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Outside the Classroom

In Prato, learning doesn't just take place in the classroom. Every part of your day will be a new learning experience, whether you're ordering your lunch in a local restaurant, learning how to make fresh pasta or teaching middle school students new English words.

When you're not in class, you'll have a wide variety of activities to choose from, both in and outside Palazzo Benini. Many of these activities will put you into close contact with members of the local community - you might even make a new friend or two.

"Everything-from the places I visited to the people I met to the things I learned while in Prato-had, an always will have, an impact on me. I learned so much about the culture, the people and even myself. Prato is a city that allows you to experience Italy for what it truly is, giving you an education unlike that of any other American college in Italy." -Christian Torres '15

Explore Italy and Beyond

Group excursions are offered to cities throughout the Tuscan region including Florence, Lucca and Siena. Many students also enjoy venturing out on their own to see the Learning Tower of Pisa, ride gondolas through the picturesque Venetian canals and explore the historic architecture of Florence.

The adventures don't stop there! Many students spend their weekends visiting destinations across Europe. Major cities like London, Dublin, Paris and Barcelona are only a short trip away.  

  1. Prato Activities

    Prato is a city with a lot to offer. The Tuscany Campus staff joins forces with local organizations to give you the chance to participate in a variety of activities outside the Palazzo. During these activities, you can get to know locals and other students, and maybe even make a friend or two!

    Below is a selection of activities that have been offered in past semesters. Activities may vary from semester to semester.

    Cooking Classes at Datini High School

    Students had the chance to attend cooking classes at the teaching kitchen in Datini High School. They joined Italian students to learn how to cook two different types of pasta – tagliatelle and stuffed ravioli. The food was delicious and everything was made from scratch!

    Ale's Running Club

    Join the running club and take breath taking runs around the city of Prato! This club meets once a week and accepts all levels of runners.

    Hiking

    Take in gorgeous bird eye views of Prato by joining your classmates for a hike. Hikes around prato usually occur twice a semester during warm and sunny days.

    Family Dinners

    Get to know your Italian neighbors! Families in Prato host dinners for the students so that they can each practice Italian and English. The dinners are usually hosted once a month and are a great way to make friends outside of the program.

    Piano Recital

    UNH’s Professor Victor Markiw gave a marvelous piano recital at a local music school, the Scuola di Musica Giuseppe Verdi. The recital was open to both UNH students and the general public.

    UNH Soccer and Basketball at Oratorio Sant’Anna

    UNH students and faculty get together on Monday nights to play soccer against other Italians. Soccer, or calcio in Italian, is a very popular sport among young and older people in Italy. This activity has become quite a favorite!

    Olive Oil Tasting at PIN

    Italian Food Quality students went to the PIN campus (the Prato branch of the University of Florence) to learn about olive oil preparation. During the lesson, they were given the chance to participate in an olive oil tasting and rate and analyze each sample by taste, appearance and smell. By the end of the tasting, each student was able distinguish a good quality olive oil from a poor quality olive oil.

    Prato Soccer Team at Lungobisenzio Stadium

    In every town in Italy, soccer is an important part of the local culture and identity. To give our students a taste of real calcio, Italian professors teaching at the Tuscany Campus brought them to a Prato game at the city’s soccer stadium.

  2. Palazzo Activities

    Each semester, the Tuscany Campus staff puts together a full schedule of events held in and outside Palazzo Benini. Activities offered will vary from semester to semester, and are subject to change.

    Language Exchange

    The UNH Tuscany Campus holds regular language exchanges with local students who are keen to meet you and improve their English. This is the best chance for you to sharpen your language skills and meet local students with the same goal. Learning is more fun when you make friends while doing it! The local students come from Prato-area schools or from PIN, which is the city’s branch of the University of Florence.  

    Yoga

    Join a trained yoga instructor at Palazzo Benini for yoga nights! Yoga is an excellent way to relax after a long day of school.

    Movie Nights

    Students are welcome to attend a series of themed movie nights held each semester. The films are chosen by staff and faculty, and are based on themes relevant to students’ coursework and experience in Italy.

