The great renaissance painter Raphael was trained in Perugia under Pietro Perugino. Only one fresco remains that can be certainly attributed to Raphael. This fresco can be found in the Cappella di San Severo.
Visiting was a fairly unusual experience. After paying a small fee, you walk into a small white room with high ceilings. Plastic chairs line the wall opposing the only remaining Raphael in Perugia. Raphael’s fresco features the holy trinity and multiple saints surrounding an ensconced, terracotta madonna and child. After contemplating the figures in their sterile surroundings, you walk out into the cool and humid Umbrian weather.
I am in Perugia studying Italian at l’Università per Stranieri or University for Foreigners. The main building of the university can be found in Piazza Fortebraccio. Stage right of this grand old building is an Etruscan arch built in 200 B.C.
I’ve been placed in an elementary level class with around thirty other students. We represent 13 different countries including Israel, Russia, Iraq, America, and China. In the first few days of class, the discomfort between the Israelis and the other Arabs was palpable. After sharing a classroom, friends, and local bars, tempers are beginning to cool down.
After two months of study, improvement is apparent. This past week I was able to have a good conversation with some of our Chinese students. For the first time, we finally had a common language. Through Italian, an American student and two Chinese students were able to communicate and laugh together.