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TRAVEL Q&A

Travel Q&A: Italian Language Schools, Kid-Friendly Stops En Route to Chicago

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 8, 2009

Q. I'm planning a three- to four-month stay in Rome, mostly to continue Italian lessons. Any suggestions on how to begin my search for rental accommodations and language-class recommendations?

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Patricia Freedman, Silver Spring

A. Italy's capital is home to scores of full-immersion language schools, and most will arrange accommodations, either with a host family or with other students in a flat.

Plenty of companies can help you sort through the choices. Lingua Service Worldwide, for example (800-394-5327, http://www.linguaserviceworldwide.com), based in Connecticut, represents more than 60 language schools around the globe. The company says it regularly visits the schools to monitor performance, and it provides applicants with contact info for former students.

Sample listing for Rome: the Istituto Italiano, near the Colosseum and Termini station. It offers Intensive (20 45-minute lessons a week, three to 12 students per class, $285 a week) and Super Intensive (30 lessons, $382) courses year-round (add a $100 application fee). A stay with a host family runs $271 a week and includes a single room and daily breakfast. All prices are discounted for longer stays.

On a larger scale is LanguageCourse.net (800-613-6345, http://www.languagecourse.net), based in Barcelona, which lists more than 400 schools worldwide. Schools are given star ratings by former students, and there's an online forum as well, with uncensored reviews. The schools must be accredited and must have been in business for at least three years, said company spokeswoman Loreto Sousa.

Sample listing: Studioitalia, with a four-star rating from former students, located "a short walk from Castel Sant Angelo." Cost is about $200 a week (less for longer stays) for Intensive courses (20 classes a week), $321 for Super Intensive (30 classes), with a 5 percent discount for online registration. Class size is not given. A home stay with a single room and breakfast is about $352 a week, less for longer stays. A $78 inscription fee applies.

For a more personal touch, you could ask an experienced travel agent for suggestions. Anne Morgan Scully of McCabe World Travel in McLean, for example, said her agency could check with colleagues in Rome and provide recommendations at no charge (703-905-9100, http://www.mccabeworld.com).

My husband, our 4-year-old and I will drive from Frederick to Chicago in early September. Can you suggest any kid-friendly places to visit between Maryland and Chicago to break up the ride?

Doreen Bass, Frederick

Luckily for your 4-year-old, your route northwest takes you past some pretty kid-friendly burgs. Pittsburgh, about a third of the way to Chicago via interstates 70 and 76, has the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, with its mammoth collection of dinosaur fossils; an award-winning Children's Museum complete with a replica of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood; the Carnegie Science Center, with interactive exhibits; and Kennywood, a much-loved amusement park that'll still be open in September (weekends only after Labor Day). For details on all: http://www.visitpittsburgh.com.

Another two hours up the road is Cleveland, with its own Children's Museum; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Metroparks Zoo; the Museum of Natural History (more dinosaurs!); and the USS Cod, a World War II submarine. Details: http://www.positivelycleveland.com.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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