Melissa Muldoon

Owner and Creative Director Studentessa Matta Melissa Muldoon
Melissa Muldoon is la studentessa matta the crazy linguist! She promotes the study of Italian language and culture through the blog: Studentessa Matta and the podcast Tutti Matti per l’Italiano. She began the blog to improve her language skills and to connect with other language learners. Through the blog she explores language and culture in a fun and light way, as well as shares language learning tips. The podcast is presented in Italian and features stories, clips and conversations with native Italian speakers. Melissa also now partners with Italian Schools in Italy and co-leads small group language immersions, as well as organizes individualized Homestay Language Vacations with Italian teachers in Italy.
Dec 18, 2023
retired educator
Last September I was fortunate to travel to Arezzo and Montepulciano, Italy with Melissa Muldoon, better known online as Studentessa Matta. This was my second trip to Tuscany with her. Like my trip to Lucca, the focus of this trip was also language immersion. What a perfect way to experience Italy and to nurture my learning experiences with the Italian language. I was in a group of four women, with differing degrees of language proficiency.

My two weeks in these towns were idyllic. They are both charming Tuscan cities, small but very active. Melissa is the ideal guide for any visit to Italy. She is proficient in the language, has a deep understanding and love of the art, history and culture of the country and is delightful as a travel companion. She does all the detail work for the trip, arranging for housing, securing us classes at the at the local language school and guiding us through any problems or challenges we may have either with the language, culture or the school experience.

The school was amazing. I felt perfectly placed in my class which was highly energized, pedagogically sound with vibrant and compassionate instructors. After class each day Melissa arranged for an excursion. We had the opportunity to visit charming nearby hilltop towns, experiencing a real Tuscan vibe, touring ancient churches, formal public gardens, and a winery. Not to forget the very memorable experience in two cooking classes, one an informal pizza making and the other a more serious and challenging sit down dinner with several courses which we prepared. Meals throughout our stay , most of which Melissa preplanned were also special. We quickly became familiar with the local Tuscan cuisine and specialties.

The townhouse where we stayed was spacious, private and perfect. I could see the sun rise over the Tuscan hills each morning and always had a grand street view of any pageantry that occurred in the town, colorful medieval parades and festivities.

But above all, Melissa was a wonderful language mentor. She had prepared us essays analyzing the history and art of the local duomo. She was eager to chat with me about grammar or sticky phrases or idioms and allowed us an experience far beyond that of a tourist. Always smiling, Melisa was eager to answer questions, explain something , and ever ready for an “aperitivo” which became out late daytime moment of relaxation.

Lucca and Arezzo as well as Montepulciano are very different cities, but the learning and cultural experiences were definitely enriched by Melissa’s ongoing efforts.
Oct 25, 2022
What a great adventure! The language classes were fun and informative. Our daily outings in Ascoli Picena and the beautiful surrounding areas were filled with information, great food and wonderful experiences.
Melissa was great at organizing everything and keeping us all together throughout the entire two weeks.
Great experience!
Oct 25, 2022
retired administrator/educator
This past summer I went to Lucca, Italy with Studentessa Matta, also known as Melissa Muldoon. I went expressly to study the language, but I came away with a much richer experience than only increased language proficiency. There were four women in the group, and we immediately hit it off, Amazing women!
Melissa as a tour guide is exemplary. She is always smiling, always ready to go with endless energy and a network in Italy to solve any problem, meet any need or satisfy any curiosity.
Of course, Lucca is an exciting city with its glorious churches, outdoor cafes, and the famous wall. The hotel was delightful, intimate, charming and warm.The food in Italy is beyond belief, and, not to disappoint, Melissa took us to some very fabulous restaurants, Ambience, and fine dining combined.
The Lucca Italian school was also pretty amazing. We spent a week with a group of mostly European students. The teachers were all young, vibrant, engaged and totally devoted to the students. Being a retired teacher, I found the methodology challenging and effective. There were lots of handouts, a conversational approach and significant interaction among us.
The entire trip was meticulously planned by Melissa, and it was pure delight just to hang out with her. Everyone went out of their way to accomodate our needs, and Melissa is an outstanding tour guide. Being bilingual and with her passion for art and history she kept us entertained with legends, history and the culture of the area. I cannot rave enough about my experience in Lucca with Melissa. In short, it was an amazing trip.
Oct 24, 2022
retired language teacher
This was my second adventure with the Studentessa Matta program. Melissa did an outstanding job of organizing not only cultural activities but also great spots for delicious dinners. One of the things that I value with this program is that Melissa has made contacts with various people throughout the city which added to being able to feel a part of Lucca. The staff at the Lucca Italian School is just so accommodating. My teacher, Francesca, was energetic and fun. The class represented 6 nationalities and our common bond, of course, was a love of Italian. I highly recommend this program and the school.
Oct 23, 2022
I joined Melissa's Study Tour to Lucca this August/September. I really enjoyed the 10 days with Melissa and 3 lovely ladies from the US. We attended the Lucca International School for 5 days where the teachers helped us improve our Italian through very well planned classes. Outside of class we were encouraged to speak Italian at restaurants, shops and amongst ourselves. We enjoyed Italian cultural classes, drawing and cooking, which I particularly liked.
Melissa thanks for your care and enthusiasm. Next year I'm planning to do one of the homestay programs that Melissa also organises.
Oct 1, 2022
I participated in the 2022 Studentessa Matta language program in Lucca. It was a 9 day program full of fun and adventure and speaking Italian, of course. Melissa is a master at organizing and caring for the folks she takes with her to Italy. It's obvious she loves what she does because she is so good at it.

