La Scuola International School Offers Cultural Exchange Program Opportunity in Lucca, Italy

Lucca will be the destination for this first Cultural Exchange Program  and Immersion opportunity for la Scuola Families to enjoy together!

Lucca will be the destination for this first Cultural Exchange Program and Immersion opportunity for la Scuola Families to enjoy together!

We have an exciting opportunity to offer our La Scuola families this summer!  For the first time we have put together a cultural exchange program for families to enjoy together along with Italian language classes!

We invite you to enjoy a week at in the historical town of Lucca, Italy. In partnership with the Lucca Italian School (LIS) you have the opportunity to be immersed in Italian Language through the classes they offer. This retreat will be from July 8th-12th.  During your time there you will have the opportunity to take

1) Italian Language Classes for Parents

2) Italian Language Classes for Children

3) Take part in Cultural Experiences

1) Language Lessons for Parents

Parent group Italian language classes are held from 9:15am-1pm, Monday-Friday (20 hours total) for 208€ (discounted rate).  You are placed in the appropriate language level that is suited for you. Every day includes a 25 minute coffee break in the midmorning.

2) Language Lessons for Children

At the same time from 9:15am-1pm, a private children's Italian language class is held. Price ranges depending on number of students in the group from 350-550€.  Minimum group size is 2 and maximum is 6 for private class. 

3) Cultural Experiences

Families will partake in 3 cultural experiences during the week in the afternoons: 

a) Pizza Making: 3-hour hands-on cooking class in which students learn how to prepare pizza (dough and a variety of toppings). It will be held in our school's kitchen

b) Tour in town: On the first day, in the afternoon, discover Lucca's rich history and traditions on a 2 hours walking tour. 

c) Choose your own excursion! Take a train or bus to the outskirts of town to one of these following locations: 

- Pisa by train

- Viareggio (seaside) by train, entrance to the private beach included

-Collodi (Pinocchio Park), by private bus, entrance ticket included

- Garfagnana by private bus,  Devil's bridge and Verrucole Fortress (guided visit inside the medieval castle), entrance ticket included

The total for the pizza making, tour in town, and an excursion is ~ 100€/person.  

Excursion Details

Some notes about the excursions: 

Pisa is the famous town of art; you will see the famous Piazza dei Miracoli with the Leaning Tower and the Duomo. You will walk around the town, get to the river Arno, stop for a drink or an ice-cream there, cross the river and walk to the train station passing along the shopping road. It's about 3 hours, no museums but an open-air excursion. Train ride about 30 minutes. 

Viareggio  is a beach town, with a large private sandy beach, with umbrellas and deck chairs, and children playgrounds. You will spend a quiet afternoon there (~3 hours) Train ride about 30 minutes.

Collodi is the place where the writer of the book of Pinocchio (named Carlo Collodi) used to live. There's a nice open-air park for children, dedicated to Pinocchio and his adventures. See this website. Private bus ride, about 40 minutes. 

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Garfagnana is a mountain region north of Lucca, still wild and not touristic, rich in history. The Devil's Bridge is a famous bridge 1000 years old. We'll stop by the bridge and tell its legendary tale. Then we will reach the Fortress (after a 20 minutes walk uphill), where we will visit the Castle under the guidance of the staff. It's a special visit, interactive, and participants will know the history of medieval times and how people lived in that age. Very interesting in particular for children from 5/6 to 12 years old. See this website. Private bus ride, one hour and a half. 

5) Flights and Housing

La Scuola and LIS do not cover flights or provide housing for families in Lucca. LIS  provided a brochure with some rental agents and private property owners whom they collaborate with. Also, LIC encourages families to use Airbnb or rent a hotel while they are there. LIS can offer recommendations and assist with finding the right place for your family.

6) Contact and Registration Information

To inquire about this experience further and book the trip.  Please reach out to Daniela Bonaccorsi at

You may also inquire with Marissa Weitzman from La Scuola at

Buon Viaggio!

La Dolce Vita Gala is March 30th!

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Gala season is upon us here in San Francisco! And La Scuola is delighted to participate. This year's La Dolce Vita gala will be held on March 30, 2019 at the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

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La Dolce Vita is a formal gala that includes a three-course dinner, silent and live auctions, and dancing -- a great way to enjoy a night out with your fellow families, faculty and staff while supporting the school.

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We are looking for donations for all of our auctions as well as selling ads for the auction catalogue. Tickets are on sale until March 15th.

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Donations are being accepted through March 8th. You can make donations through here.

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And of course there will be amazing Italian cuisine. Savor the Taste of Italy experience featuring local Bay Area Italian food artisans such as Ramini Mozzarella and 54 Mint.

