“I was able to use what I have learned and actually apply it to a real business”

Justin Tangen, student at Upper Iowa University, is enrolled to Sant’Anna Institute Summer II program. He is interning at “Palazzo Marziale Boutique Hotel” ( http://www.palazzomarziale.com/ ) and we have interviewed him today! Thanks for sharing with us your experience!


  1. If you could have brought one part of Italian culture back to the States, what would it have been and why?
    I would take the passion of the Italian people with me.  Just hearing the passion in the voices when speaking is a very wonderful thing to hear.  There is an attitude when certain words are pronounced.
  2. How was life living by the sea different from life in your hometown?
    Life by the sea is different than where I am from.  There is no sea but we do have rivers for outdoor activities but life by the sea is so calming and relaxing.  The breeze coming off the sea, the sound of the waves,  and the sand between your toes does wonders to bring you to a relaxing state of mind.
  3.  Which three adjectives would you say best summarize your study abroad experience in Sorrento?
    Adjectives that I would use to describe my time in Sorrento are Beautiful, calming, and happy.
  4. What was the most unexpected treasure of Sorrento that you discovered by living here?
    An unexpected treasure that I discovered here is the Vallone Dei Mulini.
  5. Did you ever experience a real-life example of something that you had studied in a class (for example, recognizing an Italian phrase on the streets that you learned in Italian class or seeing ancient ruins that you learned about in Archeology)? If so, what was it and how did it make you feel to experience it firsthand?
    Since I am here for an internship, I was able to use what I have learned studying my degrees and actually apply it to a real business. Growing up and hearing about Rome, Pompeii, and Capri, I was able to visit all three places. To be able to see the Coliseum, the Pantheon in Rome took me back in time.

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Hiking the “Sentiero degli Dei”: the most beautiful hike of my life

The adventuring group reunites for another AWESOME day! Kelsey, Bianca, and I took the SITA bus to Amalfi and then another SITA bus up to Agerola for a hike! If only it was that easy… THe bus was absolutely packed, and we did not get to sit together. We decided that I should sit in the front so I would be able to ask the bus drive where we were supposed to get off because the Internet was not totally clear. As soon as I sat down, the bus drive got into an argument with another man and then shut the bus door on someone trying to get on the bus. He was a bit scary. So instead, I just asked the father of the family sitting around me if he knew anything about Sentiero degli dei. He and his wife tried to help me, but they really did not know much about it. Plus, they eventually realized that my knowledge of the Italian language was very limited and our conversation eventually died. When the bus reached Positano (about halfway to Amalfi) I hear, “SARAH, WE NEED TO GET OFF THE BUS” coming from the back where Bianca and Kelsey were sitting. I got off at the next stop and found them both extremely motion sick from the curvy road and high density of people aboard the bus. We stepped inside a bakery/bar/restaurant and they were able to eat some food and calm their nauseous stomachs. I cannot sympathize with how they felt… I have never been carsick and I am now realizing that I am very lucky to not have that problem. We boarded the next bus that stopped by and continued on our way to Amalfi. Turns out the busses end their route in Amalfi, so we got off amidst a hoard of other tourists. We took a few pictures and then found help. 10411403_714159935309464_5908363432801732660_n

We entered a tourist office to ask where to go from there. She told us about another bus that went from Amalfi to Agerola that was leaving soon. We hurried back to the bus area, asked for some more help, and ran aboard the bus seconds before it shut its doors to leave. The bus ride was another windy one, straight up one of the mountains of the Amalfi coast. Again, we did not know where to get off. But with the help of a friendly Canadian couple who had completed the hike that morning, we found the place. They showed us where to get off and walked us to the trailhead. THe temperature was much cooler, and there was a lot of cloud coverage overhead (except for sometimes we were in the middle of the clouds because of the elevation). We stopped in a restroom at a restaurant where there was an outdoor deck with a bunch of old men playing cards and yelling at each other in Italian over small tables. It was a very Italian scene. And so we began the hike. Here are a few highlights:
  • I decided to be a hardcore tourist… I wore a fanny pack all day.
  • Bianca slipped and fell on a rock, and I got to watch it all happen from behind. 
  • We found a waterfall and explored ruins.
  • I had the biggest snot rocket of my life thanks to my allergies/not bringing a pack of tissues.
  • I don’t think that I will ever complete a more beautiful hike.

