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.
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.
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.
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:
: 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.
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.
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.
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.