    Italian Game Nights

    A new favorite game amoung UNH Prato students is Scopa! Scopa is an Italian card game involving partners and students can learn how to play at the game nights held a few times a month. There is even a Scopa tournament held at the end of each semester.

    Photography Contest

    The Photography Content has been held twice so far and we hope to make this event an ongoing tradition! Students submitted their photographs in three categories: Architecture, Nature and People. All the photographs had special meaning for the students, because each one represented their experience in Prato, Tuscany and Europe. Winners in each category were awarded a package of the best cantuccini almond cookies, made in Prato of course! 

    Special Presentation on Carnevale

    Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Masks, "maschere", are an important part of the carnevale festival. People also wear elaborate costumes for the festival where lots of pictures and videos are taken to cherish the festivity. At this event, Professor Di Pofi gave our students a rich historical context into the Italian culture and festivities with her presentation. Our students had a hands-on approach to learning the ways of Carnevale through videos, handouts and Carnevale masks.

    We also held a unique reception for our students on Martedí Grasso (Italian for Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday). There was a mask decorating activity where many students brought out their creativity and showed their understanding of the Italian tradition of Carnevale. Music, snacks, and beverages were also served for a fun and bonding night together as a family abroad.

    Seminars and guest speakers

    Throughout the semester we invite some of the city’s most interesting figures to come and talk about their work and answer questions about Italian life. Their talks have sparked conversations and brought new perspectives to issues regarding Italian culture, and they often tie into the students’ coursework.

    Here is a selection of themes that we’ve discussed in the Palazzo:

    Viva L’Italia : Italian History through Music

    Two of our Italian professors, Professor Ianniello and Professor Di Pofi, presented a fascinating two-part seminar on the history and culture of Italy as seen – or perhaps heard! – through its music. The first part of the seminar focused on the theme of America, while the second explored the mafia. The seminar was such a favorite with students that a six-part version is planned for fall 2013.

    Immigration

    Dr. Silvia Pieraccini, a journalist for the Italian national daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, came to discuss the phenomenon of Chinese immigration in Prato. Silvia is the author of a book about Prato’s Chinese community called L’Assedio di Prato (The Siege of Prato). She engaged our students with interactive games so that the lesson was instructive and also fun!

    The Italian and American Legal Systems

    Judge Jaqueline Magi, Lawyer Martina Moscardi and Lawyer Valentina Sanfelice led a comparative discussion with New Haven students about the Italian legal system and the American legal system. Students were fascinated to hear the personal experiences of Italian experts dealing with the challenges of working in a multicultural setting like Prato. This event was particularly valuable to Dr. Vesna Markovic and New Haven Criminal Justice students. 

    Photography

    Well-known photographer Nino Ceccatelli came to show students his photographs of New York, and took the opportunity to help us judge a student photography competition. Nino gave us a great opportunity to compare and contrast an Italian's view of the US with our students' views of Italy. 

    Crime, Immigration and Public Safety in Italy

    Police Officer Luca Gorrone, who is in charge of the Immigration department in Prato, took time out to come and speak with UNH students on several occasions. Our Criminal Justice majors were especially interested to hear what officer Gorrone had to say about public safety issues in Italy.    

    Fashion in Prato

    We had a great presentation from Luigi Salvioli, local author and one of the curators of the "Coveri Story" Exhibition in Prato.

    Organized Crime

    Local councilor for public security Aldo Milone came to speak about Italy's struggle with organized crime and the various Mafias that have come to dominate certain areas of the country.

    The Local Government in Prato

    UNH students paid a visit to the town hall where they met with Mayor Roberto Cenni and learned about the structure of local government. The mayor expressed his delight to see the University of New Haven settled in Prato, and wished us all well in our studies. 

    Students also visited the headquarters of the Province of Prato where they were greeted by Lamberto Gestri, President of the Province. President Gestri spoke about the enthusiasm and commitment of the local authorities towards the University of New Haven Tuscany Campus. 

  3. Volunteering

    Scuola Mazzoni


    Each semester, students have the chance to take part in the volunteer program we’ve established at the Scuola Media Mazzoni, a middle school here in Prato. Volunteers spend a part of their week as teachers’ assistants, leading activities that help the local students refine their English speaking skills 
    while giving them new insights into American culture. Volunteers agree that they get as much out of the program as their students do – it’s a fun, engaging learning experience for everyone involved.

