Center for International Programs

American travelers always rave about the homemade pasta in Italy. Rarely, though, is the spaghetti actually made right in their home.

Madison Savage '23  (above left) couldn't wait for her May-mester in Siena, Italy, especially after her study abroad plans to the Czech Republic were cancelled because of COVID, twice. If she's being honest, though, Madison was "dreading" one aspect of the four-week study abroad experience – living with a host family.    

"I thought it would be an invasion of privacy. But as I integrated myself into the family, I got used to our life with Rosy. She spoke only Italian, and I don't speak any Italian. I was scared at first and nervous about how it would work out. But the food..."

Rosy has grown children and six grandchildren nearly college-aged, but she lives alone. It's no fun cooking for one, so Rosy opens her home to international students. Madison and Miranda Kane '23 were treated to the most extraordinary home-cooked meals every single night. 

Madison, Miranda, and two fellow Saints (who stayed elsewhere) studied Italian immigration and emigration together in the same class. A one-credit elective in Italian language was also an option. They earned credits, toured Italy (including Florence), and found a different geletria (gelato stand) each night. Plus, the cooking. 

Rosy used to be a chef, and so she spoiled her American guests daily. Some meals, like her homemade spaghetti, were prepared over the course of several days. Rosy also paid close attention to which meals and dishes seemed most popular and they became repeats at the dinner table. Miranda can speak Italian, so she would translate for Madison and Rosy, but sometimes, translation wasn't necessary. Food is its own love language, and a clean plate speaks volumes. 

"My mom's side of the family is Italian, so I'm familiar with quite a bit of Italian culture. With Rosy, she just felt like our Italian grandma. I remember hearing about the May-mester when I first toured Siena several years ago. I always wanted to do it. I'm fascinated by the Italian language and culture, and it was just an amazing experience. Everyone I've seen since I've been home, I tell them to do a May-mester in Italy!"

Miranda Kane '23

"It was an absolutely enlightening experience! The opportunity to absorb a new culture and to just live a regular, everyday life in Italy, it was life-changing."  

Madison Savage '23