Milan and Siena 2023

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Italian language


As you plan to spend the summer immersed in Italian language and culture, you should strongly consider getting the most from your experience by studying Italian with us. Our Italian courses during the summer will have minimal homework and no papers. Class time will include both traditional activities and workshops outside the classroom. Your practice will be done in the field: in parks and piazze, at our aperitivi and cene italiane, and interacting with Italians in other authentic settings around the community.

Though our Italian language courses are not for credit, you could earn credit for them in the fall of 2023 (see below, or contact Dr. Chiara Trebaiocchi, <>). Passing an Italian language course in Milan and Siena might allow you to skip a semester of language instruction during the academic year, granting you admission to a more advanced Italian courses upon your return to campus. Regardless of credit and future course decisions, we believe that those students who have spent the summer in Italy with us, and who have concurrently taken our language courses, will gain a deep knowledge of Italian society. Indeed, the film screenings, language tables, and community interactions (especially the Palio) that are built into the course ensure that there will never be a better opportunity to learn the language with immediate relevance and ample opportunities to practice.

Beginning Italian. Twice a week, probably on Tuesday and Thursday, 75 minutes. Instructors: TBA.
Recommended for students who speak little or no Italian and want the basic tools for using the language to get around Italy. The aim of the course is to cover most of Beginning Italian (i.e. Italian 10 in the Harvard curriculum), although the material is adapted so as to be as relevant as possible to the topics addressed in the summer course. It is focused on developing basic communication skills to facilitate and enhance the summer-immersion experience. Students who pass the course could place into Italian 11. Speak with your instructor and with the director of the Italian language program, Dr. Trebaiocchi, for more information.
Students participating in Beginning Italian need to purchase a textbook before leaving for Italy. Please purchase the 5th edition CoverParliamoItaliano(available used) of Parliamo Italiano!: A Communicative Approach, by Suzanne Branciforte and Elvira Di Fabio. An electronic version of the textbook is also available. If you plan to continue studying Italian in the fall, then you should invest in a new copy, which allows access to the online supplement used in Italian 10 and 11 at Harvard. Please contact TBA if you are ready to purchase your Italian-language textbook and would like advice about purchasing options. If you purchase the textbook near the end of the Spring Semester, we may be able to put you in contact with students of Italian who are selling their books and arrange a reduced price.

Intermediate Italian. Twice a week, probably on Tuesday, and Thursday, 75 minutes. Instructor: TBA. This course will be offered contingent on there being sufficient interest at this level. It is meant for those students who have finished Italian 11 or equivalent who wish to improve their fluency. There will be a mix of grammar review, literature, and discussion at a pace suitable to the participants. No textbook need be purchased.

Advanced Italian language group. TBA. Instructor: TBA.
We will not use a textbook, but rather we will treat the meetings as a reading and discussion group in which we examine excerpts from the course’s literary texts in the original language and talk about course themes as well as current events going on locally. We will read material and prepare presentations connected to the field trips on Fridays. We will tailor this group to the skill level and interests of those who wish to participate.

Final exam. Students who wish to be placed into Italian 11 in the fall must pass a verification exam at the end of the course (in addition to class participation and a passing score on weekly quizzes) and speak with Dr. Trebaiocchi. While you cannot receive credits for your language course in Milan and Siena, please contact Dr. Trebaiocchi to discuss options to carry over the work done during the summer.

Continuing with Italian in the fall.  If you pass the Beginning Italian course, you will be approved to start in Italian 11 at Harvard in the fall, leading into Italian 20 in the spring and jump-starting a Citation (or more) in Italian language. The summer course will not cover the exact grammar and vocabulary as Italian 10 on campus, but students will be well-equipped to continue with the more grammar-based Italian 11 if they take advantage of the immersive and communicative experiences of the summer.
Students in the Intermediate and Advanced classes will receive personalized suggestions regarding their continuation with coursework in the fall.
For planning and further information, please contact Dr. Chiara Trebaiocchi, <>.

Full immersion.  You will have many opportunities to practice and expand your Italian, during language classes but also in informal settings. In Milan, Trento, and Siena we may be joined by Italian students auditing our course; and participating to our activities; while they will be glad to be able to practice their English, they will also be thrilled to speak Italian with those of our students who really want more practice.
Prof. Erspamer and the program TAs will regularly host social gatherings in Italian (over a weekly “Italian dinner”, an aperitivo, a gelato, a cappuccino or espresso with cornetto) for students taking Italian class. Some students who arrive with no Italian will find that they are able attain a great ease in speaking by summer’s end. Italians associated with the program have been invariably impressed with summer-students’ progress.
The best place to fully immerse in Italian language and culture will be Siena, where students will be paired with contrade to get ready for the Palio. The contradaioli (contrada members) will be happy to share their culture with you; however, not all of them speak English. Knowing some Italian will be vital to fostering this connection. Students who seek out these experiences can spend their weeks in Siena surrounded by chatty Italians: you will be amazed at how much this does for your language capabilities.





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