I'm so pleased to be back for a teaching stint in Orvieto, Italy. The town is about an hour northeast of Rome. I'm teaching two classes for the Arizona in Italy Summer Study Abroad Program. I teach a course in creative non-fiction that invites students to unpack their experiences. We just finished reading Phil Doran's delightful The Reluctant Tuscan. I also teach a film and lit course with the same goal--to help students get a better sense of their surroundings and themselves. We just finished reading E.M. Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread; today's movie selection is A Room with a View, the Merchant and Ivory film based very closely on the eponymous novel, again by E.F. Forster.
Lucky me—I made it back to Orvieto this summer to do some summer teaching and get some Italian practice. Today in class we talked about E.M. Forster’s “Where Angels Fear to Tread” and also Phil Doran’s “The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian.” Both are fun texts. Then in the meantime I’ve been taking walks around town (no handy swimming pool—it’s the one drawback). The walls around the edge of the city make for scenic views! And since I’ve been spending time in Arizona, it’s actually just really cool to see big trees.
Orvieto might be a quiet place, but there’s a lot going on under the surface. In fact, last night I was sitting at my desk and I thought, am I crazy? My whole kitchen shook for several seconds. I thought: either an earthquake or my upstairs neighbors are elephants who are playing games by moving around the couches. No, it was a small earthquake near here, about 4.2. I felt another one this evening, but it wasn’t as strong. However, the teachers are thrilled—to be on the safe side, many of the elementary schools closed early today and will be closed tomorrow—and Thursday is a national holiday! (No, in Orvieto they never have snow days…..)
Travel is my biggest inspiration. In fact, my motto is that when it comes to travel, no excuse is too small. But now that I'm writing more fiction, I have a special need for the perfect setting. You never know when something exciting or suspicious might take place in a colorful foreign setting!