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Place to nest in Italy Nov/Dec to study Italian w private tutor-location?

Place to nest in Italy Nov/Dec to study Italian w private tutor-location?

Old Oct 4th, 2021, 03:12 PM
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Place to nest in Italy Nov/Dec to study Italian w private tutor-location?

Hi Everyone, I have a (fortunate) dilemma and would appreciate advice/reflections from this expert community. Consider it a puzzle! My husband and I are looking for a single home base for an approx. 7 week stay in Italy, from approximately first week Nov- end of December (or maybe through Jan 2). (As for the period of Christmas-New Years we might go somewhere else in Italy. I see several thoughtful threads on special places during that period and I will study those soon.) My goal now is to nail down the home base (where we will plan to rent an Airbnb/Vbro) and stay for about 7 weeks. The goal of the long stay is to study Italian intensively 4-5 days a week with a private tutor. Yes, this sounds like a lot, but we are two academics and love the experience and routine of intense study and even daily homework. Once we nail down a location for our home base we will start the search for a private tutor (either through a language school that offers private lessons for a couple or, preferably, by finding someone who does private lessons separate from a school setting--any recs on a tutor or the process of finding one are certainly welcome). We will surely do day trips or weekend trips during at least a few weekends to areas that are near our home base.

Background on us: We have traveled extensively in Italy; lived for 6 months in Bologna; have studied Italian in Italy in the group class setting of two language schools. (We are somewhere in the advanced beginner/low level intermediate range.) We have some friends/colleagues in various parts of Italy so we might take some cheap flights or train rides in order to spend a weekend or two with them during our stay, or as an extra add on week after our long stay in the home base location. Only one of our trips to Italy in all of these years was was in the November-December period. So, finding an optimal home base during that period is a bit tricky for us given the various and possibly conflicting criteria we have (described below with hopes that this doesn't wear out anyone's patience!).


Criteria: (1) Comfortable weather—by comfortable I mean nice enough to enjoy a long daily passeggiata and walks for errands (such as the grocery store rather than a mad dash to the store in uncomfortable weather), drink coffee outdoors, and eat outdoors at restaurants (even if bundled up). We would like to avoid damp, bone chilling cold; regular very grey skies; and regular rain. I know that characterizes so much of Northern Italy in Nov/Dec. This criteria is important to us because of Covid (depending on how things evolve in the next few months, we may not be comfortable eating indoors in restaurants). Also, we are spoiled weather wise in the winter and get a bit blue in consistent grey, cold, damp weather: we live in the Rocky Mountains of the USA, where the winter climate is cold, but mostly quite comfortable since it is sunny and dry. I am mindful that heating in a rental apartment in Italy may not be great (or at least not what we are used to) and the daylight period each day is short in Nov-Dec. (2) Ideally we would be based in a small – medium sized city (rather than a large city or a little village/small town/countryside location) that has a train station (even if it means regionale trains and transfers for some weekend getaways or day trips). BUT if it has to be big city in order to meet as many of our criteria as possible we can make that work, and we would then look for a neighborhood that feels quiet, residential, safe, pretty, and leans a bit upscale. (3) We would like to be based in a place where not much English is spoken (so that at the sign of our shaky Italian, shopkeepers don’t quickly switch into English) and a place that is not overrun with English speaking international students or tourists. (4) We would like to be based in a place that is beautiful (even if not the most beautiful spot in Italy-there are so many of those, but not a gritty, depressing place) and where we can indulge our abiding love of food (both cooking with local ingredients and dining out). A cinema (showing Italian films) would be a bonus. Not looking to maximize churches, museums, or historical ruins—love them of course, but that is not what this trip is about. But a feeling of “life” and authenticity (i.e., not just vacationers or folks from abroad visiting their second homes) in the place we are based would be great. (5) Ideally we could get from where we are based to the countryside for some weekend hiking trips either by train or renting a car for the weekend. (6) We would like to be in a place where we would have a high likelihood of finding a good, experienced Italian language instructor for private in person lessons. We are aware of the “live with your teacher” possibilities, but know that this option does not suit us. (I have looked at threads in this forum re schools that some have enjoyed and depending on location might look at hiring private tutor through such schools. (7) While we are not deeply concerned about how perfectly “standard” our Italian becomes after further study, we are concerned about locations where dialect might be an issue or where a truly unique/deep accent by native speakers would make it really hard for us to work on our listening skills. That’s a lot to balance, I know.

