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Two Weeks in Narnia

PMHS+Senior%2C+Amanda+Coccia+in+Narni%2C+Italy+this+summer.
PMHS Senior, Amanda Coccia in Narni, Italy this summer.

PMHS Senior, Amanda Coccia in Narni, Italy this summer.

Photo by Amanda Coccia

Photo by Amanda Coccia

PMHS Senior, Amanda Coccia in Narni, Italy this summer.

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Buongiorno a tutti! As Pat-Med begins another exciting school year, it is time to reflect on this past summer and what we have made of it. Did you work? Hang out with friends? Volunteer? Travel? For me, I had the amazing opportunity to spend two adventure-filled weeks in a little town called Narnia (Italy). This was made possible thanks to our fabulous Italian program’s partnership with the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE) which hosts a competition each year for twenty students from the tri-state area to win a trip to Narni. (Just another reason to take advantage of foreign language programs, especially here at Pat-Med- it gets you places!) Anyway, I’m sure you want to hear more about the town behind the myth.

To start off, yes, Narnia is a real place and yes, C.S. Lewis did get the inspiration for his Chronicles of Narnia here. However, Narnia is the Latin name for the town, used during the Roman Age, it is now known as Narni by its residents (but still referred to as Narnia by many English-speakers). Narni is an enchanting little hilltop town in the province of Umbria, the “heart” of Italy. Everywhere you turn in this town, you will find amazing views, wonderful people, and an incredible culture. On many of the town buildings, which were constructed many years ago and still stand today, you will find the symbol of Narni; il griffone (the griffon). This mythical creature has the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion- hence the giant, talking lion of the stories, Aslan.

My trip to Italy was presented to me in the form of a scholarship funded by the town of Narni and the Narnia Arts Festival, which would be taking place during our stay. As such, my fellow Italian students and I spent our two weeks in Narni joining in on amazing musical and cultural experiences. The Narnia Arts Festival is a classical music festival, run by world-famous pianist Cristiana Pegoraro, which brings musicians from all over the globe to Narni (and its surrounding towns) not only to perform, but also to take music lessons from professionals. In my group’s case, the festival offered us an opportunity to learn Italian through a musical and cultural immersion. My group arrived in town one week before the festival began and had the unique opportunity of witnessing all of the preparation for the largest event of the year in Narni. This means that the many pianos dispersed throughout the town for musicians to rehearse with at their leisure were fair game for our musical group and opportunity for us to host spontaneous sing-alongs whenever and wherever possible. This led many townspeople to gather around our group of nineteen American teenagers singing Bohemian Rhapsody in what we later found out was town hall, one of those passers-by happening to be the mayor of the town who live-streamed our performance onto his Facebook. This also meant that while walking down the narrow cobblestone streets on the way to get a morning cappuccino or pastry from the local café, one could listen to an incredible opera singer whose voice just so happened to be sailing out of the windows of the communal theater during a private lesson.

Once the festival began, we basically became groupies and followed the Narnia Arts performers to their concerts in Perugia ( “the Hershey of Italy” ), the Duomo in Orvieto, and another medieval town called Amelia, all while also being toured around by our Italian guide, Mattia, who is also Christiana Peragoro’s personal assistant. We ate real Italian pizza, dined with locals,  and went out for gelato at least two or three times per day- boy did our local gelateria get a lot of business from us!

Although many of the activities on our itinerary fell through due to the amazingly organized thing that is European scheduling, my Narnia pals and I had the time of our lives exploring the tiny, medieval town. Narnia, though lacking giant talking lions, is a truly magical town with such a rich culture, amazing views, and caring people that I believe everybody should experience if granted to opportunity.

In the end, Narnia will forever hold a dear and mythical place in my heart, right beside the magnificent friendships I made there and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I will never forget. I would like to end this by thanking everyone who supported me on this journey- Pat-Med, Signora Vultaggio, my parents. I would also like to send a message to all those out there who are contemplating traveling- go out there, seek opportunity, let’s make this world a better place! Andiamo!

Photo by Amanda Coccia

IACE group toured parts of Italy after winning an educational trip.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Two Weeks in Narnia”

  1. Vincenza Vultaggio on September 20th, 2017 3:26 pm

    Grazie bella mia! Ti auguro un mondo di belle cose! Un grosso bacione con tanto affetto! Grazie per la tua attenzione dello studio della lingua italiana.

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Two Weeks in Narnia