Università per Stranieri di PerugiaLearning the Italian Language and Culture in a Sumptuous Setting
The big, beautiful palazzo opposite a 2,000-year old Etruscan arch embedded in Perugia's ancient walls houses a unique institution with a very specific mission. In a setting that spans the millennia, 18th-century Palazzo Gallenga Stuart is headquarters of the Università per Stranieri di Perugia, a linguistic crucible where a multiplicity of languages is melded into one. This is the world's oldest and most prestigious center of Italian language education, a center not only for learning Italian but also for learning how to teach it as a foreign language.
Diverse Student Body
At any time of year, the University's grandly frescoed halls and state-of-the-art language labs are a crossroads for students from all over the world. The school's multicultural student body brings cosmopolitan verve to Perugia, a hilltop city with a commendably preserved medieval heritage and an easygoing provincial lifestyle. At present, though the approximately 5,000 members of the student body are mainly German, Greek, American, and Korean, class rolls include learners from Australia, Japan, Brazil, and some African countries. Enrollment from China has doubled in the past few years, and there has been a marked increase in students from Eastern European countries. By far the most numerous group of students is from the Europe Union, representing almost 40 percent of total enrollment in 1997.
What brings them all together is a lively, well-conceived program of study of the Italian language that also offers insight into Italy's cultural riches. And students don't have to go far from their classrooms to find a wealth of historic and artistic treasure. Hilltop Perugia has a hauntingly evocative medieval core, sharply sloping streets and a main pedestrian-only thoroughfare called Corso Vannucci, studded with old-world cafés and some of the most austerely impressive medieval public buildings in Italy. Nearby hill towns, among them Assisi, Gubbio, and Spoleto, and boast similar enticements. Rome and Florence are only about two hours away by train.