February 24, 2018, Spoleto digs its Time Capsule beneath the renewed pavement of Piazza del Mercato, right in the heart of the historical centre of the town.

Our friends from the University of West Georgia have written their memories about their Study Abroad in Spoleto in the words of the Coordinator and Professor Chad Davidson. Enjoy it.

This summer will be the sixth consecutive year that the University of West Georgia organizes a study-abroad program in Spoleto, and as the director I couldn’t be more pleased.

I often talk about our fantastic program—five weeks in Spoleto, with classes in literature, film, and creative writing, and also Italian language lessons—to folks in our area, and was initially surprised to discover just how many people had already heard of the town. At least the name. Actually what most people here know is the American analog to The Festival of Two Worlds, called, simply, The Spoleto Festival, and held annually in Charleston, South Carolina.

Some folks are even amazed to understand that Spoleto is a town in Italy. (And forget about Umbria, which is not well known where I live.) Some of these people are my students, who—perhaps blissfully ignorant of the specifics—sign up for a study-abroad program in Italy, not really knowing (or perhaps much caring) in which town the program is housed. Italy, to many of them, is a homogenous mass, all quaint, all steeped in history, with great wine and food and coffee.

 

That is, until they arrive in Spoleto. I frankly keep much of the town’s details out of our orientation sessions, knowing full well that the initial shock of beauty, which all students experience when we arrive, is a good deal of the thrill for me. Almost to a person, the students fall in love with the town—its architecture, churches, museums, and food, yes, but more importantly its people, its rhythm, its beguiling charm.

 

As part of our program, we travel outside of Spoleto, visiting nearby Assisi and Perugia, even vaunted Rome. Students are furthermore free to travel on their own during the weekends, which means frequent outings to Florence, Siena, even far-flung Venice. Yet when I ask them at the program’s conclusion what their favorite part was, they almost invariably say, simply, “Spoleto.” The single most rewarding part of running our program is plotting the trajectory in students’ sense of place in Spoleto: from feeling out of place and foreign, awkward and a bit embarrassed at the beginning; to confident enough to chat up locals, go into boutiques alone by the middle of the program; and finally to feeling completely and utterly at home, a feeling beyond confidence, where they simply exist in the town, with no effort necessary other than to appreciate and soak in their time there. They come back changed. They come back at least in some small way Spoletini.

 

Brava, Spoleto!

 

Dr. Chad Davidson

Director, Italy Program

Director, School of the Arts

Professor of English

University of West Georgia