Reviews

Reviews about the Italian language school Il Sasso in Montepulciano. Former students' opinions, suggestions, advices about school, town and ... wine!

Sarah (USA)

10.12.2013

My experience at Il Sasso was truly incredible. I stayed in Montepulciano for a total of 3 months for a study abroad program, and I know that it would not have been the same without the kind and nurturing spirits of the Il Sasso staff. Everyone there is truly concerned for your well-being and happiness, and they go out of their way to make you feel like family. My Italian improved tenfold, and I can now confidently say that I could do absolutely everything in Italian if I had to (and I did!). It was so nice to be able to walk down the street to go to class, especially in such a beautiful location. I recently read somewhere that, "If you live in a beautiful place, its beauty will be reflected back in the people." I can't help but think of Montepulciano when I read this quote. Not only is the city and its accompanying panoramas absolutely breathtaking, but the hearts of every person you meet are more beautiful than I can describe. Everyone is eager to meet you and happy to let you practice your Italian with them, no matter how broken it may be. They are a patient, understanding, and loving group of people whom I hope to run into again one day in the future. We were absolutely blessed with the incredibly beautiful townhouse we stayed in for our three months with all modern appliances and beautiful architecture. We always had countless amazing opportunities: olive picking, vineyard tours, a cooking class, and so much more! Though the town is quite small and there aren't many young people to interact with, it is the perfect place to learn such a beautiful language as the Tuscan dialect is the closest to "standard Italian". I would recommend going in the summer when the city is full of life and there are lots of celebrations. If you do go in the late fall or winter, be advised that the city is on a mountain and it gets quite cold! I know for a fact that I will be back to visit Montepulciano again sometime in my lifetime, and I eagerly look forward to that day. Tanti baci a tutti alla scuola! Mi mancate troppo!

Angelo (USA)

10.12.2013

I am incredibly impressed with the sensitivity of the staff and instructors, namely their ability to assess what each student needs and to structure the lessons accordingly. Apart from being excellent teachers, they are downright nice, genuine people who take a personal interest in their work and seem to enjoy it. I also appreciated the small class sizes, and found the other students to be generally on par with the school, that is to say, a wonderful set of folks across the age spectrum. The school is extremely well run. Montepulciano is a charming town with just the right amount of interesting sights and things to occupy your free time without becoming overly distracting from the learning experience. The town feels intimate and real (not overly touristy) and it certainly has excellent food and wine. Overall, I would recommend this school without reservation for anyone interested in serious learning as well as a marvelously engaging experience of Tuscany.

Julia (Germania)

06.12.2013

The beautiful town of Montepulciano, I already knew from last year. However, I did not yet know the charming apartments and the language school Il Sasso, and I am delighted by both. I lived for three weeks in a spacious, clean, beautiful, and also low-priced apartment in the middle of the old town and less than two minutes from the school. I spent the mornings in a pleasant classroom environment with a fantastic panoramic view together with very competent and friendly teachers and nice fellow students from around the world. The atmosphere was always cordial. I've learned a lot, and during and after classes, enjoyed the exchange. In the classroom, there is nothing to complain about the materials and the methods; also the grammar topics and contents were treated that I had wanted. Only the composition of the group was partly too heterogeneous, more differentiated levels would have been good in my case for another course for the two weeks that I was there, but it has adapted perfectly. I organized my activities privately, which was also cheaper than the groups, but I think that the price for the organization was reasonable, and beautiful destinations were offered in any case. Common lunch and smaller meetings with the other students have enriched my stay. In and around Montepulciano, there is still something to discover beautiful and special.

Michael (USA)

04.11.2013

The two weeks in October that I spent at Il Sasso will reside in memory as two of the best vacation weeks I've ever taken. I have studied Italian casually with friends and a mentor for about 18 months, and was astounded to see that the skilled educators of Il Sasso were able to look at my intake exam results and place me exactly where I needed to be on the language learning curve. That placement, coupled with the patient, kind, humorous and highly skilled teaching methods of Sara, Eleonora and Gaia ensured that I would come away from this experience with a significantly improved understanding of the language, and a very fond appreciation for the Italian people and culture. And the somewhat unforeseen bonus is Montepulciano itself. What a wonderful place to visit and spend time in, with postcard quality views of Tuscany at every turn! I was so enthralled by the place that I cancelled my plans to visit Siena during the middle weekend, and spent the entire time getting to know Montepulciano better: shops, art exhibits, restaurants, concerts, cantinas, churches - there just isn't enough time in a weekend to do it justice. And every single place I went I found people who were pleased to hear my attempts to speak their language, and pleased to help me when I asked. Truly a first rate experience in a first rate location.

