Reviews about the Italian language school Il Sasso in Montepulciano. Former students' opinions, suggestions, advices about school, town and ... wine!
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!!!
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!
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!
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
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!
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".
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!
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" ;=)
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!!
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.
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.
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...
A dream it was, and a dream it is ... as it was only just the beginning of very fond memories that just keep flooding in. What can I say, that has not been said, for Il Sasso is a dream that you never want to end. From the first point of contact, to the very end, Il Sasso ensured all my needs were met. From Heike, Silvia, Sara and all the school, you will not find another that is such a jewel. They tick every box, and that is quite rare, because this school really does care. It took me a while to figure out which school I wanted to go, as I only had a week to give it a go. There was no doubts to have after my first point of call, as Heike was always there to answer my calls. If it wasn't for her, I'm not sure where I would have gone, as she makes your stay easy, with all that she does. And when I had an emergency, she knew how to respond, for this is what she does, she goes above and beyond. To add to my fortune of an unbelievable stay, Silvia and Sara were my teachers that blew me away. They had their own style, and I was totally amazed, as how much I learned within a day. And from what I can see, and from what everyone has said, this school is the best ... enough said. And then there was the accomodation, to add to the experience, with views to die during my tuscan experience. Politian is the name on everyone's tongue, as Giacomo and Maria just did so much. From my endless questions to the emergency one night, there is no doubt about it, they are one of a kind. So let me just say, after all I have said, it's only when you trial another and realise this school knocks them for dead. From their professionalism, ambedience, style and caring nature, your mind will not wonder when filling out another application. Because I just can't wait for my next adventure ...
Due to a recent job layoff, I was blessed with the rare opportunity to take 6 weeks off and study Italian in Tuscany. I chose Il Sasso due to the many glowing reviews here on Trip Advisor and now it's my turn to add one more. First, I must preface my review by saying that my situation was a bit different from most students in that I attended the school during a slow time of the year and after my first week there were not enough students at my level to have the normal 4 hours of group instruction, so I was switched to 2 hours of private instruction. This turned out to be ideal for me and I'm very glad Il Sasso offers this as an option! The teachers are excellent (I had Patrizia, Costanza and Sara) and the instruction is top notch! They really gear the lessons to your language level and interest. It may sound a little daunting to hear that all of the lessons are conducted in Italian, but it really is the best way to learn and you'll be surprised by how much you actually understand. My accommodation was a lovely little apartment within a minute walking distance (uphill!) to the school. It was small and cozy and really made me feel like I was part of the town and not just a visitor. Of course I can't forget the school's secretary Heike. She was of immense help both before and after my arrival in Montepulciano doing everything from arranging my housing to helping me make an appointment with the doctor when I got a nasty spider bite. The only thing I regret about my stay in Montepulciano (aside from the fact that I had to leave!) is that I went so late in the year. I was there from Nov 11 to Dec 22 and there were very few students. I think my experience would have been more enjoyable if I could have shared it with more people. Montepulciano is a beautiful town, but as a previous reviewer stated, be sure to bring comfortable shoes and get ready to walk some hills!
I chose to go to a language immersion school by myself in the heart of Tuscany. I was pretty nervous making my way to Montepulciano not really knowing what to expect given I did not know any Italian (except a few words here and there I could remember from studying 20 years ago in school). The teachers and staff at Il Sasso were wonderful. I couldn't figure out how they would keep to only speaking Italian to a beginner like me and still be effective. But it worked really well and I learned a great deal. I had several teachers because I was there for 6 weeks but Cinzia and Sara were my core instructors and they are remarkable. Using stories, role-playing, real life examples, humor, pictures and lots of practice they fostered a fun and very effective learning environment. In addition, Heike, Alberto, Patrizia, Silvia and others were very attentive and organized outside the classroom. The apartments were close and comfortable and the actitivites after class were fun and informational. Montepulciano is beautiful and offers a relaxing environment to learn in - everyone in town knows the school well and is supportive that you are learning to speak Italian. Bring comfortable shoes to walk the hills as there are plenty of them!
I have been to Il Sasso numerous times. Thanks to the teachers there, I am able to converse with Italians, read the paper and even make telephone reservations. My first time there, alone, as a beginner, I was extremely nervous. Within a week, I felt comfortable and at home. The school is well orgnanized, the apartments charming and the cultural acitivities fascinating. What I love about the school is the diversity and maturity of the students. I have meant people from all over the world that I am still in touch with. The greatest reward of all is when an Italian says "parla Italiano molto bene".
Helen & Ira (USA)30.10.2012
We spent a week studying at Il Sasso. My husband and I have gone to other language schools during our many Italian trips. Il Sasso is by far the best. The quality of the instruction is very high - the teachers are skilled at weaving the class into a working whole, with everyone participating and enjoying the learning. Yes, there is homework every night, too, but not too much. The town is lovely even though there is not one flat street in the entire place (so plan accordingly for your shoes - my husband almost skateboarded around a corner before he changed out of leather-soled shoes). Some excellent restaurants, and within easy reach of many other lovely places to visit.
Great teachers, private lessons are great as they will focus them on your particular level and needs.
I've just spent nearly three weeks at Il Sasso and can highly recommend it. The school is situated in the Centro Storico di Montepulciano, one of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany. Being of a certain age, I was relieved to find a mixture of ages and backgrounds. At break time everyone congregates at a little caffe near the school and we quickly bonded over a coffee, making plans to visit various places nearby and have dinner together. I made friends I will definitely keep in touch with. The standard of teaching is excellent especially bearing in mind that they have students of different age groups, different countries and cultures and with varying expectations. The teachers are also very warm and friendly and want to do their best for you. Many people return year after year which speaks for itself. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
I stepped out of my safety zone and took off for Italy and a week of Italian classes at Il Sasso. I'm so glad I did. The instructors and the atmosphere at Il Sasso is wonderful. Everyone is very encouraging and the they make learning italian fun. I was by myself but in a small village like Montepulciano you are never alone. Every evening I ran into other students and we would socialize over a glad of wine. The apartments the school rents are wonderful and a bargain. Mine was a only one street over from the school and was tastefully decorated and large. The markets around Montepulciano have all the necessary staples you'll need for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I enjoyed going out for dinner each night.