Spoleto Study Abroad: High School Art Programs in Italy

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Spoleto Study Abroad Summer Session is a hands-on immersion arts and humanities program for students, ages 15-19, interested in filmmaking, vocal music, visual arts, architecture, photography, instrumental music (strings), drama, Italian language, and creative writing. In addition to classes and studio workshops taught by talented instructors, students will have twice weekly day trips to cities inTuscany and Umbria. By providing a unique exposure to Italy's rich artistic history and offering comprehensive courses in the arts, we give dedicated students the chance to achieve colossal creative growth.

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based on 6 reviews
  • Growth 8.3
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 7.3
  • Housing 8
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
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Not what I expected

As the title suggests, this program was not at all what I expected. The program's website contains a very appealing description of what the program is (or at least what it's supposed to be). The problem is that the description I was given was extraordinarily misleading.
The typical day consisted of waking up around 7:30 AM. Because the breakfast served in the convent consisted of no more than a single white-bread roll and Nutella, my appetite forced me and my companions to walk into town and pay for a more reasonable breakfast at a cafe a few hundred yards uphill.
The first class of the day started at 9 A.M. Although the website states that all students have classes related to their "area of specialty", I was forced to take some sort of Opera History/Theory, followed by a class called “Arts & Ideas”, and then finally an Italian class. The website also states that this was a basic Italian class. Being that I have taken Chinese throughout high school - a language which requires no conjugations - I found myself left behind on day one. The class ran at a pace that left me behind immediately. I spoke with my classmates, and realized that the reason they were keeping up in their classes was because they were all in more advanced (levels 3-5) language classes, specifically French and Spanish. I then realized that the class was catering to those who already spoke, or were nearly conversational, in languages similar to Italian. After that, I had an hour of film class from noon until 1 PM.
Lunch was served in the basement of the “Hotel Clituna”, which was from 1PM to roughly 2:15-2:30 PM. Lunch was mandatory, and we were required to wait quietly in the "lunch room" until the entire staff was finished eating before we could ‘check out’ our phones, and begin our “siesta”. Only after being escorted back to the convent, at the staff's convenience, of course.
Siesta was from the end of lunch until 5 PM. We were required to turn our phones in before 5 PM. The justification I was given for being required to turn in my phone was letting my parents know how I was doing through text could alarm them if they received it in the early morning. I explained that my parents were in Europe for the greater portion of the time I spent in Spoleto, and I was still told that I would need to turn in my phone.
Class from 5 to 8PM was focused on the major of our choice (what we signed up for), mine being filmmaking. I did thoroughly enjoy this class. The teacher was a highly respected Italian directed, and the only person more qualified to teach a film class would be Spielberg. I learned about as much as I could about film in the three weeks I was there, and I think the Spoleto staff chose the faculty very well, but that's about all they did well.
The program was run and managed very poorly. After reading on the website that the convent had been renovated to feature "modern conveniences", I was extremely surprised by the fact that the toilet that I had to share with 5 other students didn't flush until I removed the top and manually flushed it, which is what we all had to do for our stay there. Being a film student, it was very difficult to have a charged camera and computer when the "modern"room I was staying in could only support one device being plugged in at a time. I learned to handwash clothes because the convent only had one working washer (which was only for the nuns), and the wifi, which I often needed for film assignments, was very patchy, and often crashed for hours at a time. In addition to this, eleven students in another room all had to share one shower and one toilet. All in all, the living conditions truly made cabins like those at Interlochen Academy for the Arts (a vastly superior program) feel like a palace.
My obviously biased opinion is that this program is not what it is advertised to be, it is not worth the money (or the trip), and you shouldn't even consider sending your child here. The only redeeming quality of the program was the four hours of the day spent in film class. Having attended the Interlochen summer program, I would very highly recommend sending your child there instead. Although it pains me to write such a critical review of a program, I would hate to see any more parents wasting their money sending their children to this program.

No, I don't recommend this program
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A Place You Will Call Home

I will never truly find the words that accurately express my gratitude and love for Spoleto Study Abroad Program. My time in Italy introduced me to the most incredible people, who I have the privilege of now calling my friends. From drinking cappuccinos on ancient aqueducts to dancing in the courtyard of the convent while rain soaked my hand-washed clothes, Spoleto gave me three of the most vibrant and happiest weeks of my life. I think about Italy every day and the beautiful people that thread me back to that blissful time of my life. Spoleto became a home to my peers and I. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity that adds to your knowledge of the world, of yourself, and of art and love- the universal languages.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Best weeks of my life

If you are really passionate about the arts, this program is for you! I absolutely had a blast in Italy. I made amazing friends and the teachers are fabulous. I have learned so much from this program and I want to continue my art when I go off to college. I would totally do this again!!

How can this program be improved?
Going out to eat more in Spoleto to explore the town we are staying in
Yes, I recommend this program
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It was the best experience in my life so far. I tell everyone to do it. You learn so much and meet the nicest people. I participated in the art section and I learned how to draw the human form in under 5 minutes. That was my greatest accomplishment.

How can this program be improved?
Housing was a little rough--- but it brought us closer
Yes, I recommend this program
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I Loved It

My overall experience with Spoleto Study Abroad was fantastic! Artistically I definitely grew, and I was absolutely in love with the setting. The teachers and students were all passionate and wonderful! Spoleto is gorgeous, and we got out to see many of the big cities of Italy and all they have to offer. Day to day was heavy on art class, which I thought was fantastic. We had much freedom to roam the city an sketch in the Visual Arts course, and that was my favorite part. I was given four hours in the afternoons to take my final piece, or the sketches leading up to it, all over the city for inspiration. Those hours of freedom were what, for me, made the program so unique and grew me the most. I made great friends who I am still in contact with as well, and overall the program was amazing. I would love to go back if I could!

How can this program be improved?
As a high-school senior when I did the program, I would have liked more freedom. A few nights a week it would have been nice to be able to go out and eat dinner in the city, or go to a club and meet people.
Yes, I recommend this program
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This Program is Amazing

This program made me grow as a person and a performer. I became more independent as I assimilated to the Italian lifestyle and the instructors were always beyond supportive, even if you weren't in there discipline. I went on the trip for theatre and still use most of the principles I learned in Spoleto as a theatre major at college. In the short time you are in Spoleto you really do become a citizen of the town, I even gave tourists directions at one point! I have no reservations in saying that this program was a life changing experience and that I would recommend it to anybody.

How can this program be improved?
There is really very little critical that I have to say about this program. The only thing that comes to mind is that the photography and creative writing groups did a little more traveling than the others. This makes sense, because they need the visual stimulations, but it was hard to not be a bit jealous.
Yes, I recommend this program


Meet the Alumni

About Spoleto Study Abroad

Spoleto Study Abroad, founded in 1997, is a non-profit arts educational organization providing artistic, personal, and cultural enrichment for high school students in Italy. This summer program offers intensive coursework in visual arts, photography...