A Day in the Life: Orvieto Study Abroad

I fell head over heels in love with Orvieto soon after my arrival in Italy, and studying abroad here was an amazing experience! Though I love traveling and seeing different parts of the world, I really enjoy having a home base where I can establish a daily routine. The benefit of studying abroad is that you’ll (usually) be based in one place and will take your classes there. You’ll still travel, of course – with the programs at the University of Arizona and, I imagine, with most others, there’s some travel done in a group and also time for students to travel independently. But I’m not talking about that in this post – I’m talking about the daily routine I established while living in beautiful Orvieto for five weeks.

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View from my apartment

I’m a pretty structured person.  I like my days to have some order, with certain routines that don’t really change.  Having my classes later in the day is a nice perk of the summer since it means I have some time in the mornings to really get ready for the day. 

My breakfast here always includes a cup of tea, and I usually make some bruschetta as a light, simple meal to start the day. While there are lots of ways to make bruschetta, mine is usually the same day-to-day. The most important ingredient (of course) is fresh bread. I start by spreading a bit of olive oil on the bread and toasting it. After that, I add tomato slices, proscuitto (ham) and/or pecorino (delicious sheep cheese).  I absolutely love the slow pace of my mornings in Orvieto – breakfast and tea while reading on my kindle as the world gets started outside the kitchen window. This is paradise right here.

After a bit of time to wake up and eat, I use the mornings to prepare for class – doing readings, working on papers, studying for quizzes, etc. But as I have a few hours to do all that, I’m not in a rush and can really just take my time with the work. I usually leave for class at 10:30 to get there a bit early, which gives me time to either read, do some more work, or socialize with whoever’s around.   If I need to do something  on my computer, I’ll sit in one of the high-backed chairs  at the big oval table that looks like a pool table surrounded by boardroom chairs.  Or, if I just want to chill for a few minutes before class, I’ll sit in one of the line of chairs outside Classroom 1 as I read on my kindle and maybe chat with whoever else is there.  The class before mine always lets out a little late so that by the time 11 o’clock rolls around, the professor and my four fellow students are all congregated by the door.

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Centro Studi – where we have classes

Art History 202 is the second of the base art history classes at the UofA.  201 and 202 cover the entire history of art from Pre-history to Postmodernism (though the focus is mainly on the Western canon).  In five weeks, even one of these is a lot of content.  However, since 202 starts with the Renaissance, it’s a pretty amazing class to take in Italy: When you can talk about the Sistine Chapel and then see the actual thing two weeks later, it’s totally worth the high-speed learning of the class.

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Ceiling in my classroom

Each class is two hours, so when I finish my first one at 1 pm, I’m ready for lunch.   Whether or not I go back to the apartment really depends on my current mood and whether or not I remembered to bring money.  I prefer though to stop by a little Paninoteca (Sandwich shop) and drop 3-5 euros on a filling sandwich (and/or fries) that I can then take to the little green space by the Duomo that overlooks Umbria.  It’s not quite the same view as from the main wall of the city, but this one is both a shorter distance and a less-crowded space.  Here, I can eat my food while looking out at the rolling hills and stray cats, and for about two hours, I can read or work on any papers (or blog posts).  It’s a pretty nice place to relax for a couple hours of the day and to take my own version of an Italian siesta.

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Park by the Duomo featuring stray cats

My second class is focused on Classicism and how that has been reinterpreted through the Renaissance, the Grand Tour, American architecture, and Fascist art and architecture.  It’s really fascinating, and I love the discussions in the class.  This class goes from 3:30-5:30, but since dinner isn’t until about 8 here, there’s still plenty of time after class to stop by the store, work on homework, or hang out with my roommates.  We alternate cooking dinner and tend not to eat out except on weekends since that gets expensive.  After dinner, sometimes we stay at the table to talk, but other times, we all drift off to work on individual stuff as we settle into the evening.

Beautiful Italian garden

That’s pretty much it; traveling days are a lot more complicated and varied, but here in Orvieto, it’s nice and simple.  Until next time ~

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