By Kaylee Holt, MA 2015-16
In the summer of 2014 I had the privilege of living in the most beautiful place in the entire world – Tuscania, Italy. Contrary to popular belief, Tuscania is not actually located in Tuscany. It is located in Lazio, about an hour north of Rome. Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici has a campus in Tuscania located just inside the medieval walls, and I attended archaeological field school there for a month. As much as I love studying in Florence, Tuscania is the place in Italy that truly has my heart. The month I spent there, studying the Etruscans through archaeology and hanging out with the seven greatest friends I could ever ask for, was the best month of my life. I learned that I have a true passion for the Etruscans and archaeology, as well as for Italian culture. Had I not gone to Tuscania for that one short month last summer, I know I would not be in Florence studying museums today.
Now that I have expressed my love for Tuscania, let’s discuss logistics. Tuscania is a very small town with about 8,000 inhabitants. Most of the city is still enclosed by medieval walls that surround the city. The city has now expanded beyond the walls with much newer buildings, grocery stores, restaurants, apartments, hotels, gas stations, and more. The entire town is centered around a rotunda with six roads stemming from it. You cannot get anywhere in Tuscania without driving around the rotunda at least once. The swimming pool in Tuscania is a pool by day and concert venue by night. The Egyptian market has the cheapest and tastiest fruits and vegetables ever, and the park by the tower has the most beautiful view in the world. It features an old castle and the Basilica of San Pietro surrounded by the Italian countryside. If you want to sample tiramisu that will blow you away, you will find it at Kyathos, a lovely restaurant owned by the cutest couple of all time. Caffe del Duomo is your one stop shop for panini, coffee, gelato, soda, candy, and beverages. They have an awesome aperitivo buffet on the weekends for only three euro, any college student’s dream! All of these great places are just short walks from anywhere you stay, as you could probably lap the entire town by foot in less than 30 minutes.
Staying in Tuscania is magnificent but there are also some challenges as with any study abroad experience. For starters, only about 5% of the town speaks English, so don’t plan on coasting by without practicing your Italian while you are there. Another challenge is that the only way in and out of Tuscania by public transport is by bus, and busses don’t run past 6:30 pm. That means if you want to take a day trip, you only have a few hours to catch a bus out and then to catch a bus back in. A third challenge is that there are only a select number of activities to do for tourists, but this is also a blessing because it makes Tuscania one of the most relaxed places to travel to.
If you need a long weekend break from the busy, tourist filled Florence, take a train to Viterbo or Tarquinia and hop on a bus to Tuscania for a true Italian experience. Eat some gelato, take in the view, and enjoy the relaxed vibes in MY happiest place on earth!