My second, longer part of my trip in Italy as I mentioned in my previous post, was spent in Salerno studying Italian. I decided to do this (as many of you I’m sure already know) I’m studying Italian at university and wanted to concrete everything I’d learnt in my first year as a beginner and get a little bit of a head start on next years course. Having been to the Goethe Institut in Frankfurt previously, for my German I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to do a similar course in Italy (only at a lower level). Language schools across the globe follow the CEF (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment) and thus are usually on a par with one another no matter where you go… or so I’m told.
Accademia Itliana is situated in the heart of Salerno; a small, beautiful harbor city in Campania. I lived in Centro Storico, the old city of Salerno, which had gorgeous Italian charm; with cobbled, narrow streets and ancient buildings and churches. Here, I lived with a host family, Maria and Antonio (her son) in what was renowned as ‘Casa Maria’. Unlike usual host families in which it is usually yourself and the family, in this case Maria and Antonio, I instead lived with a couple of other students from Accademia Italiana and also holiday-makers from their advertisements on Booking.com and Expedia. Maria did not speak any English which was perfect for what I was using the experience for… even if most of our conversations did involve a large variety of hand gesticulations – but when in Italy…
My days at Accademia Italiana consisted of morning classes (9-11am, 11.30-12.30) and a private, forty-five minute afternoon class as I opted for the super-intensive course. During my stay, I progressed over two classes and found that most of the teaching staff were enthusiastic and relatively focused. I was however slightly disappointed by what the academy considered ‘intensive’ to be, as having been to the Goethe Institut previously and only partaking in a ‘standard’ course it seemed far less intense. On most days we would get some form of compiti (homework) due in for the next day which would generally only take a maximum of half an hour (including the compiti from my private lesson). This in comparison to the Goethe Institut I found rather strange since we would have a minimum of a couple of hours of Hausaufgaben (homework) due in for the next day, just from our main lesson in the morning. There, I was also actively encouraged to remain at the institute in order for other teachers to aid my learning, if required. In addition to this at least once a week there were classes to help us to improve our pronunciation and communicative skills. Yet, to my dismay none of this was offered at Accademia Italiana.
So, after attending the academy in the morning and early part of the afternoon I went to one of the tracks in Salerno, Vestuti Stadio. Where there was also a small, functional gym. Having been in contact previously with the club and introducing myself to a lovely lady named Anna, I was able to use both the track and gym at my disposal, totally free of charge – how cool is that?!
My weekends were my own and the two weekends I had seemed to fly by. For one of them I visited my family in Battipaglia to try and regain some of my tan I’d lost, sitting around in a classroom and the other I spent with my friends I’d met from the academy exploring Amalfi and catching some rays in Salerno. During my stay, it was also Ferragosto, a national, Catholic holiday celebrating the assumption of Mary. This meant on Tuesday the 15th we did not attend the academy. In the morning, myself, a couple of the girls from the academy and an Italian lady I lived with ventured to Cetara, only fifteen minutes away by bus or boat from Salerno. Cetara is only 4km ² and renowned for its fish dishes. The beautiful, little commune has a spectacular outlook and gorgeous little buildings like those in Amalfi and Positano. In addition to this, the water in Cetara is not only clear, but also cold – which previously we had not found anywhere else along the coastline. Having been melting in 35+ degrees this was a very much welcomed discovery. In the evening we hopped on a boat to enjoy some fireworks in Minori and Positano, which were spectacular – nothing like that which you’d experience in England.
Salerno is an amazing base for holiday makers and also a lovely place to have lived. As it has two harbors it’s incredibly easy to explore and also really affordable. Salerno combines the modern with the old, with both it’s restaurants, shops and structures. The Centro Storico encapsulates what I associate Italy with most from past experiences and what is generally sold to holidaymakers; boutiques, cobbles and charm. Whilst there are numerous modern and minimalist bars, and shops as you would find in England or even London. Many of the shops one would recognise, such as MAC and Bershka.
My time in Italy was eyeopening and an fab experience in a gorgeous city. There are naturally a few things I would have changed (which I’ll perhaps write a little post about), but I’m really glad I went – my Italian has certainly improved and at the end of the day, that was the aim!