History of the School

The very first idea of having Italian language classes in Cincinnati originated in the fall of 1984. The stimulus to embark in this venture came from second generation Italian professionals who asked to get closer to their cultural roots. Federico Bilotti was the one who took upon the challenge. With the help of a few more Italian natives living in the city, he organized the first official courses at the Sacred Heart Church in Camp Washington.

In the following years, more and more people started to be intertested in learning the language of La Dolce Vita, so more teachers were needed. In January 1989, a few weeks after he arrived in Cincinnati, Michele Alonzo went downtown to buy an Italian language newspaper. He saw a sign taped to the window.  It said: Abbiamo Bisogno di Insegnanti d'Italiano. Chiamaci. (Italian Language Teachers Needed. Call us)

Michele called the number and spoke to Federico Bilotti, the Italian director of the courses. A week later they met at the school and Michele took on a class of beginning students. In those early days there were just small groups of students that met once a week on the first floor of the Sacred Heart Church. In 1990, the friendship ties that were established among teachers and students, made the word "Amici" (Friends) appropriately descriptive of the activity featured: to bring newly emigrated Italians together in a fun filled promotion of the Italian culture. That year the school was officially recognized as an institute of Italian language and culture by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rome.

When Federico was transferred by his company to Germany a year later, Michele took over and the school has grown steadily ever since. During these years the classes have been held in East Walnut Hill, then in Clifton, at the Rookwood Pavilion and now in Hyde Park. Students return year after year to improve their skills, make friends, and share the romance of the Italian language and culture.

Asked what has changed at the school in these three decades she has been teaching language classes, Mariateresa Perrotta had to think for a while. “Other than the location,” she said, “not that much. Some teachers have been here a long time and we try to make it fun and provide realistic useful tips, not just grammar. Students also learn the language in order to understand the culture.”

After all these years, School AMICI is still the only language school in Ohio where all teachers are Italian natives and graduated from Italian universities. In 2011 it was recognized as the "Best Language Instruction" of the City by the Cincinnati Magazine.