1. Spend time on the rooftop.
The rooftop of the Teatrino is a favorite spot on the ADA campus, and perhaps in all of Tuscany! From up here you can see a magnificent view of snow peaked mountains, the old city walls of Arezzo, the Duomo, the cemetery…. And of course the sunsets are to die for.
2. Bring water when you venture into town.
The hills are KILLER! Especially in the warmer weather, it is almost impossible to get town and back without needing water.
Save the euro and bring your own from the get-go, you’ll be glad you did!
3. Read the Pre-Departure Guide.
Just, do it. It will answer a lot of questions you’ll have and will save from repetitive explaining. Also, you will be extra loved by the Student Life staff if you do!
4. Allow yourself to have down time.
Just because you are in a foreign country for a limited amount of time does not mean you must push yourself to the limit constantly in order to feel like you are making the most out of your experience. Doing so will result in exhaustion, and in a rigorous program like this, falling behind in classes is not a good place to be. And let’s face it. Staying in and watching a movie on a Saturday night can be a great decision.
Yes, the program will teach you a lot about Commedia dell’Arte through your classes. But the history and story of Commedia is best learned through reading the book.
Read it before you come to the program because you will then have a full and comprehensive understanding of the importance of Commedia and its development over time.
6. Get ready for pasta.
You will be eating pasta every night and that’s ok! The pasta is different every time with different sauces. You’ll come to have some favorites (and maybe one or two you don’t like) but dinner time pasta is always a treat and there are still other options available such as salad and fruit. That being said, if you really hate pasta with a burning passion, Italy probably isn’t the place for you.
When you’re not eating in ADA’s Mensa, here are some places to know:
Il Cantuccio (get their house dessert!), O’scugnizzo (best pizza), Trattoria Spezzia (near Stefano’s pasticcheria – they serve San Fabiano wine which is a favorite)
7. Do the wine tasting. Do it.
Wine tastings at the San Fabiano winery are available by appointment from Monday to Friday. You need at least eight people and you can ask Monica to set up an appointment. This wine is great for both experienced and beginner wine drinkers. A wine tasting is a great Tuscan classic and this winery is located right in the Accademia’s backyard!
8. There is no shame in eating gelato twice in one day.
To clarify: gelato is not ice cream (it’s better), it’s cheap (usually less then two euros for two flavors), and you should eat it as often as possible. There may be people you know that believe they are putting on weight in Italy (even though they probably aren’t) but during these times you must remind them if they are going to gain weight anywhere it has to be Italy.
9. Be honest when you are unhappy.
You will be unhappy for at least part of your time abroad. Many people believe that you must bottle up negative feelings, however if you allow your unhappiness (frustration, anger, fear, homesickness, etc.) to be present and experienced, it can pass, and make room for happiness will follow. There will be someone else in the villa feeling the exact same way as you, and if you aren’t honest about it nothing will change. Not to mention that sharing your unhappiness can relieve you of some of the pressure you may put on yourself to always be happy abroad. So please be honest with yourself and the people around you.
10. Take care of the Limonia.
Don’t know what the Limonia is? You will very soon and trust us IT IS IN YOUR BEST INTEREST TO TAKE CARE OF IT. Clean up after yourself, air it out when you make smelly foods, sweep the floor when there are crumbs, don’t overstuff the garbage can; basically don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your kitchen at home. In addition, when you get fed up with the wifi in the villa, the limonia may come to your rescue. However, if the Limonia is an intolerable pit then you won’t want to use its wifi.
There is an amazing hiking trail not far from the Villa, and at the top of the mountain you can see the entire valley. Don’t miss your opportunity, go as soon as you can and as frequently as possible. Hike when all the leaves have bloomed because the trail is beautiful, but also hike in the winter when all the leaves have fallen off the trees because no leaves block your view. It’s a great way to get away, breath in some fresh air, and burn some excess energy.
12. Speak a lot of bad Italian.
There’s a good chance that you won’t know any Italian when you arrive, but this shouldn’t stop you from trying. Speak loudly (don’t mumble) and make big mistakes, this is how you learn! Take a long time to answer questions, grapple for words, don’t expect it to sound good. People will know you’re foreign as soon as you open your mouth, therefore they don’t expect you to speak without difficulty. Speak bad Italian, you’ll learn faster and make more friends.
13. Know beforehand what bank your credit and debit card works with.
Pretty self explanatory, but it saves you time, money, and uncertainty.
14. All routes into town take the same amount of time.
Cemetery route and escalator route are the same, save a minute or two. Both are great walks and I recommend exploring both routes and choosing your favorite!
Though you have incredibly full days here, I highly recommend taking advantage of performances happening through ADA, like grad labs or any shows that teachers are involved in, as well as performances in Arezzo and beyond. Every performance I attended this semester inspired me in many different ways and reconfirmed my passion for the arts and why I am here in this program.
16. Pack layers!
Italia does get sunny and warm, but it can also be windy and the villa varies in temperature based on the room, weather, and if the heating system is in a good mood. Layers will be your best friend, and are good for weekend trips too! One of those useful, “hope for the best prepare for the weather to be moody” kind of things.
17. Use the Student Library’s travel guides.
There are lots of travel guides on the book shelves left by previous students that you can borrow! Saves you some suitcase weight if you’re a travel guide kind of person and gives you an array of opinions and options, because they are written by various companies!
18. Bring your own bug spray and sunscreen.
It’s more expensive in Italy and the extra weight to bring some, especially if the sun is not your skin’s friend, is worth it. Also, bugs are abundant here and when you leave your window open they like to have parties in your room and around your face. Bug spray helps to keep the harmony.
19. Learn the times for siesta. (Sometimes called riposo in Italia!)
Its real, and sad when you get into town and nothing is open and the streets are empty (unless that’s your preference). Sunday riposo has slightly different hours/closings so pay attention to that when looking to go out to eat. Closing times will also differ from town to town so be aware of that!