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.