Just to give a sense of places where we've really enjoyed ourselves (in case this helps with recommendations). We have loved visiting Parma, Ferrara, and Modena in the early fall and spring (for us--perfect cities), but think the weather would not feel comfortable to us in Nov-Dec--grey/cold. A close friend has family in Perugia (which would be nice for us), but we are concerned about the weather there in Nov-Dec, and also about all the int’l students in that city given the university for foreigners (we have been there just for a few days in the past). We have loved time in the CT, Siena, Genova, Torino, the Eastern and Western Alps, Palermo and Western Sicily, the major cities (Naples, Florence, Venice, Rome), Bologna, Trieste, Amalfi (two generations ago my husband's family came form Amalfi, though we have no known family there now), Como, and also the few days spent in Ascoli Piceno and Urbino. With all of this said, none of these pleas seems to have a good mix of things we are looking for during this Nov-Dec study trip.

Any thoughts on what locations might offer the best mix of things we are looking for? (No place has everything, but what place(s) would get closest? Here are some locations (in no particular order) that I am toying with based on some preliminary research and conversations with friends in Italy. But I would so welcome criticisms, corrections, alternatives, or a case for an entirely different home base.

In Liguria: Imperia (town); Savona, Rapallo? I have never been to any of these cities. From what I read, the weather sounds really good in Nov-Dec, relative to many other areas in the country. I am not sure about how these places would fit with our other criteria, especially whether I would be able to find a good private tutor there since a quick google search didn’t bring any in person tutors, probably ince they are not common language study destinations.

Lecce

Pescara

Ancona

Arezzo (I think weather would be an issue, given what I have said above?)

Naples (obviously a very big city; we have visited and loved it, but the accent might be an issue--if some here think it would be a good idea all things considered, then certainly I’d welcome suggestions of a neighborhood that would feel not too chaotic, and would be safe, neighborhood-y; upscale-ish; I am a bit concerned about health care just in case there is a covid surge, even though early pandemic things were worse in the wealthy north)

Rome (we have visited and loved it, and if some here think it would be a good idea, then certainly open to the suggestions of a neighborhood that would feel not chaotic, would be safe, neighborhood-y, and upscale-ish—of all the places we stayed in Rome, we have very much enjoyed the Trastevere neighborhood, but perhaps there are others or better neighborhoods to target)

Some small to mid sized city in Lazio? (Not sure which)

Salerno (too many foreign students—not sure what it's like as I have never been there)

Any others?

Thanks in advance for any reflections and/or suggestions. I realize that I am asking a lot here.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 09:18 PM
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To me Rome is the simplest option. Just stay outside the main tourist belt and English will be more of a rarity than a problem.

You'll have the best transport links. A large enough community to get the rest of your wish list. The weather will be variable but in line or better than the rest of your list.

But Autumn weather can be all over the place. It can be beach weather one day and you might see Noah and his ark float by the next. To me that pushes you towards larger centres with more going on.

I'd also be very careful with a rental in a summer beach town. Apartments that are fine midsummer can be extremely drafty and cold off season.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 01:07 AM
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You might want to work backwards from the tutor - if you get a recommendation for one, or information about a good language school, you may want to work out your base from there. I am not an Italy expert but I do know a bit about language learning. I think a big city with a university might net you someone appropriate, or at least don't rule this out. Likely people are postgrads with time on their hands during university holidays. There are a few people on the forum with language learning experience in Italy, why don't you find out what their experience was and see if it can inform your experiences at all. Interesting post, I am curious to see where it leads to.