My class time at the Lucca Italian School was invaluable! Students from the US, Europe and beyond were split into groups based on their competency. Each day we were encouraged to discuss topics presented by our teacher Benedetta, who was awesome. There were plenty of planned activities outside of class time that were led by various staff/teachers at the Lucca Italian School. These activities provided more time to listen, learn and speak Italian.

My biggest takeaway from the 9 day program was getting over my fear of speaking Italian. After completing the program, I traveled to Rome and Sorrento for another 2 weeks, speaking Italian to taxi drivers, tour guides, waiters and store clerks. I'm sure I made plenty of mistakes, but I was no longer afraid.

Thank you, Melissa, and all the wonderful folks at the Lucca Italian School!
Nov 27, 2021
In September this year, I spent 10 fantastic days in Lucca organised by Melissa. I met two other really interesting American ladies and each morning we went to the school, where the lessons were informative and friendly so learning Italian became a positive experience. Every afternoon we visited places of interest both in Lucca and outside and enjoyed delicious meals in various restaurants. Always accompanied by one or two of the teachers from the school, so our learning of the language continued .
I enjoyed it so much that I have already enrolled for another learning experience next year.
Oct 30, 2021
The trip with Melissa was awesome and wonderful. I was in Italy for 6 weeks and this trip with Melissa was a side trip for me for 10 days in Lucca. It was a perfect experience for me. It was very active physically, mentally and so enjoyable. We had planned tours inside and outside Lucca. The boutique hotel selection was so comfortable. The Lucca School was well run and all the teachers were so encouraging. I learned so much about this part of Italy and would not hesitate to take another trip with Melissa.
Dec 3, 2019
I had an incredible experience of doing Homestay with Sira in Sarzana in December of 2018. I expected to have a good time, learn some Italian (I was not highly optimistic as to how much can one learn in five-six days?!) and, maybe, do some sightseeing. What has happened, in reality, was full immersion in the Italian language, including meeting three of Sira’s friends and her daughter, a new destination to explore every day (I visited Cinque Terre, Pisa, Porto Venere and ended up in Florence, which is only two hours by train away). I was received as a friend and left feeling like part of the family. As to speaking Italian, by the end of my Homestay, I started thinking in Italian. I know there are other places and other good teachers but I think I have found the best teacher for me. Thank you Sira!
Sep 29, 2019
Retired head teacher

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for organising my Homestay with Virginia. She is a brilliant teacher but more importantly a lovely person who was concerned to ensure that I enjoyed every moment of my stay with her and her fantastic family. I felt so stimulated throughout the stay as the pitch of her lessons was just spot on. I also loved staying in the beautiful area of La Maremma, a part of Tuscany that is not so well known but has so much to see and enjoy. I can’t wait to experience another homestay in the future.
Sep 20, 2019
Principal, Bayer Consulting
I wanted to let you know what a fabulous time I had staying with Cristina in Trento in September.

The opportunity to be fully immersed in Italian from morning to night took my language abilities to an entirely new level.

