Living and Learning in Sorrento


Sorrento is an ancient coastal hill town at the south end of the Bay of Naples, with views of the island of Capri, Mt. Vesuvius and the city of Naples to the north. Sorrento has the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Ercolano at the doorstep. A jewel itself and the historical vacation choice of the highest aristocracy of Europe, Sorrento is the best gateway to the equally renowned jewel-towns of Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello, Atrani, and Vietri in the spectacular "Costiera Amalfitana." Together Sorrento and the Costiera offer a first-hand demonstration of how challenges and opportunities of human settlements in a dramatic landscape are resolved by historical evolution in a unique blend of art, life and sense of place.

Students and Curriculum

Our students hail from India, Iran, Slovenia, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and the United States. They are an enthusiastic bunch who are eagerly immersing themselves in a program that offers new ways of designing, making, and building, with the goal of increasing beauty and life in the world. The curriculum emphasizes the generation of beauty by means of the practical work of making and follows the founding principles described on the opening page of Building Beauty. The curriculum links together ecological thinking, building skills and self-awareness, along three lines:

1. Construction and Cultivation: replication of traditional building components/ornaments and new construction project in the Sant’Anna gardens. In cooperation with the Giardino della Minerva’s botanic labs—the most ancient medical gardens of the western world established in the XIth Century in Salerno—students realize a garden project integrated with the construction project.

2. Seminars: leading international scholars from a wide range of disciplines explore a truly interdisciplinary approach to design and construction where complexity and uncertainty are positive conditions of beauty generation. Speakers tackle important challenges in the current international agenda of sustainable architecture and resilient communities.

3. Self, Community and Space: practical art-therapy workshops raise the ability to recognize and trust feelings in relation to space. Feelings are referred to in space, the body-mind, and the way they interact in hands-on physical work of making. The program ends with the Summer School in Cisternino, Puglia: here students learn from a local master-builder how to build the circular stone-houses traditional of the place, the famous trulli, in an unforgettable two weeks of intensive, residential construction experience.


The Sant'Anna Institute

Sant'Anna, founded in 1998, is an institution of higher education specializing in study abroad programs accredited by a U.S. university. With the mission of creating a global community of students, faculty and scholars, Sant'Anna prides itself on fostering the exchange of ideas and growth towards a more profound sense of the world, as well as a deeper sense of self.

Sant'Anna is housed in a stately building, constructed as a convent in the nineteenth century, overlooking the Marina Grande of Sorrento on the bay of Naples. The building is comprised of five-floors, each featuring an eclectic combination of details from its past and present. This includes a beautiful Chapel and an abundant garden including organic fruits and vegetables. The first three floors are dedicated to academic use. It is on these floors that a library, student lounge, classrooms, studio space, and offices can be found. The top floors are a Residence Hall with an open floor plan kitchen, en-suite bedrooms, and a beautiful terrace overlooking the Bay. Wi-fi, heat, and air conditioning are available throughout the building.

Shared apartments in town can also be arranged. As an international community, restaurants, supermarkets, access to public transport, and other conveniences can be easily accessed.

Beyond Sant'Anna’s walls, students can navigate from one century to another, discovering archaeological sites and the treasures of the arts and architecture, bearing witness to millennia of human development in the heart of the Mediterranean.

For information about how the course is proceeding, please see the Learning Journal page.