Lavandula
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by studenttobe View Post
Hi Everyone, I have a (fortunate) dilemma and would appreciate advice/reflections from this expert community. Consider it a puzzle! My husband and I are looking for a single home base for an approx. 7 week stay in Italy, from approximately first week Nov- end of December (or maybe through Jan 2). (As for the period of Christmas-New Years we might go somewhere else in Italy. I see several thoughtful threads on special places during that period and I will study those soon.) My goal now is to nail down the home base (where we will plan to rent an Airbnb/Vbro) and stay for about 7 weeks. The goal of the long stay is to study Italian intensively 4-5 days a week with a private tutor. Yes, this sounds like a lot, but we are two academics and love the experience and routine of intense study and even daily homework. Once we nail down a location for our home base we will start the search for a private tutor (either through a language school that offers private lessons for a couple or, preferably, by finding someone who does private lessons separate from a school setting--any recs on a tutor or the process of finding one are certainly welcome). We will surely do day trips or weekend trips during at least a few weekends to areas that are near our home base.

Background on us: We have traveled extensively in Italy; lived for 6 months in Bologna; have studied Italian in Italy in the group class setting of two language schools. (We are somewhere in the advanced beginner/low level intermediate range.) We have some friends/colleagues in various parts of Italy so we might take some cheap flights or train rides in order to spend a weekend or two with them during our stay, or as an extra add on week after our long stay in the home base location. Only one of our trips to Italy in all of these years was was in the November-December period. So, finding an optimal home base during that period is a bit tricky for us given the various and possibly conflicting criteria we have (described below with hopes that this doesn't wear out anyone's patience!).


Criteria: (1) Comfortable weather—by comfortable I mean nice enough to enjoy a long daily passeggiata and walks for errands (such as the grocery store rather than a mad dash to the store in uncomfortable weather), drink coffee outdoors, and eat outdoors at restaurants (even if bundled up). We would like to avoid damp, bone chilling cold; regular very grey skies; and regular rain. I know that characterizes so much of Northern Italy in Nov/Dec. This criteria is important to us because of Covid (depending on how things evolve in the next few months, we may not be comfortable eating indoors in restaurants). Also, we are spoiled weather wise in the winter and get a bit blue in consistent grey, cold, damp weather: we live in the Rocky Mountains of the USA, where the winter climate is cold, but mostly quite comfortable since it is sunny and dry. I am mindful that heating in a rental apartment in Italy may not be great (or at least not what we are used to) and the daylight period each day is short in Nov-Dec. (2) Ideally we would be based in a small – medium sized city (rather than a large city or a little village/small town/countryside location) that has a train station (even if it means regionale trains and transfers for some weekend getaways or day trips). BUT if it has to be big city in order to meet as many of our criteria as possible we can make that work, and we would then look for a neighborhood that feels quiet, residential, safe, pretty, and leans a bit upscale. (3) We would like to be based in a place where not much English is spoken (so that at the sign of our shaky Italian, shopkeepers don’t quickly switch into English) and a place that is not overrun with English speaking international students or tourists. (4) We would like to be based in a place that is beautiful (even if not the most beautiful spot in Italy-there are so many of those, but not a gritty, depressing place) and where we can indulge our abiding love of food (both cooking with local ingredients and dining out). A cinema (showing Italian films) would be a bonus. Not looking to maximize churches, museums, or historical ruins—love them of course, but that is not what this trip is about. But a feeling of “life” and authenticity (i.e., not just vacationers or folks from abroad visiting their second homes) in the place we are based would be great. (5) Ideally we could get from where we are based to the countryside for some weekend hiking trips either by train or renting a car for the weekend. (6) We would like to be in a place where we would have a high likelihood of finding a good, experienced Italian language instructor for private in person lessons. We are aware of the “live with your teacher” possibilities, but know that this option does not suit us. (I have looked at threads in this forum re schools that some have enjoyed and depending on location might look at hiring private tutor through such schools. (7) While we are not deeply concerned about how perfectly “standard” our Italian becomes after further study, we are concerned about locations where dialect might be an issue or where a truly unique/deep accent by native speakers would make it really hard for us to work on our listening skills. That’s a lot to balance, I know.

