CofC Logo
Ask the Cougar

Archives For June 2017

2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 17

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 8 June 2017 | 11:05 am

by: Bret Lott

Creative Writing Professor Bret Lott is leading the summer, 2017, study abroad program in Spoleto, Italy.


We take a couple of day trips on the weekends, and this year we’re visiting different small towns than in the past (remember Gubbio and the Funivia?). We had read about the little—little—town of Cività di Bagnoregio, an ancient village first carved out of the porous tufa rock by the Etruscans, and the way the place simply rises up out of the surrounding canyons, serving as a stronghold and city center for centuries. When we arrived, all the descriptions we’d read and pictures we’d seen came nowhere near the awesome beauty of the town. The place is only reachable by a VERY long walk from the town of Bagnoregio across a pedestrian bridge, up and up and up. Once inside the walls, we stopped at a tiny panini purveyor—literally a hole in the wall—and had sandwiches with fresh backed focaccia (still warm!), then wandered the streets to take in the vistas and gardens. This was a hot day, and this was a long trek, but everyone agreed it was well worth the visit. I asked the students if they thought we should take next year’s gang here, and they all said yes, their only suggestion that next time we stay longer. We took that as a good sign.


Cività di Bagnoregio.

The gang BEFORE the walk. It’s a long way.

It’s good to be a cat in Bagnoregio.

2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 16

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 7 June 2017 | 2:55 pm

by: Bret Lott

Creative Writing Professor Bret Lott is leading the summer, 2017, study abroad program in Spoleto, Italy.

Representing even on washday.


2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 15

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 6 June 2017 | 2:54 pm

by: Bret Lott

Creative Writing Professor Bret Lott is leading the summer, 2017, study abroad program in Spoleto, Italy.

I Miei Amici!

For the record, the walk from the villa into town for classes isn’t for the faint of heart. The students are warned plenty of times before we leave for Italy that we will be walking. We will be walking. We will be walking. The villa is at the top of a hill; the class is near the top of the hill that is Spoleto. The vast majority of the walk—from the villa switchbacking down to the Coop, our grocery store, and from the Piazza Garibaldi all the way to the biblioteca—is pedestrian only; we deal with only three crosswalks in the entire trek. The altitude of the villa is 1139 feet, the lowest point on the road at the bottom of the hill is 1031 feet, and the biblioteca is at 1302 feet, so the walk is, naturally, down and up, then down and up going home (and a total of 2.86 miles, if they don’t do any walking around at lunch).

But halfway up on the way in is a wonderful spot, right at the halfway mark and at 1241 feet. Here stands the best bar-café in Spoleto: Te-Bro (the students call it The Bro), and it’s where every morning we all stop, go in and ask of the ladies inside for cappuccinos and cornettoes, and then take a seat at one of the tables, and breathe easier for a while. The ladies take good care of us, know we’re from the College of Charleston, and are happy when we show up. We’re happy too.


The actual walk to school, courtesy Google Earth: 1.43 miles.

The walk down.

The walk up.

The pastries at Te-Bro, half-way.

2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 14

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 6 June 2017 | 10:08 am

by: Bret Lott

Creative Writing Professor Bret Lott is leading the summer, 2017, study abroad program in Spoleto, Italy.

Caroi Amici:

Well, Day 14 is here, and we’re half-way through. There’s a day every year during my course when I take the students out, set each one in a spot on a particular narrow viale in town, and have them write. That was today. It’s an opportunity to get out of the classroom and take in the town of Spoleto, to sit and to ruminate, and to try and put into words their time here in a different land. Today’s assignment was to begin to take notes toward the final paper, “On Spoleto,” or to write a review of either their tour of the wineries or of the town of Assisi. Two different kinds of travel writing, one impressionistic and the other factual. Another good day well spent here in Spoleto.


Aimee, writing!

Jenna, writing!

Mattie, writing, and representin’, too!

2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 13

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 5 June 2017 | 1:10 pm

by: Bret Lott

Creative Writing Professor Bret Lott is leading the summer, 2017, study abroad program in Spoleto, Italy.


I know I say it too many times, but really, really, THIS is the best day. Though there are two of them, actually. So, one of two of the best days.

This is the day the students take cooking classes with Andrea Leonelli at Locanda Rovicciano, his country inn in Castel Ritaldi, a few kilometers outside Spoleto. Set in a 15th century farmhouse he restored himself, the restaurant is a place where students every year come to spend a day making all kinds of genuine Italian food, all of it basic and simple and fresh. Then, miracle of miracles—urrà!—they all sit down and partake of what they’ve made.

Andrea is a world class chef—I am not overstating this; his having been the lead chef in service to the Italian delegation to the United Nations in New York for two years is testimony enough. But there’s plenty more—training in Spain and London and New York and, of course, his home town of Florence. But he is an absolutely regular guy, funny, humble, smart and patient, and the students always learn more than they thought they could about cooking, and how easy it really is to prepare fresh and delicious Italian food (and to impress their friends when they get back home). All while having an amazing day in the country, and eating that food!

Today’s feast included ravioli with ricotta and rocket in sugo di pomodoro with crispy pancetta, strongozzi with fresh pesto and fried sage just then plucked from Andrea’s herb garden, a stew of guinea fowl and fresh vegetables, and for dessert panna cotta with sautéed peaches. Oh, and there was a cheese break in the middle of the morning, four different aged goat cheeses with fig jam, balsamic vinegar and local honey. With a little glass of vino muscato to make things perfect.


Pasta and pasta and pasta. They made all this!

The happy chef: everyone is working. This isn’t a staged shot—they’re all at work!

Sous chef Emilano and the full stovetop: sauteed peaches, then guinea fowl stew, then fresh pesto, then sugo di pomodoro, and the strongozzi on the boil, all with Emiliano’s approval.

The team just before plating: Chef Andrea, Kara, Mary, Brett, Nick, McKayla, Alex and Chris.

Skip to toolbar