Syracuse Academy
Summer 4 weeks IV 2020
3 - 6 credits

Syracuse Academy’s 4 week summer program takes advantage of the school’s location on the Italian island of Sicily, with elective courses that discuss ancient Sicily, the Italian Mafia, and Mediterranean Archaeology. Students enroll in one or two elective courses for a total of 3 - 6 credits. Courses focus on applied experience, and take students out in the region to learn on-site as they get to explore some of the most iconic sites in Syracuse and Eastern Sicily.

Application: closed

Application Requirements
Complete online application
Personal statement (300-500 words)
Official transcript
Passport scan (photo page)
Italian privacy consent form

NOTE: Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, SAI has cancelled all Summer 2020 in-person programs. Please consider SAI’s Virtual Summer 2020 programs.

Program Dates
May 29, 2020 – June 27, 2020

Eligibility Requirements

Age: 18+

Academic Year: High school graduate or above.

Cumulative GPA:* 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale)

* contact SAI if you don’t meet requirements

Natural Science
Social Science

Natural Science

4.0 Credits
Biology | Course #: ESEC250 | Open
The Mediterranean basin is recognized as a biodiversity hotspot: although it only covers less than 1% of the planet’s ocean area, it is one the major reservoirs of coastal and marine biodiversity, with about one-third of endemic species, 18% of the world’s marine flora and 7.5% of its marine fauna. This relatively small, semi-closed sea has an abundance of islands and underwater beds and is also a major area of wintering, reproduction and migration.

This course provides a comprehensive investigation of the rich and diverse biota, of the past geological events, of the variety of climatic and hydrologic conditions that make the Mediterranean Sea, amongst the most complex marine a ecosystems on the planet, situated at the crossroads of different biogeographic regions, inhabited by a rich and diverse flora and fauna, currently imperiled by different pressures, mainly induced by human activities.

This course offers an analysis of:

(a) the origin of the Mediterranean Sea and of its rich and diverse biota;

(b) the main threats to Mediterranean biodiversity, coastal urbanization, focusing on habitat modification and loss, climate change, pollution, overfishing and exploitation of natural resources, amongst the main drivers of the ongoing change in biodiversity;

(c) the phenomenon of biological invasion and the introduction of alien species into the Mediterranean environment, ie. organisms that arrive in a region beyond their indigenous range due to direct or indirect human intervention.

(d) effective policies for sustainable management of fisheries and marine areas and future outlooks in the field.

Syracuse is a city of ancient seafaring traditions and today maintains a close relationship with the marine environment. This course has a strong field-based focus where students learn about marine ecosystem management and conservation.

Important concepts and skills are acquired through field trips to the Plemmirio and Vendicari Marine Reserves, dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable use of natural resources.
Contact Hours: 60
4.0 Credits
Nutrition | Course #: ESAG250 | Open
This interdisciplinary course will focus on Food and Culture, and particularly on how lifestyle affects psychophysical performances and human health.

Students will learn the basics of human metabolism and the main features of the Mediterranean diet. Scientific information aims to explain why the Mediterranean diet is better adapted to the needs of the human body. In addition, this course will provide students with the chance of exploring the region and getting to know the local people by cooking and eating with them. This course relies on cultural exchanges among students, food producers and the local community to provide a more impactful learning experience. The course takes place in Sicily, a land that during the past centuries was ruled by many different civilizations (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Spanish, etc.). Sicilian food style was deeply affected by this rich mixture of different cultures. After learning about Mediterranean diet features and its relationships with human health, students will get the chance of cooking and tasting typical Mediterranean recipes along with Italian people and learn about how food can be an expression of people's history, character and identity. Students are directly engaged in these topics by participation in field trips.

The course aims not only to provide students with valuable scientific health-related information: being based in Sicily, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean area, means having the best chance to experience the wealth of colors, tastes and flavors that comprise the Mediterranean diet. Syracuse Academy is located in the heart of Syracuse and the resources available in this province of South-Eastern Sicily are unparalleled in the Mediterranean with regards to research facilities, producers and institutions focused on food quality certifications, slow food, organic productions, allowing this course to be taught in a way that would not be possible in many other parts of the world.
Contact Hours: 60
4.0 Credits
Volcanology | Course #: ES 250 | Open
This course explores the many aspects of volcanism on Earth, from the formation of magma below or within the crust to its eruption at the surface, focusing on the volcanism of Mt. Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the World and a perfect natural laboratory thanks to its peculiar characteristics. The different types of eruptive styles of volcanoes will be briefly described and explained within their geological and tectonic contexts, with several case studies. Specific attention will be devoted to the impact of volcanic eruptions on human activities and life, unveiling the close interplay between man and volcanoes around the world and throughout history. The classes will then be introduced to modern volcano monitoring techniques, with a particular focus on geo-chemical methods. A large part of the course will be entirely devoted to the volcanism of Sicily and in particular of Mt. Etna, describing its history, types of eruptions, products erupted and the long-term beneficial effects of its activity on human life.