We finished the entire hike in 10370983_714159895309468_7188502948976908998_nabout two and a half hours. Upon reaching Nocelle, there was a stand with fresh squeezed orange juice. We all bought some. THere was another couple at the orange stand from San Diego! AFter drinking our wonderfully refreshing orange juice we headed down the 1,000 steps to Positano. Once we hit the main road, we walked a while until we found the bus stop for the SITA back to Sorrento. When the bus finally came, it was too full, and we were not able to board We waited 30 minutes for the next bus. I was worried because I was trying to make it back in time for Donatella’s dance exhibition that night!

Eventually, I made it back home. But it was just in time to walk through the door to hear, “Sarah! You made it! Eat quick and then we will leave”. I consumed eggplant parmesan at the speed of light and then changed into a dress in about 3 minutes. I was still freshly covered in sweat and dirt. We hopped in the family car and headed to Colline di Sorrento for the show! We arrived around 8:30 so that the father could take pictures of the dancers (he is a photographer). The show lasted until about 11:15. Dona is an amazing dancer, and I enjoyed the show very much. I wish I had recorded at least one of her dances. After the show, the family dropped me off at my friend’s apartment. We had all decided to go out to watch Italy vs. England in the World Cup at midnight at the English Inn! This was a good choice because we were in Italy watching the game at an English bar. So both teams were represented there in excess. When any team would score, the whole place would go crazy. It was absolutely packed. There were vuvuzelas, flags, and just way too many people. At the end of the game, when Italy won, fireworks started above the English Inn (it is an outdoor establishment), and the streets were FULL of people. There was screaming, dancing, and chanting, and cars could not pass through because of the crowd of people. There were full-sized Italian flags draped over cars and people without shirts. The atmosphere was just too much fun! Sorrento was awake until the sun started to rise.  10416591_714159581976166_1785301220963285986_n 10426601_714295131962611_1479547858355222603_n 10453364_714159615309496_6524614753534054087_n 10463005_714295148629276_6704853583396210249_n

My Summer Internship in a 5-star luxury hotel in Sorrento

Duringfoto-300x300 the summer of 2013, I joined the summer program of Sant’Anna Institute in the beautiful city of Sorrento. I opted on a 3-credit course, Modern Italian Literature, and a 3-credit internship, which turned out to be both fun and productive. My internship was in the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, which is a 5-star luxury hotel, and also a member of the Leading Hotels of the World chain. I was situated in the marketing office, and interned on event management. The hotel is one of the most popular venues of the Peninsola Sorrentina, especially for weddings. I had the pleasure to witness around thirty weddings, and the whole process of preparations behind them. All throughout the process I learned a lot about the hospitality and tourism sector, as well as public relations and crisis management. It was like having a full-time job; six days a week, seven hours a day, that were programmed according to the scheduled events. Even though the internship program requests a minimum of 150 hours of work, I ended up interning for 3 months to maximise the experience and to get a deeper understanding.

The8_d.20130130110053 best part of my internship was that I was actually involved in the work done, rather than the “observer” role that an intern usually has. I had my part of responsibilities, made my mistakes, and learned how to fix them. I had my up and down moments like in a real job and realised that I actually loved working in this sector, which is surprising for an IR major. So much so that I’m actually considering the possibility of another internship this summer, always with the guidance of the Sant’Anna Institute. Overall, as someone that spends an important part of her year in Sorrento, I can say that Sant’Anna’s summer program is a great opportunity to get a life time experience. The internships are organised in important structures of different sectors and provide a lot of real-world practice, while spending the summer in Sorrento opens a new window to the Italian culture. All together, it was a memorable summer.


A wonderful experience that I am already missing!

Ciao! Mi chiamo Huilin Chen. I am a Chinese student at Delaware University (DE) who studied Italian language at Sant’Anna Institute in the Summer of 2014. My experience in Sorrento was really special and unforgettable. Please let me tell you more about it! When I first arrived in Sorrento, my host Mum picked me up from the station. During my entire staying in Sorrento, my host family helped me a lot, including explaining me about Italian culture, driving me around in Napoli and cooking some of the most delicious food for me. I felt really lucky for having such a wonderful family. They told me about what an Italian family should look like.

