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  • Introduction
  • The City Of Cortona
  • Socio-Cultural Data
  • Bio-Physical Data
  • General Information About UGA Cortona
  • What To Expect
  • Medical Information
  • Health Insurance While Abroad
  • Packing For The Trip
  • Packing Art Supplies
  • Your Behavior While In Cortona
  • Facilities In Cortona
  • Mail
  • Telephones in Italy
  • Meals
  • Excursions
  • Local Transportation
  • Recreation In Cortona
  • Travel On Your Own
  • Sexual Harassment & Alcohol Policies
  • The Metric System
  • Suggested Watching & Reading
The UGA Studies Abroad Program In Cortona, Italy:

This booklet is the result of suggestions and contributions from many of the faculty, students and participants of the UGA Studies Abroad Program. It reflects the accumulated experience of many first-time travelers to Cortona and is meant as a practical tool of information to help newcomers ease the "culture shock" of exposure to a foreign country.

Since the purpose of this handbook is eminently practical, it is subject to change and modification. This present edition is by no means intended as final. In fact, we welcome any suggestions for additions, deletions or changes that would help in making this publication more useful.

For suggestions or for questions you might have about Cortona and your travel in Italy, please write or call:

UGA Residential Center Cortona, Italy
Office of International Education
The University of Georgia
1324 South Lumpkin Street
Athens, GA 30602
Phone: 706.542.7120
Fax: 706.542.4270
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

PHONE: (706) 542.7120
FAX: (706) 542.4270

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cortona is an ancient city, once a capital in the Etruscan Federation from the 7th to the 4th centuries BC. Some of the gates, walls, tombs, and older parts of the city wall reflect this Etruscan heritage that was assimilated by the Romans who occupied the city from 4th Century BC to 5th Century AD. After the Roman civilization, the Goths occupied the city in 450 AD. Subsequently, Cortona suffered economically until medieval times when a "comune" (an independent city-state) was organized around 1200 AD. Although Cortona flourished during the Renaissance under the Grand Dukes of Florence, the city, even today, maintains a distinctly medieval character.

The comune of Cortona is roughly 132 square miles in area. Administratively, the mayor is the leader of the comune which includes Cortona plus several outlying towns, such as Camucia and Terontola. Cortona is an agriculturally-oriented community abundant in olives, wheat, grapes, and sunflowers. It has a rich cultural tradition perpetuated in annual programs such as the National Antique Exhibition. Many artists choose Cortona to show their work, as there is an active community of artists living in town. Many foreigners return frequently to Cortona from Europe, the US and Canada, as well as from other parts of the world. Visitors give the town its unmistakably international flavor throughout the year.


The climate, classified as Mediterranean, has a wet, windy, and cool fall, winter and spring, and a drier, warmer summer. The average annual precipitation is about 33 inches. The majority of this falls as rain, although there is some snow in the winter. The average temperatures are very similar to those of North Georgia, except the cold period lasts longer and begins much earlier.

The prevailing winds are from the northeast and east in the summer and from the south in the winter. These winds can be quite strong at times, and the hillside position guarantees breeze circulation most of the year. Early morning valley fogs occur frequently in the fall and winter and taper off somewhat in the summertime.

Physiography (The Shape of the Land)

The comune can be divided into three areas. There is a mountainous woodland/ pasture area above 500 meters (the Mountains of Cortona) which extends across the northern and northeastern section, covering approximately 17% of the comune. The second area is called slopeland and lies between 300 and 500 meters in elevation covering approximately 40% of the comune. This area includes the Chiuso Hills in the eastern part, as well as the mountainous foothills in the north-eastern part. The third area consists of lowlands, which lie below 300 meters in elevation. This includes roughly 43% of the comune. The town of Cortona is located at 651 meters in elevation at the Santa Margherita Church and 500 meters at Piazza Garibaldi.


Mountainous Area: The bedrock (underlying rock structure) consists of interbedded strata (or layers) of shale, limestone, and sandstone, all sedimentary in origin.

Slopeland: This consists of interbedded sedimentary strata with sandstone prevailing. In the Chiuso Hills, sandstone is predominant.

Lowlands: The lowland areas consist of underlying sandstone and shales with layers of sand and alluvium (material deposited by streams from the surrounding slopes) on top.

In brief, the geology indicates that the area was largely marine in origin, dating back 30-40 million years. The lowland areas around Lake Trasimeno suggest that this lake was much larger than it is now, probably at its largest in Pleistocene times, between 2 and 5 million years ago.


There is a mixed broadleaf, evergreen, and deciduous shrub forest in the mountainous region. This vegetation is continuous or discontinuous depending on the slope and orientation of the area. Some of the deciduous trees found are poplars, elms, chestnuts, oaks, and beeches. The evergreen trees include spruces, cypresses, pines, and olives. The most common vegetation association found in the rest of the comune is that of the "maquis" or low shrub vegetation. This includes brooms, heathers, heaths, and junipers, etc.

Although not required, an elementary course or some sort of self-instructed program in Italian is highly recommended before your trip to Cortona. At the bare minimum, learn several basic phrases (directions, questions) and the numbers before you go. It will help ease the "culture shock" during the first few days. A phrase book and a paperback English/Italian dictionary are essential.

Italians appreciate the effort shown by foreigners when they try to speak Italian. They are more apt to be receptive and helpful to you if you try to speak to them in their own language.

Read as much as you can about Italy before you go. It will help you to understand and appreciate what you see and hear. See the bibliography on the last page of this handbook for some basic recommended reading.

There are several important cultural differences between the United States and Italy of which you should be aware. One difference involves the organization of the day and how to plan your time and meals. Italians generally eat a light breakfast, a heavy noon meal and a lighter meal in the evening. In the afternoon there is a three or four hour rest period called "siesta" or "pennichella" that usually begins around one o'clock and lasts until 4:30 p.m., depending on the area. During this time most shops, banks, businesses and museums are closed. This gives the Italians a chance to eat their lunch and rest, avoiding business during the hottest part of the day. When the break is over, the shops re-open and stay open until about seven or eight in the evening. Although UGA does not follow this schedule in Italy, you should be aware of it in your contact with local businesses.

There is an institution in Italy called a "bar" which is not quite the same as in America. For example, not only are liquor, wine and beer served in such establishments, but soft drinks, coffee, pastries and ice cream can be purchased there as well. Often one might find a bar that serves sandwiches or pizza. Anyone of any age may enter and order any drink. Most Italians have their breakfast at the bar (coffee or cappuccino and a sweet roll) and they go there for their "coffee-break" during the day as well.

Ordering a refreshment, paying for it and consuming it are also a little different in Italy. In many bars, you must go to the cashier (cassa) first and pay for what you would like to order. Be sure to tell the cashier whether you will be enjoying your refreshment standing at the counter or sitting at a table as there is a service charge (servizio) automatically added to the price if you sit down. The cashier will then give you a receipt that you take to the bartender (barista) and tell him or her what you ordered. If you paid for a table, you may now go sit down and wait for your order to be brought to you. You can also sit down at the table, wait for a waiter to come take your order and pay then. If you paid the bar price, you will be expected to stand there and eat or drink your refreshment at the bar without sitting down or going outside. Italians are very adamant about this. Ordering a coffee, coke, or other beverage "to go" is not common in Italy.

