|ARCA Interns in Cisterne Amelia|
The week started off with a few bumps along the way as the interns were reminded that Italian time runs a bit differently than any other time. Thankfully, we had arrived a bit early in order to work out the kinks and we have quickly adapted to the way a small town runs. Amelia is situated on top of a hill. Through the initial getting to know you stages between the interns, there was also the opportunity to get to know this fascinating town. Each day that we walked through the Porta Romana on our way to the library for work, we were also walking past a section of Roman road that has been paved around. It has been preserved so that future visitors to the city, or in fact its current inhabitants, can appreciate the history of this hilltop town.
The official arrival day for the students wasn’t until the 31st, so we had a few days to get ourselves situated. We have checked out the grocery stores; sampled the wares at Bar Massimo, a local café; and headed down to Dixie, where Sophia and Laura successfully navigated the purchase of internet keys. These “chiavetti” allow students to plug in a kind of thumb drive to their computers so that they can have internet anywhere there is a signal. All of these things were done in preparation for the arrival of the students.
Friday the 31st was arrival day and it could have been a hectic day but it turned out quite well. Everyone banded together to navigate getting students from all over the world settled into their various Amerini apartments. Thankfully, the early arrival of the interns and the director, along with the help of Monica Di Stefano, the Amelia-based Social Director and Assistant, helped insure that everyone was safely placed in their homes. We met up later at La Locanda to officially welcome everyone to Amelia and to the program. This local restaurant has played host to ARCA in the past and it never disappoints. A large group of the students even stayed after the welcome cocktail had wound down in order to avail themselves of some of Locanda’s delicious food.
Despite only being in the town for a brief period of time, students had very little problem finding their ways to the meeting point Saturday and then heading in to one of our classrooms for orientation. We heard speeches from the director and her various assistants, as well as a few words from Crispin Corrado, ARCA’s Acting Academic Director. Then the floor was given over to the students and we had a chance to get to know each other a little bit better. Saturday was given over to the idea of getting to know each other and the town and the interns even took some of the students on an optional walk to show them where to buy groceries and other such necessities.
However, the intern-led walk paled in comparison to Monica Di Stefano’s walk on Sunday. June 2nd marked “Corpus Domini,” a religious festival in Amelia where the streets are decorated with flower petals. Many of the students jumped at the chance to participate in this day and could be seen helping the locals to create rose petal angels and the like. We then had a walk around the city where Monica explained more of its history and grandeur. Monica showed us some of the wonderful little secrets that Amelia has to offer.
This year’s group of students comes from a variety of different backgrounds and places. They have come together from around the world to learn about something that interests each of us in different ways. This diversity is sure to translate into a very interesting program as each person brings their own unique experiences to the classes. I, for one, cannot wait to see where this will lead.