Besides traditional tourism, thermal tourism and the booming trend of pilgrims walking the Via Francigena, the central Italian province of Viterbo, stretching from Tuscany to Rome, has been discovered by another type of foreign visitor: those wishing to study in central Italy.
For the past 15 years the area has been targeted by scholars and educators of all types and levels from children and teens to specialized courses in art, book conservation and archeology, all adding new resources to the area.
The first international school program to set up in Viterbo was the SYA School Year Abroad in 2001. Headmasters Jeff Bradley and Patrick Scanlon and a core of locally based instructors are joined by a rotating staff of teachers from the associated American schools. The classrooms are located in a prestigious frescoed building in the historic center. Students choose SYA in Viterbo for the opportunity to study Italian, Latin, history of art and ancient history on site in Italy. Approximately 800 16-18 year olds arriving from all 50 states, have enjoyed a year abroad in Viterbo, living with local families in order to improve their language skills. www.sya.it
The Lorenzo de Medici Institute with main headquarters in Florence, has been operating In the town of Tuscania since 2005 . The program runs year round with about 80 American students annually who follow courses of Italian language , history, cooking and archeology, often digging along with Italian students. New courses include organic agriculture to learn about the products of Tuscia such as extra virgin olive oil and wines (Wines of Italy, pairing wine and food) . www.ldminstitute.com
Since 2006 USAC – University Study Abroad Consortium- has been working together with the Università della Tuscia to offer courses to numerous students coming from about 70 American colleges. The courses run year round and include Italian language, historic studies, creative writing and photography. USAC has programs also in Turin, Reggio Emilia and Verona. www.usac.org.
Beginning in 2010 St. Thomas International School has offered bilingual education to primary school children living in Northern Lazio. Children from nursery school to 5th elementary flock to the school, set up in a former seminary next to the S. Trinità church in Viterbo, from as far away as Orvieto. www.stthomass.com.
Each July for the last decade the historic center of Viterbo hosts young artists from Montserrat School of Art. They use the medieval quarter and the historic center as their outdoor classrooms. www.drawingviterbo.blogspot.it
Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy (NIAUSI) exists for promoting excellence in design through education and cultural exchange between the United States and Italy. The headquarters of the program are in tiny Civita di Bagnoregio and the fame of the “dying city “ lures mature artists who love Italy. Each year artists such as Stephanie Bower of Seattle bring small groups to live and work “under the Tuscia Sun “. www.civitainstitute.org
Similar programs for artists are installed in Civita Castellana, thanks to Maddine Insalaco and Joe Vinson of New York and Israelian artist , Israel Herschberg. They organize workshops for painting en plein air, in spring and summer , following in the footsteps of Corot and other Grand Tour artists who immortalized the landscapes of Monte Soratte, the Tiber valley and the Via Flaminia. www.landscapepainting.com
The specialized school Ecole Francaise de Rome, has organized archeological digs in July for many years, The most recent campaign of excavations is at the Etruscan site known as Grotta Scalina between Viterbo and Tuscania. Here young French archeologists learn how to excavate while bringing to the light the ancient history of the area. https://cefr.revues.org/255
The library of the Barbarigo Seminary in Montefiascone has a renewed life thanks to Cheryl Porter who each summer brings students from all over the world to learn about book conservation and patrimony. Montefiascone Conservation Project organizes four weeks of seminars for librarians, conservators and persons interested in the history and conservation of antique books. www.monteproject.co.uk.
For more information about study abroad programs, click on the direct links.