Carlos (USA)

18.10.2013

Great school, few students per class, skilled teachers, in an awesome Tuscan town. I've been taking Italian for two years the week and a half that I went to Il Sasso was most helpful.

Athena (USA)

16.10.2013

I spent a week at Il Sasso Italian Language School in Montepulciano in September. It was a wonderful experience that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn or improve their Italian. The instructors are all great - clear, knowledgeable, patient and entertaining. The classes are small so you have lots of time to practice and ask questions. And when you aren't in class there are many activities they offer - a great tour of Montepulciano, wine tasting, a cooking class and more. The administrative part of the process is easy and they are quite helpful answering any questions you might have. I stayed with a family, which was a great experience and helped me practice my Italian even more. It's a great experience all around.

Uri (Israele)

10.10.2013

Just finished two weeks with my wife in the school. Really we could not ask for more. The teachers, the attitude, the atmophere. We learnt in two weeks like we learnt in a year of once a week lectures. I recommend with all my heart.

Heidi (Australia)

27.09.2013

I have just been to Il Sasso and it was the most unbelievable experience I have had. Very professional.The teachers are amazing. I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of learning this gorgeous language.

Jamie (Inghilterra)

23.09.2013

I have just completed the four week intensive course at Il Sasso with a home stay. Before arriving at Il Sasso I had been studying Italian for one year but had learnt very little. Within just a week at Il Sasso I had pretty much covered everything I had learnt in a year back home. The classes are fantastic and the teachers really encourage you to learn and better yourself in the Italian language. After a month at the school I can confidently have a basic conversation with Italians and am able to understand a lot of the content of certain conversations. My advice would be to have realistic expectations of what you want to learn after your period at the school. After completing the intensive course I would say that beware of how tiring studying for 6 hours a day is. Also your private lessons will conflict with the majority of the schools afternoon activities so if you want to go on them do not do the intensive course. If you are committed to learning the language a homestay is the only option for you. The family I lived with were fantastic, extremely patient and encouraging even when I said the most stupid things to them. I visited a lot of the schools apartments when going round friends homes and all of them were really nice and close to the school so if you prefer that to a homestay the accommodation is great as well. There isn't a huge amount to do in the town so think about your reasons for studying Italian. If you want somewhere where you can go out every night then perhaps look at language schools in bigger cities as you won't really find anywhere in Montepulciano. There are lots of bars and restaurants though and people at the school were always happy to go for a drink or meal in the evenings. If I'm able to go away for this time again I'd return next year, it's a really great experience!!!

SoonKyu (USA)

20.08.2013

I just came back from a four-week stay at Il Sasso, and I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat. From the beginning, the staff was incredibly kind and helpful. Heike always responded promptly to any questions I had about the classes, fees, or getting to Montepulciano. The classes were just wonderful! I opted for the Course Standard +, which consisted of approximately 4 hours of group class and one hour of private lesson every day. I had Sara and Costanza as teachers for the group lessons. They were both wonderful and knew exactly what to do so that the students understand the grammatical concepts covered in each class. It was also helpful to be exposed to two different teachers, as I got used to different styles of teaching and speech. Overall, the class were on an appropriate pace with enough repetition for students to really absorb everything covered. For the private lesson, I had Costanza again. And she was wonderful! The focus of the private lessons was more on reading and conversation, so Costanza and I just talked about whatever topic Costanza prepared for. She was personable, funny, energetic, and incredibly sympathetic even when I made countless errors (especially at the beginning). Once again: she's awesome! And I'd recommend any beginners to go for the Standard + option (instead of just doing the basic group lessons), as the private lesson helped me develop conversational skills that are completely different from understanding grammar. By the end of the four weeks, I could comfortably hold a conversation with a native Italian speaker (with the Italian person speaking slowly, of course). And Montepulciano is a wonderful place to stay! It's a very Tuscan town, but big enough to keep you occupied. It also has tons of good food and great wine, if you're into that sort of a thing. It is also fairly close to a lot of interesting cities/and towns. During my 4 weeks, I went to Assisi, Piensa, Monticchiello, Rome, Florence, and Siena. I also know people who went to Orvieto, Perugia, etc. In terms of lodging, I stayed with an Italian family (Laura, Marco, and their two sons Giulio and Alessandro). I did the breakfast-only option, which I found to be perfect because then I got the opportunity to try as many restaurants in Montepulicano as I liked. (And believe me, you want to as well!) Living with a family was also ideal for practicing my Italian. The house, while old, was all renovated inside with a big queen-sized bed and a private bathroom for me with a rainforest shower. I even had my own entry door, so I had a great deal of privacy even in a homestay. Overall, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life! If I am ever able to take that much time off again, I'd definitely go back again!

