Study Abroad

The 10 Best Study Abroad Programs in Italy in 2020

Jacqueline Peveto
Topic Expert

Jacqueline is a writer, artist, and enthusiast for anything else involving imagination and paper. She both studied abroad and volunteered abroad in Japan.

Whether it’s the cuisine, the history, the scenic vistas, or the culture that calls to you, there are many roads that can lead you to study abroad in Italy – and not just Rome. From fashion to business to the arts, this diverse country offers students unique opportunities to engage with Italy’s ancient past as well as its modern present, encouraging them to experience firsthand a culture that embraces tradition and innovation every day.

Going overseas to study is one of the most important decisions you can make as a student, and it’s important to find a program that fits your individual needs and interests. But with the sheer number of programs out there, choosing just one can be overwhelming. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten study abroad programs in Italy, ranked by the Go Overseas community.

As varied as this fascinating country, these ten programs will show you that no matter what your interest or field of study – food, finance, medicine, language studies, or performance – there is a program for you in Italy!

How did we pick these programs?

In choosing the best study abroad programs in Italy, we took into account two main factors: the review scores of each program, and the number of reviews that program had received.

For all study abroad programs on Go Overseas, we ask reviewers to rate six variables: (1) Housing, (2) Support, (3) Fun, (4) Value, (5) Safety, and (6) Overall. We average these scores, compare them to other medical volunteer programs, and take into account the total number of reviews each program has received. In total, we compared over 500 reviews to determine which programs should be included on this list.

From there, our goal is to choose those programs which are truly the best: they have more and better reviews than the average for similar programs and are verified by enough reviews for us to feel confident giving our stamp of approval.

1. Up with People: Up with People On Tour

Take your passion for travel, people, performance, and making a difference on the road with Up with People! This multiple-destination experience unites volunteer projects with performance arts to inspire and change communities. No prior experience is necessary – all cast members participate in both onstage and offstage activities that include singing, dancing, lighting, tech, and even costuming.

Between performances, volunteers spread messages of hope and positivity through art and by working on projects with school children, the elderly, homeless populations, and other groups in the community. The Up with People Tour touches many cities, but you’ll be sure to headline in Italy for a few performances.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “Now not only do I have so many new skills to put on a resume and college application, but I have a home in at least 25 different countries around the world.” – Alys
  • “The combination of cultural education, service work, and personal and professional growth is unparalleled in any other experience I have had in my life.” — Dylan
  • “My main question when planning my gap year was: how do I accomplish all the things I’m interested in... in just one year? Up with People was the only organization that combined so many of my passions and interests in one program!” – Michael

Up with People's program is perfect for people who want a little bit of everything and as much travel as possible. Many reviewers mentioned that they had no previous performance experience, but through the activities and outreach projects, they learned confidence and leadership skills that they have put to good use in their next pursuits.

9.85 Rating
based on 75 reviews
  • Housing 9.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.8
  • Safety 9.7
UWP Peaple and host families
UWP Peaple and host families
Up with People is not religiously or politically affiliated. However, we had the amazing opportunity to sing for him at the basilica and take a picture with him. ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
This was one of our education opportunities: we went around on a boat in Tiberius, Israel in the Sea of Galilee. We learned about its history and the meaning of it to its people. It was a great experience.
For our community service, we cleaned up as much as we could around a slum area of the Philippines. We then walked through the slums and got a view from their "beach," which is a heap of trash that they play on by water. Afterwords, we did activities with the kids. It was such an eye-opening experience.

2. SAI Programs: Study Abroad at Florence University of the Arts

Photo credit: Francesca, SAI Alum
Photo credit: Francesca, SAI Alum

Do you dream of wandering the winding streets of Florence? Well, SAI's program at Florence University of the Arts (FUA) might just be for you. FUA offers a multitude of courses taught in English which are perfect for students who haven't quite mastered Italian yet. You can take classes in literature, the sciences, business, economics, history, fine arts, graphic design, and more.

Additionally, SAI guarantees to help students with basically every part of the study abroad process. They coordinate application processing, course selection, visas, housing, health care, transcripts, and virtually any other part of the experience you may have questions about. SAI also organizes a number of excursions through out the region so that you can see all that the country has to offer.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • "I loved studying abroad with SAI! They always had staff available to help in whatever you needed and understood how overwhelming studying abroad can be. SAI planned awesome trips and immersion activities that made me feel like Florence was my home." - Bella
  • "Choosing to Study Abroad was the best decision I have made, and I am so happy I chose to do it through SAI. Everyone that works for SAI programs goes above and beyond for their students and makes sure that we have all the resources we need to make our experience amazing." - Kate
  • "My experience in Florence with SAI Programs was truly priceless. The program gave me the perfect blend of independence and support that I was looking for." - Marissa

These reviews highlight the commitment that SAI makes to their students to ensure that they have a well-rounded and fulfilling study abroad experience. Their high ratings across all categories indicate that this program is a great option for anyone considering studying abroad in Florence.

9.78 Rating
based on 69 reviews
  • Academics 7.4
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.4
SIA took us on a boat ride down the Arno, and I was captured in my element. Taking photos!
SIA took us on a boat ride down the Arno, and I was captured in my element. Taking photos!
Fall 2016 program class
Fall 2016 program class
Santa Croce is in view! My apartment, school, and the SAI office in is that area.
Santa Croce is in view! My apartment, school, and the SAI office in is that area.
Wine tour!
Wine tour!
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Loved seeing all the beauty around Italy including these flowers hanging by the Florence University of the Arts!
Loved seeing all the beauty around Italy including these flowers hanging by the Florence University of the Arts!
Really enjoyed the welcome dinner at this beautiful location! Such a great introduction to other students abroad!
Really enjoyed the welcome dinner at this beautiful location! Such a great introduction to other students abroad!
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

3. Forum Nexus: Ultimate Summer in Europe—10 Cities in 5 Weeks

Study Abroad Italy - Emily, Forum-Nexus Europe
Photo credit: Emily, Forum-Nexus Alum

Earn college credit while you explore the food, language, and culture of eight European countries. Italy is well-represented in Forum-Nexus’s list, which includes Milan, Lake Como, and Rome. Forum-Nexus combines the best cultural experiences with education by offering courses in some of Europe’s most renowned cities and giving students the opportunity to network with European business professionals.

