Monthly Archives: July 2012
Umbra staff and faculty will spend the next few weeks preparing for the arrival of new students at the end of August. If you are among Perugia’s next batch of temporary residents, check your email for the Umbra departure handbook, which will answer questions you may have about what to pack and what to anticipate as you prepare for a fall semester in Italy.
Upon your arrival, expect a warm welcome at the airport from Umbra staff members Marco and Addy, followed by a bus ride through Italian countryside and a welcome dinner that will make you forget your jetlag. Over the next two days, we will hold orientation meetings detailing your stay in Perugia, an Umbrian city rich with culture, history, and adventure. Get excited for an international chocolate festival, the opportunity to take a trip to the Amalfi Coast (keep September 7-9 free!), pizza workshops, day trips to Umbrian and Tuscan villages, wine tastings, aperitivi (Italy’s take on happy hour), walking tours, and more.
For more updates on your upcoming life, follow the Umbra Institute on Facebook.
In less than seven years, cultural tourists will flock to Perugia and Assisi to soak up the cities’ rich cultural, architectural, and religious heritage – if all goes according to the plans of PerugiAssisi 2019, Università degli Studi Professor Luca Ferrucci told the Clemson University class during his guest lecture at the Umbra Institute Wednesday afternoon.
An alliance between the neighboring Umbrian cities, PerugiAssisi 2019 is striving to make Perugia and Assisi a joint European Capital of Culture in 2019, an honor that will be held by an Italian city and a Bulgarian city that year, said Ferrucci, who volunteers for the local association.
Since 1985, an international panel from the European Union has designated one or two European cities the “Capital(s) of Culture” for the period of one year, during which each city organizes a series of cultural festivals that are the focus of the international eye.
The EU’s goal is to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values, Ferrucci explained. However, the annual honor has a secondary, more enduring effect: Cities, selected and potential alike, reap benefits. Studies have shown impressive socio-economic development in cities before and after earning the title of European Capital of Culture, Ferrucci said. In addition to this stability, the honor raises the city’s profile in the eyes of the international community and its residents. He noted the case of Glasgow, Scotland, which has shifted from a primarily industrial, dirty city to a cultural hub since its year in the spotlight in 1990.
With such advantages, the title of European Capital of Culture is very competitive. Candidate cities begin to be reviewed six years before their designated term. To select the winning cities, the EU panel employs a variety of criteria, including a proposal for the series of cultural festivals, realization of projects that focus on a cohesion of architectural heritage and urban development, promotion of actions that allow for diversity and young people’s access to culture and work, demonstrated enthusiasm of the residents, and more.
With the help of the community residents, businesses, and other organizations, PerugiAssisi 2019 is prepared to excel at these criteria, Ferrucci told the Clemson students.
“I didn’t realize any of this was going on,” Clemson student Matt McCordy told the Umbra Institute after the group applauded Ferrucci. “I thought it was really interesting – it’d be sweet if Perugia won.”
Clemson visiting professors Tom Baker and Tracy Meyer said that Ferrucci’s description of the PerugiAssisi 2019’s marketing and economics strategies added an interesting twist to their curriculum for the faculty-led program.
“Now when they see an ad promoting this, they’ll know what it’s about and feel connected,” Meyer said, adding, “And they’ll know exactly how much work goes into it.”
Baker agreed, “It gives the students a sense of how marketing works on an international level … they see the importance of tourism and how important this is for (Perugia).”
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita In the middle of the journey of our life
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, I found myself in a dark wood,
ché la diritta via era smarrita. for the straight way was lost.
— Opening lines of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy
Before departing on a 1 a.m. bus to the airport in Rome, Intensive Italian students celebrated their Umbra Institute experience Friday evening with prosecco, a lavish meal, and recitations from Dante’s Divine Comedy – in the original Italian, of course.
Dr. Bob Proctor, the director of the Intensive Italian program, asked his students to memorize lines from the epic poem. However, according to Umbra Director of Academic Programs Francesco Burzacca, the evening would only be fair if Proctor himself joined the students.
Without notes (mostly), teacher and students stood before the room filled with Umbra professors, and staff and recited stanza after stanza to uproarious applause.
Another new UmbraViews video! This one’s an overview of the Perugia experience and includes some great imagery, including a time-lapse video of Piazza Danti and a sunset from Porta Sole. The footage was taken over two semesters (Fall 2011 and Spring 2012) and this past summer session, so you’ll likely recognize yourself if you’ve been here recently!
“Pallone è vita!” yelled Umbra Institute student Christian Sbarro as he dribbled a basketball past Italians down the courts in Piazza Grimana on sunny Saturday, ready to score.