Patti (USA)

20.08.2013

Fulfilled fantasy of mine to to feel like I was living in Italy. First shock, seeing my apartment with balcony and spectacular view of the countryside for the first time. Second was meeting the fascinating fellow students. Yes, mostly women. The age range was 19 to 70! Students were from all over the world. Always people to do things with, hang out with, laugh with, etc. Oh, the school and staff. All in Italian which was fine since I needed help understanding when people spoke to me in Italian more than the actual speaking of it. Teachers are friendly, helpful and engaging. Montepulciano is beautiful!

Gerhard (Austria)

20.08.2013

I wanted to make a study vacation and was looking for Italian Language schools in Tuscany - Montepulciano - Il Sasso - Communiction with Heike was perfect and from my arrival to my departure this school, with a family style environment make everybody feel comfortable - Alberto / Patricia / Silvia in Admin and my charming, strict teachers; Gaia / Carolina / Roberta / Sara / Eleonora all did their very best to improve my rusty Italian. Having been there for 4 weeks also gave me a chance to visit Firenze / Siena / Pisa and Pienza - at the same times I had the opportunity to meet colleagues at all ages / Nationalities and we are keeping in touch via FB or e-mails. I definitely will be back in 2014 - maybe not in July - but in either Spring or Fall - High grades for the fabulous team at Il Sasso - Grazie Mille - Ciao Gerhard

Sara (USA)

15.07.2013

Last summer I spent a month studying Italian at the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, and although I enjoyed it and learned a lot, I learned so much in just one week here at Il Sasso in Montepulciano. Especially if you are older than college age, I recommend Il Sasso. Montepulciano is the perfect hill town with enough going on to be interesting. It doesn't have its soul sold to tourism and is still a viable Italian town with plenty of locals. The classes at Il Sasso are small, and the teachers are fabulous. Il Sasso also organizes trips to the nearby La Foce gardens, a hike to Montefollonico, cooking classes, Italian films, etc. I learned so much and can't wait to return next summer. Vorrei ritornare al Montepulciano e Il Sasso prossima estate!

Dana (USA)

15.07.2013

I can only say great things about Il Sasso Language School. From the time I first contacted the school and spoke with Heike until the last day of school, they were always there and willing to make your goals a success. ALL the teachers are excellent. They have endless energy, are very friendly in class and outside of class and know exactly each student's level of knowledge and how that student can best learn. I loved the way the classes were conducted with lots of interaction and speaking (In Italian of course) between the students. We were not just listening to a teacher and doing drills in a book. Montepulciano is the perfect town, lots to see and do, fantastic restaurants and the locals make you feel welcome. I was there on my own and it was fun hanging out with the other students after hours. I met people from all over the world that are now called "friend".

Dixie (USA)

15.07.2013

Il Sasso offers first rate classes with the option of additional activities. I only stayed two weeks, and I wish I could have stayed longer. The classes are challenging, especially since the instruction is all in Italian. At times, I was quite frustrated with myself, but the teachers WANT to help. Montepulciano is a beautiful, safe city. It's the perfect place to spend several weeks. We stayed in an apartment that was rented through Il Sasso. I would love to return to Il Sasso!

