In October 2013 I spent 4 weeks in Camerino (Marche region) studying Italian at the Scuola d’Italiano Dante Alighieri. Camerino is a medieval town with a population of 7,000. It has retained its medieval character despite having modern facilities. It has a reasonably-sized supermarket, many delicatessen shops, bakeries, bars and trendy clothes shops. It is a university town so it is always full of young people and quite noisy at night – young people don’t seem to need to sleep much and stay out till the early hours of the morning in the main squares (where the bars and karaoke are found) drinking too much and becoming loud and rowdy.
The Scuola is located in the old town centre and I have only praise for the course. On arrival you were given a written test and subsequently placed in a course appropriate to your level of competency. Students with no Italian did not have the test and went straight into the beginners’ class. Classes were held either in the morning from 9 am to 1 pm or in the afternoon from 2 pm to 6 pm. I was lucky to have an excellent teacher that made the course interesting and with much interaction from the students. The hours passed by without noticing. There were on average 15 students per class and we had to speak only Italian. All students from other classes also had only praise for their teachers.
What was most impressive was the number of interesting activities organised out of class hours that were included in the total fee paid. During the week we had things such as:
– a guided tour of the university and Camerino;
– an evening at the medieval castle;
– Italian culture lessons: Dante Alighieri and the Divina Commedia; typical wines and products of the Marche;
– bus excursions to cities in the surrounding area: Gubbio, Assisi, Loreto and the Adriatic Sea, Frasassi Caves accompanied by one or two of the teachers who would take us on a tour of the main sights of the city visited, giving us historical information as we went along. We were always handed an excellent street map of the city visited with information on the main sights and had time to explore after on our own;
– karaoke in the evenings.
On Sundays, a trip was also included to: Bologna, Florence, Rome and the Vatican.
On Saturdays, one had the option, at a reasonable price, of going on an organised tour to Urbino and San Marino, Venice; Siena and San Gimignano.
On days when there were no activities planned after classes, there was the possibility of going to nearby towns such as San Severino, Tolentino, Fabriano, Macerata, using the local bus service. The Scuola’s staff was very helpful and had bus timetables available as well as providing suggestions for visits.
The only problem I had was with the accommodation. The studio was very dark and had an awful single bed that squeaked and sloped to one side. The other occupants of the building were university students who were very noisy, particularly at night. The front door could only be closed by slamming it and they would go out late at night and come back in the early hours of the morning running up the stairs and shouting, so I could not sleep. I complained about this and they changed me to the Residence Bongiovanni to a much nicer studio full of light and lovely views, but with a front door that also had to be slammed and, again, surrounded by noisy young people who woke me up at all hours.
If you are interested in going to Camerino, insist on being lodged in the Residenza Valentini. Although the studios are rather small, the front door does not slam and it is in a quiet street away from the main town squares where the students congregate to drink. I found out that most of the adults that were attending the course from Argentina, Brazil and Portugal were there. I can-not understand why they did not lodge me there as well – they knew before my arrival in what age group I was. You do NOT lodge a 65 year-old with university students and young people only! This was a great flaw in their organisation.
I am sure that you would find it to be a rewarding experience if you are correctly lodged and manage to sleep at night.