POSTCARDS & PROSECCO
EDITION 02 SEPTEMBER 2018
JACKSONVILLE UNIVERSITY IN ITALY
Spanning three centuries, Sant’Anna has stood as a source of learning, light, and leadership for the Sorrento community in the Campagna region of southern Italy. Located high above the Bay of Naples, jetting out on a cliff facing Mt. Vesuvius, Sorrento, sits 30 miles south of Naples. Now, through a new partnership with Jacksonville University, Sant’Anna is poised to become a leader in high quality global educational experiences.
LEGACY OF SANT’ANNA
The legacy of Sant’Anna is shrouded in generosity, compassion, and commitment to the educational needs of a community. The expansive property originated in the 1800s as a private residence. At the owner’s request upon his death, the estate was bequeathed to the Roman Catholic Church. In response for such generosity, the Church sent the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea to care for the educational needs of the Sorrento community.
For more than 150 years, the Sisters of Charity served the diverse educational needs of the Sorrento community; establishing an orphanage, teaching nursery school through high school, and educating teachers. The school closed its doors in 1994. A few years later, with permission from the Vatican, Cristiana Pannico, founder and President of today’s Sant’Anna Institute moved into the historical building, bringing new life, leadership, and learning yet again into the property. This time, with Pannico’s vision, expanding the legacy of learning to include international students.
Today, towering over a majestic cliff, high above Sorrento’s Marina Grande, the impressive five-story building includes classrooms, offices, and two floors of newly renovated student residences. The rooms overlooking the sapphire blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and pastel colored fishing village of Marina Grande are again bustling with activity.
The stone-walled walkway leading through the gates of Sant’Anna delights the senses meandering through brightly colored gardens, rose-scented arch ways, and tidy rows of Sorrento’s native aromatic lemon trees. The organic garden is lovingly tended as it has been for centuries, providing fresh fruit, seasonal vegetables, and flowers to the Sant’Anna community.
MY LEAP OF FAITH
As the Executive Director of Global Teaching and Learning, and Professor of Communication, I’ve lead study abroad programs at JU for more than a decade and a half. I am a passionate advocate for quality study abroad programs. Time and again, I witness the transformation that takes place when a college student steps out of the familar and into the unknown. I believe education remains the one great hope for vibrant democracies throughout the world. For me, study abroad is an integral part of education, necessary to prepare students for life in an increasingly global community.
When done right, study abroad has the power to promote peace, replacing fear of the unknown with understanding, illuminating shared values, and cultivating respect for differences. Study abroad affords students the opportunity to experience engaged learning while increasing knowledge through understanding.
My students have used their time abroad to produce award winning projects honored by the Florida Chapter of the Associated Press and the National Council for Undergraduate Research. During the Summer of 2017, at the end of a family vacation in Venice, I made a last-minute decision to stay behind, and travel alone for the nearly 500 miles south to Sorrento.
After a few minutes on the property, and an initial meeting with owner, Cristina Pannico, I recognized the opportunities for collaboration between JU and Sant’Anna could be far greater than simply my summer program. I knew I found something extraordinary and set to work to share it with the JU community.
In the fall of 2017, Pannico visited JU, touring the campus and meeting with President Tim Cost. In March of 2018, I travelled to Sorrento, and spent my sabbatical at Sant’Anna studying Italian and facilitating the partnership. Later that month, Dr. Christine Sapienza arrived with the documents making the collaboration between Jacksonville University and Sant’Anna official.
As the university of record, JU oversees the instruction and coursework provided at Sant’Anna, ensures JU academic standards are maintained, and awards university credits and transcripts to all students throughout the world earning academic credit through Sant’Anna classes.
DOLPHINS IN SORRENTO
In May of 2018, less than one year after the initial meeting between Pannico and myself, the first group of JU Dolphins arrived in Sorrento. The three-week May-mester included two courses. I taught Communications, Culture, and the Amalfi Coast, and Professor Ginger Sheridan taught Photography: The study of Displacement and Discovery.
A second group of students followed in June, completing course work, including Sant’Anna signature courses: History of the Mafia, Archaeology and the Cities of Fire, and Italian Language. In addition, the summer program featured a new JU International Internship in Sorrento, with students from a variety of majors interning in the community while earning discipline specific academic credits.
Over the course of the next academic year, JU will continue to pilot new programs. These additions include graduate and undergraduate courses in Health Sciences, International Internships, two Summer Sessions, the Freshman Welcome Program, and full semester programs in the Spring and Fall.
This extraordinary partnership provides undergraduates, graduate students, and the greater JU community with well-organized and innovative engaged learning opportunities. Collectively, this JU signature program pairs critical thinking and vibrant learning experiences while preparing students for success in an increasing global world. From the bluff high above the St. Johns River to the cliffs of the Sorrentine peninsula, JU’s shared commitment to educational excellence, through service, learning, and leadership has found a new home in Sant’Anna and Sorrento, Italy.
The study abroad programs are open to JU students and full time college students in good standing enrolled at other colleges and universities. For more information about how you can study abroad in Sorrento, click the link here.
I look forward to seeing you in Sorrento!
2 thoughts on “Meeting Sant’Anna”
I am looking for a Catholic Convent in Sorrento where my mother spent 13 years of her life ….from 1937 to 1950…from age 5 to 18. It used to be a school/ orphanage. She described it as this school is described. Facing Mount Vesuvius lemon groves…going down a mountainous aills to the beach area…Her parents both died of TB. She passed 2 years ago, so I can no longer question her about her time there, but would like to visit. If anyone can tell me the history of this place, it would help.me greatly. Thank you in advance.
I am sorry to learn that your mother passed away. I do think this may be the place she lived. Your story aligns with the history of the beautiful Sant’Anna.
The building at the Sant’Anna Institute is probably the place—as is owned by the Catholic Church and leased to the Sant’Anna Institute. It has breathtaking views of the sea and Mt. Vesuvius and included a convent.
In fact, several nuns still lived in one of the sections of the building until recently—moving during CoVid 19.
New construction is nearly finished making this wing a additional set of dormitories for students.
The original property dates back a couple hundred years. Originally it was a private property. When the owner died, he had no heirs and left it to the Catholic Church. As a result of his generosity, the Church sent a group of nuns to Sorrento. They provided many important services to the community, including a school and and an orphanage. It remains a very special place with a thriving garden, a canopy of lemon groves, and wisteria arching over the stonewalled walkway.
Sant’Anna sits high above the sea. It is a very steep walk down an Ancient Greek path and archway to the sea and Marina Grande. You can see this area featured prominently in the Sophia Loren movie Pane, Amore, and Fantasia.
Today it serves as the home of the Sant’Anna Institute. I have the good fortune of working with the Sant’Anna Institute and consider this one of my favorite places.
With your permission—I will share your story with my colleagues at Sant’Anna in Sorrento.
Thank you for reaching out as I am happy to help.