CofC Logo
Ask the Cougar

Archives For May 2013

Buongiorno —

Each Wednesday we’re here, a different group of students will be reading from their work to their peers. Last night was the inaugural event, hosted by The Boys because their front room is the largest of all the six apartments here, and because it was raining outside — we’ve had a lot of rain this year, more than any thus far. Melinda McCollum, Professor Tony Varallo’s wife (and herself an instructor in the Department of English) provided the food, including baked ricotta and salami, crostini and breadsticks.

Trey reading

Featured this evening were Trey (shown here in the hot seat, a panorama of the entire room), TJ, Corinne and Shika, each reading from work they had written for their classes here. A fine evening of literature and hospitality.

On to Florence today — and it’s still raining outside —

Ciao —


Mi Amici!

One of the hallmarks of our educational trip here to Spoleto is the all-day cooking class with chef Andrea Leonelli at his restaurant, Locanada Rovicciano,  in nearby Castel Ritaldi. Each year Andrea teaches them how to make different dishes, though there’s always the making of their own pasta.


Lauren, Corrinne, Andrea and John making pasta

This year, because porcini mushrooms were perfectly in season, they made — of course — porcini ravioli, plated here by Artur, Andrea’s second chef.

Artur, Lauren and Corrinne1

Porcini ravioli

In addition they cooked a stew of guinea fowl and vegetables, along with eggplant napoleons; finally, because Corrinne happened to mention she liked pears, and because Andrea happened to have a bowl full of them, he whipped up on the spot a tarte of pears sautéed in pear cognac, served with homemade chocolate squares and homemade cinnamon ice cream. Rest assured, we all got to sit down and enjoy the feast — inside this year, because, sadly, it was raining outside.

Pears1 Andrea and TJ2

Yes, this is a part of the educational mission of the trip: getting students out into a larger world to learn what they can do for themselves. In this case, creating a fabulous repast.


Ciao —



Buongiorno —

A quick one this morning, as I’m trying to play catch up for those days lost to internet problems.

Through the good graces of the city of Spoleto, we hold our classes smack in the middle of the old city, in Palazzo Nobili on Piazza della Liberta.

Palazzo Nobili

The building was erected in the 17th century for one of the most wealthy families in Spoleto, and today houses the Spoleto office of the National Alliance for Olives and Olive Oil. Suffice it to say, it is a grand place (the above photo, a stock photo I found because I haven’t yet taken a picture of the place — our classroom is on the top floor, far left windows). So grand that this is the view from the restroom of the place— the one I thought to take.

View from the restroom

You guessed it: that’s a Roman amphitheater down there, discovered only a hundred years ago when archaeologists started digging around. Before that, it was the gardens for Palazzo Nobili.

Our classes are in a very nice place. Thank you, Spoleto.

Ciao —


The weather held, and our walking tour of Spoleto turned out to be a sunny ramble in brisk afternoon air.

Spoleto duomo

Above is a photo of the group walking down the steps toward the duomo (note Trey’s C of C shirt!), Spoleto’s signature landmark built in the 13th century and adorned with a Byzantine mosaic above roseate windows; inside is the extraordinary series of frescoes by Phillipo Lippi chronicling the life of Mary and filling the apse of the duomo.

View inside duomo

View inside the duomo

We made it to the top of the town and back again, ending the day with a surprise birthday dinner for Delaney out by the pool — below is a photo of the toast made in her honor, and then the cake smuggled in by her roommates, Delaney delighted and embarrassed and just a little stunned this had all been pulled off without her having a clue. The dinner is a terrific a sign that the group has coalesced — every one of them contributed in some way to the celebration, and a good time was had by all.

toast to Delaney




Buongiorno! Bret Lott here, once again in Italy with the Spoleto Summer Study Abroad Program in English. As with every year, we bring a gang of students from the College of Charleston over to our sister city of Spoleto to study writing and literature, as well as to enjoy and appreciate and learn from the culture here. And as with every year, I’m sending out little missives about what we’ve been doing and accompanying photos — what has come to be known as the Spoleto Picture a Day Project.

We all arrived to the villa safely Thursday afternoon.

1 Villa

View from the villa where CofC students and faculty are staying.

We walked the town later that day — all the way down the hill from here and then back up to the top of Spoleto and La Rocca, where the view was as tremendous as ever.

2 ponte della torri

Students swarmed the best gelato store in town, much to the shop owner’s delight and commerce.

3 Gelato

Saturday, we all took the day trip to Castellucio, elevation 4700 feet and set in the Parco Nazionale de Monti Sibilini, where we had a picnic of porchetta sandwiches and took in the view.

4 Panorama

Click on this photo for a panoramic view of Castellucio.

All systems go here — and now we are off to take the walking tour of town. It’s raining a little today, so wish us well — more soon!

Ciao —


Skip to toolbar