Cristina was wonderful to be with—very friendly, with a wide range of interests (from art to film to sports), and always helpful and supportive with my clumsy attempts to speak Italian.

A bonus was that Trento is a great place to stay. It is a lively city in a beautiful location surrounded by mountains, not overwhelmed by tourists, and close to many attractions from Venice and Verona to the Dolomite mountains and Lake Garda.

The experience couldn’t have been better.
May 28, 2019
Joanne Hinson
Elena is the best!!
Staying with her is the perfect combination of learning Italian and seeing Bergamo & Lake Como. Her son and mother are fantastic and really went out of their way to speak with me and help me with my italian! I felt completely at home both at Elena’s main house in Bergamo and their family’s vacation home in Lake Como! It is a truly amazing and beautiful home that’s been in the family for generations.
I also really enjoyed having dinner with Elena’s friends. All of them are very nice, and it is a fun way to improve your italian.
I can’t say enough about my homestay with Elena!!
Elena, Thank you for everything! I will be back!!
Apr 29, 2019
Education Adviser (retired)
I had been promising myself a homestay in Italy for a long ime and it was through Melissa's website that I found the perfect one. So I have just spent a wonderful two weeks in Balestrate in Western Sicily with Rosaria. It was great - going out and about with Rosaria, visiting amazing places, joining in family meals and excursions and, of course, becoming more confident and competent in speaking and understanding Italian. Rosaria is an expert teacher and was brilliant at bringing grammar points we had been looking at into our general conversation so that I could practise them naturally.
Many thanks Rosaria and Melissa
Jul 13, 2018
Retired Certified Public Accountant and Chief Financial Officer
I found the perfect homestay and Italian immersion experience in Bergamo, Italy through Melissa's website. My instructor was excellent and when she described the process she went through to be recommended by Studentessa Matta, it was clear that Melissa had done a thorough job.

Grazie mille, Melissa!

