I spent a wonderful week studying Italian at L’Acanto. The school’s director and principal instructor, Michela, is a very talented teacher. She is exceptionally knowledgeable and takes her teaching—and Italian itself—very seriously. She manages to effectively address grammar and pronunciation issues while at the same time being extremely encouraging and good-natured. Michela also tailored the instruction to my exact needs and interests, and she was always prepared with individualized lessons and materials. There were opportunities to learn outside the classroom as well. One morning, for example, we went to Mesagne’s market (where, among other things, I learned that the word for cucumber is certriolo and that Puglian cetrioli are far more delicious than and look nothing like the cucumbers in my grocery store at home).
In addition to learning Italian from Michela or one of her colleagues, studying at L’Acanto provides a fantastic opportunity to temporarily live in a small city in Puglia, without the tourist crush of Rome or Tuscany. The school is located in Mesagne’s beautiful centro storico, which is surrounded by the more modern portion of the city. I was very fortunate to be able to stay in a beautiful, spacious, immaculate apartment in Michela’s family’s home, which was an easy walk to the school. If you have the opportunity to stay there, you should seize it! The apartment is also a short walk to Mesagne’s train station. It’s very simple to travel from Mesagne by train to other points of interest in Puglia, such as Lecce, Ostuni, Brindisi, and Grottaglie. With a car, there are even more options, but it’s certainly not essential to have one. It was a real pleasure to be able to travel so easily, especially with Michela’s enthusiastic guidance, to such beautiful, historic places that, in most cases, few other tourists seem to seek out. Another benefit of studying Italian in Puglia is that it’s much easier to find opportunities to use it. In places like Rome and Florence, people in stores and restaurants would often prefer to use their English. In Puglia, my halting Italian was always welcome.
I cannot thank Michela enough not only for her exceptional teaching but also for her kindness and helpfulness. It was a pleasure to spend time with her and with her lovely parents. Her father provided coffee for us at the start of every school day, and her mother’s cooking was simply amazing. (I still especially dream of her polpette di pane, and I aspire to make them someday myself.)
My only regret is that I spent just a week at L’Acanto. I still have a lot of Italian to learn, and L’Acanto is fantastic place to learn it. Next time I’ll stay longer. Grazie mille, Michela!

Esther T., USA ,