Domus of the Chaste Lovers

On the occasion of the Valentine’s Day, the Superintendency of Pompeii has provisionally opened the doors of the special Domus of the Chaste Lovers.

dsc_0779Opened for the first time in 2010 and then closed again, the domus was exceptionally made available to visit before the big renovation that will allow the overall restoration and enhancement, as well as the reconfiguration of the escarpments of the area.

Our archeology professor , Ilaria Tartaglia, who regularly accompanies our students in field-trips to the archaeological excavations of Pompeii-Herculaneum-Oplonti, was among the first archaeologists to be able to access to this domus, leading a visit of a group of students at S. Anne Institute, even before 2010.

The house is part of one great Insula that also includes the House of the Painters at Work and some workshops and covers over 1500 square meters.dsc_0780

 The name originates from the “chaste” kiss that two lovers share in one of the banquet pictures that decorate the triclinium of the house, with the adjoining bakery.

 It was, in fact, the house of a rich baker and inside the domus you can also see, in addition to the bakery oven, beautifully preserved, with the annexed millstones, the two stables with the remains of seven animals.dsc_0792

 Just before the dramatic event of the year 79 AD, the water circuit was apparently being reset, in the House of the Painters at work, along with the reconstruction of the wall decoration in the big oecus: the sudden interruption left incomplete the pictures of which the sinopia had already been completed. Clues of the sudden desertion of the work are the numerous cups still full of pigments that the artist was using.



Regardless of when you decide to, studying abroad will be a decision you will not come to regret. However, studying in Sorrento, Italy, during the fall semester can be a particularly attractive option.

Sorrento is a major vacation destination on the Amalfi Coast, located less than fifty kilometers from Naples. The summer months bring flocks of tourists. It is not until the end of September into October that Sorrento returns to being a relatively quiet Italian town while the temperatures remain mild. For this reason, the fall semester is an incredible time to study in Sorrento.

The beaches are buzzing with life during the tourism season. (Courtesy othree via Flickr)

Throughout the year, the region offers a substantial selection of hiking trails. Students organize day-trips to local destinations such as Amalfi, Positano, the Isle of Capri, Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius where the scenery is extraordinary. Even staying in Sorrento can be its own adventure. For instance, a forty-minute walk along Via Capo and Traversa Punta Capo will bring you to Bagni della Regina Giovanna and Villa di Pollio Felice, the site of ancient Roman ruins with remarkable views of the Bay of Naples.

The Path of the Gods is a popular hike on the Amalfi Coast, for obvious reasons. (Courtesy Rick Carlo)

There are other outdoor activities, typically marketed for tourism, like boating and local tours in which students can participate.

The fall brings other events, even the harvest season for certain fruits. In late September, the seaside village of Marina Grande is the setting for the annual Fish Festival. The local fishermen, their wives, and volunteers prepare delectable seafood dishes and products. In the hills of Sorrento, the village of Priora hosts the annual Grape Festival in the first week of October with live entertainment, tasting, and celebration. Held on the Caracciolo Promenade, the Napoli Pizza Village from September 1 to September 6 is part of Naples tradition and culture. All Saints’ Day on November 1, is the major Italian holiday, both religious and public, during the fall semester. Additionally, December 8 is a public holiday called L’Immacolata Concezione to celebrate the virginity of the Virgin Mary.

The Napoli Pizza Village is part of the Naples tradition and culture. (Courtesy beboplu via Pixabay)

Essentially, the fall semester allows students to experience Sorrento transition from when it is buzzing with tourism to when it is a quiet close-knit Italian community. Being able to taste both the height of activity and the intimacy of Italian culture is a distinct experience not offered in cities such as Milan and Rome to the north.

The local businesses of Sorrento are a unique part of the community throughout the year. (Courtesy othree via Flickr)



I made it to Italy. England was amazing but I am now in my new home for the next four months and I couldn’t be more impressed by this place.  I am living in Sorrento, Italy which over looks the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. It is also the main city before the Amalfi Coast. It literally could not get more beautiful.

