L’Olivo Italiano is no ordinary school. First, it’s blessed with a stunning location. Perched on a hill a few kilometres south of Florence, it has an unbelievable view over the city. From up here you see the river Arno snaking through it and the Duomo dominating it all. Secondly, it’s located in a beautifully restored Medieval building that used to be a hospital. And, most importantly, it’s a welcoming place filled with passionate people, where learning is hands-on and fun.
I visited on a hot summer afternoon, when the Florentine hills were bathed in sun. The surrounding olive groves were giving out a silvery light. Entering the ancient rooms of the Antico Spedale del Bigallo felt like a journey into the heart of Tuscany. It was a real surprise to discover this haven of learning, and I can only imagine how excited and privileged students must feel when they arrive to start their courses.
Learning Italian in Tuscany at L’Olivo Italiano school – An inspiring environment with equally inspiring views
The Antico Spedale del Bigallo is a piece of Florentine history. What could be more inspiring than learning Italian in a 13th century building? With a beautiful terrace overlooking a city that has been the cradle of the Renaissance, it’s a location that’s really hard to beat. Originally this was an hospital where pilgrims would stop on the way to Rome. Later it became a convent. Today it hosts a hostel, a chapel, event rooms, and L’Olivo Italiano , a small school that promotes Italian language and culture.
I meet the founders of the school, Irene and Alessandra, who are full of enthusiasm and happy to show me around. They show me the enchanting views and tastefully restored rooms, all of which contributes to a very special atmosphere. I immediately fell for the ancient kitchen, with its massive fireplace and stone sinks, and the hostel’s rooms which still have an authentic Medieval feel.
A school where you can live the Italian culture
“We think this is the perfect location for a school, a peaceful place to study and enjoy the tranquility of the countryside.” says Irene. Their passion for transmitting their language and culture is contagious. Their aim is to create a friendly environment for the students where learning programmes are tailored to their interests. “Motivation is the key to learning a foreign language, so we always try to stimulate our students and involve them in different activities. We organise three weekly activities to help them socialise with local people: cinema, language exchange and apericene, where they can practise Italian and put in action what they’ve learned”.
L’Olivo Italiano offers different courses for all levels, from a general and extensive course, to mini-courses on specific topics. To give people a taste of the rich Italian cultural heritage, they also organise activities: from cooking classes, to oil tasting, photography workshops and guided tours.
All pictures curtesy of L’Olivo Italiano.