Course includes the following site visits:
- Mt. Etna: Trip 1
- Catania
- Mt. Etna: Trip 2
Contact Hours: 60

Social Science

3.0 Credits
Archeology | Course #: CS 250 | Open
This course explores the archaeological heritage of Sicily from the Prehistoric period to the Middle Ages.

Classes deal in turn with each of the major cultures that have developed in or imposed themselves on Sicily, and thus provide an introduction to many of the most important civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean (e.g. the Mycenaeans, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines) via a single geographically defined focus. This approach enables an appreciation to be made of the fundamental similarities and differences between these cultures, and the continuities and changes in methods of control and exploitation of the land and its resources that they each employed.

This course is designed to provide familiarity with the specific material culture of Sicily, and will explore notable developments in architecture (including the rise of the Greek architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian), sculpture (transition from stylized images into realistic portraits), coinage, and pottery.

Accordingly, this course will chronicle the transformation of villages into planned cities, modest sanctuaries into monumental temples, as well as the invention of coinage and the widespread dissemination of sculpture and pottery. Emphasis will be placed on the examination of cultural interactions, as Sicily became an integral part of the various cultures that rose to dominance in the Mediterranean basin. Sicily has long served as the “hub” of the Mediterranean and this course is designed to take advantage of our location and will incorporate numerous fieldtrips and excursions in Syracuse and around Sicily.

Site Visits/Fieldtrips
- Archaeological Area of Syracuse
- Paolo Orsi Archaeological museum
- Necropolis of Pantalica (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Temples of Apollo and Athena (Ortigia)
- Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
- Morgantina and Roman Villa of Casale
- Catacombs of St. John
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
History | Course #: HPS 250 | Open
This course studies different aspects of the mafia as a phenomenon: from the genesis and history of the mafia as a political reality, through the national and international security implications of the mafia and organized criminality, to the cultural impact of the mafia. Sicily is sadly the mother land of one of the oldest and most established organized crime groups. It is part of its historical, political and social development as well as of its economic structure. At the same time, the Sicilian mafia is efficiently involved in the global flows of illicit trafficking, notably drugs. For those who are interested in learning more about this local phenomenon and its global implications and in understanding its original roots, this course offers a great combination of lectures, discussions and learning experiences.

Course includes the following site visits:
- Allied Landing Museum in Catania
- Social Cooperative Beppe Montana
- Round table with Libera
Contact Hours: 45
The ancient Mediterranean teemed with gods and different ways of seeing the divine from the earliest prehistoric times until most were swept away by Monotheistic religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam from the second half of the first millennium AD. This course looks at the huge variety of approaches to the divine world, in which deities rose to prominence, took on new features, were borrowed by other civilizations and became universally recognized or sank into oblivion. We look at a religious world propelled by fertile exchanges, where deities coexisted as much as they competed, and where religion defined and molded life in dramatically different ways than we see today. And we ask how it was that this multiplicity and ferment was replaced by the exclusive ruling gods of Law and book religions that shaped the modern world.

Site Visits and Fieldtrips
- Temples of Apollo and Athena (Ortigia)
- Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum
- Valley of the Temples and Agrigento
- Catacombs of San Giovanni
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Migration | Course #: HPS 251 | Open
Throughout history, migration has fueled human progress, sparking innovation, spreading ideas and technology, relieving poverty, and laying the foundations for a global economy. But human mobility has also produced tensions, hardship and conflict.

This course will examine the academic field of migration studies, focusing on the modern history of migration in Italy and particularly the Mezzogiorno, which has once again come to be considered an advantageous destination, for permanent relocation or for transit. Taking the long view, migration is nothing new in Sicily. Due to its favorable location in the Mediterranean Sea, this island has always been a crossroads; civilizations have come and gone here for millennia.

