Living La Dolce Vita: WJ’s AP Italian Students find inspiration and adventure in Italian culture

Walker Prince

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Lee Alberti Lorenzo

AP Italian students immerse themselves into Italian culture through the language.

Earlier this school year I was given a choice by my counselor — either write for The Pitch or continue to take Italian for my third year. I could only take one or the other since both courses were only offered during the third period. Things have come full circle, I now find myself on The Pitch staff, assigned to write an article about AP Italian. But this article isn’t about me or my decision, it’s about the students who persevered and kept going, reaping the incredible benefits of taking the AP Italian course.

As WJ’s only Italian teacher, Maria Cavallini believes it takes a special kind of student to take AP Italian.

This small group of students is a hard working group and has a real love for the language and culture.”

— Maria Cavallini

Taking a deeper dive into Italian can be a transformative experience for many students, with exposure to not only Italian language, but also to Italian culture and art. Although the class can be challenging, there are many opportunities to enjoy Italian culture.

“This is the culminating year of three years of studies. We communicate mainly in Italian,” Cavallini said.

AP Italian students have the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art to view the works of great late Medieval and Renaissance masters such as Giotto and Botticelli.

“Another example of enriching experiences is that most of the students are in the Italian Honor Society and research, learn and present information on current and past events in Italy like music, architecture, famous people, etc. at our monthly meetings,” Cavallini said.

However, for AP Italian students in the past couple of years, they were unable to attend a class trip to Italy.

“Before COVID reared its ugly head, it was also a tradition every two years for the juniors and seniors to take a trip to Italy. Many students have said that this trip was one of their best high school memories. Perhaps another trip will soon be in the making,” Cavallini said.

Junior Enia D’Agnese likes how comfortable the class environment is in AP Italian, and how the small class size provides a more individualized learning experience.

“Most of the class has been together for almost three years now, and I don’t feel the same pressure I’ve felt in other AP courses,” D’Agnese said.

With many Italian family members, D’Agnese has enjoyed being able to communicate with them in their own language and is striving to become fluent.

“My whole family speaks Italian, and my Dad’s side lives in Italy. Communicating with them when I visit without the help of Google Translate is a goal of mine,” D’Agnese said.

D’Agnese advises upcoming AP Italian students to immerse themselves in Italian culture outside of class by listening to Italian podcasts, music and TV shows.

Junior Lana Ticktin looks forward to joining AP Italian next year.

“I expect to learn more about Italian culture and fine tune my skills. We had a culture unit at the beginning of this year, and I had a wonderful time learning about the Renaissance. I am nervous for the new year, but I believe with the help from my incredible teacher, Signora Cavallini, I can push through and succeed,” Ticktin said..

Buona fortuna!