Sadly, my strep throat came back along with a fever the very first day I arrived so I spent the day in bed, however, my school helped me get in touch with an English speaking doctor quickly so I could get stronger antibiotics. I didn’t let it hold me back for more than one day and soon was out exploring with my roommate Lucas.

The school is a twenty minute walk down hill from our host families apartment. The twenty minute walk back up the hill is what we are hoping keeps us from gaining tons of pasta weight, which would easily happen with our host mother’s awesome cooking skills. My Italian class consists of myself and one other student as well as my Western Civilizations class. I am basically being privately tutored. My Business in the European Union class was a whopping four other students in it. Im in heaven. I should also be starting my internship next week. We have explored some of Naples as well as my personal favorite, Positano.

I am learning so much about Italian culture. For example, crossing the street consists of you making sure that the driver coming your way isn’t looking at their phone so you can just step out in front of the moving traffic. They usually slow down but not by much. It is kind of like playing frog crossing all the time. They eat many course meals here and I have no idea how they aren’t all fat. I’ve learned about Limoncello (Southern Italy’s delicious lemon liquor) and how it is made. I have also made a few Italian friends from running into them at bars all the time. They are very friendly and sometimes we just sit and talk for hours. This whole country may eventually die from lung cancer because everyone here smokes. There are so many other things but you would have to just come and see for your self.

 This is a beautiful garden behind my school. There are lemon and orange trees absolutely every where in this part of the country. 

 The sign said “do not go beyond this point” … it was worth it not to listen because we found this beautiful spot.

 That brown building with the red shutters is my school! It literally doesn’t get better than this.

 We hiked high up a hill to watch this gorgeous sunset!

 Not a bad spot to catch up on some journaling. This is Positano, Italy. This is my favorite place so far!


Sorrento is rooted in the holiday tradition of Christmas. In every square, there are light-up trees and figures. Each street has hanging and glowing decorations, and storefronts are covered in strands of twinkling lights. Garlands abound throughout the city. The palm trees glow and sway in the wind. Stores and street vendors alike start selling Christmas trinkets and gifts. The gigantic tree in the middle of Piazza Tasso plays a song every (decent) hour at night, with a choreographed light show to accompany it. At night on the weekends, the streets are crowded with locals and tourists alike, with clowns and giant penguins, with reindeer and Santa, with chestnuts being roasted and music playing from all corners of the city.

The general atmosphere is jovial, everyone is smiling and carefree as the holidays approach. Piazza Lauro has street food stands on the weekends, and concerts are happening almost every night. After New Year’s Day, the Teatro Tasso has free performances.


Black Friday shopping

Though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, it seems that the Black Friday deals have seeped over to the other side of the pond. Stores have 50% off for the first 50 people that come, and restaurants even have deals for the shopper on the move from store to store.


Film festival

There also is a major film festival that happens from the 28th of November to the first of December. It is called the “Giornate Professionali di Cinema” and this is the 39th year of the event. It takes place at the Hilton Sorrento Palace and the cinema. Distribution companies, press agencies, cinema merchants, production companies, technical workers and associations are all present. This way it isn’t just a showcase, but also a way for independent artists to interact with established professionals.



Why Sant’Anna?

I have several reasons that I chose Sant’Anna for my study abroad school.  My only credit that I had left to complete for college was my internship, so I figured, why not do that in Italy? I started searching for internships through my school, and Sant’Anna was the number one school recommended to me. I’m not the kind of person to just accept that because it was #1, means I should go there. I researched it and found that Sant’Anna has personalized internships, locational-relevant classes, and is very near the UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Amalfi Coast, the historical center of Naples, and Pompeii. All of these, plus the helpful and friendly nature of the staff I interacted with, made me choose Sant’Anna.