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La Dolce Vita is our annual, volunteer-led fundraising gala. This is the signature event for La Scuola, which educates preschool and elementary children. Funds raised at past events have enabled the school to accomplish many great projects like:


  • Transforming a parking lot into a magical outdoor play area that sparks the imagination

  • Creating a space where healthy meals, cooked from scratch, are shared with friends

  • Providing children with a dedicated art/creativity space (the Atelier)

  • Giving life to our beautiful vegetable and sensory garden


Last year, we had close to 400 guests at the event. We want to again thank our families and sponsors for participating in last year’s Spring Gala. All sponsors and donors will be acknowledged publicly through listings in the program, mentioned on our website, and at the event.

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We appreciate your interest in making La Scuola a philanthropic priority. We are a 501c(3) organization and all donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. All gifts, large and small, make a difference in sustaining the education and community at La Scuola.


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We look forward to a festive and successful gala this year. And we expect to see you on the dance floor!

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Every Child Loves La Scuola

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Grazie to for this lovely posting about La Scuola International School!

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This Italian immersion school in San Francisco started as a playgroup in 2002 and now counts 320 children. Director Valentina Imbeni: "Parents from different backgrounds chose us not only because they love Italy and Italian culture but also because we are inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational approach and are the First International Baccalaureate (IB) K8 World School in the city."

Teachers at La Scuola International School believe that the world can be changed through education. For this reason, the school mission is “To Inspire Brave Learners to Shape the Future.” Although La Scuola is an “Italian immersion” school, many parents from all over the world enroll their kids here.

Not only because they are in love with Italy and Italian culture, but also because it is the First International Baccalaureate (IB) K8 World School in San Francisco and it is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, a constructivist educational philosophy first developed after World War II by pedagogist Loris Malaguzzi and parents in the villages around Reggio Emilia, Italy.

It’s almost unbelievable that it started out as a playgroup in 2002 to evolve into a recreational program and then a fully licensed preschool, La Piccola Scuola Italiana (The Little Italian School). Next year they will inaugurate their 8th grade and move to a new campus.

Valentina Imbeni, director of La Scuola since 2007, is part of this great success.

Mrs. Imbeni, how did you get involved with La Scuola?

”I first moved to the Bay Area in 2000 to work as a researcher in biomedical engineering for the University of Berkeley. But after the birth of my two sons, Stefano and Matteo, I discovered my passion for children and early childhood education. So, in 2006 I got involved with what was at that time just a small cooperative of Italian-American and Italian families.

How could La Scuola go from that first, playgroup to a school with over 260 children?
Actually, we will have 320 children enrolled next year! I joined the group with my first child, but after only six months the school went through a moment of crisis. We had lost our Italian teacher with a license and had to change location. The board asked me to help them rebuild the school. I was in maternity leave expecting my second child, and it was a particular moment in my life as I had just lost my father, so I decided to step in. It would have been such a shame to lose this group. Further, there was no real Italian school west of New York, we needed to do something.

I found a new place, we enrolled with the Reggio Emilia method - I am from Modena and knew that approach very well - and created something more structured. We engaged with the community and started to fundraise. We also engaged with an architect who helped us to create a school according to the architectural principles of the Reggio Emilia method. We soon became a model of education and were approached by parents from other communities and countries.

We have now over 31 languages spoken in the school. We like to think that we offer high-quality education, we are not only an Italian school. From next year, you will be offering an 8th grade class.

Are you planning of going beyond this grade?
We have been growing a grade a year and people are already asking for a high school program, but for now, we will stop at the middle school level. This year we also became a “scuola paritaria.” It means that we have been recognized by the Italian government and we are the second school in the US to receive this title. It’s a great result as there are only 43 “scuole paritarie” around the world, very few compared to the French system that has 55 recognized schools only in the US.

Are all your teachers Italians?

No, but they all have native-like fluency in Italian. In pre-school Italian is spoken approximately 90%, but then less and less over the years to give students the possibility to be proficient in other schools while being bilingual. From grade 6-8 they will speak 70% English and 30% Italian.

Where do you find funds?

Mainly from parents, but not all of them. We also offer generous financing programs. About 30% of our students receive a form of help that can be from $2000 to $28,000 a year, which is almost the total cost of one year. We raise money every year to support people who cannot pay full tuition. We can reach even half a million dollars in donations. Our most successful event is the Dolce Vita gala where we auction gifts from our donors.

Can you explain your approach? Isn’t the Reggio Emilia method only for kindergarten children?

It started as an early childhood program but later became very famous in the US thanks to an article in Newsweek published in 1981 about the best schools in the world. Ever since, it has been applied in different grades successfully. It’s an inquiry-based type of learning. It is cross-cultural and focuses more on the learning part than the teaching promoting critical thinking.

Are there any kids of celebrities attending?

There are but I am not allowed to share their names.

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