  4. Excursions

    The UNH program in Prato provides students with several accompanied excursions throughout Tuscany. The Tuscany Campus staff coordinates transport and organizes all entries and tours, and Dr. Murphy accompanies the group to explain about all the monuments and sights throughout the day.

    Famed for its marvelous scenery, Tuscany's landscape combines colorful rolling hills, ancient villas, historic cities, monasteries and Chianti vineyards. Rich in history, encompassing the ancient and modern, an excursion anywhere in this great region is a delightful discovery. You’ll be able to explore the protected nature reserves of Maremma; journey to the famous seaside resorts of Versilia; wander through the historic hill-towns of Siena and San Gimignano to the once great seaport of Pisa; admire the view from the stunning cliffs of the Cinque Terre or bask in the stately charm of Lucca. Tuscany has something for everyone!

    Here is a selection of day trips offered in past semesters. Trips vary from semester to semester; the trips offered during your stay in Prato are subject to change.

    Pisa

    This excursion focuses on Pisa’s legendary cathedral square (the piazza dei Miracoli) and its monuments: the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the famous Leaning Tower and the Monumental Churchyard.

    The construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1174, and when builders reached the third story, work ceased for 90 years because it had already started sinking into the ground. We can reach the top of the Leaning Tower by climbing the 294 steps which rise in the form of a spiral inside the tower walls.

    We stay for lunch, explore the university district of Pisa (the university was founded in 1343), and enjoy some free time before heading back to Prato.

    Lucca

    Lucca, just 1 hour from Prato, is an almost perfectly preserved jewel of medieval architecture and buildings, emanating charm and history from every corner of its narrow winding streets.

    Completely surrounding the ancient city, Lucca's huge and entirely intact defensive walls date back to the 17th century. Now, no longer used for defense, they are crowned by 4 km of green parkland, and are a lovely place to walk, cycle or stop for a picnic.

    In Lucca we explore the city’s cultural and monumental highlights, including the remains of the Roman amphitheater, the church of San Michele in Foro, Piazza Napoleone, the cathedral of San Martino and the birthplace of the composer Puccini. We also climb to the top of the medieval Guinigi tower to enjoy a breathtaking aerial view of the whole city.

    During the trip there's time for lunch, a walk around the top of the walls and some free time to explore before we head back to Prato.

    Siena

    The historic center of Siena has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a historic horse race held twice a year.

    In Siena we tour the monuments that best represent the unique cultural and artistic heritage of this Tuscan city, including the Duomo, Palazzo Pubblico, the famous Piazza del Campo, and the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the world’s oldest bank).

    During the trip there’s also time for lunch and some free time on your own to explore before we head back to Prato.

    Poggio A Caiano and Capezzana

    This day trip takes us first to the Medici family’s most famous villa Poggio a Caiano, started in 1485 by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Prior to the building of this Renaissance masterpiece, large country dwellings were defensive and fortified.

    Built on a quadrangular base around a large central hall, overlooking the surrounding countryside through its classically-inspired facades, the Villa at Poggio was revolutionary. At Lorenzo’s death in 1492, work on the villa was continued by Lorenzo’s second son, Giovanni (then Pope Leo X). Inside the villa we can still see much of the original Renaissance décor and frescos.

    After leaving the villa behind us we head up to the ancient farm of Capezzana on the slopes of the Monte Albano. This estate of 670 hectares, in an area where wine has been produced for over 2,000 years since Etruscan times, is run by the historic Contini Bonacossi family. The estate comprises a Renaissance villa with adjacent farm, historic cellars, a modern olive mill and a huge ‘vinsantaia’ (where vin santo is made).

    An expert will lead us through the various workspaces and cellars to explain the fascinating process of producing wine and olive oil. We finish the day with dinner on the estate and a chance to taste some of the best Tuscan wine and olive oil.

     

  1. Fun Fact

    Over 50% of students traveled two or more weekends per month while abroad in Prato.
  1. #UNHTuscany

    Visit the UNH Prato Campus on Social Media page to see what students are doing in Prato right now!