Personalized Internship:

I wanted an internship where I actually accomplish something. I didn’t want to have on my resume an internship that was just me getting coffee and donuts for an office. That doesn’t help me in the real world. My internship at Sant’Anna was customized specifically for me. I am an English major, so I write articles and proofread documents, I help with paperwork and run the social media for the school.


Sant’Anna offered very specific classes that interact with the area that it is situated in. My classes this semester include many courses specifically focused on Italy, Naples, and towns including and surrounding Sorrento. Anthropology of Europe is taught from a European standpoint, which is something that I cannot easily access in the United States. Just having a professor who lives in Europe and has worked for the EU has given me perspectives on how Europe works on cultural, social, and governmental levels that is impossible to get from a textbook.

Mediterranean Culture and History covers 5000 years of history in 15 weeks. It does talk about European history in general, but focuses on the Mediterranean and all of the empires that ruled in and around it. In one class, History of the Mafia, we discuss how the Mafia came into being in Southern Italy and why it is still a problem in the area.

Archeology: Cities of Fire is focused on the eruptions of Vesuvius, specifically the one in 79AD. We discuss and visit Pompeii, Herculaneum, and some smaller villas. The unique part of the class is visiting the sites with the professor and having class at the sites and seeing what we have read about. I took Archeology at my college, but actually being able to visit and explore the sites in real life adds an entirely new dimension to the class.

Homestay Option:

Another reason I chose Sant’Anna is because it offered a homestay option. I decided that if I am going to study abroad, why not live with a local family as well? It has helped me have a better understanding of everyday life in Southern Italy and given me opportunities I could never have had in an apartment. My host mother helps me with my Italian homework, my host father makes his own wine, and I can have a family setting while 4,986 miles away from my home (but who’s counting).


Sant’Anna Institute is located directly overlooking Marina Grande in Sorrento. Sorrento is right by the Amalfi Coast, and is usually used for a great place from which to explore the Amalfi Coast to the south, Pompeii and Naples to the north, or the island of Capri just off the tip of the peninsula to the west. Sorrento isn’t a major city, and I personally am drawn to smaller cities where I can get to know the locals easily and feel safe all the time. It has quaint family shops and beautiful parks and is on the Bay of Naples, with Vesuvius overlooking the town.

Sant’Anna was the right school for me to go to. It helped me immerse myself in Italian culture while also making me realize what my core values truly were. It gave me classes that fascinated me and professors that actually taught me not only about the subjects, but also myself and what I want to do with my life. It gave me a family to come visit the next time I am in Europe. It gave me friends who I know will last a lifetime. So thank you, Sant’Anna, and specifically thank you to the staff at the school.

Italian Differences: Surprises Overseas


The streets here are not like most American cities. They’re full of one ways and alleys, but people drive them as if they are the highways. There’s no real walking area, and scooters are constantly weaving between the cars. It’s terrifying at first, but you get used to it quickly.



In the United States, if a person needs to go to the store that is half a mile down the road, they drive. In Italy, people walk. Unless you’re going to another town, there’s no real reason for you to drive anywhere. I walk at least two miles a day, and it’s normal here.

Public Transportation

In the United States, someone can drive for six hours on the highway and never reach a major city. Most small towns have terrible bus systems (if they even have it) and only major cities have train and subway lines. Not in Europe! Every town has a bus route, most have train lines, and it’s easy to get from city to city for a relatively low price. I have ridden trams, busses, trains, subways, metro lines, and flown since traveling in Europe, and all for quite cheap compared to the United States.

Physical Touch

The United States is quite reserved with physical contact compared to Italy (or at least Southern Italy, those northerners are colder, like their cities). As soon as I met my host family, I got a name, a hug, and at least two kisses on the cheek from each of them (there were five that I met that day). Any local I am introduced to treats me the same way. As someone who loves contact, I was totally fine with it. I am the kind of person who hugs when I meet people instead of handshakes, so I felt perfectly at home with this. Most people that I have met in the United States however, only hug and engage in physical contact with people they’re close with, such as family and close friends.


