Jet Set Zero Italy Week 4: Best-Of Edition

Budget Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Italy, Websites and Blogs, Working Abroad — By on August 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

All the best things about Italy–local wines, lazy lakes, the countryside, the piazzas–are here in Courtney Scott’s Jet Set Zero Italy Week 4 roundup, with a few unexpected challenges and off-the-beaten-path adventures. Read on for a vicarious romp through the small town of Lanuvio, and be sure to follow the links to see Jet Set Zero photographer Bogdan’s impressive work.

After being split up for a week, with Courtney and Lynne in Tuscany and Perrin and Sarah in a small farm town outside of Brescia, the Jet Set Zero ladies all continued south and met up in an ancient Italian village outside Rome called Lanuvio.  It’s one of those places off the beaten track.  Way off.  During the height of the summer tourist season, and only 45 minutes from Rome, we still felt miles away from modern civilization.  Here’s our Best Of list from one of the most memorable Jet Set Zero weeks:

The Great Eight: Lanuvio

1. The Digs: We couldn’t believe our eyes…a whimsical little mountain cottage all to ourselves.  A kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and local wine, a dining room to seat 16 (and it did!), and sunsets that made you wish everyone you loved could be there to share in their beauty.

2. The Bread: The city of Lanuvio is famous for mouth-watering Italian bread.  We generously partook.

3. Lake Nemi: The lake is famous for Roman emperor Caligula’s sunken ships and its fresh water, which is lightly sparkling!  Enough said.  After a hot day organizing our 100-student camp, a dip in the lake was the best relief.  Not so relaxing was the realization that we had a potentially sunken tutor, Josh, who decided to swim across the lake and never re-surfaced.  We found him hours later walking barefoot on the shoulder of the road. Shirtless.

4.  Our Host: Host Mom, Claudia, is a Jet Set Hero in her own right. Having visited Italy from her native Germany, she fell in love with the country and lever left. She was the director of the camp, and a woman who embodies everything our teaching organizations believes in.  If there were ever a moment where we lost sight of our purpose in Italy, her words reaffirmed it all:  I am living with the memories all of you have engraved and I’m enjoying, although a little melancholy, the echo of the joyful children you have left behind. It was a first great experience for me, which I had to fight for years as a battle, but as you see, I did not give up believing strongly in the effect of full English immersion.

5.  The Market: Nothing beats an Italian outdoor market. They are usually held one or two mornings a week, and this one in Lanuvio we stumbled upon by chance. Rows and rows of fruit, vegetables, muumuus and tchotchkes at half the price of normal shops.

6.  The Piazza: quintessentially Italian.  It was the local meeting point, the aperitivo hangout, the soccer-watching destination and even a live theatre hall. Ballet anyone?  R.I.P.: the piazza was also the scene of a heinous rat murder.  The rat, seemingly hungry, wandered into a restaurant.  Little did it know, its fate would be grim.  The rat was drop-kicked out of the restaurant, stomped on by a man in boots, then intentionally driven over by a car.  I hope that makes it into an episode.

7.  The Budget White Party: Courtney helped the cast figure out just how to throw an Italian dinner party for 16 people on a $25 budget.

8.   Our Teaching Crew: When you get placed in a school of 100 children and 11 tutors, things can go horribly wrong, or magically right.  There’s no in-between. We got lucky—an all-star team of some of the best tutors in the program.  The result was a well-oiled machine of a camp, filled with creativity, enthusiasm and smiling children. Go team!

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