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The Experience of a Lifetime in Sorrento, Italy through the Sant'Anna Institute
The Experience of a Lifetime in Sorrento, Italy through the Sant'Anna Institute


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We are passionate about experiential learning , that's why we always combine outdoor field trips to the classroom session! Our history of the Mafia students went on an interesting trip to Campi Flegrei, including an exposition of paintings from the Uffizi Gallery and exposed in a house in Casal Di Principe confiscated to the camorra, "Don Diana". Only at Sant'Anna!
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Sant'Anna Institute at ACTFL Conference 2015  
San Diego, 20-22 Nov 2015
Visit our booth  #939  and learn more about our High School Programs for  college credits

Sant'Anna Institute offers a variety of Study Programs and Educational Trips for  HIGH SCHOOLS (all year round).  Students will receive SUNY credits for the courses they take in Sorrento, that can be directly transferred to their future University and count towards their credit requirements.
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Yoko Nakazawa, guest of Sant'Anna Institute 
Japan and its Ikebana art and the art of the Yasai Bouquet.
A wonderful adventure in the Japanese culture, where the arrangement of elements ( fruits and veggies) in perfect balance and with the right porportions is in perfect harmony. 
Where one doesn't acknowledge any distinction between MAN and NATURE. Bonded in an indissoluble manner. 
Where energy that leaves the center diffuses on the outside to then return. 
Where the elements arranged in a circular manner express the continuity of everything, without beginning nor end, where nothing is born neither dies but all is transformed. 
What an extraordinary lesson of life... THANK YOU YOKO!!
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Everyday when I wake up and take my walk to class I have to remind myself that I am not dreaming, this is real life, this is my semester at Sant'Anna. Everywhere you turn there is another breathtaking view, or life changing experience. Yet, it doesn't stop once you get to class. The facility and staff are the friendliest people I have ever met! They make it their personal goal to ensure that your time abroad is an experience as rich and amazing as the culture and landscape of Sorrento. I could go on forever about how rewarding this journey has been for me but you will not understand until you take your first stroll to class through the streets of Sorrento and further your education in the halls of the Sant'Anna Institute!
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"My day in Sorrento's back yard! So glad that the family made the journey to my new found home. After all, my family is all that is missing from this paradise!" - George Dibo, University of Akron, Fall 2015 student at Sant'Anna
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"Studying abroad with Sant'Anna Institute was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I made amazing friends, learned loads of Italian and got to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. You can't beat the people, the location or the culture of Sorrento, Italy. You get all the charm of a small town and the community that comes with it, but with endless opportunities to explore and you'll never run out of things to do. Every time you walk out of the door, you'll see something so beautiful it will take your breath away. " - Rebecca, summer 2015
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The smell of limoncello accompanied by the excitable tweets of the sparrows, hopping from lemon branch to lemon branch swirls through the air in Sorrento.

Here is where I find and leave a piece of my heart, again and again.

Sorrento is a special place that I first visited with my university in 2008 for an Ancient History Study Tour and again with my bff in 2011, where I was sick as a dog. It is situated at the base of the Gulf of Naples and to the northern edge of the Amalfi Coast (we are in Italy, just incase you needed more information).

I had not thought I would visit this little slice of heaven twice this year, once on my own and the other with my mum.

Words really don’t do this place justice, but I will do my very best to take you on a cobblestone journey.

Nearly a 4 hour train ride from Rome, with a change in Naples, Sorrento is at the end of the line (I have included how to get here at the end of this post, just incase you wanted to sus it out a little). I guess you could say it is like the pot of gold found at the end of the rainbow (in my opinion, anyway!).

While tourism numbers are high here, the vibe is anything but what you would find in similar places in Italy. This small coastal town has one main road with little alleys fanning off from it. Many a café can be found here and restaurants with some of the best Italian style (yes it is different to what we are used to back home) pizza, pasta and gelato. Being the birthplace of the famous limoncello, many varieties can be sampled, consumed after a meal and bought for either personal consumption or a good gift.

My heart rests in its most peaceful state here in Sorrento for a few key reasons.

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The Lemon Orchard: When I first stumbled upon this quaint orchard in ’08 I fell in love. Behind high bluestone walls you will find tree after tree, covered in lemons (in the right season). The singular dirt path leads one through the centre of the orchard, where wooden seats built into the railing along the way greet you kindly. 50 metres into the orchard, spanning one block back, there is a vine covered eating area and small stall that offers a sample shot of limoncello and friendly conversation.