And it is at the center of it all again, as migration has become an increasingly contested topic. In a world more interconnected than ever before, increasing numbers of people have the means and motivation to migrate. A percentage of these are refugees numbering in the millions and the crisis caused by the irregular arrival of forced migrants in Europe has stimulated debates about nationalism and citizenship, regulation and enforcement, multiculturalism and integration, with moral implications and policy conundrums that concern societies the world over.

Situated on the ramparts of Fortress Europe and at ground zero for the Wests migrant reception crisis, Siracusa is exceptionally well-placed for the study of migration. The southeast corner of Sicily receives and processes a significant percentage of Italys migrant boat arrivals, and it now hosts the European Regional Task Force (EURTF), where the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (formerly Frontex) works with other EU agencies to enhance coordination of member states efforts to maintain surveillance and control over Europe’s external borders. This is where humanitarian endeavors confront organized crime and contend with efforts to ensure security. At this critical international threshold and geopolitical juncture, this course offers a multidisciplinary overview of the study of international migration, combining theoretical insights from academic scholarship with the analysis of immigration policy drawn from fieldwork and personal interactions as well as contemporary case studies.

In a variety of contexts, students will work and socialize with recent immigrants to Sicily, as well as established foreign-born members of the community. This approach is designed to provide students with a variety of perspectives, and with the opportunity to consider and discuss these timely issues and to critically analyze current theoretical and policy debates around immigration in the Mediterranean and beyond.
Contact Hours: 45

Course Registration & Schedule
Syracuse Academy courses run Monday – Friday. Students select their desired courses during the SAI application process, and finalized schedules with class days and times are provided at orientation.

Service Learning & Volunteer
Syracuse Academy holds service learning as a pillar of academic excellence. Courses are intimately connected to the needs of various aspects of the community; they work in tandem with the community to create new ideas and new visions for future improvement. Students attending Syracuse Academy have various unique opportunities to get involved in their community beyond their classroom, including cultural and language exchange programs, classroom and youth engagement programs, and much more. Students receive information about all service and volunteer options upon arrival in Sicily.

Please note that the deadlines below have been adjusted to reflect our revised Summer 2020 policies.

Pre-Departure Calendar
April 9 2020
Application Closes
Applications accepted after closing as space permits.
March 29 2020
SAI Financial Aid Verification Deadline
Students wishing to defer payment until financial aid disbursement must submit the financial aid verification forms to SAI by this date.
April 14 2020
SAI Deposits Due
$500 Confirmation Deposit (applied toward program fee)
$300 Security Deposit (refundable)
March 15 2020
SAI Scholarship Application Deadline
Students wishing to apply for an SAI scholarship must have all application items submitted by 11:59pm Pacific Time on this date.
April 14 2020
Balance of Total Program Fee Due

On-Site Calendar
May 29 2020
Arrival & Housing Check-in
Students arrive into Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA). SAI airport pickup is provided between 10:00am and 3:00pm, and students are transferred to SAI housing.
May 30 2020
Orientation & Welcome Events
June 1 2020
Classes Begin
June 26 2020
Classes End & Final Exams
June 27 2020
Program End & Housing Check-out
Students must move out of housing by 10:00am to return home or pursue independent travel.
SAI Program Fees* USD
Application Fee $100
Security Deposit
Refundable at the end of the term.
Program Fee: 3 credits
Includes tuition, standard housing and SAI Signature Services(see What’s Included).
Program Fee: 6 credits
Includes tuition, standard housing and SAI Signature Services(see What’s Included).
Optional / Additional Fees:  
Optional Private Room Housing Supplement
Private room in a shared apartment, with a shared bathroom.
Optional Homestay Housing Supplement
Option to live with a local host family in a private room; includes breakfast daily.
Optional Homestay Housing Supplement With Full Board
Option to live with a local host family in a private room; includes breakfast & dinner 5 days/week.
Optional Weekend Excursion: Aeolian Islands
Students have the option of paying for an additional excursion, beyond those included, to the Aeolian Islands.
International Mailing Supplement
When applicable, students are charged an international mailing supplement to ensure visa paperwork arrives in a timely manner.

*prices are subject to change

Note: certain SAI-affiliated US universities require specific payment arrangements. These may require that some fees are paid by the student directly to SAI, and other fees are paid to SAI by the affiliated university on behalf of the student. If you attend an SAI-affiliated university please contact your study abroad office or speak with your SAI Admissions Counselor for details.

