Dear Viterbo

Anna P. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Exeter High School in New Hampshire.

At age 16 I would never have imagined that I would move to a small town in Italy and create a completely new and wonderful life there. Nor that I would form friendships and bonds that would last long past my time there. I am so grateful to have had such an amazing resident director, a caring host family, influential teachers, and supportive friends. As I write this from the confinement of my home in Exeter, New Hampshire, with memory after memory replaying in my head, all I wish to say is...

Dear Viterbo, 

I will miss your cobblestone streets, the ones enclosed by the high and mighty walls that protect the city. With your many piazzas, gloriously decorated with a stone fountain that draws the attention of any passersby. I will miss the local shop workers, from my favorite cafe to the shop where I always got the best pizza bianca you will ever have! I will miss the barista from Happiness Cafe that waved and smiled at me every evening on my way home from school. And the cafeteria ladies that smiled and shouted “buongiorno!!” every time they saw me next in line. I will miss my favorite gelato shop, where my last visit was when I took my family there four days before being told the school was closing. I will miss my Friday and Saturday evenings, trying different restaurants in town and going to Valle Faul to watch the sun set behind the walls. Lastly, I will miss the school, filled with friendly faces and a sense of home and warmth that it offered to each of its students.

Viterbo, you have shown me that the world holds so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. As my fellow classmates and I embarked on this journey to discover and learn in a completely different way in which we were used to, even with your petite size, you managed to show us things from the past, present, and future. In my culture class I heard stories from those who have spent their entire lives here, experiencing wars and destruction, but still your walls stand strong. I made friendships with the local teenagers and got to experience their daily lives here. And I planted seeds in the school garden that will grow for future classes of SYA Italy to enjoy and harvest as a part of their Agroecology class. 

Multiple times throughout the year I found myself stopping to think, “Wow, I’m actually doing this.” Viterbo, you gave me a place to feel safe in and offered so many opportunities that I would never have experienced back home. I made my own wine in the schools cellar, and I took part in town wide events that created a sense of community and Italian culture. After fieldwork days in Rome, I returned with a great relief to be back in my cozy town of Viterbo, where you don’t hear English being spoken by everyone around you. No longer did I feel like a tourist, but I felt genuinely accepted and welcomed into the community of the town.

So thank you, Viterbo. Thank you for being a home to me for these past six months. Though our time together came to an unexpected and abrupt ending, every second I spent in this beautiful little town will undoubtedly stay with me for a lifetime. 

Sincerely,

Anna Prior

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