The food is all local, and it’s hard to find anything that’s not Italian. I traveled to Naples for the nearest Mexican food, and it was not Mexican food (I assure you). My host family can tell me where all of the ingredients were grown or raised, and it’s usually within a mile of my house. I haven’t eaten anything with any preservatives or pesticides in months. The one time I did at McDonald’s (which took an hour to get to) I got sick because my body wasn’t used to processing it.


I’m going to be honest with you: I still don’t understand the garbage system here. Everything is sorted meticulously and each recyclable has a designated trash bag color and day it is collected.

Animals in the street

In Southern Italy, the cats and dogs are abounding. They wander to and fro, at all hours of the day, through historic sites and neighborhoods alike. A few days ago, I was followed by a pack of four cats and was late to my internship due to trying to bring them back to their houses. Most pets are outdoor pets, and wander since most houses do not have yards for them. My host family has three cats, and it’s not uncommon to not see one for a week since they’re off wandering. 1

Naples: On My Own

Naples was the first European city I was in. I flew in a few days before class. I decided to be (more) adventurous and stay in a hostel, to see if I could really survive internationally. This wasn’t just a vacation; this was me testing myself and my limits to see if I am truly a world-traveling adult like I think I am.

img_7945What I’d heard

So many people were nervous for me going to southern Italy. Then I’d tell them I was flying into Naples, and they’d be terrified. My grandmother begged me to choose a better place. Her suggestion was Canada. Suffice to say, I stuck to my decision. I hadn’t been nervous about going until multiple people voiced their concerns. None of them had been there though, so I decided to trust my gut and go.

How I prepared

I was a little nervous for going abroad in general, and all the websites I read had one common rule: don’t look like a tourist. I didn’t even know what that meant, so I just googled Italian fashion and picked the best clothes that were the closest to those photos. Unfortunately for me, I dress like a summer camp counselor year round, which means bright clothes, socks and sandals, and comfort over cuteness. None of those are European fashion.

I also tried to refresh my Italian, since I hadn’t practiced in three months. I should have never stopped practicing. I might have been a bit better off in Naples if I had just remembered a few basic phrases.img_8045

The streets were so hard to figure out for me, though now they are second nature. They are narrow and one way, twisty and usually lined with buildings with no sidewalk. For a girl who grew up with cookie-cutter streets and avenues, at least 2 lanes, and a standard sidewalk, it was stressful and confusing. It’s just a thing that I had to adjust to, along with the language and customs. It was all overwhelming for me. When I get stressed and overwhelmed, I tense up like a spring. One of the hostel workers noticed this and made me do deep breathing exercises and yoga, which halfway through I started crying. Have you ever been in the downward dog and started sobbing? Because I have.

Hostel life

Lucky for me, the hostel I booked is apparently one of the top 25 in all of Europe: the Hostel of the Sun. The staff were helpful and told me places to go that locals went, which is great because my goal of traveling is to get to know the places I go, instead of see the cool things and be done. Don’t get me wrong though, I definitely went to all the castles and saw a bunch of historical sites. I want to know the culture and the customs of the cities I travel to.img_8050

I love Naples; Castel dell’Ovo, the pizza, Cappella Sansevero, the Spanish quarter, Santa Chiara, Gesu Nuovo, the piazzas, and the friendly locals who will help a small town girl from the Midwest United States. Napoli has a special place in my heart.

I am basically the best target for nefarious activities: I was small, alone, a woman, didn’t speak the language well, didn’t really know what I was doing, and knew no one in the entire continent. If nothing happened to me in three days, I doubt anything will happen to any tourist who uses common sense. Maybe it’s my Midwestern personality, but I tend to find the American tourists and act as a friendly guide and translator, complete with tips on how to do Naples right. Sometimes they talk down on Naples, but I am always quick to defend it.