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Italian Week at UNH celebrates culture

By Greg Laudani

Staff Writer

If you like Italy then this is your lucky week.

After announcing the brand new Italian studies major earlier this semester, the UNH Italian Studies Program and the department of classics, humanities and Italian studies are hosting “Italian Week at UNH” to celebrate “Italian Language Week in the World.” 

Italian Language Week takes place every year around the globe to commemorate themes of Italian culture, with this year’s theme being music. UNH is hosting three events this week that will give UNH students a splash of Italian music, as well as Italian art and history.

“We’re super excited about all of the events,” Amy Boylan, associate professor of Italian studies said. “But we really wanted to make it special and involve other people on campus this year because of the major.”

Nicola Camerlenghi, assistant professor at Dartmouth College, kicks off the events on Wednesday, Oct. 21 (2:10-3:30 p.m.) with a lecture about his project called Mapping Medieval Rome. His project merges digital humanities and technology with the study of Medieval Rome, architecture and urban planning in Medieval Rome.

Next comes an Italian concert celebrating this year’s “Italian Language Week in the World” theme of music. The university is celebrating Italian music during its Italian festivities on Friday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in Bratton Recital Hall in the Paul Creative Arts Center (PCAC).

UNH is incorporating its own students and faculty into this concert, as members of the university’s department of music are going to perform a selection of music created by Italian composers, ranging from contemporary jazz to classical. A reception will follow at 7 p.m.

Members of the Italian studies department like Boylan can’t wait for Italian Week at UNH to get moving. The department also celebrated Italian Week last year, but Boylan said the department wanted it to be on a larger scale this time around.

Student response to the upcoming events has been strong from a number of students who are passionate about Italy. UNH senior Evan Bruno spent the entire past academic year in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, while participating in the UNH-in-Italy Program.

Bruno said he arrived back to campus this fall elated to hear about all of the events promoting the study of Italian culture.

“I’m very excited that there are events coming up that are going to celebrate Italian language and culture,” he said. “I can’t think of a better time to show the university all the great things about Italian culture and language than (during Italian Language Week in the World).” 

The festivities conclude on Oct. 27 at 11:10 a.m. in Murkland 118 with a presentation by art historian Francesco De Carolis about Italian Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli. De Carolis is set to present the exhibition of Crivelli’s work, opening at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

De Carolis is no stranger to UNH.

He is a part of the university’s study abroad program in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. De Carolis taught an Italian history course to UNH students including senior Julia Hopkins while she was in Ascoli Piceno during spring semester this past academic year. 

Hopkins said she is very excited to reconnect with De Carolis.

“It is almost surreal to think a part of that experience will be brought here,” she said. “Studying abroad was such a life-changing experience that I think back on every single day.”

Hopkins added that she thinks the campus events this week will help spread the word of the benefits of the UNH-in-Italy Program. The senior plans to attend each of the events and be available to speak to students with interest in the program and shed light on what her experience abroad was like.

One suggestion Hopkins emphasizes to students who want to do an Italian study abroad is to familiarize his or herself with the Italian language before the trip.

“I think many students who want to study abroad want to go to Italy for multiple reasons: the art, the culture, the food, the weather and the scenery,” she said. “But I think they sometimes neglect learning the language.”

However, Hopkins did not say that students needed to be fluent in Italian. She said that basic skills such as knowing how to greet people, express thanks and ordering at restaurants make the study abroad experience in Italy feel more authentic than if students speak only English during the trip.

“From my experience, it meant a lot to the Italians if we expressed an interest in learning and practicing their language, rather than just relying on them to all know how to speak English,” she said. 

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