Just to give a sense of places where we've really enjoyed ourselves (in case this helps with recommendations). We have loved visiting Parma, Ferrara, and Modena in the early fall and spring (for us--perfect cities), but think the weather would not feel comfortable to us in Nov-Dec--grey/cold. A close friend has family in Perugia (which would be nice for us), but we are concerned about the weather there in Nov-Dec, and also about all the int’l students in that city given the university for foreigners (we have been there just for a few days in the past). We have loved time in the CT, Siena, Genova, Torino, the Eastern and Western Alps, Palermo and Western Sicily, the major cities (Naples, Florence, Venice, Rome), Bologna, Trieste, Amalfi (two generations ago my husband's family came form Amalfi, though we have no known family there now), Como, and also the few days spent in Ascoli Piceno and Urbino. With all of this said, none of these pleas seems to have a good mix of things we are looking for during this Nov-Dec study trip.

Any thoughts on what locations might offer the best mix of things we are looking for? (No place has everything, but what place(s) would get closest? Here are some locations (in no particular order) that I am toying with based on some preliminary research and conversations with friends in Italy. But I would so welcome criticisms, corrections, alternatives, or a case for an entirely different home base.

In Liguria: Imperia (town); Savona, Rapallo? I have never been to any of these cities. From what I read, the weather sounds really good in Nov-Dec, relative to many other areas in the country. I am not sure about how these places would fit with our other criteria, especially whether I would be able to find a good private tutor there since a quick google search didn’t bring any in person tutors, probably ince they are not common language study destinations.

Lecce

Pescara

Ancona

Arezzo (I think weather would be an issue, given what I have said above?)

Naples (obviously a very big city; we have visited and loved it, but the accent might be an issue--if some here think it would be a good idea all things considered, then certainly I’d welcome suggestions of a neighborhood that would feel not too chaotic, and would be safe, neighborhood-y; upscale-ish; I am a bit concerned about health care just in case there is a covid surge, even though early pandemic things were worse in the wealthy north)

Rome (we have visited and loved it, and if some here think it would be a good idea, then certainly open to the suggestions of a neighborhood that would feel not chaotic, would be safe, neighborhood-y, and upscale-ish—of all the places we stayed in Rome, we have very much enjoyed the Trastevere neighborhood, but perhaps there are others or better neighborhoods to target)

Some small to mid sized city in Lazio? (Not sure which)

Salerno (too many foreign students—not sure what it's like as I have never been there)

Any others?

Thanks in advance for any reflections and/or suggestions. I realize that I am asking a lot here.
Thanks very much, Traveler_Nick. You make some excellent points, which I appreciate a lot. In case we decide to go the Rome route, would be grateful if you or others have any suggestions as to neighborhoods in Rome that we might target were I to start poking around on the Airbnb site (with the goal of a setting that feels “neighborhoody,’ relatively quiet, good for strolling, pretty, safe, leans upscale, with good food shops etc). The only neighborhood that I have enjoyed particularly in Rome is Trastevere—though admittedly that was in an apt for just a few days. My others visits have had me staying in more tourist-centric areas that I would like to avoid.

And if anyone has thoughts about other small to mid sized cities in Lazio that I might consider, then certainly I’m open to such suggestions. E.g., I have never been to Viterbo, and don’t know if I should consider it as an option (on the assumption that the weather might also be similar to that of Rome in Nov-Dec?). Thanks again to Traveler_Nick and others that might be pondering my strange question!
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 05:37 AM
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Thanks so much Lavandula-what you say makes a lot of sense. I’ve combed the forum for previous threads on working with a private tutor and have found only a thread on what to pay a private tutor. Hopefully someone will have a lead or observation on a tutor who might take a pair of in person students and who is based in a place with a climate I might find comfortable in Nov-Dec. I have been reading the many great threads on language schools (since that would be a relatively easy way of finding someone who would take on students for private lessons)—my only issue there is that most of those experiences are in schools set in locations that don’t fit well with my weather concerns for Nov/Dec (though there are one or two mentions of schools in Rome). This opportunity to go to Italy Nov-Dec has come up rather at the last minute for me, and so I am scrambling a bit to make this work and get some parameters set, such as booking a flight. Thanks again for your suggestion, which is quite reasonable!
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 06:02 AM
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A Roman friend of mine used to recommend the Parioli district (near Villa Borghese) as a non-touristy, upscale neighborhood of the city.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 08:01 AM
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With its numerous colleges, Perugia immediately popped up, as did cold weather. If the accent is important, in what area of Italy would one typically find the one you want? You might have to sacrifice warm weather. I agree about finding a tutor first. Again, you might have to sacrifice warm weather.

