Lifelong Learning Program
Lifelong Learning is an experience organized for individuals or small groups who would like to work in, or see a part of Italy that is off-the-beaten path while engaging in creative activities. These experiences occur throughout the summer months and dovetail with some of the trips and activities of the Studio School. Participants are provided with accommodation and meals. Airport transfers are free when coordinated with Studio School arrivals and departures and field trips are included as scheduled for the Studio School. Additional locations can be arranged, with transportation either as a group or with a private driver. Creative activities you may want to explore such as a cooking, art workshops or Italian line dancing can be arranged as well, subject to availability. See our custom itineraries pages for more information and contact us for options.
Designed to facilitate a number of interrelated needs, our Lifelong Learning Programs include:
Have you ever imagined bringing your own group to Italy? Or perhaps you would like travel to Italy on your own or with a friend while expanding your horizons, developing your knowledge, and learning new skills. If so, we invite you to survey our range of offerings, in The Lifelong Learning Program. Our programs reflect our philosophy that learning is a life long adventure and that the best way to learn about Italy is to experience its people and places though activities that stimulate your senses, engage your mind, and let you express yourself. Our goal is to make this possible. For those interested in a creative arts experience––from drawing and painting, to creating travel journals and scrapbooks, to participating in yoga and wellness, doing landscape photography, or for those interested in culinary arts - our programs will provide you with a perspective on Italy that few travelers experience.
As a continuing education provider, we are able to draw upon the expertise of our Studio School in the International Center for the Arts in Monte Castello. Thus, rather than being shown around by a tour operator, your experience be guided by professionals. Our faculty and staff are specialists in Italian Art and Architecture and are drawn from some of the foremost art institutions in the world. Together with our Italian partners, we draw upon our collective experience to design excursions to suit your group’s educational needs; each itinerary creating its own unique blend of workshop activities in our home base village of Monte Castello and day trips to surrounding cultural sites. Coupled with our own experience living in Italy, this expertise allows us to add sites to your itinerary that tourists never see: ancient ruins hidden away in a forest, a monastery lost in the mountains, or a forgotten masterpiece hidden away in a country chapel. From olive farmers to artists, our day trip leaders and teachers are experts in their fields and share the common purpose of enriching your knowledge of this remarkable region of Italy. If you let us know your objectives; we can guide your discoveries.
Rather than being based in a tourist center or hotel, your visit to Umbria will originate in the heartland of Italy in the hill town of Monte Castello di Vibio. Perched on its little mountain-top in the geographic center of Italy and shaped like a heart, Monte Castello is home to about 300 residents, most of whom are descended from generations and generations of Montecastelesi. These local people are directly involved in the day-to-day functioning of our programs. From tour leader to shop keeper, from dance instructor to chef, as a participant in our program you will experience genuine Umbrian hospitality while developing new skills and making new friends.
Our location is central. In fact, Monte Castello is very nearly the geographic center of Italy. We are thus able to make day trips to most sites in Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio in under two hours! You can pursue your activities at a relaxed pace in a focused, meditative environment, enjoying the bella vita (beautiful life) of a traditional Italian hill town, while easily making excursions to larger cultural centers. Throughout your trip, you and your group will have a truly unique experience of Italy, seeing all the sites that are important to you, but returning each day to a peaceful, traditional village that allows you to savor your experience.
Our ancient village is remarkably well-preserved––itself an inspiring subject for artists and writers––and makes the perfect setting for cultural groups from any discipline. Our setting combines medieval architecture with panoramas of the Tiber Valley and the mountains of central Italy, stimulates the imagination and provides a clarity of mind that is conducive to both relaxation and concentration. The small size of this village of 250 inhabitants and the security of its timeless hilltop location even today provides a level of safety and security that makes it ideally suited to both younger groups and mature travelers. Monte Castello imparts a sense of comfort in the confidence that its cobblestone streets are safe to wander any time, day or night.
The surrounding countryside is home to one of the richest areas of farmland in the country, hence the designation for Umbria, as: “the green heart of Italy.” The rich and bountiful harvest from these farms yields equally rich traditions in cooking, olive oil production, and wine and cheese making. Our partner in Italy, Massimo Cappoccia, comes from a prominent family of Montecastellesi himself. Through his family farm, Massimo can provide broad insights into the age-old methods of planting and harvesting some of the freshest organic produce of the region, as well as into the production of some of the area’s finest wines, olive oils, cheeses and preserved meats.
All our program participants will have a wonderful introduction to traditional Umbrian cuisine, with meals prepared in our on site kitchen from the freshest ingredients. Except for field trip days, program participants will enjoy three generous meals every day, all lovingly prepared by our cook. Daytime meals are served in our common space where participants interact with faculty, residents, and students in stimulating mealtime discussions while dinner is served on an outdoor terrace overlooking the beautiful Tiber valley, with a spectacular panorama of mountains stretching eastward almost to the sea.
Known as: “The Land of Saints” the traditional religious devotion of the Umbrian people is legendary, and is reflected in iconic figures such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clair. Indeed, this connection to spirituality and contemplative thought is central to the Italian identity, and has resulted in the creation of some of the world’s most important cultural and artistic monuments. Because of this, generations of artists and historians have come to Umbria to study. As home to an internationally recognized art school for over twenty-five years, Monte Castello has been particularly blessed in drawing world-renowned artists and art historians to settle around the village. The artistic and intellectual atmosphere thus created continues to enrich our community with some of the foremost authorities on the arts in the world. The legacy of distinguished artists and scholars who have participated in the arts here continues to motivate artists, scholars, writers, dancers and musicians of the highest caliper to visit, to bring their students and to continue the tradition of excellence in the arts.
Participants are housed in a variety of accommodations including double occupancy apartments in the village or single rooms with shared bath in a former convent with spectacular views. Single occupancy apartments also are available for an extra fee. For groups wanting to have a self contained focus, a luxury country villa is available just outside of town as well. Depending on your group’s focus and timeframe, classrooms and or private or semi-private studio spaces will be available. Access to classroom and meeting spaces are available each session. We offer group leaders’ accommodations and/or studio space as needed at no cost for one person.
Our Lifelong Learning activities fall outside of the scope our Studio School, Study Abroad and Residency Programs. For more information on pricing and included features contact us and see the appropriate link.