if you visit the same bar more than a few times.
Quiet back lanes where you’ll be living in centuries old buildings along side the Aretini (Arezzo’s citizens).
Beautiful churches, wonderful small museums and medieval buildings lining the back lanes.
Cultura Italiana-the best place to immerse yourself in the language and the Italian lifestyle. Go-you will love it and be sure to tell Paola that that Panini Girl sent you.
Corso Italia, 258
September 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm
What a great adventure you must have had!! The town looks lovely, and we have not yet traveled to that area…always adding to our list, you know…LOL!
September 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm
Our Kitchen Inventions-it really is lovely and the frescoes are worth a detour.
September 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm
Your photos of Arezzo are beautiful Janie. I have been there a few times now but somehow always in overcast weather! I wholeheartedly agree with all you reasons for choosing a smaller centre for study. It really is the best way to get under the radar and live the real Italy. Will you go back for a third stint do you think?
September 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm
Janine-my first stay there it was March-cold and rainy but I still loved it! I definitely will go back again. I feel a real connection to the town.
September 18, 2012 at 12:17 am
I have never been to Arezzo, even though my aunt lives there part time and in Cecina the other part. Now, after reading your post, I want to go there even more. If only I had the time to take a language immersion class – the excursions sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing the info – I will pass it on 🙂
September 19, 2012 at 1:35 am
Tesoro Treasures-I have a soft spot in my heart for Arezzo-it’s worth a stop for a day for sure. I could see myslef renting an apartment there and staying for a month or two. Let me know if you ever get there.
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