​​​​​​What about Padua? University town with easy train options.

Good luck and please let everyone know where you end up.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 08:21 AM
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Thanks TDudette—you are right about Perugia and Padua. Have enjoyed both cities very much in the past during stays of a few days. And have a friend whose family lives in Perugia, which would be nice in terms of having support and immediate contact with residents. Aside from the weather that time of year, have been a bit worried about all the int’l students in Perugia, and what that means for being able to stay in Italian as much as possible (and keeping shopkeepers, folks in restaurants etc in Italian, which is something we would like to do). Padua would, I think, be somewhat less of an issue since I don’t recall such a big presence of int’l/English speaking students. You are surely right that the pleasant weather criteria that we have set limits options in that time of year. Covid has made us esp sensitive to being able to be outdoors fairly comfortably, and so that issue weighs on our minds a good deal esp because of the risk that things get worse again in Italy in Nov/Dec. And understood that you are correct that we may have to give up on the weather criteria. And re accent: my only concern there is that some obvious relatively comfortable climates that one might find in Sicily or even Naples might be a bit hard for us because of stronger regional accents (and dialect). Otherwise, we are agnostic on accent.

And you and Lavandula surely make a great point about finding a tutor first and working from there. It has been hard to figure this out, given the short time frame we have to plan this visit (since the Nov-Dec 2021 stay just opened up as a possibility for us and we feel some pressure to at least book flights while we work on other details), and of course owing to our own hope of being able to walk and eat outdoors in reasonably comfortable conditions. I will search around some more for info/reviews of private in person tutors (that info seems to be in relatively short supply). I will surely stay in touch with the folks here on our ultimate decision, and in the meantime welcome any suggestions. Thanks to all who have weighed in already.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 08:56 AM
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With tongue firmly in my cheek, how about going to Tahiti and doing a zoom course. 😁🍷

DH and I loved the art and student vibe in Perugia. We met a nice group who stayed on after they completed their degrees:
Perugia and Rome by train and bus
Of course you might meet a northern Italian teacher in wintering in Naples or Sorrento.
Orvieto? Again weather but nice sized and convenient to Roma. How could I forget Pisa?! It is a wonderful place. We made it a base we liked it so much.
​​​​​​



Last edited by TDudette; Oct 5th, 2021 at 09:27 AM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 09:19 AM
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Thanks for this info TDudette--all helpful. And I really enjoyed your fascinating trip report on Perugia (thanks for sharing). If only I could find a website listing northern teachers wintering in Naples or Sorrento-that would indeed solve my puzzle!! But I will keep looking. (And good point on Orvieto re my weather concern, which normally wouldn't be such an issue for me were it not for Covid, which keeps me focused on maintaining an option to enjoy time outdoors for dining/grabbing coffee/taking walks. Orvieto seems quite different from Rome re average temps in Nov/Dec, which I had not realized until just now looking at some avg weather data.) And your point re Tahiti-love it
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 09:36 AM
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Thanks, studenttobe, I edited my reply above to add Pisa...don't know if you saw it. We used Pisa as a base. Away from the Tower, it is a fabulous, authentic place.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 10:05 AM
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Thanks for the suggestion of Pisa-I have never been there and will do some research on avg weather. I appreciate so much for your thoughtful suggestions!
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 03:07 PM
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hi Studenttobe - knowing that I've been to several language schools in Italy TDudette drew my attention to your thread which I found just now. What wonderful dilemma to have. Firstly honestly I don't think that finding a private tutor us going to be that hard as most language schools will be more than happy to take on private tutoring as well as group classes, so long as they have a teacher [or possibly teachers] that they can spare, and in the time of covid, I suspect that the majority have spare capacity as so far as I can tell, student numbers are down as might well be expected. The other thing I would look for is a school which is big enough to offer group activities that you can join in on some days - that will give you some socialisation with other students which can be fun and expose you to different teachers as well which IME is a really good way to check on how much progress you are making.

