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Perugia - The best place to learn Italian?

Velimir Mladenovic RSS / 02.09.2012. u 18:30

Justyna Wierzbicka

Summer holiday is almost over now and in this very period of the year I find myself growing wistful. As my holiday was quite hectic, time went by too quickly. Once more, I chose to combine business with pleasure and this is what I got. I believe my consuming passion for Italy cannot be limited to sightseeing this wonderful country so I decided to go into Italian in greater depth de novo and enroll in a one-month language course...

The choice of a summer school should be a considered decision. This time, I opted for a course at a university and given the fact there is a limited number of universities open during the summer time in Italy (The Italians must be savouring the dolce far niente after all :)) I found the Università per Stranieri di Perugia's offer worth some attention.

Perugia is a lively medieval walled hill town, the capital of Umbria, with Etruscan buildings, people-filled squares, and modern shops. It's home to a large Italian language school for foreigners and has a stunningly beautiful central area.

Its leaflet says it is "the oldest and most prestigious Italian institution involved in teaching and research activities as well as in the diffusion of the Italian language and civilisation in all expressions".

Founded in the early 1920's with the aim of teaching Italian civilization and artistic heritage to foreigners, it is a real "laboratory" of intercultural education. The University specialises in the teaching of Italian as a second language including related subjects such as art, literature and economy.

The courses are divided into 3 levels: Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. The Beginners and Intermediate level are general courses. Advanced course consists of three study courses: Language, Culture and Technical/Business. The way is simple, you make your own schedule by choosing courses you're interested in. I took some language classes which appeared very well prepared by the academics, also French-Italian translation, Phonetics and Phonology as well as some cultural courses. I could choose between the History of Italy, History of Italian Art, Cinema, Theatre, Music, Literature, Art Terminology and was totally satisfied by the level it presented.

Most of the students had been granted a very interesting schoolarship which not only freed them from paying the courses fees but also provided a considerable sum of money that lets you pay for renting an apartement in the city centre! All you have to do is to write a cogent personal statement and add some recommendation letter written by your Italian teacher.

By clicking HERE you can get some more information about the Univeristy of Perugia. There are also Università per Stranieri di Siena and Università per Stranieri di Reggio di Calabria which offer Italian courses in the summertime.

According to me and given my previous experiences it is always better to do a language course at a foreign univeristy and not in a simple language school. The word "university" speaks for itself, it is often renowned and you have dealings with true academics and then you can get a scholarship which is by no means indifferent for most of us.

--> Apropos the flat, there are good webpages where you can always find something to suit your needs like Cercallogio Umbria recommended by the university itself or Easy Stanza that I used.

--> Do not worry if you didn't manage to find a room before your arrival or if you don't trust the offers you find in the Internet. In Perugia, there is certainly much more flat offers than students! Even on the opening day, a couple of Perugians living in the vicinity of the university comes to offer rooms to rent for new students. I'm always raving about living in the foreign families, that's the best way to improve your level after only a very short time.

--> Get to Perugia by plane: The airport of Perugia is really small, there are flights only from London, Brussels, Barcelona, Bergamo and some countries from the Southern Europe.

--> Get to Perugia by train: From Roma Termini there is a direct train, 3hrs to reach Perugia; From Firenze: direct train, 2hrs and Pisa- about 3-4hrs with a train change in Firenze. Once arrived to Perugia Fontivegge Station, take the "minimetro" to join the city cenre, it will be on your left as you leave the station.
--> One of the best moments to come is mid July as the city hosts the famous Umbria Jazz Festival. It lasts about 10 days and every evening you can attend plenty of free concerts of the artists playing Jazz and coming from all around the world! The icing on the cake is Sting who closes the festival, the concert is not free and the tickets should be purchased before May.
--> Try to find an apartement with air conditioning! I thought the quality of my flat was being "luminoso". It was a terrible misunderstanding , I used to keep the shutters close all the time since it was too hot inside.

Freshly arrived from Paris, I had some adapting troubles as Perugia is a small city and then it is an Italian city ;) The days were extremely hot so I felt sleepy most of the time. Then, I didn't have internet access at home, the cash dispenser right the corner was open 12hrs a day, there were only 2 tiny supermarkets in the centre and...

One week later I didn't see any inconvenience in that at all. I was so happy after I have realized how significant a progress in Italian I made. I met great and honest people from all over the world, and nothing other than having breakfast sur la terrasse or drink in Punto di vista bar and chatting with friends or having classes on the upper floors of the university with a stunning view on all the city would make every day special.

One thing is certain, I am going back to Italy next summer! 

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