This protocol may differ slightly from bar to bar and from city to city. For example, the Cortonese have become quite used to the American ways and in most establishments in Cortona you pay the same price for standing or sitting. They don't mind if you order a drink from the bar and take it to a table. At other bars, in or out of Cortona, if you choose to sit down, a waiter will take your order, bring your food, bring your check, take your money and bring your change, all at the comfort of your table...just like in America.

Another cultural difference you will experience is the abundance of cheap electrical power in America and the scarcity and expense of power in Italy. Americans are accustomed to a plenitude of hot water, ice in iced tea and cold drinks. If you ask for ice (ghiaccio) in your drink, don't expect more than one cube. Also don't be surprised if you end up taking a cold shower now and then, both in Cortona and at other hotels out of town. Although many homes have washing machines, dryers are rare.

Do not drink tap water unless you are sure it is safe. Drink bottled mineral water or soft drinks instead. WATER IN CORTONA IS SAFE. Mineral water is available "frizzante" or "minerale" (carbonated or not) and it is sold in bottles of all sizes. In general you are safer drinking bottled water. Most restaurants charge for both types of water.

Italians are more conservative and less casual in their manner of dress than Americans and consequently, what "goes" in America may not always be acceptable in Italy. At most churches visitors will be turned away for being "improperly" dressed (shorts, ragged clothes, bare shoulders, etc.) Skimpy running shorts are out of place. Men should wear shirts at all times even when exercising or jogging. Bare feet are not acceptable.

There are no self-serve laundromats in Cortona. There are large coin operated washing machines in the Kehoe Center (3 Euros per load). Clothes must be line-dried as dryers are rarely used in Italy due to the high cost of electricity. This means that you will want to bring clothes that wash easily and will not wrinkle. Many students choose to wash their clothes by hand in provided sinks. Bring clothes that have been "tested" in line drying as it can play havoc with delicate fabrics. Thick, fluffy towels never seem to dry and will become musty. New denim jeans do not rinse well and will dry to resemble cardboard. Remember, the washers are shared by the whole group so you will need to space the times you intend to wash your clothes.

Electric currents and plug outlets in Italy differ from those in the U.S. Most computers and cell phones will work on the current in Italy, but you will need to purchase an adapter in order to plug them into an outlet. Hairdryers, clocks, and other small appliances may require a converter. If electronics can be used without a converter, they will have “100-240V” printed on the device itself or on the power cord. Both converters and adapters are available at places like Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, and stores selling travel gear.

An adapter is used to change the plug type from American to Italian style. They DO NOT convert the electricity from one voltage/cycle to another. A convertor (also known as a transformer) is used to physically convert electricity that comes out of the wall outlet to electricity that is safe for your appliance.

You might consider getting together with some friends and sharing the expenses to purchase, for example, an inexpensive hairdryer in Italy. The cost is about the same as for an adapter or converter and you wouldn't have to carry it back to the States. You might donate it to the program for future participants. Discarded clothes and various items may be donated to the local charity at the end of the program.

It is extremely important that you complete the medical information in the Go Abroad portal. All medical information is confidential. However, this information will help us be prepared to assist you throughout your stay in Cortona and especially in case of emergency. Having a thorough physical before traveling is strongly suggested.

In Italy, if you experience any medical problems, please do not keep them to yourself. As soon as possible, contact the Director of the program or one of the program administrators.

Apart from emergencies, here are some tips to help you get medically ready to go travel abroad. It takes only a little common sense and vigilance--plus a few tricks--to stay healthy and happy even when roaming the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans travel to other countries and, for the most part, enjoy themselves illness free.


Generally, travel directly from the United States to European countries does not require additional vaccinations; however, several other vaccines may be recommended. Please check with your health professional for advice. At the University of Georgia, the University Health Center Allergy/Travel Clinic is dedicated to travel needs. All registered UGA students may use the services. The telephone number is (706) 542-5575. Not all doctors will have vaccinations in stock, so plan accordingly.

Immunization is required for travel to certain other countries, especially non- European countries. If you are planning to travel outside of Europe, please find out before you leave for the Studies Abroad Program what kind of medical protection is required for the other countries you plan to visit.


The most common of all travelers’ ills is probably diarrhea. The most effective prevention for diarrhea is care in drinking and eating. Impure water (including ice) is one of the most common sources of the bacteria which can make the traveler's sojourn in a foreign land miserable for a few days. This risk can be minimized by using soft drinks, or bottled water (acqua minerale) instead of tap water. Food is harder than water to control as a source of bacteria which may cause diarrhea. The risk can be minimized by avoiding all raw food, or by washing and peeling all raw fruit and vegetables.

Diarrhea occurs sometimes, despite all precautions. When it does, there are numerous medications and home remedies that are said to relieve the symptoms but none are perfect. Have your physician suggest a fast acting diarrhea medication that you can take with you in case you need it. Tablets are easier than liquids to carry in a handbag. In Italy, Imodium is sold over-the- counter in most pharmacies.

Jet Lag / Field Trips

A common problem with modern traveling arises from the physiological effects of long distance non-stop jet flights, particularly from west to east, best known as jet lag. Fatigue, insomnia, anxiety or depression are among the more common symptoms. They arise because the body clock is still set on your departure time while your time of arrival is hours slower or faster, depending on the direction of your flight.

An article in the Western Journal of Medicine suggested these ways to reduce jet lag symptoms:

  • Use food and drink (alcohol) sparingly three days after arrival
  • Arrange your schedule to shorten the day rather than the night
  • Keep well hydrated on the flight. Drink at least one glass of water every hour. Avoid heavy meals, carbonated beverages, and alcohol!!!
  • Motion sickness: Bring travel gum if you tend to feel nauseous on bus or car trips as many of the roads we travel on are windy or narrow.


If you need a physician while with the program, please contact the Director or a program administrator right away. They will assist you in getting to the appropriate doctor or hospital. Cortona only has emergency service and an ambulance, but a complete care hospital is located in Camucia, approximately five miles away.

Insect bites

Each year, usually in the summer, there are one or two students who have mild or moderate allergic reactions to insect bites they receive here in Italy.  Window screens are very uncommon in Italy, but there are other measures you can take to prevent or reduce the annoyance of insect bites:

  • Apply an insect repellent to your exposed skin – there are many effective types available here, sold in grocery stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies.
  • If you know you will be outdoors, especially if you are in the shade, or if it is dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.  Outdoor cafès, movies in the park, visits to the lake, and watching the stars at night are all opportunities for biting insects to strike! 
  • Use an insect repellant made for use on clothing and bedding. 
  • Use a “Vape”, an Italian-made device that plugs into the wall and heats up a tablet until it vaporizes an insecticide into the room.  These devices are highly effective, but should not be used for extensive periods of time in closed spaces.  They can be used with the window open, which is great for sleeping on summer nights! 
  • Sleep under mosquito netting. 
  • Avoid wearing colognes or perfumes, which may attract biting bugs.
  • Avoid walking through or sitting in areas with tall grass or brush.
  • Avoid contact with stray animals that may have fleas, ringworm, or other parasites. 
  • Do not keep food in your room, as this attracts insects (and rodents!)
  • Do not take dormitory blankets out onto the terraces – if you do, you will certainly bring bugs back into your bed!  Buy a big beach towel at the market to use instead – it can be washed afterwards.  
  • Keep clothes and other items off the floor in the dorms, so the housekeepers can clean the rooms thoroughly. 
  • If you are bitten, use an after-bite product, such as calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or witch hazel, to relieve the pain and irritation.  These are available in Italian grocery stores and pharmacies. 

