Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a passport?
Yes, you need your passport to enter and exit Italy and to show to authorities if necessary during your stay. Passports are valid for ten years from the date of issue. You can begin the process of obtaining or renewing a passport here:
Once in Rome, what happens?
We offer chartered bus service from the Rome airport to Postignano, provided you arrive in Rome at the specified hour. (We will give you our flight information.) If you arrive early, no problem. Simply wait for us, and we will all travel together to Postignano. If you arrive later, simply take the shuttle train to the Rome train station and hop on a local to Spoleto. We can arrange transportation from the Spoleto train station for a nominal fee. It's much easier, however, if you can coordinate your air travel with ours. Total time by bus is about 2 1/2 hours.
Where do we go when the conference is completed?
A chartered bus will take you all back to the Rome airport in time for our specified return flight. For those who plan to stay and travel on their own in Italy, we can arrange transportation to the train station in Spoleto for a nominal fee. From there, you can easily reach Rome, Florence, and anywhere else on the peninsula and beyond.
Will there be a lot of walking during the conference?
Postignano is a very small hamlet no larger than a grand hotel. Any walking there is minimal. All apartments are mere steps away from seminar spaces, art galleries, the wine bar, and the restaurant (where you will eat all of your meals). The hamlet, however, is medieval in origin, which means you should expect uneven cobblestones, steps, narrow alleyways, and the like. Take a look at Postignano’s website for some stunning photos of the hamlet: http://www.castellodipostignano.it/
We will also take day trips to other hilltop towns, where walking involves elevation changes. You do not need to be in top physical condition for any of the program activities, but you do need to be able to walk without serious difficulties. For avid walkers and hikers, you may enjoy the rich outdoor culture of the area around Postignano, where nature trails are ubiquitous.
How will we take our meals?
The program fees cover all meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—in Postignano’s fabulous Trattoria La Casa Rosa (The Pink House Restaurant). One of the great joys of traveling (particularly in Italy) is the food, and you will no doubt love our hamlet’s one and only eatery. As for what kinds of food to expect, here’s a quick overview: though breakfast is typically minimal in Italy (a pastry or croissant, some toast with marmalade, a cappuccino or tea), in Postignano it is a spectacle of local, cured meats and cheeses, eggs prepared in a number of ways, cereals, homemade sweets, and much more. Lunch is a purposely lighter affair: fresh but filling salads, meats and cheeses, and other surprises. Dinners are lavish, three-course feasts complete with a glass of wine. Sparkling and natural water are also offered at every meal, as is espresso afterward. The only items not covered by the program are any cocktails, sodas, and beverages beyond the glass of wine each lunch and dinner. The staff of the restaurant are quite knowledgeable about local wines, and their cellars include a wonderful variety. Each night, the staff will recommend wine pairings for you to try.
What about vegetarian options and gluten free choices?
The restaurant and the Postignano managers are sensitive to dietary restrictions. There will always be vegetarian and gluten-free options.
What is the classroom like?
We have a few different “classroom” spaces in the hamlet. One is really just a large apartment furnished to be more of a meeting and conference space. It is lovely, with large couches and comfortable sitting chairs around a fireplace, a small game room, a library, and a bathroom. We will hold most of our smaller conferences and workshops there. The others are more suited to our communal lectures and film screenings, since they accommodate more people comfortably. All conference rooms are mere steps from the apartments and restaurant.
What about the field trips?
At least twice during our seminar, we will take to the road. A chartered bus will pick us up and take us to a stunning nearby town (which changes year to year). You will have the late morning to wander and explore, shop and loaf. We will be on hand to offer itineraries and guide you through these charming places. Lunch will be provided at locally owned restaurants and pizzerie in town. Afterward, we will reconvene as a group for a tour of various landmarks. Late in the afternoon, the bus will pick us up and take us back to Postignano, in time for dinner.
Is Italy safe? Should I worry about that?
Postignano might be the safest place on the planet, since it’s a highly curated, historical wonder with virtually no inhabitants other than the managers and staff. We will pretty much have the place to ourselves. Our field-trip destinations are all charming and completely safe. Italy in general is very safe. The only places that require any vigilance are the big cities (Rome, Bologna, Florence, etc.), and even then just for petty crime (purse-snatching and pickpocketing). We will offer suggestions later to those traveling onward, but they are mainly common sense.
Is the tap water potable?
Yes. In fact, Umbria—the region we will be touring—is known for the purity of its water. Culturally, Italians have some catching up to do in terms of breaking themselves of the bottled-water craze. They are, however, changing, and tap water consumption, even in restaurants, is very much on the rise.
How about phones?
You may talk with your provider about a short-term international plan that allows you to use your phone while in Italy. Some providers (T-Mobile, for example) may not even charge extra for the service. You just pay more per minute when calling home. The cheapest way, however, is to use Skype or another internet telephony service, which is free. All apartments and common spaces in Postignano have wifi. Cell coverage, however, is quite spotty in the narrow alleys and walkways of the hamlet, and indeed in the steep Nera valley in general. Skyping home is far more efficient and reliable. We encourage you to go that route.
The hamlet has a number of landlines for use by the staff, which we can also use for emergencies (since cell coverage is difficult). Closer to time, we will exchange contact information for both Whatsapp or Facebook, since those media are much more reliable in terms of contacting us while in Italy.
What about weather?
Typically, Umbria in June is fantastic: blue skies and 70-80 degrees. They receive a great deal of annual rain, however, so be prepared especially for late-afternoon showers. And while Postignano is typically cool (even requiring a light fleece at night), other destinations can potentially be hot. Climate has become difficult to gauge anymore, but we hope for the very best. All apartments have central heat, but air conditioning is very rare in Umbria (and typically unnecessary). In times of unseasonably warm temperatures (notably the summer of 2017), fans are available in all apartments and conference spaces.
What about clothing?
Typically, Italy is a much more dressed-up culture. You see fewer pairs of shorts and cheap t-shirts. We encourage multi-functional clothing that is not easily wrinkled or stained, as well as at least one slightly more elegant outfit if you can. Choose clothing that breathes well (light colors and sheer fabrics) and that is comfortable across a range of temperatures.