Living/Learning Center Programs
The University of


Casa Italiana

The Casa Italiana will provide an introduction to different aspects of Italian culture with an especial focus on Italy’s artistic heritage, language, and cuisine.


Students in the Italian house will enjoy a unique learning experience in which the rich culture of Italy will be explored through a variety of weekly activities.  Italy’s artistic heritage will be an especial focus, with lectures, museum visits, and videos that will inform students about the major artists and monuments from ancient Rome through the twentieth century.  In the unusual opportunity that the Living/Learning center provides, Italian art will be presented in its overall cultural context.  Italians recognize art as an integral part of their culture, not just projected images on a screen as we typically learn about art in the American classroom.  It is as much a part of their cultural identity as their language.  It is this cultural outlook that we will seek to replicate in the Casa Italiana.


Students do not necessarily need prior coursework in Italian language.  We will adapt the language component of the course to students’ backgrounds.  The only requirement is a genuine interest in Italian culture!



Each member will broaden his or her understanding of Italian culture. (Both first and second semesters)


Fall Semester 2004:

During the fall semester, we will have weekly, regularly scheduled class time.  During this class time, we will discuss a different region: northern, central, and southern Italy (one region per month).  Students will learn about the different Italian provinces of each region, exploring their history and traditions.  They will learn how to cook some typical regional dishes at monthly dinners, where we will discuss current events in Italy, and listen to Italian music. At these dinners (and at our weekly meetings), students will have an opportunity to hone their language skills with a native speaker.   Students will be evaluated based on their participation and on in-class presentations.

Other activities will include movie screenings. Flyers will be distributed inviting anyone who would like to come.  Discussion will follow, in which the following types of questions will be considered: Does the movie/documentary reflect a positive or negative view of the Italian culture? Does it represent this culture honestly? Why is this film important to our understanding of the Italian culture? Who made this film and why? What are your feelings on the film?

We will also celebrating some of Italy’s national holidays.  A calendar will be made and posted in the common room of all of the suites.  At our weekly sessions the significance of each of the holidays will be discussed.

Spring Semester 2005:

During the spring semester, students may further their study of Italian culture in a STEP course on The Art of Renaissance Florence.  We will continue to meet monthly for dinners, learning to cook typical Florentine and/or Tuscan dishes, discussing different aspects of Italian life, and speaking the language with native speakers.


In association with The Learning Co-op our qualified members will provide free tutoring for students taking Italian language. We plan to integrate our program in the Burlington community by offering free lessons in Introductory Italian to primary and secondary schools during their after-school program time. Members will also be encouraged to volunteer as a tutor to at least one child per semester in H.O. Wheeler or L. Barnes Elementary Schools.


Movie screenings will be advertised through flyers designed by the program members. They will include on them the name of the movie, a description, the date and time it will be shown, and a cultural aspect. Flyers will then be photocopied and distributed to students to put up around campus.

Lecture flyers will also be made in the same process as Movie screening flyers. Both lectures and movie screenings will be added to the LLNEWS weekly electronic newsletter to notify students of upcoming events.


We will need a classroom equipped with two slide projectors, a screen, a television, a DVD and a VCR.    We will also need to schedule times in which we can use the kitchen facilities for our monthly dinners.


Our program will fit in nicely with the overarching theme of Diverse Cultures and Languages. There are already suites dedicated to German, Spanish, and Japanese. We hope this Italian suite is able to work in conjunction with the other language houses to work on group projects such as tutoring or activities to broaden others' knowledge of a foreign language and culture. Our program could interact with culinary arts in order to create wonderful dinners, or with an art-oriented suite to learn more about art's effect on Italy's culture.

Program Directors:


Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio

Assistant Professor

Department of Art and Art History


Rachel Maiori, `07 


Maja Sedic, `05