The first segment of the E.C.Co. experience for the Fall and year-long students consists of a full-immersion language and culture program offered in Lecce during the month of August. The Lecce session is mandatory for students with fewer than four semester of Italian, and optional (but highly recommended) for those with four semesters or more. The three weeks in Lecce – the “Florence of the South” – offer the perfect balance between intensive Italian language study and travel throughout the Salento region of Puglia.
The intensive language and culture course, for which students receive 0.5 academic credit, offers a historical and artistic introduction to the city and the region, while improving communication skills in both oral and written form. Grammar review, vocabulary expansion and writing practice are conducted through a variety of texts and media, and provide linguistic tools for life and study in Italy. Through small group discussion, on-site presentations, and individual conferences with the instructors, students fine-tune their expression on academic topics.
Students are housed in a historical palazzo in the dazzling Baroque city center, which features a vibrant cultural life encompassing theatre, dance, and popular music. Beside experiencing the past and present treasures of Lecce, the E.C.Co students and program director travel together on many afternoons and weekends to enjoy the breathtaking sites and beaches of the Salento. Some of the past cultural destinations have included the sea grottoes of Leuca at the tip of the heel of Italy, the fortress town of Gallipoli at sunset over the Ionian, the seaside resort of Torre dell’Orso on the Adriatic, the bleached-white gem of Ostuni on a hill overlooking the sea, the mysterious octagonal Castel del Monte, the cultural heritage town of Matera, the awe-inspiring underground caves of Castellana and so on.