If you have been bitten, you will probably feel it within minutes.  It sometimes happens, however, that symptoms do not appear for 6 to 12 hours.  Usually the symptoms disappear in two or three days, but excessive scratching may prolong healing for several weeks.  If you have a particularly strong reaction to an insect bite, ask at the pharmacy for over-the-counter medicine to alleviate the irritation and promote healing.  

Medical Items

Some medical items you might consider taking with you:

  • Any prescription medication you are presently taking, enough to last the whole time you'll be abroad and copies of the prescription plus the phone number and name of the doctor who prescribed it
    There is often a significant hold-up at Italian Customs for any medications, pharmaceuticals, or prescriptions that are shipped to Italy. PLEASE pack all necessary prescriptions for the semester or expect to do without
  • A spare pair of glasses (or a copy of the prescription)
  • Non-narcotic pain reliever such as aspirin (in small amounts since these over the counter drugs are available in Cortona)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Any non-prescription, special medication that you usually take
  • Motion sickness medication! Many of our field trips are on buses that travel windy or narrow roads.
  • Anti-diarrhea or constipation remedies suggested by your physician
  • Any medications must remain in the original dispensing container and be properly labeled. Over-the-counter drugs should have the chemical name and dosage. Prescriptions must include your name, the chemical name, the dosage and the issuing doctor’s name.
  • Carry all medications in your hand/carry on luggage.

On your return home

If you traveled to a developing country, public health authorities recommend that you be screened for any diseases you may have acquired. Regardless of where you have been you should see a doctor if you develop a fever or diarrhea after returning home.

As required by the Office of International Education at The University of Georgia, all students must have international health insurance coverage while studying abroad. This coverage is provided through your program fees. If you currently have a hospitalization plan that covers you while abroad (this will be in addition to the UGA coverage), please make sure to carry a copy of your insurance card with you at all times. Information about the policy provided through UGA can be found at the Go Abroad website.

UGA Cortona Student Handbook
UGA Cortona students on a vaporetto in Venezia. The lighter the bag, the bigger the smile.

Avoid overpacking – bring the minimum of necessary clothes and accessories.   There will be several times during the semester when you will be responsible for moving your own luggage, including up hills and flights of steps. We recommend no more than one medium/large size suitcase with wheels, or a backpack, with an additional small suitcase or backpack that will be useful for overnight trips made during the semester. 


  • Ten days’ worth of quick-drying clothing (there are few electric clothes dryers in Italy; all laundry at UGA Cortona is line-dried)
  • Clothing that can get messy in the art studios
  • Socks and underwear
  • Pajamas 
  • Clothing appropriate for entering Italian churches – both men and women must cover knees and shoulders 
  • A nice outfit for the opening reception of the art exhibition (students enjoy getting more dressy for the event)
  • Summer:
    • Sturdy, comfortable sandals good for walking long distances
    • Swim Suit/Cap (the local pool requires you to wear a cap)
    • Light sweater
    • Rain jacket
  • Fall/Spring:
    • Light, medium, and heavy-weight sweater (the temperature may change dramatically from the beginning to the end of the semester)
    • Medium-weight coat to layer over sweaters
    • Raincoat
    • Waterproof shoes or rainboots 

Other Recommended Items:

  • Travel umbrella
  • Wallet with coin purse section (Italy functions mostly on cash, and you’ll accumulate a lot of coins)
  • Journal
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Prescription medications to last the entire duration of your program
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Shoes: it is highly recommended that you bring shoes that are comfortable, durable, and practical.  Flip-flops, clogs, high heels, and backless shoes are risky, as Cortona is very hilly, with rough cobblestone streets.  Sprained ankles are a common ailment among our students, usually due to inappropriate footwear!
  • Laptop computer or tablet: Wireless internet is available at several locations in the Kehoe Center, and in the Severini School building.  Black and white printing is available for students.    
  • Art supplies: consult your course syllabi for lists of required art supplies for your classes.  You will be provided in class with many of the supplies you need, and most other supplies can be purchased once you arrive in Italy.  There may, however, be one or two items your instructor wishes you to acquire in the U.S. and bring with you.  Be sure to check your airline’s regulations regarding items that are prohibited in checked luggage, such as solvents and flammable materials. 
  • Portable MP3 player: wi-fi access is not available everywhere throughout the UGA Cortona campus; an MP3 player allows you to listen to music when you can’t stream it. 
  • Jewelry: leave your expensive or sentimentally valuable jewelry at home
  • Camera
  • Portable SSD hard drive or USB flash drive: very useful for saving digital files and quickly transferring them between computers.
  • Zipper-lock storage bags (not available in Italy) 

Items supplied by UGA Cortona, or easily available in Cortona (no need to bring!)

  • Bedding 
  • Towels
  • Laundry Detergent (you can buy it here cheaply ~3 euro)
  • We have a large collection of books you may borrow, including novels, travel guides, Italian language guides, and Italian-English dictionaries
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Clothespins

TSA Guidelines

The United States Transportation and Safety Administration maintains a “What Can I Bring?” page on their web site. It presents up-to-date guidelines regarding what you can pack in your bags when traveling from the U.S. to Italy, and is worth consulting if you have a question regarding particular items. 

TSA guidelines are subject to change (e.g. the recent rules regarding batteries), so it is worth checking the site as your departure date approaches. Click here to visit the TSA “What Can I Bring?” web site.

Bring Your Camera!

Camera: No matter what, bring a camera to Italy! Whether it be a sophisticated SLR or a simple instamatic, film or digital camera, it is essential to record your experience. Most Cortona alumni savor their time abroad for years through prints and slides. Check your camera carefully before leaving home—take a practice roll to insure the camera’s (and your own) competence. You can also purchase cameras (new and used), accessories, and have repairs made in Cortona, often at a lower price than in the States.

Film: You can buy quality film in Cortona for prices comparable to those in the States. Remember that Kodachrome film must be brought home for processing. Kodacolor, Ektachrome, Fujichrome, etc. may be quickly processed in Cortona. For black and white work, the Ilford films are available all over Europe, and are highly recommended, especially the Ilford FP4. If a film is rated ASA 400 or faster, a lead-bag is recommended for protection from airport x-ray machines.

Darkroom: The program's darkroom and photographic facilities are reserved for photography students under the supervision of the photography instructor.

Digital lab: The Severini School now has a 14-station MacIntosh lab. All of the software necessary for digital photography (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) is available. This digital lab is available for all students on the program and has access to the internet. There is also a photography computer lab complete with 5 Intel-based Mac computers, an Epson Stylus Pro 7880 printer and an Epson Stylus Photo R2880.

Miscellaneous: A flash attachment is very useful for indoor ceremonies. Some students will loan their flash to those who don't have one. Trading photos will be an important event at next year's reunion so be prepared to have them available by that time.

Art Supplies

Students are encouraged to wait until they arrive in Italy to purchase supplies for their classes. Built-in, structured time for supply purchase with professors is scheduled for Rome and/or Florence. Students should be aware that several courses may be offered during the same time period. Thus, if a student has his or her heart set on taking 3 classes (i.e., painting, printmaking, and photo), then buys supplies for each in the U.S. and brings them over, the student may find him or herself in a difficult situation when realizing that all three of those classes are taught at the same time. In this case, the student would then have to choose one class and try to sell supplies to other students. To avoid this situation, please come with an open, flexible mind about course offerings and wait to buy supplies once you know your schedule. The class schedule will be announced in Rome and/or Naples, not before.