Larry (Canada)

04.07.2013

My wife and I were at Il Sasso for three weeks this March/April and we will go back! Many reasons: 1. Our teachers - Sara and Costanza - were great! 2. We had never spoken Italian but made real progress - we have a foundation for self study. 3. We love Italy and knowing at least some Italian makes it that much more enjoyable. 4. Montepulciano is a small town and it is fun to have the locals getting to know you. 5. We met many interesting people and made many new friends 6. I like the travel and learn experience. There is never a dull moment 7. We had a beautiful apartment with beautiful views that changed ith the light and the weather. Drawbacks? The "compiti" ;=)

Lucy (Inghilterra)

04.07.2013

I have just returned from 8 wonderful weeks at Il Sasso – definitely 2 of the best months of my life! I chose this school because of all the glowing reviews, and also because I wanted to go to a small town rather than a city. I felt that I would be less likely to be spoken back to in English in a small town where everyone knows the school, and what people had said about the locals encouraging you to practise really appealed to me. I hoped I would feel comfortable more quickly in a small place, and I definitely did! To begin with I must mention Heike, the secretary at the school. She answered my very first email, sent months before I arrived, quickly and efficiently. And that was the same with each and every email I sent thereafter (and I sent a lot of emails!!). She gave me all the information I could possibly need, and really put my mind at ease. I was travelling alone for the first time and was nervous, so that was great. And when I got to the school she was just as wonderful; always efficient, and always incredibly friendly and supportive. She's the absolute perfect person for the job, and I'll really miss her! Secondly, the teachers. I was lucky enough to have Sara for the full 8 weeks, which I was thrilled about, but I also had Silvia, Costanza, Roberta and Alberto, all of whom are completely amazing and massively warm and friendly, and always smiling! They get everyone in class talking, but at no point does that make you feel stressed or uncomfortable. The class sizes are small, which helps, but the teachers are so patient and encouraging. Your confidence really grows each time they utter a "brava!" or "perfetto!" after something you have said! It's quite a terrifying thought as a beginner wondering how on earth it can be possible to understand the teachers when they speak in Italian. But it's fine! They talk quite slowly and use many actions; they have so much energy! At the end of every morning you go away amazed at how much you have learned in 4 hours! I loved all of my teachers, but I heard nothing but good things from my friends about all the others. I don't know how they do it at Il Sasso, but all of the teachers are perfect. They end up feeling like your friends, and I'm really going to miss them! We had homework every day, but never too much. It was good to practise what we had learned in class, and I personally really enjoyed doing it in a bar with a glass of wine or some dolce! Another wonderful thing about Il Sasso is the people you meet from all over the world. I've been lucky enough to make so many friends over the past 8 weeks. I think this was because I was there in May and June, just as things were starting to get busy! For me, the social aspect of it has been amazing. I'm in my 20s, but there is a wide range of ages, which I really like. After morning classes it is often possible to get a group of people together to go to lunch in one of the many restaurants or cafes in town. The same with dinner! I had so many long, leisurely dinners with friends, drinking wine late into the night. Most people go to Il Sasso alone, and I think that's why it's so easy to make friends. You bond over that and your love of the Italian language… and the food and wine! In addition to all of this, the locals are wonderful. Once they find out you're a student at Il Sasso they really encourage you to speak in Italian, whether you're a beginner or advanced! They're so encouraging and patient, and it's a perfect way to practise! There were times where I found myself alone, but wanted to be out, and there were plenty of places I felt comfortable going alone. For example Caffe Poliziano (where you must meet Tony), E Lucevan le Stelle on Piazza San Francesco, Casa di Edel da Baffo, Piazza delle Erbe... Il Sasso is obviously held in high regard by the locals, and they seem to really enjoy getting you to practise! I can't recommend Il Sasso enough. I have had the most incredible time and I will definitely go back - hopefully numerous times!!

Andy (Inghilterra)

04.07.2013

My wife and I attended Il Sasso for 4 weeks during May. We had a wonderful time learning Italian in a friendly and happy atmosphere. It had been a long time since we had been in formal education and we were thus a little apprehensive but we needn't have been. At no time were we made to feel that our basic skills were inadequate. We received excellent tuition from numerous tutors who were real enthusiasts. After the 4 weeks at the School we both felt that we had come a long way from being 'struggling tourists' to being able to understand what was going on. We intend to return in 2014. In addition to the language training the tutors were also delighted to share their knowledge of the local area giving us both an opportunity to explore the region. It would be remiss if I did not mention the first class administrative support we received from Heike who retained her sense of humour notwithstanding the ceaseless barrage of questions and queries received from the students.