My childhood was spent on a reasonable sized suburban property in Melbourne, where my parents maintained a killer garden and my friends and I would play ninja turtles or cops and robbers in amongst the trees. My mum still lives there and every morning you wake to the sound of wildlife, more so the sound of birds welcoming the day. So you could say that the trill of feather balls is something that centres me somewhat, especially when coupled with sunlight and a soft spring breeze. This lemon orchard embodies all of this and more.

Being able to sit here on my first visit back this year, I just felt a wave of calm flow over me followed by a beaming smile (which may have looked a little weird as I was sitting there solo). To then be able to share this treasure with my mum is something I truly will cherish for the rest of my life.

As I mentioned earlier, when you reach the end of the orchard you are greeted by a staff member who works in the local limoncello factory. In ’08, that person was Rossella with whom my friend Makushla and I had a great chat. To bring us to my first visit in May, this year, I decided to ask whether Rossella still worked in the area. As it turns out, the orchard, store and factory have been in her family for decades, so of course she was still around! I made a point to go and see her, even if she didn’t remember me from seven years ago.

On my second visit with my mum in August, we made a point to visit Rossella and her father every day and have lovely chats and laughs. International friendships are super awesome and an aspect of my solo travel I was honestly not expecting and boy am I glad to have been shown otherwise. Read about Il Giardino del Cataldo here soon.

Pasta, Pizza, Eggplant Parmigana: As well as the orchard, my other fond memory of Sorrento was the food! I may be slim (thank you parents) but I bloody love good food. Sorrento has it in the bag when it comes to cuisine. Of course, of course…Italy stands strong when it comes to pizza and pasta (I actually prefer the ‘western’ take on Italian food)…but people in Sorrento must have taken extra classes after school to learn how to make scrumptious food! In 2011 I tried to go back to the restaurant that stole my taste buds. Unfortunately I was sick as a dog and the restaurant was closed for remodelling. This time round, my health is in tip-top shape and the restaurant was open! Huzzah! It and many other restaurants spoiled me (and then my mother) with their homemade pasta, extra artichokes on a pizza, crumbed veal and limoncello gelato. Bellissimo. Our favourite restaurant can be read about here soon.

Vesuvius: Mount Vesuvius is a spectacular monster, standing at almost 2000 metres. In A.D. 79 the monster awoke, to many peoples surprise (as it was not known to be an active volcano) and its eruption covered many towns, in particular Pompeii and Herculaneum. Hundreds of years later, archeologists began to uncover these towns, which can now be walked through (excavations continue today). Standing high above the Gulf of Naples, this volcano is rather spectacular to view. One of my most loved photographs was taken in ’08 atop of our hostel roof, looking back toward Vesuvius at sunrise. Whether it be sunrise, sunset or in the clouds, Vesuvius is a wonder. Even flying over it was a treat.

Capri: In May I decided to do a day tour of Capri with a few other tourists. The rocky island is rather spectacular to view from a boat, with grottos, coral fragments and archways naturally existing and in full view dropping into the ocean. The island itself has the town of Capri and Anacapri, both with exorbitantly priced restaurants and boutiques. In my opinion, Capri is a place you kind of have to go to in order to experience once, but there is not a whole lot to do. With days like this, I would always suggest doing a tour so that you can not only meet other travellers and make lasting memories, but also to see as much as you can in the short space of time you may have.

On the way to Capri (behind me in the boat). The rock formation on the right is knows as the “Tunnel of Love”, hence the beautiful facials 
At Anacapri, you can take a cable up to the highest point for some spectacular views and delicious gelato.

The Blue Grotto – interesting, but didn’t ‘wow’ me. You spend about 2 minutes in the small boat and have to pay quite a lot, then get asked for a tip! But, tick.

Amalfi Coast: Whether it be a ridiculous winding road or choppy waters, there are a few ways for you to get to areas along the Amalfi Coast. The port has many companies offering day trips to Capri, Positano and Amalfi…I recommend that you do some research as prices vary form company to company. For example, I had booked my mum and I in for sailing day to Amalfi and expected to pay €45 but was confronted at the port with another company with the same itinerary for €25. Just think….that is more money for gelato!

