The ICCS-Sicily program is located in Catania, on the site of the Greek colony of Catane, itself later briefly reorganized and renamed Aetna by Hieron, until it was reclaimed by its earlier residents after his death. Catania is the second largest city in Sicily (after Palermo, which became the capital of Sicily under Arab rule), and home to its oldest university. Students with the ICCS program share a residence hall with students from the University of Catania, but take their classes in a dedicated center near the Duomo.

One of the significant differences between this program and ICCS-Rome is the extent to which students are integrated into their local community. As well as sharing their living and eating spaces with Italians, students must take Italian, including a two-week blitz at the beginning of the semester to get control of the basics.

And for those who like their soccer (football), Calcio Catania has once again just secured a place in Serie A for the coming year… Lots of fine Italian football on view, but get the best seats — the fans in the cheaper seats can get violent. On the club, see the good Wikipedia entry

I have now arrived in Catania and seen the center in which we will hold our classes, and it is quite fabulous. Still being finished on the inside (chairs and tables and bookcases yet to be unpacked, some wiring and plumbing in progress), it is a spectacular space — the rooms look out onto the courtyard of a beautiful palazzo (so beautiful that people rent it for weddings) – it is on the second and third floors of the palazzo. A realy elegant space.

Catania itself is quite fascinating — a genuine city, with beautiful old buildings, somewhat decayed, but very grand. People are very friendly, though watch the prices for foreigners in the amazing fish market near by (stalls and stalls of fish and squid, with innards and guts swimming around on the ground). The buses are interesting — a certain lack of urgency. I have taken two so far. The first had to take a break because it got stuck turning a corner due to an illegally parked car. The driver got out, had a cigarette, and the guy turned up — entirely unrepentant, indeed a little irritated. Almost everyone waited patiently. The second took an unscheduled detour of 5-10 minutes to drop off someone who had gotten on the wrong bus. Etna is exploding regularly right now — gentle boomings in the distance, and Matt can see lava flows in the evening sky from his apartment.

Plenty to keep everyone interested…