BABILONIA Center for Italian Studies in Taormina Sicily

Center for Italian Studies in Taormina Sicily


Since 1992, we, the Centre for Italian Studies “BABILONIA” in Taormina, Sicily have passionately dedicated ourselves to promoting our Italian and Sicilian heritage and culture along with the study of the Italian language. We strive to not only offer an opportunity to learn the Italian language and to directly experience Italian culture and Italian life.

Our Centre is located in the heart of world famous Taormina, the most beautiful town in Sicily. Taormina, from atop Mount Tauro, looks over the Bay of Naxos, the first Greek colony in Sicily, founded in 735 b.C. The magnificent Mediterranean-blue bay with active volcano Mount Etna in the background offer a spectacular view from almost everywhere in town. Taormina is famous for its beauty, its incredible heritage, history, archaeology and architecture, as well as for its reputation in welcoming travellers. Taormina is perfectly situated to offer students easy access to the beautiful and historically important treasures of Sicily.


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Yes, I recommend this program

I had the absolute pleasure of attending Babilonia Language School for four months during the fall of 2016. My program started on August 5th, and continued until November 16th, when I left for a backpacking trip around Europe.
Throughout my stay here the focus was on immersion, and Babilonia provided that 100%. Throughout all your classes, administrative questions, restaurants, events, and excursions, they speak only in Italian. Fear not, the wonderful teachers do not speak to you as if you already know what they are saying! The teachers help you the entire time, and take the time to sit with you and walk through everything you are having issues with.
The classes are structured around grammar and conversation. You have each of this for an hour and a half a day, and a small 'pausa' in the middle, allowing you to meet all your friends!
During this break you can enjoy a coffee from the little kitchen and some other treat. After classes, if you would like, you can also order a meal from the kitchen, where you are provided a discount as a student. My favorite meal was a pasta dish sprinkled with pistachio and bacon.
When I went, I was the only person from my program, and I knew nobody. However, this did not last for long! Throughout my time at Babilonia I had the pleasure of meeting so many different people from diverse walks of life. To today, I still remain in contact with these wonderful people.
Of course, Taormina is magical. The small town of Taormina is always bustling with life and activity, and every vista is breathtaking. My friends and I would catch a bus down to Isola Bella or Letojanni for a short beach trip, or we walked up to the overlooking city of Castelmola for an incredible view of Sicily. Mount Etna, Sicily's resident volcano dominates the skyline as well from Taormina. Every resident of Taormina is amicable, and by the time that I left, I had made friends with many different store owners. Every time I walked down the street, I dropped in to say Ciao! Taormina is also a relatively short bus trip to Catania, one of the major cities of Sicily.
I also had the fortune of staying in a host family. This was one of the things that made Taormina and Babilonia unforgettable. Lucio and Olga provided me with everything I needed, and more. They treated me to home cooked food, Sicilian delicacies, and wonderful stories.
I know I will return to Sicily, and I am sure I will be welcomed back with open arms.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an absolutely wonderful experience with Babilonia. I not only learned the language, but learned about the local culture from the teachers. They have a super supportive staff that guided us through the process, but gave us enough space to develop on independently.

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Yes, I recommend this program

This past summer I studied abroad at Babilonia and had a great experience. I took Italian language classes as well as a literature class. I lived in a great apartment with one other person from the program, and I had a daily walk of only about six to seven minutes to get to the school. Every day consisted of three hours of language classes with students from all over the world, which forced us to communicate in Italian most of the time. There were also weekly cultural activities and excursions organized by the school that students could take advantage of. Taormina is absolutey beautiful and very safe. It is small so everywhere is within walking distance. Most days after school I would get lunch with my friends somewhere nearby then go back to the school for a cultural activity or walk down to the beach, which is a little bit of a trek, but it's worth it. Since I had my own apartment and didn't live with a host family, I was also able to cook myself dinner most nights which was nice. While I was there, the annual film festival was going on during which movies were screened in the ancient Greek theater, and all throughout the summer there were similar activites going on, such as an opera, which made added to the cultural experience of the program. Overall it was an amazing experience and I would definitely recommend it.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked to have more homework on a regular basis to get me ready for my Italian classes back at home.
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Yes, I recommend this program

When I first read about Sicily I was excited and I was not disappointed
by Babilonia and Taormina. The school, the students and the teachers
were all wonderful, interesting and fun. The school itself is situated on a beautiful garden and it was always lovely to look out the classroom door to see the trees and flowers which were like a garden of Eden.
I learned so much, made friends and had the time of my life. I will never forget Babilonia, Taormina and, in fact, I hope to go back someday.

What would you improve about this program?
Sorry, but I wouldn't change a thing!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Victoria Copans

Victoria Copans, 19, is from Briarcliff Manor, New York and studied abroad in Sicily for six weeks from June-July 2013. She is currently studying Romance Languages at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduation, she hopes to continue to improve her language skills and to potentially work in Europe.

Why did you decide to study abroad with the Center for Italian Studies?

One of the main reasons I decided on this program was because it was one of the few that was located in Sicily. I knew I wanted to go to Sicily because I figured that there would be fewer American students and fewer English-speakers in general than in other Italian cities such as Rome, for example. The cost was also a big factor, which was more reasonable than some of the other programs I looked at. Finally, the deciding factor for me was that I was able to get university credits approved for the language and literature courses taken abroad, which was important to me and very helpful considering my major in Romance Languages, so I then needed to take fewer language classes when I returned to the US.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

One of the most unique aspects of this program was that it took place in Sicily, which is usually not the first place people think to go in Italy but it made for an incredible study abroad experience. The city we were in, Taormina, was very small so I got to know it very well and often passed familiar faces on the streets, which was comforting. Another aspect that made the academic experience special was that the Italian language classes were not composed solely of American students but of people of all different nationalities. This meant that we couldn’t just switch back to our native language during class and it really forced us to speak Italian and immerse ourselves in the language.

How has this experience impacted your future?

My study abroad experience in Sicily definitely solidified my love for Italian and for learning languages in general and made me want to keep studying language in college, even though I have technically finished the requirements for my major. It also allowed me to be more independent and get used to living on my own. Since returning from Italy, all I have wanted to do is go back to Europe, and I hope to work there one day after graduation.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

My trip was full of unforgettable and unique experiences, but the most memorable by far was the Taormina Film Festival. Every summer, Taormina hosts a film festival, and I was lucky enough to be there while it was going on. It is held in city’s the Greek amphitheater, and it was absolutely incredible and unreal to be able to watch movies on a huge screen in the ancient Greek theater, with the sea and the beautiful volcano Mt. Etna in the background.

The opening night was especially exciting because they screened Man of Steel, and the actors and director were in attendance.

What did CIS do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Since I attended Babilonia as an American study abroad student, almost everything was taken care of for me, which was very helpful. I had to book my flights there and back, but the school arranged for a taxi to drive me to and from the airport, and housing arrangements were also made for me. Finally, a light breakfast was provided every weekday at the school, and for the most part I arranged for lunch and dinner on my own.