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Italian Learning Experience in the Heart of the Mediterranean Sea

Published on Thursday, March 23, 2017

“The Province of Trapani is a digest of the Mediterranean lifestyle" -Guido Piovene, 1956.


The area of Trapani, on the westernmost tip of Sicily, still today offers the most representative sample of Mediterranean lifestyle of all Italy. Its economy thrives on agriculture, fishing and winegrowing. The seaside town of Trapani and the saltpans nature reserve next to it (where windmills and hips of hand-harvested salt drying in the sun offer a unique out-of-time scenery) are surrounded by a fertile hilly countryside dominated by olive trees and vineyards - the Trapani province has the highest concentration of vineyards of all Europe! In Marsala (30 minutes from Trapani) especially delicious wines are produced traditionally and can be tasted in century-old cellars offering a one-of-a-kind tasting experience.


Besides wine and sea salt, the finest Sicilian bread and olive oil are produced in Castelvetrano (one hour by train) while Mazara del Vallo (50 minutes) is Italy's largest fishing port. Fishing has always been a major industry, especially tuna fishing: evidence of this ancient Mediterranean practice is on display in the "Tonnara Florio" museum on the wonderful island of Favignana (20 minutes by hydrofoil). A typically Mediterranean context means not only healthy local food, but also wonderful sea spots like the pluri awarded sandy beach of San Vito Lo Capo (one hour by bus), the Egadi islands with their imposing rocky beaches, the Zingaro reserve with its enchanting pebbly beaches or the volcanic island of Pantelleria off the African coast (a 30-minute flight from Trapani airport).

With its 2600 hours of sunshine per year, in Trapani you can swim almost year round in one of the several beaches in town. Water sports fans can practice sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, especially in the shallow waters of the Stagnone lagoon, a nature reserve where water sports coexist with archaeology. There the tiny island of Mothia, the most prominent Punic site in the Mediterranean, can offer to visitors a truly unique experience: a short trip on board a motorboat, a long walk around the digs surrounded by the sounds of nature, a small but stunning collection of finds in the museum… Other experiences in active tourism you can live within few miles from Trapani, even in half a day, include the ancient temples of Segesta and Selinunte, Europe's largest archaeological site, as well as the wonderful medieval town of Erice, which you can easily reach from Trapani via a scenic cableway. Trapani is also the province with the greatest variety of cultural heritage: Phoenicians, Greeks, Elymians, then Arabs... From architecture to cookery, from the Mazara Casbah to the typical Trapanese recipe of fish "cuscusu", there are many elements showing the deep Arab influence in this western corner of Sicily.


Since 2006 Scuola Virgilio hasn't just given its students the opportunity to study Italian in Trapani, but also to be part of the local life and discover the authentic charm of Sicily during a study holiday with a perfect blend of language, culture and fun. At Scuola Virgilio intensive Italian classes in small groups enable fast progression in a friendly and informal atmosphere during the long Sicilian summer. Students are from around the world, both teenagers (mostly as school groups in the off-season), adults and seniors and all enjoy spending some weeks - or months - in a place where history, cooking, landscapes and beaches make up the perfect destination to study Italian by the seaside.

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