26/04/2005 - Comment from Roy Calcutt ( England)
"I have attended the Scuola Appia Vecchia on two occasions. I have found the course highly rewarding. It has been for me a mixture of a fantastically relaxing holiday and a total immersion, Italian learning experience.
The School is approximately 25 miles from the centre of Rome, to the South East; it is very convenient for Ciampino airport, although my hosts kindly collected me from Fiumicino which is slightly further away. The house is very comfortable and is set in beautiful gardens containing orange and olive trees, and pergolas of vines. The family make their own wine and olive oil. The view from the house offers a lovely vista down towards the old Appian Way, and the coast at Anzio, the scene of the World War Two landings. The small town of Velletri (the birth place of the Emperor Augustus) is a short drive away.
During my stay, I enjoyed excellent one-to-one teaching of Italian; everything from grammar to converstion on the most diverse of topics: I seem to recall subjects ranging from politics, to sport, art, history and the English monarchy - I think we also somehow fitted in English children's programmes of the 1970's along the way too! The formal aspects of the course were lightened by Italian cookery lessons from Joe who cooked superbly for us throughout my stays, and by several visits to places of interest (Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli - a fascinating,well-preserved complex stretching over a wide area; Trajan's market in the heart of Rome; the Forum which contains the Senate-House where Julius Caesar was killed; the recently excavated 'Golden House' of Nero; the Pantheon; a top-class international exhibition of the works of Canaletto; the delightful maritime museum at Nemi which contains the remains of Caligula's banqueting boats; the museum at Pallestrina with its breathtaking view over the valley below; several beautiful churches, and of course the Colosseum.
On our visits I forgot I was a tourist because I was made to feel a part of Italian life: I experienced the culture first-hand. We spoke Italian throughout (although beginners could speak English if they wished - Joe and Francesca are both excellent English speakers). I particularly enjoyed walking round the markets in Velletri, watching the fishmongers and other stall-holders at work; we visited traditional coffee bars and wandered through the streets enjoying the fair in the market square (and tasting the produce!). We also dined on several occasions at Italian restaurants, including the enchanting 'Benito al Bosco', which has on display pictures of its most famous guests - including Sophie Loren and the present Pope!
I have not only found the experience highly enjoyable, but also incredibly relaxing - there seems to be something about the air in Velletri! The enjoyment is hightened by the incredible kindness and friendliness of Francesca, Joe and their family. Everything is done for the guest from organizing travel to accompanying students on trips, to arranging meals. However, if one wishes to be more independent, every effort is made to assist, and to suit all tastes.
I had a wonderful time and learned an awful lot; somethings will forever remain in my memory: for example, being taught the art of wine-making by Francesca's father . I would not hesitate to recommend this experience to anyone who wishes to experience the real Italy. I can't wait to go back!"
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