With my lovely host mum Grazia

I usually had class from 9am to 11am at school. My teacher at Sant’Anna Institute was really patient and kind. She gave me a chance to do some extra excises because it’s harder for me to learn Italian compared with most of Americans, since my native language is chinese. I always asked her some questions about something I didn’t understand in the class, and her answers were always excellent and easy to understand. During the class, she always gave students smiles and encouraged us to speak more. I really like her way of teaching.

With my Italian Teacher, Lucia, and some of my classmates

All the other people I met at Sant’Anna were also super helpful. Before I came to Italy, I met Serena through the phone. She helped me to register to my class and to pay my tuition. She was really patient in helping me all the time. My staying in Sorrento was never boring because Sant’Anna offers local activities for students to attend everyday, including Gelato class, Mozzarella class, cooking class etc. I found out that these activities are super helpful because it’s an interesting way to experience Italy and meet locals. I made lots of friends from Sant’Anna. Most of them are from America. However, I also made friends from Russian and British students. This is a really fun way to know people from the world and experience not only Italian culture, but also different cultures in the world. I really enjoyed my experience in Sorrento.

I    certainly want to plan another trip to come back there!  Hiking Mt Vesuvius!Visiting the Archeological site of Pompeii

Sant’Anna di calcio

The teams consisting of (left to right) Lindsay Holmes, Hayden Leith, Steve Pinell, Alex Cutschall, Nick Scalise, Marco Spiezia, Sarah Clark, Courtney Fields, Caroline McCarry, Courtney Manning, Josh Greenaker,  Haley Cheetham, Nick Galatioto, and Doug Duzant.

The teams consisting of (left to right) Lindsay Holmes, Hayden Leith, Steve Pinell, Alex Cutschall, Nick Scalise, Marco Spiezia, Sarah Clark, Courtney Fields, Caroline McCarry, Courtney Manning, Josh Greenaker, Haley Cheetham, Nick Galatioto, and Doug Duzant.

After a long semester in Sorrento, the students of Sant’Anna Institute gathered for one final moment of immersion with a rousing game of football or soccer as we refer to it in the United States.  The most popular sport in Italy, the study abroad students became very familiar with passion and fandom for football throughout their stay abroad.

It is never unusual to see a café or local pub transform into a sports bar in honor of an ongoing match.  Packed from wall to wall with local Italian males and females of all ages, the chants and uproars of the onlookers would almost make you feel as though you were actually at the game.

For this reason, students and faculty at Sant’Anna organized a spirited game between themselves at a local sports club during the final weeks of their stay in Sorrento.

  Staff Danielle Celentano and student Tsu Zhu mid-match on the soccer field.

Staff Danielle Celentano and student Tsu Zhu mid-match on the soccer field.


As the game went underway, the staff (Marco Spiezia and Danielle Celentano) were split onto two separate teams of eight students.  The group, consisting of both beginner and experienced soccer players, got a crash course on the Italian football experience.


  Students (left to right) Haley Cheetham, Doug Duzant, Sarah Clark, Steve Pinell, Josh Greenaker, and Nick Scalise mid-match.

Students (left to right) Haley Cheetham, Doug Duzant, Sarah Clark, Steve Pinell, Josh Greenaker, and Nick Scalise mid-match.

The game consisted of two 45 minute halves and was a tight match that allowed the students to compete among their peers.  The friendly game ended at a score of 6 to 7 and a teasing quip of receiving lowered grades for not winning.

One of their final bonding experiences of the semester, the teams formed lines to pass their opposing teammates and offer congratulatory high fives.  An unfamiliar act, it was an ultimate lesson for the Italian staff and a sign of good sportsmanship to finalize a game among the new friends that, over the course of the spring semester, had become a family.

