"When I arrived at the bus station in Urbania all of a sudden I felt a bit overwhelmed at the idea of coming to a small village in Italy to study Italian. I had made it from the airport this far with only the three Italian words I knew! Yes only three words! “Grazie, Sì and Ciao”! I am not sure if I was brave or just crazy!
I stayed with a delightful Italian family who were so patient with my Marcel Marceau impressions and my stuttering Italian. The family took me under their wing and included me in their family life. Now they are my second family.
Incredibly after a few weeks at Scuola Italia being taught in an environment of total immersion I was able to have a go at basic sentences and my vocabulary was expanding by the minute! I found the lessons fun and interesting. The teachers are vivacious and dynamic which makes for a good learning experience.
The life of the town of Urbania is based around the piazza (the town square). Everyday the comings and goings of everyone are observed by the older Italian gentlemen that meet there every morning and evening to chat and pass the time of day. The statue of St Christopher stands in the middle of the piazza and as the patron saint of the Urbania and gives comfort to all. I thought it was a good sign that St Christopher is also the patron saint of travellers.
By one o’clock the piazza is deserted as everyone has gone home to enjoy their main pasta meal of the day. The pride that is taken here in their local food and cooking is wonderful. You cannot stand in line at the supermarket without hearing a recipe being swapped or a meal being recounted in mouth watering detail. All Italians are passionate about food and here in Urbania they eat very very well.
My choice to live with a family during my time here in Urbania was fantastic. I was exposed to many different aspects of Italian culture and every night I ate the most delicious food. The most difficult thing was to stop my generous “Italian Mamma” from putting too much of her pasta on my plate!
Urbania has benefited greatly from its close proximity to Urbino. In the golden years of the Italian Renaissance Federico di Montefeltro was the Duke of this province. He was a brilliant military general but also a man of great culture. He had his hunting lodge and holiday castle here in Urbania! These beautiful buildings are a monument to this rich period of art and culture of which the people of Urbania are very proud. One of the pleasures of Urbania is that it is possible to walk everywhere within a few minutes. It is the best way to meet people and admire the historic beauty of the town.
There are many things to come to Urbania for; the great language school, the beautiful green hills and nearby mountains, the wonderful food, the architecture and the art.
I came to Urbania particularly to study at Scuola Italia and because it was close to the enchanting Urbino. But what I found out was the experience I treasured most from my time here in Urbania was my contact with the Italian people. I found them to be so welcoming, open and friendly, willing to help with everything. Their joy of life and cheerful positive attitude is truly beautiful. I will come back here to study, yes because Scuola Italia is a great school and yes because it is a charming town in a wonderful landscape but more than all of these incentives I will come back to see my new Urbania friends."
Catherine Ashford, 2010
Auckland, New Zealand