My second reaction was that it's a shame that you have already spent so much time in Bologna because it seems to me to be ideally situated for a longish stay with a choice of language schools [I've been to two, both of which I can recommend] and loads of interesting things to see and do as well as a terrific rail network. In fact you seem to have visited Italy so much that it's hard to think of somewhere that you haven't been. I appreciate that you're not keen on the weather in northern Italy in winter but I don't think that you can guarantee a lack of rain and cold anywhere in Italy in November and December . So I think that I would ignore the weather aspect and plump for somewhere that best fits your other criteria.

My third is that I would very seriously consider Rome. You are bound to be able to find a school which can accommodate you, there is plenty of choice of accommodation, and when are you going to get another opportunity for a long-term stay in Rome? I also like the idea of Pisa which is very different after all the tourist buses have gone home and is much more than the Campo dei Miracoli. On the down side very many locals will speak english which is I agree a bit of a disadvantage.

Good luck - do let us know what you decide and how you get on.


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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 03:33 PM
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I think Annhig gives good suggestions about the language school. I would not necessarily wait to find reviews about individuals online as I think you won't find it, although you may find praise for a whole school. You should contact a language school (or a university's school/faculty of languages / cultures for a private tutor) directly and see who they recommend, and then vet candidates by asking them questions. University schools will have a whole network of casual lecturers and postgrad students who do diverse things to stay afloat and the right names will spring to mind if you make enquiries.

I also agree about the opportunities for socialising which a language school brings. Talking to the other students in Italian is how you practise language. If you don't have that opportunity you miss out on a dimension of learning in-country. Even better (and you may not like this) would be to live with a family, which usually works better with singles rather than couples. You would have to practise Italian every time you interacted with them. If you are on your own, you may use English with each other and that will undermine the good work you are doing with the tutor. Language schools can help with one of these homestays.

Lavandula
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 07:34 PM
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Hi annhig, Thanks so much for the extremely thoughtful reply. This community is amazing and generous--I'm so grateful. I've now read your reflections several times and plan to think some more tomorrow about all that you've said (and will discuss with my DH as well). And so kind of TDudette to bring my 'puzzle' to your attention (many thanks for doing that!). I think all the points you've made are really important. Indeed, it's a wonderful, fortunate dilemma. Your point about the strategy and likely ease of finding a tutor (given covid-era excess capacity) is certainly correct, and I also appreciate the point about the scale of a school and the beneficial spillover effects of such an environment. I had not thought of these issues.

You are right as well re Bologna-I love it, DH does not. (I am curious about the schools you attended in Bologna if you care to name them, or I can look for them in your earlier posts tomorrow. It might be that in the spring I go back to Italy on my own for a few weeks and might then revisit the idea of taking language classes in Bologna.)

Your points about the weather are certainly well taken esp in re their weight in our overall decision for the Nov-Dec stay (and working backwards from the other criteria is certainly a sound point). That said (though I am reflecting on the weather issue nonetheless), it really is the experience of the lockdown last year that influences us a lot this time as the ability to enjoy long walks and eat outdoors etc. became such an important safety valve for us. And so we'd like to preserve that option to the extent possible if things get bad again (and admittedly, we are on the cautious side of Covid risk assessment, which probably means we overweight the need to be able to enjoy time outdoors--even if it means chilly temps, but not bone chilling heavy duty cold).

