Written by Experimenter Sarah and edited by Experimenter Lauren

“As part of our month-long journey in Italy, the group traveled to Cortona, a city just a few hours north of Rome.

Upon arrival, we began Italian lessons with teachers from a local school named Polymnia. All 16 of us were divided into two smaller classes to allow for more intimate and engaging lessons. In these classes, we learned how to introduce ourselves, conversational skills and phrases, the alphabet and numbers, and much more that would help us communicate while here in Italy.

As someone with an early background in the Italian language, most of the lessons that were taught in the curriculum were things I had already learned as a child, but in the seven years since I had taken an Italian class, there was definitely much I had forgotten. This class was a very nice refresher for me and has also reminded me of how much I love the language. I am left inspired to start taking classes again.

To practice our new language skills, we went on day trips to Perugia and Florence. In Florence, our wonderful tour guide walked us through most major sights, pointing out the Renaissance architecture and art that has come to define Florence. For the majority of the group, however, the most exciting part of the day was the few hours we had to shop and explore the city on our own. We all ate lunch at the amazing food court, and while it is not necessarily my cup of tea, the sandwich with the cow stomach, “Lampredotto,” was greatly desired.

On our final full day in Cortona, we travelled to Perugia, a province about 45-minute away by train. Our scavenger hunt in Perugia tested our new directional skills that we had learned the day before in class. There were no phones allowed and we could only ask for directions in Italian.

Perugia is famous for its chocolate, so we took advantage of this and went to many chocolate stores. There is also a renowned sandwich called “Torta al Testo”, which was definitely amazing. Shopping in Perugia was different than in Florence, but with all of the running around we had been doing the past few days, it was nice to be in a more relaxed environment.

Cortona itself was absolutely gorgeous. Being on a mountain, the view is more amazing than anything I have ever seen. With less tourists and cobblestone streets, the environment was much more relaxed and intimate than in Rome. Fruit stands and shops were everywhere, and most definitely were the highlight of the piazzas. They, along with local pharmacies, were a daily stop as well.

There were tons of restaurants that we were able to go to a different one every night during free time. Yes, the pasta, pizza, paninis and gelato were all amazing, but nothing compares to the panna cotta that I devoured at the Italian restaurant with Brazilian owners.

I would not be surprised if Cortona will end up being my favorite part of this trip. It was exactly what comes to mind when I think of Italy, and I hope I will end up back there in the future. “


The view from the top floor of our hotel in Cortona


The amazing panna cotta from the Italian restaurant


Another view from Cortona of a graveyard surrounded by mountains and greenery


Group photo during our celebratory pizza party on our last day in Cortona


The group received their diplomas for completing their Italian classes on their last night in Cortona