Casa del Caffè, Guiseppe Maresca


Outside the coffee factory in Piano di Sorrento

Outside the coffee factory in Piano di Sorrento

Casa del Caffe
Giuseppe Maresca

Casa del Caffe is a family-run business currently being managed by Giuseppe Maresca. Giuseppe took over after his father, and has gradually expanded the businesses more and more ever since. Although it may seem like a small business at first, there is a very rich history behind how they roast their coffee beans, where they obtain their beans from, how to determine the quality of the beans, and who to sell the coffee to. Giuseppe pours his heart and soul into his business, and this is evident in the way he speaks about his coffee. Ever since World War II, Casa del Caffe has grown to a matured business that packages hundreds upon hundreds of coffee grounds a day in order to satisfy consumer demand and the ever-growing market.

Human Resource Management
by Haley Cheetham

Touring this manufacturing plant was fascinating from a management perspective. Upon first entering the building, one would question how much coffee is actually produced from this tiny space. After hearing about how well-known and widespread Maresca’s coffee actually is, one would question how one man could basically run it all. Though there is no specific department, Giuseppe has worked his way through the family business to essentially become the person in charge of Human Resource Management.

Maresca’s is a family operated business, and it has been for generations. Some employees are not family members because as the business was growing, there were not enough Marescas to be able to complete all of the work. As for training and developing the new employees, the family members have grown up observing what tasks need to be accomplished. However, they still need to be properly trained along with the non-relatives in order to keep the coffee production consistent.
In America, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exists to protect the consumer from food and drinks. OSHA regulates how companies must prepare and package their product so that the consumer is receiving the best quality of that product and does not become ill from it. There is a similar organization in Italy that regulates the coffee production in order to keep the employees and the consumers healthy and safe.
Giuseppe is passionate about his work producing the coffee for Maresca’s Cafe. He is able to run the machines, predict sales and marketing, run the finances, and run the business as a whole. There are, however, other employees hired that help him in this work. As a team, they make up the HRM department, ensuring that business runs efficiently, and that the employees are producing their best possible work.

A cup of the coffee bean mixture

A cup of the coffee bean mixture

Truck and Diesel
by Chris Colasurdo

In relation to the truck and diesel industry, the success of shipping the products around the world rely heavily on this field. This is due to the fact that the majority of transportation is done through trucks, which are all powered by diesel fuel. If the trucks are not properly maintained, then they will eventually break down. Following this, it will lead to the decrease in revenue for the Casa del Caffe company as a whole. The fact that this company is now expanding its products to China and Dubai makes the truck and diesel industry even more crucial. For both of these countries, diesel is the main way that many of the vehicles in these countries are powered. In addition to the amount of diesel powered engines that run the European roads, the number of products taken through the air has a great influence on the success of the company. If one flight gets delayed that has a shipment of this product, then it will delay the time that it takes to get an income from those products.
Technology drives many business, whether it’s with success or with failure. Throughout the start of the company, the coffee roaster has been a major technology advantage for the Casa del Caffe company. With this machine, it helps give the coffee is great taste due to the wood used for the fires that roast each and every coffee bean. Ensuring that these machines are kept up to par and do not have any technical problems is key for the coffee. In the new machines, there is a computer system that monitors the temperature of the beans and it makes sure that the beans are roasted completely as well as not over roasted. Maintenance of these roasting machines is also a large part of the success of the company. Every month, a technician comes in to make sure that the machines are working properly and that there are no new system updates that can be done to the machines. If there are technical updates, then the technician will make sure all the updates are carried out correctly. Within a business that has any sort of technology at all, it is crucial that the technology is properly maintained and updated at a constant rate or the effects can be catastrophic on the entire business.

by Rebecca Schaible

Apart from Giuseppe’s obvious passion for his family run coffee company, what really stood out was the large percent of investing and finances that goes into running your own business. Giuseppe spoke to us about the importance of quality in the beans. The beans are an actual investment that he makes. He buys in US Dollars, along with Euros, depending on the market and which is more financially efficient. The price of the coffee beans various depending on the season. Giuseppe is very active in the commodity market. He works directly with a broke and intermediaries to decide which seasons he should purchase the beans ahead of time. This is an actual investment because the weather being so unpredictable, if an ice storm occurs and destroys the plant, he loses his investment. He explained that when a buyer decides to invest in coffee that is still on the plant, brokers help evaluate risk. This was a reminder of what Financial Planners are responsible for on a daily basis, and their importance in a client’s financial well being He takes on that risk because the plant was purchased beforehand. This goes along with the saying “greater risk equals greater potential for reward.”
Giuseppe explained the changes that occurred when he took over his Grandfather’s company. Now he relies on the market thanks to changing technology, the internet, partnerships, potential to open to new markets, etc. He now has a greater potential to make a return. Giuseppe motivated us as a group. He does it all with so little help. It truly is his passion, and his dedication to his coffee business shines through. “Coffee is in my blood” he explained to us, and it is obvious to see how true that statement is.