Both Positano and Amalfi are beautiful locations to spend a day or two just meandering the alley ways and peeking in the quaint shops. They are not very large and so it does get to a point where you feel like you have seen it all, and this may happen quicker than you realise. The coloured houses are propped on the cliff face as if they grew out like trees. The views are quintessential Italy and can only be beaten by their sister, Cinque Terre (which I am yet to get to).

The beach is unlike what we know in Australia, but still sees swarms of people trying to snatch themselves some spring sun. And then everyone evacuated as the black clouds rolled in…but I was caught in the middle! Saturation +.

If boats are not your thing, you can book a 2-day ticket for about €8 and catch the bus to Positano and Amalfi (departing from Sorrento Station). Just note that the bus drops you at the top of Positano and there are hundreds of stairs to get down to get to the centre of town and the beach. And let me tell you, they are not fun to walk up when they induce a waterfall due to the downpour I got! What goes down must come up, in this case!

People: this was where I stumbled across a lovely couple, Steve and Kim. I heard their Australian accent as I was taking photos of Vesuvius at sunset. They were taking selfies! I asked if I could take their photo, and to my surprise, they said no! That didn’t matter, however, as we ended up talking for about 45 minutes and shared some cool stories before they went off for dinner…never to be seen again, or so I thought. The next night, after my day trip to Positano, I was sitting having dinner for one, as is my tradition, and low and behold, at the table down from me there are Steve and Kim! They invite me to dinner the following evening and we have a splendid time eating, chatting and have some great laughs. I get quite overwhelmed and amazed when I think about how this whole solo travel thing has been anything but solo, with the random encounters that I have. These two, I am sure I will see again in Australia!

Sorrento and I are having an affair. There, I said it. I am not ashamed and don’t feel the need to go to counselling about it. We will see each other again and I am even projecting and putting it out there that I will try and do a month or two of summer work there. When you find one of your happy places, be it your home town, your bedroom, New York City, the depths of Cambodia or even the shower…you make sure you see it again…or if you can’t (which I hope is not the case for the shower), you take yourself there in your mind when everything else becomes a bit too much. So with that said, I will be seeing Sorrento again and the thought makes me weak in the knees!


How to get to Sorrento:

There are many sites saying the same thing about how to get to Sorrento, but in case this is your first encounter with such information let me share with you my experiences.

From Napoli Airport: this is easy peasy as going to and from the airport there is a direct bus that drops you at Sorrento Station, where you can easily walk to your accommodation.

From Rome Airport/Termini/Station: this is a little tougher but totally doable. My mum is in her late 60s and stuck out the journey with me, where we caught an airport shuttle (€4-6 each) to Roma Termini (Central Station). From here, I booked us on the fast train to Napoli Central Station (€80 each for business class – reclining seats and air conditioning). There are other fares on the fast train and also another train that takes 2.5 hours, as the opposed to 1.10 hours we had. It all depends on your budget and level of comfort required. I have done both the fast and slow train…the slow one is more primitive, but if you can suck it up, it is not all that bad. From Napoli Central Station you have a few options. If you have a hotel booked in Sorrento, you may be able to arrange for a transfer (€80-110 for the car) or can often find porters offering you a ride (I’m not sure how much I trust them, especially departing from Napoli) and finally you have the option of catching another train (€3-6 for a one way ticket and 1 hour-ish ride). Now this train is the most basic of basics. If you have luggage, you will struggle to get a seat and need to be ok with either sitting on your bag in the throughway or watching your bag from your seat as it sits near the door. This train is not air conditioned and through May-August you can expect to perspire and need a shower as soon as you have checked into your accommodation.

Expect to do the same in reverse with any of these options. We did the train from Sorrento – Napoli, fast train Napoli – Roma Termini, shuttle bus Roma Termini – Roma Airport, free shuttle to hotel (ps. With the bus…make sure you print your ticket, as they will not accept the ticket that is emailed to you. We ended up having to pay for the tickets again, even though I had them in my email. Such a joke).

If you go, walk down Vico Primo Rota and look for my Maldivian sticker that I pushed into a wall!
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When I told my friend, Tony, that I’d be studying in Sorrento he looked right at me and said “Ohhh that’s the best part goomba!”. I knew it must’ve been true, because this was coming from a guy who lived in the country for 10 years, and who eats, sleeps, and breathes all things Italian; therefore I appointed him as my “consigliere of travels”.

Still I could not wait to go and see for myself if Sorrento really was the best part; And you know what? The man was right!