Roger Squier
Jul 8, 2018
VP of Marketing, Houston Grand Opera Guild
Montepulciano Il Sasso Program 2018 has been the best trip of my life! and this is despite the fact, that my flight was substantially delayed and i arrived 24 hours later, and my luggage has been lost for 5 days!
From the moment i heard Melissa's podcast, i felt i found my kindred sprit. An incredible woman with infinite love to Italy and Italian language.
This program was worth every cent i spent and even more. Everything was so thoughtful, not only we had interesting excursions but also trips to bio farm, cooking lessons and wine tasting. The excursions, views and dinners were fabulous!
Il Sasso school deserves separate recognition - teachers, program, studies - all significantly exceeded my expectations. It was a great balance of speaking, grammar, listening and writing. School is located in the center and was only 10 mins walk through beautiful Montepulciano.
Our apartments were like rooms in Palazzo. Decorated beautifully and stylishly, with fantastic garden accessible from all rooms. we had kitchen, washing appliances, dishes, library with albums about Italy and Tuscany.
Melissa is warm, welcoming, attentive, caring, with fantastic sense if humor, light-hearted. She created wonderful atmosphere in the group and i've been enjoying every second of interacting with each of them!
Even though i've been to Italy 8 times before that trip, it was a completely new experience of immersing in language and culture. The best thing was definitely - that we were treated almost like locals and that we have met wonderful, open and friendly people!!!
I recommend this program to EVERYBODY who is in love with Italy.
Thank you Melissa, this was a dream come true!!
Mar 15, 2018
Following my return from Italy, my heart remains full of bliss. I am profoundly grateful to Melissa for suggesting that I spend my sabbatical time with Elena in Bergamo. My time in Italy surpassed my expectations and hopes in every way imaginable. Elena is the loveliest of hosts and an exceptional teacher...patient, enthusiastic, and encouraging. As Melissa promised, Elena is extremely knowledgeable about the history and art of northern Italy. I felt so wonderfully blessed every single day...blessed with delicious food, lovely and comfortable accommodations, excellent instruction, outstanding art and architecture, extraordinary vistas, and generous friendship. When people ask me about my experience, I find myself almost speechless, unable to articulate in a way that fully captures the beautiful days I spent exploring Bergamo, Brescia, Monza, Lake Como, and Milan with Elena. Every day she surprised me with something wonderful!! I cannot wait to go back!
Dec 26, 2017
Financial Manager, State of Montana
I have participated in three of melissa‘s programs in Italy. They have all been fascinating and fun. Melissa took great care to find activities that appealed to all the different ages and personalities of the people who participated in the programs. Every day is filled with opportunity to learn about Italy’s beautiful art, architecture, language and culture. Melissa makes you feel like you were a part of Italy and not just tourist. I hope to join Melissa on many more of her language and culture programs.
Oct 3, 2017
Melissa organized a wonderful trip to Arezzo. The accommodations were great! Our B&B was well located and Barbara and her father were lovely hosts who really went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable. The language school was also wonderful. Paula the director has an excellent staff . I very much enjoyed our daily classes that were well taught by fun and engaging teachers. Melissa planed interesting daily activites as well as fantastic meals. We were certainly never hungry! Bravo Melissa e mille graze for an unforgettable trip!
Oct 3, 2017
I had an absolutely fantastic time in Arezzo! Everyday was special. The 4 hour classes were fun and never boring. Paola is a great teacher who knows how to keep beginners rolling and interacting with the language. And every afternoon we had something to look forward to-- a stroll in the market place, a visit with a local jewelry maker, a cooking class and dinner, a visit to the local cathedral, the famous Jousting Ceremony. In addition we had instructors giving us details that were always interesting and enriching. The group of 8 was perfect as we got to know each other and have lots of fun together, especially eating greet Italian food and drinking wine together! This is the experience for anyone who loves ITALY and wants to learn more about its language, culture, food and art history!
Sep 30, 2017
retired teacher
I enjoyed and got a lot out of my two weeks in Melissa's program in Arezzo. It was a good mix of planned activities, classroom learning, and free time. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced there is a lot here for you. Enjoy!
Jul 1, 2017
My husband Art and I were 2 of the lucky participants. If I had to pick a highlight from this adventure it would most certainly be the people! Our group, our teachers , our guides…Of course the venues were wonderful, hotel could not be more comfortable, Inviting, beautiful and perfectly located. The school is in a nutshell , engaging, enthralling, the location, building, teachers and teaching methods were a delightful surprise. And then there’s Lucca. A hidden gem. An unexpected taste of Tuscany ( literally and figuratively) without the overwhelming tourist onslaught expected in summer. The food is exquisite, the streets, the history, the locals, the WALL! The wall people! A medieval bulwark disguised as a park surrounding the entire city helped us work off the amazing food, cooked for, and, by us in amazing restaurants and organic wineries. But Melissa is the central force behind this success. The perfect hostess with boundless energy, bubbling enthusiasm, and attention to detail is the key to success. Thank you Melissa, for an amazing experience.
Nov 6, 2016
This is a wonderful trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Lots of activities and immersion into the culture of Bella Italia. After returning home, I vowed to continue Italian lessons. Thanks Melissa and Lucca Italian School!!🇮🇹🇮🇹
Oct 29, 2016
The Arezzo trip this past September was a thoroughly delightful time! In addition to the stellar school we attended in Arezzo, Melissa organized a multitude of cultural events in the area: visits to a goldsmith, cooking class, a trip to a centuries-old abbey, wine-tasting several times, an excursion to a small town nearby with its famed textile factory, Cortona and Siena, as well as many churches and museums in the town of Arezzo. Perhaps the best experience was being there for the giostra and the festivities surrounding that, and being made to feel part of the Italian community with all its celebrations of life. Melissa's knowledge of Italian, art and history all combine to make this a richly rewarding experience. I returned with a deep appreciation of this lovely and thriving Tuscan region, and can't wait to go back next September. Highly recommended!
Oct 9, 2016
Melissa did a wonderful job leading our recent experience in Arezzo. The company was great and the food delicious. The Cultura Italiana Arezzo Scuola welcomed us with open arms - we learned about the language and culture and made several interesting local tours.
Sep 30, 2016
A lover of things Italian who enjoys learning and never met a cat she didn't like.
Having just returned from a learning adventure in the Maremma (Tuscany), I can only say "grazie mille" to you, Melissa, for arranging for homestays on your site and most especially for the one I've experienced with Virginia Villani. It was far more than I'd hoped for: I've started to dream in Italian, thanks to two weeks of language immersion; I've seen a part of Italy into which I would not usually venture; and I've had the chance to go beyond more usual tourist experience, to share in daily family life. My thanks to you both for making this possible.

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