Fortunately, for most visual art students, art materials and supplies of high quality are available at reasonable costs in Italy. Rome and Florence are good places to purchase some art supplies that you will need in the first part of the course. However, do not overstock with supplies from the offset. Transporting them from Rome to Cortona in a crowded bus may damage some of them and there will be plenty of other opportunities to re-supply both in Cortona and in other cities we visit, such as Arezzo.

Paper stock and made-to-order sketchbooks are available at the two Cartolerie (paper shops) in Cortona. Printing papers and other visual arts basic materials are provided in a short time by the same shops if you ask. Other more specialized items - special paints, canvas, sculpting tools, pens for graphics and LAR -- can be purchased in Florence or ordered in Cortona through the cartolerie.

Keep in mind that acrylic paint tends to be more expensive in Italy. Drawing charcoals are often of a different type or feel to the ones you may be accustomed to, so be prepared to experiment or bring some from home. While you may wish to take with you some basic tools of your specialty, the University has a basic supply of tools that are made available to students. If you do bring your own tools, please put your name on them.

Packing Tips

Try to avoid overpacking. Remember, every individual in the Program, whether faculty, student or dependent is responsible for carrying and moving his or her own luggage. No help is available for anyone. Any experienced traveler will tell you it is no fun to lug around heavy suitcases. This means you should pack a minimum of clothes and accessories in the lightest but sturdiest suitcase you have. Backpacks are highly recommended for easiest transport.


Recommended Items to Pack

All of the following items can be easily purchased in Italy. However, you will be traveling for about 8-10 days before arriving in Cortona, so we suggest you carry with you the things that will make you most comfortable during that period.

  • A wristwatch is a necessity
  • Bath towel, hand towel, and face cloth: take used, thin ones that will dry easily and can be disposed of at the end of the trip if you need space.
  • Soap: in a plastic container, or carry several small soaps
  • Tissues: Small packages of face tissues or wet towelettes are useful.
  • A small daypack
  • A lightweight, rainproof jacket
  • Layered Outfits (Spring & Fall)
  • Travel Umbrella
  • USB memory stick (at least 2GB)
  • Sewing kit: on a small piece of cloth put two needles, several safety pins and an extra button. Around a small piece of cardboard wrap two yards of thread to match each color of your clothes.
  • Laundry kit: Liquid or dry soap that will work in cold water. Put in a small container that can be stuffed into shoes.
  • Writing materials: Remember that your stamps must be purchased in the country from which you mail your letters. Aerograms are cheaper to mail than letters but must also be bought from the country from which you will mail them. You may want to bring a travel diary or journal.
  • Toilet kit: toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo. If you need a hairdryer, it is best to purchase one after you arrive in Italy. Most American hairdryers with a plug adaptor will burn out quickly.
  • Medical kit: bandages, cold tablets, aspirin, motion sickness medicine (if you are likely to need it), insect repellent. If you take prescription medication, including birth control pills, be sure to get enough for the entire trip. Always keep your prescription medication in the bottle from the pharmacy to avoid questions at customs.
    IMPORTANT: Be sure any medications you need on a regular basis are packed into your carry-on luggage. It is possible that checked luggage can get lost resulting in several days delay reuniting with your bags.
  • Plastic Bags: medium to large ones for wet or dirty clothes or towels, small ones for soap & washcloths.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen: the sun in Italy is very bright.
  • Alarm clock: battery operated.
  • Photo Students: Film - lots of it. Film is readily available in Italy, but is more expensive.
  • Camera
  • Bathing suit
  • Dictionary: English/Italian, Italian/English
  • Travel guides for Italy: Recommended: Let's Go Italy, Eyewitness Guides, Rough Guides.
  • Direct Current Adaptors: if you bring electrical appliances like hair dryers or electric shavers. In Italy the current is 220 V 50 cycles (in the US it is 110 V 60)
  • Tape Player/Recorder (optional): with a small supply of tapes/Cds and batteries.
  • Jewelry: leave your good, sentimental and expensive jewelry at home.
  • Leakproof plastic containers: bring along small plastic jars& bottles. They don't break and can be thrown away after you are finished with them. They are great for lotion, soap, cosmetics and anything liquid that can leak or drip.
  • Shoes: Due to increased number of broken or sprained feet and ankles, students are REQUIRED to wear comfortable, durable, practical shoes at all times. This includes flat, arch-supporting shoes for sports, gymnastics, walking, or hiking. Not allowed to wear outside the albergo: flip flops, clogs, high heels, shoes without a back strap. Cortona is very hilly with rough cobblestone streets. Sturdy shoes are essential at all times.
  • Laptop Computer: You will be able to access wireless internet at the Kehoe Center. However, printing both images and text from personal laptops using UGA printers is VERY difficult and not recommended. If students are used to composing on a lap top, they may still want to bring it, being aware that printing access will not be available.
  • Art Supplies

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Make certain you have a valid passport. Make copies of your passport and bring one with you in a separate place. Also leave a copy of your passport at home. These copies will be necessary if your passport becomes lost or stolen.
  • MONEY: The best way to get cash while abroad is by using ATM machines. You can withdraw up to $250.00 a day from your account and there are banks conveniently located throughout Cortona. If you bring traveler's checks, leave a copy of the numbers at home and a copy elsewhere in your luggage.
  • CREDIT CARD: It is highly recommended that students bring a credit card with them in case of emergencies. Visa, MasterCard or American Express with the student's name on the card, signed on the back.
  • INFO FOR PARENTS/RELATIVES: Print out a copy of the webpage "Information for Parents" and leave this with your family at home. It will provide them with information about how to reach you. Read it carefully and anticipate any additional information they may need during your time abroad. (ie: tax forms, financial aid forms, etc.)


Bring with you the following addresses and phone numbers. Keep these addresses and phone numbers with you at all times so that you can call if you need assistance.

UGA Residential Center Cortona, Italy
Office of International Education
The University of Georgia
1324 South Lumpkin Street
Athens, GA 30602
Phone: +1.706.542.7120
Fax: +1.706.542.4270
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The University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program
52044 Cortona (Arezzo) ITALY
Tel: 011 39 0575 603 157


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During the many years since the UGA Studies Abroad Program’s inception in 1970, the relationship between the Cortonese and their American guests has been one of warm friendship. The University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program was the first foreign group to take extended residence in the ancient hill town for educational purposes. In the beginning, both students and faculty caused some Cortonese eyebrows to raise in wonder and disapproval, due to differences in lifestyles. But throughout the years, the Cortonese have learned to accept us with open hearts and open minds. When the group arrives, they make us feel as "fellow citizens" of this special place. When we leave, a general sense of sadness settles in the town and the expectation begins for the following term. Such positive, cordial and friendly feelings have been made possible through the continuous show of respect by the Cortonese on one side and the members of our group on the other.

This respect and friendship of the Cortonese for UGA students and faculty is evident as soon as one arrives. We would like to impress upon anybody who is getting ready for a term abroad in Cortona the seriousness with which we take our good relationship with the Cortonese people. This strong and lasting relationship is a reflection of the 40+ years of understanding, tolerance and considerate behavior on the part of our program participants.

