This past weekend Cynthia Clough, professor of Italy of the Imagination: Creative Writing, took one of the sections of her class for a retreat in the Umbrian countryside. The first stop was not rural, actually, but rather the Umbrian city of Gubbio. Students basked in the sun at the well-preserved Roman ampitheater and took the ski lift-like cabinovia to the top of the hill to see the Church of Sant’Ubaldo (Gubbio’s patron saint). An ample meal of gnocchetti, oven-roasted potatoes, and veal gave the students the energy their brains needed for the afternoon’s activities, which were at an agriturismo (farmhouse and rural hotel) near Perugia.
After that session students were once again treated to a full dinner of organic food that was mostly produced on that very farm (among others, sausages, veal, and honey). The second day consisted of other writing exercises (noticeably inspired by the beautiful panoramas) and a walk around the agriturismo’s property, a walk which included spectacular views from the hilltop olive orchard and the attention of a curious herd of sheep. Not even a grumpy bus driver on the return trip could spoil the magic of the Umbrian countryside, and Professor Clough commented that she would be eager to see the contents of Wednesday’s assignments after the weekend of scenery and exercises.