Few Americans have ever had the experience of slipping into hot springs, water heated naturally by underground geological activity…but Umbra students did just that this weekend. Under a fall moon the group set out on a bus with staff members Dave Dickson and Zach Nowak. The first stop was a surprise dinner at “La Cantina,” a classic Umbrian restaurant in the center of medieval Castiglione del Lago, which sits on a hill high over Lago di Trasimeno. After an “antipasto misto” of cheese and Umbrian salami, the students had “picci all’aglione,” a hearty, garlic-laced pasta dish with handmade pasta. After a fruit dessert, the students reboarded the bus and continued on to the hot springs of San Casciano dei Bagni, out in the middle of a field in the Tuscan hills near the medieval city of Città della Pieve. The delighted students soaked in the hot sulphur springs under the stars until midnight, when they had to board the bus and return to Perugia.
But the weekend fun and Italian experiences didn’t stop there, because Nowak and Dickson take care of a small vineyard in the center of Perugia, tucked between arches of an old fortress in the Porta Sola neighborhood. The two staffers invited the students to come the next day for the grape harvest, and many did. Nowak, Dickson, their European friends, and Umbra students picked grapes and stomped them before loading the bags into a refurbished press. All this hard work was rewarded with the white wine from 2005, brought out at the end of the day (along with delcious salsicce, Umbrian sausages) for a barbecue in the vineyard. Also in attendance were staff members Mauro Renna and director of the Italian Program at Umbra, Dottor Francesco Gardenghi. A good time was had by all!