Respect (Rispetto) is the key word to your behavior in Cortona. Respect your hosts first of all. Think of them as people who have made room in their home to welcome you, and who do their best to make your study time productive and your recreation time pleasurable. The Cortonese do generally receive some tangible advantages from the Program’s presence in their home. The group and its members spend money in their town, and many Cortonese benefit from this. But for most of them, economics is not the main reason for their love of the UGA Program. They look instead to the human values of warmth, friendship and understanding they so freely exchange with us. Long-lasting relationships have developed throughout the years between individual Americans and citizens of Cortona. Cortonese have visited or come to live for a time in the US. Some Cortonese have attended UGA in Athens. Some marriages between Americans and Cortonese have been celebrated, and children have been born into these marriages. The reciprocal affection between Cortonese and Americans shows that one can always overcome cultural barriers and differences. All it takes is understanding, an open mind, human curiosity and a lot of RESPECT!

As you walk in the streets of Cortona to go to class or a restaurant, smile to the local people you meet, say a bright "Buon giorno" or "Buona sera"; (only use 'Ciao' with close friends or children, however) they'll know that you love being there. The elderly especially love talking to you. Yes, talking; language barriers are surprisingly easier to break than one might think. Try talking. They'll love you for it and will understand your feelings if not your words.

Most of all remember: you are guests in another country. Habits, customs, and formalities may differ from what you are used to; but it is YOU who should adapt to their customs, not the other way around. You are in THEIR home!

Again, RESPECT and consideration are the key words. Always think of others when you are doing anything that might affect the people around you. Many of the things you do affect others in several ways. If you are rude and unfriendly as an individual, you are automatically considered a rude and unfriendly American. By the same token, if you are nice, considerate and friendly, they'll tend to see you as a representative of good American behavior. How you behave with your Italian hosts reflects not only on you personally, but on the UGA group as a whole and ultimately may condition the Cortonese perception of Americans as a people. Be an exceptional ambassador of good will!

Remember to keep quiet in the streets late at night as you are walking past people's homes!

The City of Florence, where seven million tourists visit each year, has published a Galateo del Turista (The Tourist Guide to Good Manners) in exasperation over the poor behavior of many tourists. Here are some of their rules:

  • do not bathe or refresh your feet in public fountains
  • do not picnic in front of monuments
  • never throw chewing gum on the ground
  • be decently dressed in churches and museums (shoes and covered legs and shoulders are required)
  • do not feed pigeons
  • do not throw trash on the ground
  • do not wear bathing suits in historical centres - men should wear shirts at all times
  • do not urinate outside: toilets - public or private - are always available
  • do not sleep in sleeping bags in public squares

To these rules we wish to add one of our own: never walk around drinking out of open wine or beer bottles. You do not do this at home and in Italy it marks you immediately as the "ugly American."

Student Residences

JDK center, Fall 2017
The JDK Cortona Center, Fall 2017. Photograph by Professor Jeff Curto.

In the summer of 2005, after 37 years in Cortona, UGA's Lamar Dodd School of Art inaugurated the John D. Kehoe Cortona Center adjacent to the Severini Building on 4.5 acres atop Cortona, and now has its classrooms, studios and residence hall all in one location. There are approximately 85 beds in the newly renovated dormitory and all students will reside there. The rooms in the Kehoe Center share baths and are doubles, triples and quads. Thus, the Cortona Program is truly a residence program and the students become a community in a dorm-like environment.

Common spaces include:

  • All bathroom facilities - There are a sufficient number of showers for every one. However, the hot water has a way of running out if many students try to shower at the same time. Stagger your showering to “off-peak” times if possible.
  • The dining room where breakfast is served - Breakfast is generally served 7:00am to 10:00am. Please do not ask to be served at other times; the staff are very busy and cannot accommodate individual schedules.
  • Common Rooms -The breakfast room is open 24 hours and can be used for discussions and gatherings. It is removed from the bedrooms and thus will allow for more noise. The Lounge in the dorm area has computers handy and couches for lounging and reading. After 10:00pm, we ask for quietness as noise carries through the dorm hallways.
  • Kitchen/Dining Area - The Kehoe Center offers not only dining facilities but refrigerators to store perishables. There is a stove and grill, but there are NO microwaves. Many students prepare their meals at lunchtime and weekends as well as snack time. This is a good time to mention that the Program advises a mixture of individual food preparation along with visitations to the many restaurants, rosticerias, tratorias and bars to experience Tuscan cuisine. Many returning students lament the loss of pizza from a special place or a sandwich or pasta from the other end of town. Former students also recommend purchasing a basket or canvas bag to keep in the refrigerator or kitchen shelves with your personal food items to keep them all together.
  • Telephone - there is a telephone in the Kehoe Center but it cannot be used for outgoing calls. You cannot make any calls from there, not even collect. Calls from hotels are much more expensive so you will be better off using the public telephone. You may receive short phone calls at the Kehoe Center. Leave the number with your family and friends. For calls from the U.S. the number is 011-39-0-575-630275. There is a 15-minute time limit on in-coming calls.
  • Behavior - As you are sharing spaces with other members of the group, your non-disruptive behavior in the dormitory is very important to insure a pleasant life for all. Generally you are expected to behave as you would in a dormitory on your home campus or in a hotel at home. Be considerate of others and again remember that respect is the key word.

Please be sensitive to the fact that people differ in their sleeping habits and studying practices. The Kehoe Center is a place for resting and studying, not for partying. At 10:00 p.m. all loud noise must stop, both inside the building and in the garden areas.

If you are a night person and wish to stay up late, go up the hill, far from buildings where people  -- the Cortonese as well as your fellow students - - may wish to sleep. There are open areas very near town where your conversations can be loud and private and not bother anyone.

If you return to the dormitory after 10:30 p.m., walk to your bed quietly and try not to wake anyone. Avoid turning on the lights in your room if your roommates are already in bed. Some people really need that early night sleeping time to be able to function properly the next day.

In your room, keep to your space: there will be closet space for you and studying space; keep your area neat and tidy, do not take over others’ living spaces! Respect your roommates!

Wireless Internet: There is wireless internet access in the Kehoe Center both in the student lounge area and in the lecture hall. We do our best to provide solid connectivity, but our connection is only as good as the local connection, so outages do tend to occur. The student lounge contains several computers and a printer, and there is also a room with computers and printers in the Severini building for additional needs. If you have a laptop, bringing it with you is a good idea. If you use your own computer, you may want to also bring a memory stick so that you can transfer a document from your laptop to a computer connected to a printer.

The Kehoe Dorm has a computer station located in the students' common room with four (4) G-5 Mac desktop computers, which are hooked up to the internet along with two (2) black/white printers. The dorm has three (3) different wireless 'hot spots' for use with personal laptops: 1 in the students' common room, 1 in the auditorium, and 1 in the breakfast room.

Any visitor to the UGA facilities (Kehoe Center or Serverini Building) must be approved by the Director or staff member in charge. This includes all family members and friends who might visit Cortona. Please help us keep this rule enforced for the safety of the entire group. It will avoid problems for the hotels and for us. Visitors must find their own hotels. Cortona has one of the best youth hostels in Italy. The Cortona Tourist Office is a good source of information for visitor accommodations ( or 39-075-630352.)

Meals and Restaurante Tonino (Tonino's Restaurant)

Breakfast is served every day to program participants in the Kehoe Center. Lunch is on your own. While in Cortona, students in the Spring and Fall programs eat dinner together 3 nights a week. Students in the Maymester and Summer programs eat dinner together in Cortona 5 nights a week. These required dinners are served for the group from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Tonino's, one of the finest restaurants in Italy located on the Piazza Garibaldi next to the Hotel San Luca. Students in the Spring and Fall programs received a weekly meal voucher to be used for a 4th dinner at a participating restaurant in Cortona.