Finally, your points about Rome (along with a few others who have suggested) is really a great one that I need to consider very seriously. True that we probably won't have another occasion-at least for a long while--for a long stay in that beautiful city. (And certainly there are a lot of language schools and university septs where I might find some suitable candidates for a combination of private and group classes (or at least group activities). I will search around this forum and the internet more broadly to see what I can pick up about language instruction opportunities (and will contact some schools and universities). I believe I have seen a few references to language schools in Rome in some other threads that I will rustle up tomorrow. Of course I'm open to any reflections on experiences studying Italian in Rome from others who have been patient enough to read my overly long posts. I'd also welcome suggestions about neighborhoods in Rome that I might investigate (quiet, pretty, non touristy with at decent even if not fantastic access to public transportation, and "leaning" upscale--we are not partying young people, as is no doubt obvious). Fra_Diavolo suggested Parioli and I will look into it alongside perhaps some other options that others suggest. I recall the area around Villa Borghese from a walk 10+ years ago, but don't recall much of the housing and retail environment in re food shops. I also appreciate the points about Pisa, which I have never visited-this sounds promising as well. Many, many thanks for such great suggestions. Will stay in touch on our final decision, which I hope to wrap up by early next week as I am keen to at least book a flight and housing.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 07:39 PM
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Hi Lavandula, Many thanks for your very useful reflections-so much to consider and act upon (and will do so starting tomorrow). All of your points are very well taken and we will take them seriously. It is true that living with a family would be ideal and fascinating (and is surely the best thing to do). But as you suspected this is just not viable for us. Hopefully the possibility of spending some weekends staying at the home of some colleagues and the family of a friend (where no one in the family speaks English) will give us a mini version of the opportunity to "embed" a bit more than will be the case given our plan to live in a short term rental flat. Thanks again for all of this insight.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 04:10 AM
  #17  
 
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Hi again, studenttobe, glad my suggestions have proved helpful.

The schools I went to in Bologna were firstly https://www.academyalingue.com/it/contatti/ and secondly https://madrelinguabologna.com

The teaching at both were excellent but my preference is for the madelingue because it was more "efficient". Perhaps the fact that the owners are a Brit married to an Italian has something to do with my preference!. We had more activities outside lessons, including weekly lunches, afternoon and evening visits and very well run coffee breaks. But friends of mine who were at the Academyelingue before me liked it a lot and also reported a lot of activities so perhaps I just hit a bad week.

I've been trying to remember the name of the school I went to in Rome but at the moment it's defeating me. I know that it was round the back of the Vatican somewhere but where exactly I have no idea. sorry!
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 06:32 AM
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Thanks, Annhig, for the info (including even the school hyperlinks) and background on your (and your friends’) experiences at the different schools. I see Madrelingue in my future during a shorter second solo stint in Italy in spring 2022. Hearing about the additional activities really underscores the importance of what you and others have said about a well run school.

I will dig deeply into my research on language study options in Rome and a few other cities and towns that I am considering in the coming days. The guidance on what to look for in study options has been priceless, as have the reflections on location choice. Thinking and talking more with DH last night we have concluded—all things considered and knowing ourselves—that the Nov/Dec language study stay will be in a location where we have a better likelihood (on average) of encountering weather that feels somewhat more comfortable to us in re. going for long walks/dining/coffee drinking outdoors, particularly because of the uncertainties around Covid and our own risk preferences. I will—for better or worse—be back to this generous group as I narrow my options and surely I will be hopeful that I have not worn out my welcome! Thanks to all for the generous help. *ONE SMALL PS TO THE GROUP FOR THE MOMENT: would you guess that it would be likely that a fair # of restaurants/coffee bars in Rome and Sorrento will maintain outdoor seating (with the ubiquitous, at least in the US) outdoor heaters during Nov/Dec? I would assume that if many restaurants/bars in Italy made that investment in outdoor heaters over the last year, they would keep this kind of infrastructure in place through the coming early winter. at least in these not ultra cold cities. But perhaps propane/natural gas costs in Europe make that prohibitive? I haven’t been to Italy during Covid so I am unsure about whether this adaption has occurred.

Last edited by studenttobe; Oct 6th, 2021 at 06:48 AM.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 08:39 AM
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No help here re heaters.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 08:47 AM
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Thank-hopefully those who have been to Italy more recently will have a sense, at least based on the previous winter. If not, I may post the question as a new message thread.
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