Auburn's study abroad in Italy program has openings during fall 2015, 2016

Published: July 07, 2015
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Maurizio Antonini, a native of Ariccia, Italy, believes the fall is a perfect time to live in Italy.

"Truly, it's the nicest time to be there," said Antonini, the resident director of the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program.

Auburn University's only permanent overseas campus in the hillside town of Ariccia, Italy, is a 12-week study abroad opportunity offered to all Auburn students, regardless of major, through the College of Human Sciences. Antonini has been affiliated with the program since its inception in 2002.

"The fall is harvest time for wine and olive oil production," he added. "Field trips to places like Positano are more enjoyable as the water is warmest.

"It's a beautiful time of year. You will see all the colors of fall, but leave before winter hits."

The study abroad option has become quite popular, particularly with students in the College of Human Sciences, as space fills up years in advance. Kate Thornton, the college's director of global studies, said spring and summer semesters are full until 2018, but there are seven openings for this fall and 17 for fall 2016.

Students interested in attending this fall will need to pay the deposit by July 17 and the full program fee by Aug. 7. They are urged to contact Thornton immediately at brockmk@auburn.edu or (334) 844-1339. Scholarships are available to cover program expenses.

Completing the Ariccia program is one of two ways students can earn an international minor in human sciences.

Antonini said the Ariccia experience is ideal for all Auburn students, no matter their major, as the curriculum covers many disciplines. Linda Cain Ruth, the program's executive director, is an architect and former associate professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science.

Antonini, Ruth and others have designed Auburn's program to be a modern equivalent to the Grand Tour of the 17th and 18th centuries, when educated European men and women would end their formal education with a trip around Europe, spending months, sometimes years, visiting the places and sites they had studied.

For three months, Auburn students attend class on all aspects of the Italian culture, including its language, music, art, history, architecture and cuisine. Weekly field trips correspond to those lessons, providing a hands-on experience.

"When you are in your first years at a university, the more you are able to learn and experience, the more you build your understanding of what you truly like, what are the passions that will drive your future life," said Antonini. 

Students live in the Palazzo Chigi (pronounced key-gee), a Baroque-style palace located along a city square. Antonini called the historical building "one of the treasures of the European culture." The palace is now a museum owned by the city. Its director, Francesco Petrucci, who is known throughout Europe for his knowledge of Bernini and Baroque art, is one of Auburn's lecturers.

The location allows students to become immersed in the city, interacting with its people every day. Residents recognize and welcome the influx of Auburn students each semester. 

"The students like to stay there, in the palace, and be in the square of Ariccia," said Antonini. "They always tell us it's great to go back to Ariccia because it feels like home."