Budget Low Est. High Est.
Airfare to/from Sicily
$900 $1,800
Books, Supplies & Course Fees
$25 / course $50 / course
Combination of cooking at home and eating out.
$600 / month $800 / month
Personal Expenses $250 / month $350 / month
Transportation in Syracuse area
Public transportation with some taxi rides.
$50 / month $100 / month
Weekend Travel
Cost varies greatly by student.
$300 / month $1,000 / month

This is an SAI Signature Services Program; it includes our full services!

  • Program tuition and U.S. academic credit
  • Accommodation in carefully selected student housing
  • Airport pickup and transportation on arrival day
  • Welcome reception and events
  • Orientation to the host city and school
  • Staff on-site dedicated to providing personal assistance
  • Student health insurance providing full coverage and medical emergency evacuation
  • Access to and assistance with international cell phone plans
  • Frequent cultural activities and day trips
  • 24-hour on-site emergency support
  • Farewell event with all students

Pre-departure and Re-entry services

  • US-based admissions counselor assigned to you, providing friendly assistance
  • Helpful pre-departure tools and resources
  • Online student groups to acquaint you with other SAI students
  • Assistance with student visa application
  • Assistance with financial aid processing
  • Need-based SAI scholarships
  • Paid registration fees for national re-entry conferences
  • SAI Ambassador Program for SAI alumni, with paid internship opportunities
  • SAI alumni network

SAI offers activities, at no extra cost, for students to get to know their community, city and country. Following is a sample of the activities included in this program. Please note that actual activities may differ.

Welcome Event
All students are invited to a typical Italian meal welcoming them to the program and their host city.

Welcome Tour of Syracuse
Students tour Syracuse, including stops at popular shops, supermarkets, and places of entertainment, as well as important landmarks such as main squares, post offices, bus stops and taxi stands.

Day Trip to Pantalica: Prehistoric Sicily
Students visit the historical Neolithic settlement of Pantalica and admire the breathtaking views of the cliff-side necropolis. After taking a step back in time, students will have the opportunity to cool off in the pristine lakes of the Anapo river nearby. After a swim, the day will end with a taste of traditional Sicilian delicacies in a local “agritourismo”.

Day Trip to Noto and Vendicari: Baroque Sicily
Students go on a guided tour of the Baroque town of Noto, UNESCO world heritage site for its architectural splendor, followed by a Sicilian wine tasting in a traditional Val di Noto cantine. The day continues with leisure time at the pristine beach of the Vendicari marine reserve, laying grounds of sea turtles and of other Mediterranean wildlife species. This is followed by bird watching to view one of the largest pink flamingo colonies in Europe. Students then visit the Spanish tuna farm and the ancient Roman summer estate Villa Tellaro, famous for its brilliant mosaics. The day ends with a sunset aperitif in the charming fisherman village of Marzamem.

Day Trip to Mount Etna: Mythological Sicily
This excursion takes students on a unique hike to the craters of Mt Etna, the tallest active volcano of continental Europe. Students visit the volcanic caves, led by an expert volcanologist, and learn about the mythology and traditional storytelling inspired by the volcano. Students then have leisure time to take in the narrow streets and majestic views that were the setting of the Godfather movie scenes and inspired the works of DH Lawrence, Oscar Wilde and many more.

Tandem Language Aperitif
Meet local students while enjoying an aperitif during Syracuse Academy’s weekly language exchange program.

Outdoor Cinema Nights
Students enjoy the beautiful Sicilian evenings as they gather on the school’s lawn for an outdoor movie.

Farewell Event
Before heading home students and staff share in a celebratory final meal to reflect and say goodbyes.

Standard Housing: Student apartment
SAI student apartments are convenient and well equipped, with shared occupancy bedrooms (option to upgrade to private bedroom, if available). Typical residences house 2 – 8 students and contain a combination of private and shared bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living areas. Furnishings, a washing machine, basic kitchen supplies, bed linens and towels are provided. All apartments are equipped with wireless Internet. Housing assignments are single gender; other housing configurations may be available under limited circumstances.

Optional Housing: Family homestay (additional fee applies)
Students choosing the family homestay option are placed with a local family, which could be an older married couple or a family with children. Homestay families are typically within a short walking distance to the school. Homestay housing includes a private occupancy room and either weekday breakfast or weekday breakfast and dinner.

Passports should be valid for 3 months after planned departure from Italy.

Student Visas
In accordance with Italian law U.S. students studying in Italy for 90 days or less are not required to obtain a student visa. Therefore all U.S. students do not require a student visa for this program. Non-US nationals should consult their local Consulate for information on student visa requirements.

About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.