The restaurant owners, the personnel and, especially the waiters have become accustomed to American eating habits, but they serve Italian food, according to Italian custom. This is one important way to learn about another culture. Therefore, we do insist on having traditional Italian food served to the group.

The personnel at Tonino’s are usually very cooperative and willing to accommodate our needs. Remember that the group is treated on a discounted group basis. We do benefit from the chef’s expertise and it is possible in certain cases to get some special food if you are not feeling well or are allergic to specific ingredients. However, please do not abuse this kindness and don’t make a habit of asking for special consideration.

Please be considerate with the waiters and maids. Should you have any complaints about the service, please express your concerns to the program administrators right away. It is easier to stop problems before they develop than to correct them after they have set in. Only members of the group who are officially enrolled are allowed to take meals in the group's dining areas.

Food Allergies / Vegetarians

Students with severe food allergies are asked to take into consideration that as part of our residential program, dinner is prepared by Italian chefs at Tonino's Restaurant, for the entire group. Eating with the group on scheduled days is required. Students may cook for themselves only on Saturday and Sunday, and during the week for lunches. Food is typically Italian fare with a pasta dish served with every meal. Special accommodations can be made for students with allergies to wheat, tomatoes, nuts and other common ingredients. If you are on a special diet for medical reasons, are allergic to some foods, or are a vegan or vegetarian, let us know so that the restaurant can be informed.

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Our mail system may be slow, but it isn't as slow as the Italian mail. Letters rarely get lost, but generally they take 10 days to three weeks or more to receive one from the States and vice versa. One of our faculty members received a letter from the US to Cortona after two years! Of course this is an exception, but keep in mind that airmail time can take as long as two to four weeks in the summer- time, a little less in the other seasons. Aerograms seem to get to the US faster than postcards or letters. If you do send postcards, be sure to write "air mail", "posta aerea" on them or they go by ship and may never get to their destination. Stamps and aerograms can be purchased at any post office or tobacco shop. Try to buy aerograms in large cities, since the Cortona Post Office runs out of them quickly.

If you would like a letter to arrive in the States quickly, send it air mail, registered (raccomandata) and express (espresso). It should arrive in the US within a few days -- as opposed to the few weeks it would take by regular mail. Do not send it by surface mail.

The mail is delivered to Cortona daily Monday-Friday and is made available in the Severini School. Claim your mail there every day. Please do not ever pick up mail that is not for you.

Packages sent from the States usually take a long time to arrive. Do not have anyone send you something urgent (contact lenses, asthma inhalers, etc.) by regular mail. FedEx them if it is truly urgent that you receive them by a certain date. Customs charges for packages should be expected, and can become quite expensive depending on the declared contents. It's recommended that you work with a local UPS or FedEx sales associate when shipping your package to ensure the proper documentation.

When placing a large insurance charge on a package, the Italian Customs can and likely will tack on a large "custom's charge." If the value is reduced or eliminated on the insurance, this will eliminate an unexpected charge when the package arrives in Italy. Seldom, does a package not arrive or arrive damaged. Note that most carriers by default carry a certain amount of insurance on packages anyway. Work with your carrier to determine what is best for your needs and shipment.

Be sure to add U.S.A. to your address after the zip code, so your mail will not travel to other countries instead. When your friends and relatives write to you, have them make sure that the zip code PRECEDES the name of the town. For example”52044 Cortona (Arezzo) Italy.” Zip codes in continental Europe precede the names of places.

Letters & Packages to you should be sent to:
John D. Kehoe Cortona Center
Via Delle Santucce, 2

If you have money orders mailed to you, make sure they are sent registered/special delivery or by private mail companies (FedEX, Airborne, etc.). Receiving mail at other hotels where we stay for a few days is practically impossible. Therefore, discourage your friends and family from trying it.

Sending packages home at the end of your trip is available throught the local post office or several of the shops in town.

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There are many ways to communicate with the U.S. from Italy:

There are telephone lines at both the Kehoe Center and the Severini School from which you can make local calls, calls to Italian cell phone numbers, and emergency calls. If you wish to use these lines to make an international call, you would need to have an international calling card, or purchase pre-paid phone credit. Incoming international calls can be received on both of these lines.

The most cost-effective and user-friendly option for calling home is a VOIP provider such as Skype (, which can be used on any device connected to the internet: phone, tablet, your laptop, or one of the UGA Cortona computers. You will need to set up a Skype account, and since Skype-to-Skype calls and video calls are free, get your friends and family to set up Skype accounts as well. You can also put credit on your Skype account online using a credit card, which enables you to make very inexpensive voice calls to most phone numbers in the world.

When you have access to the internet, such as when you are in the UGA Cortona buildings or in some cafès in Cortona, you can use Face Time, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger from your own device, for free.

Check with your cell phone company before you leave the US – many now have an international plan that they call sell you for a short term stay abroad, with rates that are actually reasonable. Beware of using your cell phone in Italy if you have NOT made such an arrangement beforehand – roaming charges can add up quickly! If you do not make arrangements with your provider to use your phone while you are abroad, it is best to leave it in “airplane mode” for the entire duration of your stay. This will allow you to use the phone with wi-fi, but protects you from roaming charges from your phone company.

If you have an “unlocked” phone, you may wish to remove your American SIM card and use the phone with an Italian SIM instead, which would give your phone an Italian phone number. An Italian SIM card can be purchased for about €10 in the airport when you arrive, in Rome or Naples where the program starts, or in the town of Camucia located just outside of Cortona. The best coverage in Cortona is provided by the TIM company, which offers short-term contracts for visiting foreigners that provide minutes and data for about €15 a month, and low rates on international calls. If you don’t want a contract, there is also a pay-as-you-go option, by which you pay for each call or text you make, adding credit on the phone (“ricarica”) at any tobacco shop. Note that the pay-as-you-go option usually ends up being more expensive than a monthly contract. With an Italian SIM, incoming calls from all European numbers, as well as the United States, cost nothing for the receiving party.

If your phone is “locked” to an American carrier, call your cell phone company and ask if they will unlock it for you to use with a foreign SIM card during travel. Many companies will now do this. If your phone cannot be unlocked, then you may consider purchasing an inexpensive cell phone here in Italy. A very basic cell phone (voice and text only, no data or apps or camera!) can cost as little as €30. You would then need to buy a SIM card for it and pay for calls through either a contract or the pay-as-you-go option.

As in the US, public pay telephones have nearly disappeared in Italy. There is currently one left in Cortona (conveniently located in front of Ristorante Tonino) from which you can make local calls using coins or Italian phone cards, or international calls using an Italian international phone card, prepaid phone credit, or an American international calling card.

