News News: Italian Studies

My First Trip to Italy

By Marisa Lemma (Government major & Economics minor, ’20).

Marisa on a trip to Cinque Terre

I had been dreaming about going to Italy for as long as I can remember. I remember telling my parents even in third grade that I would one day visit Italy. I would pore over my “First Thousand Words in Italian” book trying to soak up as much of the language as possible, and I had my sights set not just on studying Italian, but on studying it in Italy someday. After taking Italian for four semesters at W&M, it had become somewhat of an obsession for me.

So when I was accepted into the Florence program for this past summer, I had a lot of pre-conceived expectations. Luckily, Italy did not disappoint. I visited ancient sites in Rome, watched incredible sunsets in Venice, saw beautiful landscapes in Siena, went wine tasting in Chianti, tried the world’s best gelato in San Gimignano, and put my feet in the bluest water I’ve ever seen in Cinque Terre.

First night at the homestay: Marisa (right) with roommate (center) and host mom (left)

But out of all the places I visited, Florence was my favorite. My host mom made the most amazing food, and with my art history class I got to visit all the city’s main sites, including more breathtakingly-beautiful churches than I can count and the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s famous David statue.

While I was abroad, I practiced my Italian a lot. My host mom spoke no English, so I was fully immersed in the language at my homestay. I was the only American in my Italian class, so when I didn’t know a word, I couldn’t just translate it to English – I had to try to define it in Italian. Though this was difficult, my speaking ability improved greatly, and I now find myself asking “come si dice…?” less and less.

Even though I’m back in the US now, I’m still enamored with the country and its culture, and I’m counting down the days until I can go back.