Tom. K., UK,
I am a regular visitor to Italy, but it’s been a source of embarrassment for some years that I have no Italian at all. I love Italian culture, Italian food, Italian weather. (The coffee is a bit strong for me though!).
I had some time in September so did some searching on the web to find a course that could combine language lessons with cooking .. I fancy myself as a decent cook, but there is always something to learn both in general and in particular when it comes to the specific dishes of a region. And the region? For me it had to be the south, I’ve travelled all around northern Italy from Liguria to Veneto, north to Bolzano, and south as far as Rome and Naples, but something about southern culture has always intrigued me.
A discussion with an Italian friend in London who had a trip to Puglia earlier this year with her sister, who lives in Rome, sold me on Puglia. The history, the architecture, and the food of course, seemed exactly what I wanted. And so it was that I found myself spending early September with Michela at her school, L'Acanto, in Mesagne.
Mesagne, about 10km inland from Brindisi, is a gem of a place, a historic small town with sites going back before the Romans to the Greek period, nestling amid the olive plantations and vineyards that make Puglia so well known for its produce. Michela was very patient as I found out that my pronunciation (based on memories of 40 year old schoolboy Latin) needed quite a bit of adjustment. Her teaching pace was ideal and we went out to cafes in the square nearby to practice. I have much homework to do before I come back for my next set of lessons, but it was a great start.
Cooking with Pierangela was something very special - access not just to recipes, weights and timings, but to a philosophy of cooking and eating, as much a discussion about how to live as on cooking technique. Fascinating to hear Pierangela and Michela discuss subtle differences in how their respective families cooked traditional dishes. I also found out why southern Italians sleep in the afternoon … hard to do anything else after such wonderful meals.
Evening excursions were fascinating, to Brindisi and Lecce, other local villages and to local wine producers, and of course some time was spent in Mesagne itself. I chose not to hire a car and this was sensible as my schedule was pretty packed. (Plus I was free to enjoy the local Negroamaro and Primitivo wines - a case of which I ordered during my trip and which I’m slowly enjoying).
All in all a fantastic trip and I am very much looking forward to returning to Mesagne. It seems it’s quite common for people who study with Michela to fall in love with the place - we bumped into several on our travels who had studied and stayed in Mesagne, or at least who return regularly on holiday. After my wonderful visit, this was no surprise - it’s a special place. Thanks for such a wonderful time.
Lynda P., teacher, Melbourne, Australia,
I have completed a 2 week course in Italian language and culture at la Scuola l'Acanto in Mesagne, Puglia. It has been an unforgettable experience. Michela is able to adapt her method of teaching to suit the needs of the individual student. The excursions to the Ionian coast, Lecce, the festival of St Anthony at Ceglie and the local fruit and vegetable market were unexpected and enjoyable experiences.
My apartment was very comfortable and lacked for nothing. The apartment is in the residential area of Mesagne, a ten minute walk to the historical part of town. It was free of tourists and allowed me to appreciate how the real Italians live.
Michela's care and attention were exceptional and I can thoroughly recommend a course of study at la Scuola l'Acanto.
Grazie di tutto
Dorothea L., New Zeland,
I'm writing to thank you for an excellent week at l'Acanto school last week. You welcomed me so warmly to Mesagne and made me feel like a special guest.
As a teacher myself I admired and appreciated your lively, varied and responsive teaching. You used the material I spoke about to teach from, and thus extended my knowledge and ability to speak in Italian. This also meant that the classes were relevant to my interests and my level. The excursions gave me some cultural understanding and experience of Puglia and connected well to the morning language classes. I'm very happy about my experience at your school and would love to return someday. I will be recommending you to others in New Zealand.
Peter and Jackie, UK,
My wife and I decided to visit a part of Italia to which we have never been before, Puglia.
We decided that we would combine a week long break with brushing up on our Italian at the same time and through a friend had been recommended L’Acanto language school in Mesagne in Puglia.
We contacted Michela the principle teacher and unfortunately were told that the school was closed in that period (August).
Michela said come anyway and stay with my parents in their house by the beach in Campomarino, we decided to give it a try and what a great decision it turned out be!
Michela´s family was excellent hosts, her mother is an excellent cook and we ate fabulous home cooked Pugliese food every night washed down with wonderful local wine supplied by the father.
The beach was literally only 500 meters away and the sea was warm and wonderfully clear.
Michela offered to guide us for a couple of days and proved to be a very knowledgeable guide and very good company. We visited Lecce (known as the Florence of the south) Gallipoli, Brindisi and Mesagne, all very interesting and worth a visit.
We asked to visit the school for the future and were very pleased to see that it was bright clean and airy, it seemed a very nice atmosphere in which to learn or revise one’s Italian.
It was, in short a fantastic holiday and a wonderful experience, I would have no hesitation in recommending both the school and the area.