Now I know most of you may be thinking, what about Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice… all the history, the architecture, everything! Well, Sorrento has all those things and more:incredible weather, food, beaches, a gorgeous coast, a rich history , family friendly environment, close proximity to: Naples, the Amalfi coast, Positano, etc., southern Italian charm, small town pride and hospitality, authentic Italian owned businesses, and the three big ones: wine, women, and song. Where else can you find all of these things in one place? Nowhere, that’s where. Those other places are great, but they’re too touristy. Sorrento is a tourist town where an Italian can still be an Italian, and one can fall in love everyday…And I usually did. It had all the little things you expect and want from any Italian town… clothes hanging out of the windows in the alleys, people speeding around on Vespas, and old men sitting in the street talking/playing cards/doing nothing (one day I hope to join them)… I’m telling you, it doesn’t get any better than this!

I chose to live with a family, so I could learn the Italian culture as it exists in Italy. Serena from Sant’Anna, did an amazing job matching me with my family; we had so much in common. Flavia and Enrico were both actors, as am I; Salvatore (the Papa) and I both liked the same music; and Grazia (the Mamma) and Marzia liked to cook and I love to eat! It was a match made in heaven!

The family wass very sweet and a huge asset to my experience here. The parents treated me like a real child. Every day I had a traditional Italian dinner with the family. It was my favorite part of the day because I could talk with the family and I always enjoyed the food.

Salvatore was fiercely proud to be Italian, and had values in preserving the old ways; characteristics that I admire and respect immensely. He even grows his own grapes for wine (a once common practice that is rapidly dying out). This year I was able help him in harvesting the grapes and making the wine. It was a beautiful thing. He was even kind enough to forgive me when I spilled some of the grape juice for the wine; at least I think he forgave me! I loved speaking with him and listening to his funny stories in his perfect “Neapolitan-English”; he was always helping me to understand the culture better. And like any wise man, he was sure to tell me the same stories again and again, so I didn’t forget, which is great.

Grazia is very popular in Sorrento and it is easy to understand why. She is a big hearted woman who will help you in any way she can. She was always going out of her way to find things for me to do that she knew I would like, as well as giving me directions, planning out trips, correcting my speaking errors, and helping me when I got lost God knows where. Nearly every evening, after making sure I am well fed, we sat down together and she gladly answered any questions I had and helped me in speaking the proper Italian. With her help, I improved every day. Now when I speak in Italian I sound far less like a hoodlum. Salvatore and Grazia are two of the best friends I could have made!

But it doesn’t end in Sorrento. Hospitality in Southern Italy has no bounds! My Zi’ Pasqual’ and his brother and my dear friend Andre’ told me when I get to Italy to call their cousin Francesco. So I did. This was a man who I had never meet, seen, or spoke to in my life. When I called him he was ecstatic to hear from me. “A friend of Pasqual’ and Andre’ is a friend of mine!” he said in Italian. The very next day, only a few hours after we hung up the phone, he and his wife picked me up at the train station and had me as a guest in his home, in Salerno, for Sunday dinner. Let me tell you something, when I tell you we ate….WE ATTEEE! I can count on one hand the times I’ve eaten as much as I did that day, and I one of those times was ’02 (yes, the year). We sat for 6+ hours and just ate. At times I thought I would die, but I made it and it was fantastic! I could tell you what we ate, but I’d need a fresh article to do it. Francesco took a picture of me and you can see the sweat on my face from all the force I was exerting while eating.

It was an honor and a pleasure being in their home. Francesco is a great man. He and his family treated me like family and fed me like a king, even though they never knew who I was before that day; Now that’s respect! That’s the Italian way!

All in all Sorrento and Italy is great. Time finally came for me to leave, I was sad, but I will definitely “Torna a Surriento”. To anyone who has never been here, Italian or not (but especially, Italians) you need to go. Words cannot do it justice, but if I had to describe this beautiful land in just ONE word, only ONE comes to mind… As us paisans say in the “new country”…. “Fuhgeddaboudit!”
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"I not only learned about myself while studying abroad but I also I
experienced and learned about a culture, a language and made
connections with people that I hope will last nothing short of a life
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"My spring semester in Sorrento was beyond all kinds of expectations. I gained an experience of a lifetime while studying abroad. I learned a lot about myself. I learned patience and acceptance for other cultures and ethnicities. I learned what it's like to not be understood in your language which has taught me patience for when I return to America and hear people speaking in what are considered foreign languages in America. This experience was definitely worthwhile."
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