Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Sansepolcro?
Sansepolcro is in the Tiber valley, in Tuscany but very near the Umbrian border. It is one hour by bus—a breathtakingly beautiful ride—to Arezzo, a larger town on the main north south rail line. It is about an hour to Florence and two hours to Rome by rail from Arezzo. There is also bus service directly from Sansepolcro to both Florence and Rome.
What is special about Sansepolcro?
For starters, it is a beautiful walled city. Though the population is about 20,000, it feels much smaller since we live right in the center, within the medieval walls. It is not on the main tourist route either, which is an advantage when you want to learn language and culture, though it is easy enough to get to larger cities for weekend travels.
It is the birthplace of renaissance fresco artist Piero della Francesca, which gives it a certain cache in the region. When you say you are from Sansepolcro, Italians nod and smile. We think it is a perfect place to gain an insight into Italian life. It is also cheaper to eat out (or buy a cone of gelato) in Sansepolcro—as your first trip to Florence will show you.
Where will I be living?
In the Palazzo Alberti, which is on Via XX Septembre, the main street through the center of the town, connecting the principal gates, while leading to the main piazza. Cherubino Alberti was a noted fresco artist who lived in the Palazzo Alberti and painted a fresco on the ceiling of the grand salon—a room we will have access to for special events.
The building is being renovated to our specifications and furnished by us. It will be a beautiful combination of old and new, of functional and decorative. Some of our interior design students have worked with their professor Dr. Ellen Goode on various aspects of the renovation project.
What will we be studying?
During the first year, the course offerings will serve as either gen ed or elective courses for Meredith students. The program requires all students to engage in serious language study. All students will take 6 hours of Italian, which will follow the Meredith course sequence so that students can easily move from or back into our competency-based program. Students will take either 101 and 102 or 205 and 206 while they are in Sansepolcro and we are betting that this more immersive approach will pay dividends.
All students will also be required to take a 3-hour course called Italy Today, which is designed to help students acquire knowledge about and insight into the culture in which they are living, Students will be reading, reflecting, and writing about Italian life while they are invited to reflect insightfully on their own culture. In order to get students into the culture, there will be a service learning component to this course: after completing 3 credit hours of Italian, students will help out on Friday mornings in the English classes of the local schools. And we will have 4 special meals with host families too.
There is one more required course in what we are calling “the core”—a 1-hour experience called “Travel to Learn and Learn to Travel.” This is a skills based course that will help students learn how to travel independently, utilizing print and on-line resources to enable them to travel successfully for the rest of their lives.
Students will then be free to choose between a literature or history elective, a science and society elective, or an art history course—all focusing on Italy while giving students gen ed credit at Meredith.
How will my schedule look?
We will have two “sessions,” with a travel break in between. The main difference between the two is that Italian meets everyday for the first session and only four days a week during the second. We have provided some sample schedules from pervious semesters below.
Who will be teaching me?
Dr. Greg Vitarbo, from the Meredith department of History and Political Science, will be the Fall 2013 Sansepolcro Faculty Director. Retired art professor Maureen Banker and her husband Jim, a retired historian from NCSU, will teach the art history course. They live much of the year in Sansepolcro now. Sara Andreini, Associate Director of Meredith in Italy, will see that everything runs smoothly. Sara is from Sansepolcro and has taught our survival Italian course to Meredith students for over a decade. Our other courses will be taught by faculty we hire in Italy.
What about my free time? Can I travel on my own?
You won’t have a lot for the first month, but after that you will have generous opportunities to explore—on special 3 day weekends as well as on a longer break. For the first few weeks, we will plan a lot of group activities on the weekends, some required and some optional, so that you can get the lie of the land, so to speak. We will explore nearby towns so you can come to know your region and be able to return on your own.
We will do a group overnight in Florence so that you can both see the sights and learn how to use the bus and rail system that you can later use to travel on your own—to Rome, to Venice, to Switzerland, to Germany, to France—to wherever your heart desires and your pocketbook can afford. Bear in mind that you will be living in a beautiful town full of lovely cafes so you may be happy spending your leisure time at home.
How much is it going to cost me?
The program fee will be equal to Meredith tuition, plus a study abroad program fee. This program fee will include housing, most meals, cultural activities and program-sponsored travel in Italy. Additional expenses include roundtrip airfare, books, independent travel, and miscellaneous personal expenses.
Are there scholarships and financial aid available?
Your regular Meredith aid can be used to cover the tuition and program fee. In addition, study abroad scholarships will be available to help defray additional costs for students with demonstrated need.
How do I apply?
Pick up an application in the Office of International Program (124 Joyner).
Is the program for Meredith students only?
No. Women students from other colleges and universities are welcomed to apply. Email email@example.com or call (919-760-2307) for an application.