Ball is life.
July 5-7, Sbarro and his classmates Billy Grayson and Chris DiLisio participated in an international basketball tournament, Playground Therapy. Over the hot weekend, the three Intensive Italian students took a break from reciting lines by Dante and studying for this week’s final oral presentations to play ball in the shady courts across the street from the University for Foreigners.
Organized by Perugia residents Gabriele Burlarelli and Alessandro Contu, the tournament comprised 10-12 teams with players from around the world. The only requirement to enter was a willingness to play. Although dubbed “Team U.S.A.” – by an Italian teammate – the Umbra students’ team also included a Canadian, a pair of Australians, and several Italians.
“It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Grayson. “I played with people I’d seen around Perugia since I’ve been here, and we actually got to hang out. It really gave me perspective, seeing so many different cultures getting to know each other through just playing a sport together, even if we could barely say, ‘Hi,’ in the beginning.”
The Umbra students’ interaction with members of their community in an activity outside of the Institute fulfills the goal of the Community Engagement program, according to Umbra the program co-coordinator, Julie Falk.
“Community engagement is all about immersing students in the Italian context both in and out of the classroom,” Falk said. “They learn not only about the Italian culture but also become more aware of their own. Perugia offers the perfect place for this type of integration into the community. It’s filled with opportunities to collaborate with other organizations, non-profits, schools, and businesses, which helps move students beyond a tourist-style study abroad experience.”
The students agreed that the experience accomplished exactly that.
“It was cool to interact with a lot of Italians outside of the classroom and learn Italian in a new setting,” Sbarro said.
DiLisio added, “We made friends that we hung out with through the weekend, people from China, people from France, Brazil, Italy – it was great.”
As the tournament progressed, a DJ and live bands took turns adding a soundtrack to the basketball games, which the students agreed were more fast-paced than in the U.S.
“The style of play was pretty different,” observed Sbarro, who is on the team of his home institution, Connecticut College. “The courts are different, and they call more fouls – much more fouls.”
At the end of the tournament, Team U.S.A. had won two games and lost two – all around, not a bad tally, according to DiLisio.
“The team just jived,” he said. “We had great potential … though in the end we fell short. It was an unforgettable weekend anyway.”
Perugia is on the eve of one of its most celebrated events, Umbria Jazz. Since 1973, jazz lovers from around the world have flocked to Umbria Jazz, a time when the streets of Perugia vibrate with music and culture from dusk to dawn. This year, the Umbra Institute’s Intensive Italian program and Clemson University students have the opportunity to partake in the revelry.
Past festivals have featured acclaimed musicians, including Elton John, Van Morrison, James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Francesco Cafiso. This year, the legendary Sting will headline the 11-day event on its last day, July 15. In addition to ticketed concerts, the international audience may attend free shows throughout the city. During Umbria Jazz, one can’t walk through the center of Perugia without stumbling upon some tunes.
As Sting might say, “Be still, my beating heart.”
Once upon a time, a man named Mauro was walking past the sun-baked Perugian steps when suddenly, a swallow fell from the sky.
“Mamma mia!” he exclaimed.
Umbrina, as she came to be called, was a baby swallow on her first outing from the nest that her swallow family built in a crevice of the soaring duomo, overlooking Piazza IV Novembre. Hoping she would take flight, Mauro gingerly placed his new friend on a high ledge of the duomo.
When he returned to work at the Umbra Institute, he told his colleague, Addy, the tale of the swallow. Neither could clear their minds of the swallow’s fate in the humid 99-degree-Fahrenheit weather, so the two trekked back to the scene of the fall.
Umbrina had not moved a feather, but still she lived. Armed with a cardboard box, damp paper towels, and an ensnared insect, Mauro and Addy carefully carried their weak charge back to the Institute. While neither was well-versed in baby bird urgent care, a full-immersion Umbra student and part-time ornithologist named Roz had overheard their earlier conversation. After a quick look at Umbrina, Roz instructed the staff members to quickly feed and keep the bird warm in the air-conditioned Institute.
The rescue team utilized a pencil tip and quick reflexes to feed the bug to the baby bird. For the rest of the afternoon, Umbrina rested comfortably in her cushioned container, where she received many anxious Umbra visitors. At the end of the day, Italian professor Giuliano and Valentina (former Italian professor at Umbra and now visiting friend) transported Umbra’s temporary mascot to ENPA (Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali, an animal protection agency), where she lives to swoop another day, thanks to collaboration among Umbra faculty, staff, and student.