In celebration of our 2023 Campus of the Year, we will be regularly sharing stories, recipes and recommendations about Italy! From its history and culture to a few of our favorite learning adventures, follow along to learn more about this fascinating country all year long!
One of the quieter regions of Italy, Tuscany is spread out along rolling hills, romantic villages and local vineyards. Its picturesque beauty is just one of the many things that draws visitors to this charming region, and its many opportunities for learning is another.
Here are just a few things you should know about this amazing region:
What You Can Expect to See
Tuscany encompasses an area of Italy north of Rome and south of the Italian Alps. Its capital is Florence, a city full of world-class art and architecture. If you venture further into the countryside, you’ll find medieval towns, olive groves and farmlands. Around every corner lies opportunities to immerse yourself in Italian culture through experiences like:
- Visiting an olive oil mill in Gaiole in Chianti and enjoying a cheese tasting in Poder il Casale and a wine tasting in Montalcino.
- Viewing the great masterpieces in Florence, including works by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Caravaggio, Cellini and Michelangelo’s iconic sculpture, “David.”
- Living in the heart of Tuscany as you take language classes to improve your Italian.
- Walking to Montepulciano, a medieval village perched on the crest of a hill of volcanic rock whose buildings represent the iconic style of the Florentine Renaissance.
What You Should Eat
Tuscany is home to many local farms and vineyards, making it an area rich with fresh and traditional food. Staples include olive oil, cheeses and, of course, pasta! Taking cooking classes and gaining firsthand knowledge of the area’s cuisine is an excellent way to learn more about Tuscan culture.
A prime example of Tuscan food is Lardo di Colonnata. It is made from meat seasoned over a slow process with salt and spices like cinnamon and served over hot toast. True Lardo di Colonnata should melt in the mouth with every bite!
What to Expect About Getting Around
No matter which part of Italy you explore, walking will be an integral part of your experience. Bring along comfortable, sturdy shoes to navigate the many cobblestones and rail-less stairways you may encounter. While your bus will bring you as close as possible to the landmarks you have dreamed of exploring, many of these locations prohibit vehicles from getting too close and you will need to walk the remainder of the way.
Pro tip: if you have mobility issues, bring along a mobile cane chair to help you navigate uneven pathways and offer you a place to sit and rest when needed.
What to Bring
Fashion in Italy is important but it is also important to dress smart. Religious sites have staff enforcing dress codes requiring covered knees and shoulders. It is also wise to purchase a body wallet to prevent your passport, money and other valuables from being stolen by professional pickpockets. Carrying a small crossbody bag, worn to your front, zipped shut and held with one hand, can prevent theft.
Especially during the summer months, having water on hand is a good idea. Rather than having to purchase plastic bottled water, bring your own reusable water bottle to retrieve fresh potable water from one of the many water fountains. Clean drinking water from the local mountains is readily available across most regions in Italy.
Pro tip: Prepare for your learning adventure with a book from our Italy booklist!
Have Free Time? Check Out These Things:
- The Duomo di Milano
An icon of Florence and of Italy as a whole, the Duomo is an architectural and cultural marvel. Construction of the Duomo likely began in 1386, and the building houses artwork spanning the many centuries since. Besides the cathedral, the Duomo is also home to a museum, the Music Chapel and the largest organ in Italy.
- The Piazza del Campo in Siena
A distinct symbol of the city, the Piazza del Campo is located in the place that three hilltop towns came together to become Siena. This clamshell-shaped square hosts many community events throughout the year, but it is also a place to sit and admire the history and architecture of Siena.
- The Cinque Terre
Along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea lies five villages that make up the Cinque Terre. This corner of the Italian Riviera is full of stunning seaside views and a rich history of artists and authors who have drawn inspiration from these villages. Enthusiasts of outdoor adventures may even enjoy hiking from village to village to truly immerse themselves in the local culture.
Are you ready to join us in Italy, our 2023 Campus of the Year? Find your next great adventure here!