Hospitality Management and Quality Control
by Tsu Zhu

The is a lot of history behind the production of Maresca’s coffee. Multiple steps in the quality management and production of the coffee making process is embedded with passion and dedication. One of the biggest contributors to the quality of their coffee products is their procurement process of acquiring the coffee beans. Their coffee blend is a mixture of arabica and robusta coffee beans, which are rated the “2nd gold” coffee beans in the world. Their arabica coffee beans contributes to the sweetness element in the coffee, whereas the robusta beans contribute to the strong robust flavor in the coffee. The arabica beans come from Central America, and the robust beans come from Northern Africa and India. As Giuseppe spoke about the process of roasting and grinding the coffee beans, his passion was very clear in his voice. In fact, when roasting the coffee beans, Giuseppe prefers to work alone and to listen to music by himself so he can focus and immerse himself in his craft; the roasting is the most important aspect of the coffee-making process.

One of the key characteristics behind their coffee is that they roast the beans with wood, not gas. The wood is local, and it is a variety of lemon, orange, and cherry wood. These different types of wood helps to mellow the strong flavor of coffee so that there is a good balance. In terms of quality control, Giuseppe tests the coffee he produces by using computers to test the temperature of the roasting process; this is essential because the temperature of the burning wood has to be kept the same in order to ensure a consistent quality of coffee. Not only that, the company’s procurement of the coffee beans dates back to the deep history behind the family’s business.
Although Giuseppe’s marketing and sales seems to be focuses mainly in its website (http://www.caffemaresca.it), the family business has been thoroughly known for its quality of coffee, so much so that they now produce and sell coffee to more expansive markets like China, Dubai, and the United States. The services they provide include not only the actual product of coffee, but loyalty to customer satisfaction; they treat everyone that steps into the business with respect. They have even developed a relationship with a friend in Amalfi in order to hand off their burlap sacks so that purses and bags can be produced. This is an excellent form of a sustainable business venture.

Alfred State study abroad students and Michael Garguilo at Casa del Caffè!

Alfred State study abroad students and Michael Garguilo at Casa del Caffè!

Key Learnings

Giuseppe’s emphatic nature about his coffee carries through into the pristine quality of his products. It has come to the point where Giuseppe can even determine the quality of coffee by simply looking at the beans. The careful process of roasting and grinding the coffee beans, combined with the deeply rooted history of the company’s procurement of the beans results in a unique and successful business. He takes on a great risk, making investments in the coffee beans in order to get his exceptional product out to his consumers. Although Giuseppe is an engineer, at the end of the day he will always have a passion for coffee

Meet the Students!

Choosing to study abroad is a life changing decision that is hardly taken lightly and effects each student differently.  Within their first week abroad, the Sant’Anna spring semester students reflected on their initial reactions to their new surroundings and lives abroad.  Having a new group of friends, homes, language, town, and school all in one semester is a lot to take in!  The individual stories behind their immediate culture shock, struggles, and memories are inspirational.

Sarah Clark, Berea College talks about her home stay experience.

Sarah Clark, Berea College talks about her home stay experience.

Even students, like Nitsa Ioannides of Plymouth State University, that are used to living in a dorm or student apartment had their concerns over the chemistry of the new group of classmates they would meet.  But, as Ioannides and others were happy to report, the group of students in Sorrento this semester get along famously. Home stay students, like Courtney Fields (depicted) of University of Minnesota, express their joy in having a new home away from home with an authentic Italian host family while internship students, like Derek Wolfer of Alfred State College, share their expectations for working internationally.

Discussing everything from the delicious Italian cuisine to celebrating milestones abroad, each student speaks of their own personal experiences and how excited they are to enjoy their time here!


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Meet the Spring 2014 Sant’Anna Institute Study Abroad Students!