  • To use a public phone in Italy, you should have an Italian phone card (carta telefonica or scheda telefonica; very few pay phones take coins anymore), available from any tobacco shop in various denominations. Break off the corner, insert it into the slot, and the digital display will track the credit remaining on the card as you talk. When your card is about to run out of money, you will hear a sound warning you of the approaching expiration. You can then substitute another card and continue your conversation. You can make an international call with this kind of card, but it will be pricey.
  • A more affordable way to make an international call from a public phone in Italy is to purchase an international phone card (scheda telefonica internazionale) from any tobacco shop. They come in various denominations and work the same way as the scheda telefonica, but give a better rate on international calls.
  • To make an international call from any phone, including a pay phone, a cell phone, or the phone in the Kehoe Center, you can use a service called Phone All. Go to the tabbaccheria and tell the clerk that you wish to purchase credit to make a phone call to the U.S. They will ask you the amount of Euro you want to purchase (€5, €10, or €20), then they will use a machine to print a paper ticket for you. The ticket gives you a PIN number that allows you to access your credit, and it has a list of toll-free numbers (in Italian, a toll-free number is a “Numero Verde”). To know which toll-free number to dial, you have to know what kind of phone you will be calling from: “Fisso” means “fixed”, in other words, a land-line telephone; “Mobile” means a cell phone; “Cabina” is a phone booth. Dial the appropriate toll-free number, then enter your code from the receipt, then dial your destination phone number, including the country code (USA = 001). Each carrier sets their own price and so the cost of your international call (i.e., how many minutes your credit will buy you) will depend on the owner of the telephone line you use to make it. In general, calls from land-lines are much less expensive (sometimes half the price!) than those from cell phones. The Phone All service has a website with instructions in English, and a list of rates per minute by operator:
  • You may wish to purchase an international calling card from an American company prior to your departure from the US. Some are pre-paid, and others are billed to your home later. Most long-distance phone companies provide them, and there are now other companies online that sell them as well. You can price-compare them all at

To make a collect call, you can either dial the Italian service toll-free at tel. 170, or use your American phone company’s access line. (Note: you’ll get better rates by calling a home operator.) If you are using a pay phone, you will need a coin or phone card to get the initial line, but the money should be returned after the connection has been made. Each American long distance carrier has a different access number from Italy -- make sure to get yours before departure. (For example, if you are using AT&T, their number from Italy is 800-172-444.) An American operator will come on the line; tell them it is a collect call and give them the number you are trying to reach. After taking this information, the operator will request that the phone be hung up. The phone will ring shortly thereafter and if the party you are calling is in, the next voice on the line will be theirs, and the operator will ask them if they will accept the charges for your call. If the party is not in, the operator will ask you to try again later.

When making calls, keep in mind that the time in the United States is six to nine hours behind the time in Italy. For example, if it is 1:00 p.m. in Italy, it is 7:00 a.m. in Atlanta, Georgia, and 4:00 a.m. in California.

The customary salutation used when answering the phone in Italy is “pronto!” If you are making the call, ask for the person you are calling by saying, “Buon giorno, è possibile parlare con (name)?”.

If your friends or family need to call you, the best place for them to reach you is the Kehoe Center, either early in the morning or late in the evening.

Make sure your family has the following phone numbers, which they can use to reach you in case of emergency: 

  • Chris Robinson, Director: 001 39 393 842 5005
  • Kris Schramer, Associate Director: 001 39 331 577 8628
  • Visiting Artist Intern: 001 39 333 284 7267
  • Enza Valente, Business Manager: 001 39 338 479 7786
  • John D. Kehoe Center: 001 39 0575 630 275
  • Severini School: 001 39 0575 605 074
  • UGA Cortona In-Town Office 001 39 0575 603 157
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To acquaint you with the typical Italian eating habits, following is a brief description of Italian customs concerning meals:

Breakfast (prima colazione)

Is continental and is available at the Kehoe Center. You will be served juices, tea or decaf coffee with milk and various breads, pastries, granola or yogurt. Occasionally instead of the roll you'll get sliced bread or dried toast (commercial). If you want or need to eat something in addition to this, you may buy groceries and store them in the Kehoe Center kitchen and refrigerator. Small stove-top coffee makers are available for purchase in town.

Lunch on your own

There are several choices available for lunch in Cortona:

  • You may choose a regular restaurant where you sit at a table and are waited on. The price range varies from first-class full menu establishments to more inexpensive places where you may have a simple pizza or a plate of pasta.
  • You may go to any of the bars in town and order a sandwich.
  • You may go to one of the grocery stores that will prepare a sandwich of your choice for you.
  • You may purchase groceries; bread, cheese and fruit, etc. and create your own lunch. Former students suggest visiting the Frutissimo for fresh fruit and vegetables on friday or saturday evenings after returning from field trips.

Dinner (cena)

In Cortona, required group dinners are served at Tonino’s - one of the highest rated restaurants in Italy. As it is the only meal that the group takes together, it is served more like the typical Italian lunch, composed of:

  • first course (primo piatto) of pasta or rice
  • second course (secondo piatto) of meat with vegetables
  • dessert: (frutta or dolce) fruit or cake or pie

Prices vary greatly, from the very expensive to the very affordable. In Cortona, smaller family-run restaurants are usually fairly inexpensive and they have a great advantage in that you can easily make friends there.

In many towns other than Cortona that the group visits on field trips, bars, pizzerias and restaurants are numerous and easy to find all over the historic areas.

Remember: if you sit down at a table in a regular restaurant, a cover charge is automatically added to your bill and you are also expected to tip your waiter (unless a service charge is built in.) In addition, sitting at a table means potentially long waiting times, since in Italy everything is cooked only after you order it.

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Please note the itinerary for our travels before arriving in Cortona. Hotel accommodations in such cities are second-class, student- type hotels. The hotels are clean, comfortable, and the food is good, but may be more expensive in the hotel compared with restaurants in the town or city you are visiting.

Throughout the semester term, weekly field trips are scheduled for the entire group. These trips are required of all students; they include visits to important artistic and historical centers such as Siena, Perugia, Assisi, etc.

For day trips, departure from Cortona is 7:30 or 8:00 am.; we travel by chartered buses and stop in the assigned cities. Every effort is made to be back in Cortona by dinner time.

Promptness is essential. Program buses cannot keep many people waiting for a few late comers. If you are late even a minute in meeting a bus at any assigned place, you may miss the bus and you will be responsible for your own transportation back to Cortona.

What to bring on field trips

The best bag to carry for day-long trips is a small backpack with your camera, sketchbook and notebook, pens and pencils and other personal needs. If churches are to be visited (we almost always do), you must be suitably dressed or you may not be allowed into the church. Suitably dressed means that bare arms and shoulders, miniskirts or short shorts are not permitted. Taking along a light raincoat that you can wear when entering churches can become quite useful if it should suddenly rain.

Have enough cash before leaving Cortona. This includes coins for public transportation and small bills for easy transactions. Banks are usually closed on Saturday (when most field trips take place) and at any rate you don't want to spend your time in a bank when you only have a few hours to visit a site you have never seen before.

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You can use convenient buses from Cortona, Camucia, and Terontola. They run fairly regularly. Copies of the bus schedule are posted at the school and available at the Tourist Office.

Transportation to and from Cortona by chartered buses is provided by the UGA Studies Abroad Program. However, once within the cities we visit, students must pay for their own local transportation.

Usually you must have your ticket before you board a public bus or a train or even the vaporetto in Venice. Have plenty of coins or small bills to purchase these tickets. The ticket must be stamped by inserting it into a machine on the bus. This validates the ticket and protects you from fines should a check be run while you are on board. If you are staying in a city more than one day (as in Rome or Venice), you may want to purchase more than one ticket at a time, or even a day pass in some places. It will save you money and time.

