Italian Studies at Univ. of Notre Dame

IHadrian villa in Tivolitalian language, literature, and culture is the heart of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Western civilization. As the hub of the Roman empire, Italy transmitted the world of ancient Roman and Greek classical culture and language to the modern age. As the epicenter of Christianity, Italy transfigured the classical legacy to create the fabric of Christian culture and spirituality. As the wellspring of the European Renaissance, Italy reinvented the vast patrimony of classical Christian culture to create the modern humanistic civilization of the West. To this day, much of the cultural vocabulary of Western civilization has its roots in Italy. To enter into Italian culture is to understand who we are and how we got here.

In each of the fields of human action -from literature, art, music, architecture, theatre, and film, to science, religion, philosophy, business, and politics- Italy has produced many of the greatest geniuses in history. Today, Italy is both one of the most culturally vibrant nations of Europe (Italian writers have won six Nobel prizes in the last century), and one of the most prosperous, industrialized, and technologically-advanced nations in the world.

Italian Studies is an area of exceptional and growing strength at the University of Notre Dame. First taught at the University of Notre Dame in 1847, and re-established in 1947 by Paul Bosco (Ph.D., Harvard, 1942), who taught at Notre Dame for fifty years with his Bolognese wife, Vittoria (Magistero, University of Florence, 1954), Italian has grown to a teaching staff of twenty and almost 400 students per semester: it is now the second-most-studied language at Notre Dame. Great resources, outstanding faculty, and ground breaking institutional initiatives create unparalleled opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate study.

Lorenzo Valterza

Notre Dame’s Dept. of Romance Language and Literature is fortunate in having acquired Dr. Lorenzo Valterza (two years ago the much-lauded visiting professor at OSU).  Dr. Valterza specializes in Italian Medieval literature. His research focuses on Dante, jurisprudence (medieval and modern), and philosophical hermeneutics.  At Notre Dame he is doing research on casuistry and moral reasoning as he completes his book on ethics and interpretation in medieval Italy.  OSU’s loss is ND’s gain.

Parlate corsu?

Now that you have a command of Standard Italian (if not then be sure to check our October language class schedule at you might want to explore the rich history of associated Italian dialects. Unlike dialects in English the Italian dialects are languages unto themselves.  Distinct dialects/languages include Venetian, Napolitano, Sicilian and Corsican

Last season City Music Columbus brought in Peppino d’Agostino who when prompted would slip into standard Italian songs and short interactions with the audience. This season for a rare appearance CMC is bringing in a quartet from Corsica, “Barbara Furtuna”. Only one member speaks English so consider attending and listen to their blend of native Corsican and French. An experience not to be missed. The season’s calendar is at – dai un’occhiata!

More about the Corsican dialect, its slow decline and recent rebirth, is at

Italia in Ohio, LLC's photo.
Some sample Corsican expressions to have handy are in this list:
Corsican – Corsu  




Student Spotlight on Nancy McBride

 Italia in Ohio is more than a language opportunity,
it’s a way to connect with others traveling the same path.

Nancy Italia
I’ve always been a traveler and a lover of language. My early influences included grandparents from Poland and Germany. Growing up in Detroit, my mom never learned English until she was in the 4th grade. She continued to speak fluently with my aunts and grandmother but only used Polish in our home to delight us with a few words here and there or give us commands like “get going kid”. Far away places, foreign foods, customs, and people have always intrigued me. My travel bug hit early. At age 13, my parents put me on a train from Detroit to Chicago to visit relatives who lived there. I stayed with my grandmother’s sister and her husband, my uncle Gus. Uncle Gus and I spent a lot of time together and I learned about his journey from Russia to America and his struggle to learn English. He told me (with his thick Russian accent) that it was his goal to learn at least one new word each day.

The opportunity to explore countries, primarily in Europe, started in the late 90s when I attended a family wedding in Belfast, Ireland. In 2003 as a grad student at Capital University, I was asked to travel with undergrad students to Spain where we explored Madrid, Avila, Salamanca, and Toledo. I loved using my limited Spanish-speaking skills to connect with shop owners and waiters. It was the first time I realized that I didn’t necessarily need words to communicate or to develop a connection. A smile, “gracias”, “de nada”, or a small tip got me a nod of recognition and tapas. It was the first time I would experience what I call reverse recognition – receiving an extra tapa or aperitif from the waiter was their way of connecting with me. A thank you, possibly. Whenever this happens I feel honored.

In 2004, I got to experience reverse recognition again when I spent 2 months in Rome as part of my graduate studies for my concentrate, Healthcare Across Cultures. I fell in love with Rome, Italy, the people, the food, and all things Italian. As a transitional student at La Sapienza, I had the opportunity to work with an amazing professor, Julita Sansoni. At the time, Professoressa Sansoni was the only PhD in Rome. Since then, she’s worked tirelessly to develop nurse professionals. Many of them I’ve had the great pleasure to get to know while living there and have stayed in touch with over the years. I try to return to Italy ever 2 to 3 years to maintain connections. When I go to Rome, my friends make me feel like royalty and my circle of contacts continues to grow. I love and cherish each and every one of them.

My journey towards Italian language proficiency has been slow. Becoming good with any language takes daily practice and exposure. Italia in Ohio has provided me with ongoing exposure to the language, customs, food, and people. I’m thankful for the many friends and teachers I’ve met. They are more than fellow students or mentors. They support the traveler and lover of language in me, we connect through the our struggles, and we celebrate our successes. Grazie a tutti per il vostro continuo sostegno e la gentilezza!