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Study Italian Abroad at the Athena Language School in Lanciano, Italy

The Abruzzo is an Authentic Place to Learn a Great Language

Study Italian in Abruzzo
Study Italian at the Athena International School of Italian Language, one-on-one.

On the spine of Italy, everything has a unique authenticity: the crumbling medieval towns and their labyrinthine laneways, the eccentric cuisine and the warm smiles and extended hands of the locals. In Abruzzo, the pinnacle of bona fide Italy, your language learning experience will take on a whole new edge.

In a 16th-century palazzo in the ancient town of Lanciano, nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the soaring mountain ranges of the central Apennines, the Director of Studies of the Athena International School of Italian Language tells me that her philosophy is simple: the complete immersion of the student in “real” Italy, away from the tourist trappings of the likes of Rome, Florence, or Venice. And she means business: unlike many non-tertiary accredited Italian language schools, her teachers—all with degrees in Literature or Languages—are the pick of the bunch.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the Athena School and its setting in this rural part of Italy is the warmth and friendliness with which the student is welcomed. At Athena, the learning experience is positively shadowed by a philosophy that incorporates the entire needs of a foreign student who may perhaps feel out of their comfort zone upon their arrival. Services include everything from hunting for accommodations to excursions with local residents.

In the classrooms set within the marvellous palazzo, the environment is upbeat, friendly, and encouraging. A constructivist approach to teaching is adopted, whereby communication is supported by relevant context. Immersion is at its best, and teachers strive to relate learning to the tangible Italian culture that surrounds the students. In fact, the likes of evenings out with local residents are a prime way to contextualise the learning.

As an example of one night out, a group of students fresh off the plane marvel at the incandescent lighting reflecting off the stone medieval buildings that line the narrow streets of the town. Their astonishment is accompanied by free-flowing Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the region’s staple red wine, and conversation in Italian.  Stomachs full of some of the tastiest food imaginable (comprising of the likes of sweet ravioli in ragù sauce, herbed Abruzzese traditional pork and waffles) the students are made to feel at home by the Athena staff and their extended family and friends while conversing endlessly in Italian. Here in Lanciano, the Abruzzesi want you to not only learn their language, but to love it. It is this passion and zest for the Italian language and for life that makes studying in Abruzzo an experience to be treasured.

September festival in Lanciano, Italy
September festival in Lanciano.

Getting Set Up

Abruzzo is a region patiently waiting its time on the stage of international tourism. While this makes for a particularly genuine language learning and travel experience, it is somewhat harder to get established here. Amenities and services for foreign nationals are few and far between. For those intending to stay for extended periods, it may be worth setting up a bank account to reduce the amount of fees that are charged for international transactions by your bank back home. A few of the larger Italian banks, such as the San Paolo / Banca dell’Adriatico group will open a bank account for a foreign resident.

The trials and tribulations of seeking for accommodations should be last on your mind when planning a language learning experience in the depths of Italy. Athena staff work closely with an agency that will provide you with various accommodations options with attractive prices.

In The Classroom

The school offers a variety of different types of courses to suit your learning needs. Individual courses of all levels comprise a maximum of 3 students and are either intensive (10-20 per week) or non-intensive (4-6 hours per week). These are run at various times during the week, leaving your weekends free for gallivanting around the most unexplored of Italy’s regions.

Group classes are only available during the summer months of June to September, while themed courses such as “Business Italian,” “Italian for Tourism,” and “Italian for House Buyers” are available upon request.

Classes break in mid-morning for coffee, refreshments and, of course, conversation!

The class at the Athena International School of Italian Language
The class at the Athena International School of Italian Language.

Around Lanciano

The area surrounding Lanciano presents for some wonderful travel experiences. Nearby, the coastal areas have been voted some of the best in Europe under the Blue Flag Programme of 2010. Fossacesia and San Vito have excellent beaches. Rocca San Giovanni, around 20 minutes by car, is one of a handful of towns in Abruzzo that has been named in “The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” Program.

One hour away by bus is the city of Pescara--the region’s largest and most vibrant. For shoppers, it is a haven of bargains and popular brands that beg to empty your wallet. For beach goers, the coastal areas turn into congregations of tanning bodies splashing around the blue waters of the Adriatic. On summer evenings, Pescara’s nightlife is unrivalled in the region.

Visit the www.athena-it.com website for more information.

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