Bicycles are not recommended for the terrain of Cortona. School buildings, the Kehoe Center, Tonino’s Ristorante and the town center are all within easy walking distance. Bicycles are dangerous in this hilly area, even for the “pros” and have caused several accidents that could have been avoided. Bus and train transportation is also easily available and provided on school trips. You are encouraged to leave your bicycle at home. Motorized 2 or 3 wheel vehicles are not allowed to be used by students; accidents involving these vehicles are not covered by the group insurance plan.

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Concerts, Plays, Recitals, and Movies

Cortona has a small but surprisingly good series of spectacles performed in Teatro Signorelli during the Fall and Spring, and during the summer in outdoor spaces. They are usually free of charge or modestly priced. We urge students to attend these events not only for their own enjoyment but also because it is a good opportunity to meet Italians and other foreign guests of Cortona who have similar interests. American movies and other foreign films are frequently shown in town, dubbed in Italian, and are usually shown once a week in their original language.

Athletic Facilities

Soccer: In the warmer months, students and locals often play games of soccer in Camucia, which is a few minutes ride down the mountain from cortona. In Italy (and the rest of the world) its called football.

Tennis: Cortona has two lighted clay tennis courts, located on the east side of town past the public park. You can sign up for temporary membership at the Cortona Tennis Club. Bring your racquet! (There is a charge for the court.)

Swimming: There is a swimming pool near the park in Cortona. Additionally two large swimming pools are available in the valley town of Camucia which can be reached by public bus. There is usually an admission charge.

Running: Cortona provides excellent opportunities for joggers, allowing one to experience the countryside closely and to get a feel for it. Not many Cortonese run recreationally, so do not be surprised or alarmed by some odd stares you may get. Rather, greet people you meet and continue on your way. Shirts should be worn at all times.

Boating: Lake Trasimeno is the third largest lake in Italy and is connected to Cortona by bus during the summertime. In addition to swimming, the Lake area also offers other forms of recreational facilities (boating, fishing, water skiing, etc.)

Bocce: Bocce (bah-chee) is a traditional Italian game played with balls on a clay or sand court. It is easy to learn and is an excellent chance to meet and make friends with the Cortonese. Primarily older people play bocce but in recent years the young are also getting interested in it again. Try it! There is a small bocce court on the terrace of the Kehoe Center. Former students have even started an annual Jack Kehoe Bocce Tournament during the summer semester.


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Students who participate on the Cortona program do not need an Italian visa.  Italian visas are required for persons staying in Italy or the Schengen area for more than 90 days total (every Cortona program is less than 90 days).  The UGA fall program (for example) is generally 86 days, leaving only 4 days for personal travel (90 days total) within Italy or the Schengen area on your own, before or after the program.  Summer is approximately 65 days, leaving an additional 25 days for personal travel.

The official reasons that visas are issued are very specific and only include:

Adoption, medical reasons, certain business trips, family reunion (with family member currently residing in that country), or research/study opportunities sponsored by a U.S. or international institution.  Only on rare occasions will UGA be able to sponsor extended research/study -  for example, students participating on two or more consecutive Cortona programs.  The Consulate requires official documentation if you need a visa.  Travel/tourism are not considered official reasons.  These are the requirements of the Italian Consulate, not the Cortona program.

International students not holding a U.S. passport may be required to obtain a visa to enter Italy for the program.  Please contact our office for details. 

The member countries of the Schengen agreement are:

Czech Republic


Slovak Republic


Non-Schengen countries are:


United Kingdom
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The University of Georgia's sexual harassment policy is posted in the Severini School. You should contact the Director or Associate Director immediately if there is a problem.

UGA's Non-Discrimination & Anti-Harassment Policy (PDF).
UGA's Policy on Alcohol & Other Drugs .

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Most of Europe uses the metric system to express measurements of length, weight, capacity or volume, temperature, etc. The system derives its name from the meter which is its basic measure of length. Before you go to Italy, familiarize yourself with the metric system as not many people in Europe are familiar with American units of measure. It is very easy to use the metric system as it is based on the number 10. Dividing or multiplying is simply done by moving the decimal point or adding a zero. For example: the meter is the standard measure of length. Its multiples are:

  • the kilometer= 1,000 meters
  • the hectometer = 100 meters
  • the decameter = 10 meters
  • the meter = 1 meter
  • the decimeter = 0.1 meter
  • the centimeter = 0.01 meter
  • the millimeter = 0.001 meter

Note that in Italian the comma indicates decimals, while the point is used for thousands.


Length: Metric Standard Unit is the Meter

When you wish to purchase canvas, string, etc., you will ask for it in meters. One meter is just longer than one yard.

Liquids or Volume: Metric Standard Unit is the Liter
cup > milliliters or liter
pint > liter
quart > liter
gallon > liter

When you purchase liquids like wine or milk, the measure will be in liters or half liters. A liter is roughly comparable to a quart (see above.)

Weight: Metric Standard Unit is the Gram
ounce > gram
pound > gram
Pound > Kilogram

When you buy items by weight as grocery items, you will ask for them in kilos ( 1 kg = 2.2 LB), half kilos (a little over one pound), or by hectograms (a little over 3 ounces).


Temperatures are measured in Celsius degrees, also called centigrade. Every degree of temperature is divided in tenths.

If you are taking your body temperature with an Italian thermometer you will know you are running a fever if the mercury is past 37 degrees.

For weather conditions you can find out the temperature in Fahrenheit by using the following easy formula:

From the Celsius degree value: multiply by 9 ÷ divide by 5, add 32. The result is the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Telling Time in Italy

In Europe the hours of the day are counted from 1 to 24. There is no indication of a.m. or p.m. Time schedules will read correspondingly. For example: The play begins at “ore 21.00" means "at 9:00 p.m."

An easy formula to reduce the p.m. hours to what you are used to is to subtract 12 from the European time. Examples:21- 12 = 9 (which is 9 p.m.) ore 18.00 (- 12) = 6 pm, ore 15.00 (- 12) = 3pm ['ore' means 'hour'].

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Recommended Website

  • (for languages & translation)

Recommended Films

  • Life is Beautiful
  • Tea with Mussolini
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread
  • Room with a View
  • Caro Diario
  • Several titles by Fellini (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2)
  • The Bicycle Thief
  • Il Postino
  • The English Patient
  • The Agony and The Ecstasy
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Enchanted April
  • El Alamein
  • Pinnochio with Roberto Benigni
  • La Finestra di Fronte
  • Johnny Stecchino
  • Il Mostro

Recommended Reading


  • Rough Guide to Italy
  • Lonely Planet: Italy
  • DK Eyewitness series, volumes on Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and Italy
  • Nicholas Albanese, Streetwise Italian Dictionary/Thesauras

Classics to Read in Translation

  • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
  • Boccaccio, The Decameron
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks
  • Poetry by Francesco Petrarca, Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Vasari Le Vite


  • Origo, Iris.  The Merchant of Prato
  • McCarthy, Mary.  Stones of Florence and Venice Observed
  • Levi, Carlo.  Christ Stopped at Eboli
  • Barzini, Luigi.  The Italians
  • Parks, Tim.  Italian Neighbors
  • Ginzburg, Natalia.  All our Yesterdays, The City and The House, The Little Virtues
  • Calvino, Italo.  Italian Folktales, The Baron in the Trees (among  many other titles)
  • Mayes, Frances.  Under the Tuscan Sun, and In Tuscany ( photos of Cortona )
  • Lamb, Wally.  I Know This Much is True


  • Harrison, Barbara Grizzuti. Italian Days
  • Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Ruskin, John. The Stones of Venice
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