Mette (Norvegia)

20.03.2013

Svært dykitige lærere! Hyggelige og imøtekommende personale! Fleksibilitet og engasjement! Undervisning og aktiviteter på skolen og i den flotte byen Montepulciano. Veldig kjekt og lærerikt.

Serena (Svizzera)

25.02.2013

I can only add on to the long line of students who have frequented and praised this school, but it is just such a good, unique school that praise it I must. I had been looking at schools for months, and had the intention of going further south, but this school kept coming up on my short-lists. I realised that it was not only one of the best in italy, but all the criteria I had fitted this school perfectly, and now having left Il Sasso I can certainly confirm that my experience could not have been more rewarding. The most important part of chosing a school is finding one that is recognised by professionals and appreciated by previous students. The quality of the teachers, and how they teach, will mean that your schooling is successful or not. At Il Sasso the teachers are undoubtedly extremely knowledgeable in communicating with foreign students, and this helps immensely when you arrive not speaking a word of their language. I was blessed with a fantastic teacher, Costanza, for 5 weeks, four of which I was alone in class. She is amazing, she speaks and explains clearly, she remembers things about your life outside of school, she encourages all sorts of questions, and when you feel you are getting to a difficult part, she motivates you and takes it at your speed. She couldn't do her job better than she does it already. she is the one who enabled me today to have a 30minute conversation in italian, when 5 weeks ago I couldn't say a single phrase! Amazing! However, don't dispair if you are given another teacher, I heard nothing but good of the others, and they are not only excellent teachers, but the sort of women you'd want as a sister or 'best friend', genuine people who only want the best for you. The organisation of a school, homestay and the day to day life of a foreigner in a town like montepulciano, only runs smoothly when you have a person like Heike in control. I had no problems during my five weeks, but she is the one who made my life easier behind the scenes, acted as my travel agent and placed me at my homestay. She is the one everybody reads about before getting to the school, and is the only one you dare to speak to in English, just for the last time before being immersed wholely into the italian language! One extremely important part of going to Italy to learn Italian is actually listening to others talking and trying to speak without feeling embarrased. For this, there is one solution which cannot fail and I highly recommend, homestay. Honestly, the day I arrived at my homestay to discover that my hostess didn't speak a word of any other language, I sort of panicked! But within the first 24hrs I realised that this was the only way I could have constant 'tuition' : 45mins at breakfast, 2hrs at lunch, 2-3hrs during the evening....my hostess was always there to chat in Italian, and although she probably didn't understand half the things I said, I was constantly listening to her, or the television, and repeatedly hearing the same things makes it so much easier to remember the words or pronounciation (even if you're talking about the weather!) for this I can't push it enough to do the homestay option. The other reason for pushing homestay is definitely for the homemade cooking! I was stuffed (this is the word!) every day with so much delicious homemade food that I was obliged to do sport every day so as not to put on a kilo per week! And the food I ate was superior to most restaurants, absolutely devine (great way to learn new recipes, too!). As for montepulciano, the wine...well you can't get better, the food, obviously first class, but a huge part of everyday life in Italy is the coffee!! This important matter was put in the expert hands of Alessandro, in the local bar, a few metres up from the school. Every morning I would go in there, listen to the conversations of the locals (for purely educational reasons!), drink my macchiato, go back at break time to have a cappucino whilst 'reading' the paper (ok the first couple of weeks I was looking at the pictures mostly!) ... then discussing the gossipy stuff in class with Costanza - merely to improve my vocabulary, but amazing the words you learn from a newspaper which are not in the text books in school! The italians do live differently from most of us at home, and it is so nice to be completely a part of the lifestyle, something I doubt you would do so well in a bigger city. I passed, by chance, a school for foreigners in florence whilst on a w-e trip, and the language I heard most people talking was... English! I realised then what a blessing it had been to have chosen a small town, to live entirely amoungst the italians, to help the locals in their home/commerce, in exchange for their conversation and friendliness -something money can't buy. The day I left Montepulciano I stayed in a hotel in Orvieto, and the receptionist complimented me on my good italian...I proudly told her that I'd just learned the language at Il Sasso! Well done to the whole team, THANK YOU for my new skill...

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