Between visiting the UN, pursuing an internship with local business, or having class in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, this summer program is sure to be life-changing. It’s telling that many of the alumni reviews specifically mention that they wouldn’t change a thing about their Forum-Nexus experience.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “Forum-Nexus is a one-of-a-kind adventure that will help you find your best self.” – George
  • “This is the best program that lets you take useful classes, visit awesome companies and organizations, and travel.” – Anri
  • “I knew that it was going to be an incredible experience, but it exceeded my expectations in every way. From the food, classes, and constant adventures, it was all amazing. The program is unique because it allows you to experience many different countries and cultures in a short period of time.” –Emily

These reviews show that this Forum Nexus program is ideal for world travelers up for adventure. Reviewers frequently mention the lifelong friendships and relationships formed along the way as well as the unique opportunities to be a part of European life and culture for a summer you won’t forget.

9.71 Rating
based on 62 reviews
  • Academics 8.6
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.7
  • Safety 9.6
new friends
new friends
Ice cream :D
Ice cream :D
me and Chamonix
me and Chamonix
Me, Liz, and Hailey
Me, Liz, and Hailey
Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre
me and Liz
me and Liz
mountain tops
mountain tops
Our weekend trip to Berlin, the number one city in Europe (according to my Dad)!
Our weekend trip to Berlin, the number one city in Europe (according to my Dad)!

4. SCIE Center Siracusa: Study Abroad in Sicily with SCIE Center

Study Abroad Italy - Clarissa, SCIE Center Italy
Photo credit: Clarissa, SCIE Center Alum

Explore the heart of beautiful and historic Ortigia during your time at the SCIE Center, located on the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Because of its emphasis on hands-on learning in the field, SCIE Center courses take place in museums, archaeological sites, and even the kitchen.

Students will gain personal knowledge of Sicilian culture as well as ancient and modern history by participating in language courses, making traditional pasta, and taking classes taught by experts and guest lecturers. Every review posted on Go Overseas gives support and fun a ten out of ten and specifically praises the Center’s staff, whose expert and thoughtful care makes participants feel like Sicilian family.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “We were exposed to so much culture, food, and history that has impacted me academically and personally. From wandering through the streets of Ortigia to swimming in Mondello, we truly got a taste of Sicily in one program that you couldn’t find anywhere else.” – Clarissa
  • “My experience at the SCIE Center was nothing short of perfection. I would highly recommend this program to everyone I know, and even to people I don't know!” – Aislinn
  • “If I could repeat this entire experience all over, I would do it in a heartbeat. I loved this study abroad so much!” – Brooke

These reviews highlight the SCIE Center’s commitment to providing students with the best experience possible through personal attention and support. These high scores echo glowing reviews of fascinating and unique cultural experiences as well as the Center’s caring staff.

10 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • Academics 9.3
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.9
ocean and city landscape with sunset
ocean and city landscape with sunset
historic landmark in Italy
historic landmark in Italy
group of students in Italy in front of building
group of students in Italy in front of building
coliseum in Italy view from above
coliseum in Italy view from above

5. Manuelina Culinary: Learn Italian Cuisine in Italy

Study Abroad Italy - Mary, Manuelina Culinary Italy
Photo credit: Mary, Manuelina Culinary Alum

If you’re looking to take your culinary skills to the next level, roll up your sleeves next to some of the best chefs in the industry at Manuelina Culinary. Through a wide variety of programs, you will tour Italy through a regional study of local cuisine and learn principles of flavor, color, technique, and nutrition from chefs who are happy to share their abundant knowledge.

Specialize in more than forty kinds of pasta or expand your repertoire by learning the skills to make Italian pastry, dessert, bread, and gelato. These programs invite you to step up to the counter and develop your own techniques – and at the end of the day, you get to eat what you make!

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “This program and the coordinators/teachers really go above and beyond in providing the best experience possible and all aspects of the program are world-class from accommodation to classes and experiences.” – Roderick
  • “All of the teachers there are passionate about their food and their students’ lives. Manuelina Culinary is an opportunity for an English speaker to touch the hem of these masters of Italian cuisine.” – Mary
  • “We went to different cities and towns in Italy so you don’t only get to work with great chefs but you get to experience the real Italian living and food.” – Pilar

While this program has fewer reviews than others on the list, the passion of the reviewers makes this an accurate snapshot of this opportunity. High scores all around indicate a program in which students felt supported, challenged to learn, and excited to explore.

10 Rating
based on 5 reviews
  • Housing 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Our own made pasta
Our own made pasta
Our own made pasta
Our own made pasta
Our own made pasta
Our own made pasta
Chef Bertloi conducting a demonstration
Chef Bertloi conducting a demonstration
Beppe Maffikoli giving us a tour of Carlo Magno Ristorante
Beppe Maffikoli giving us a tour of Carlo Magno Ristorante
Our pasta graduation presentation
Our pasta graduation presentation
The schools director and Me
The schools director and Me
Manuelina Culinary School pasta
Manuelina Culinary School pasta

6. Academic Studies Abroad: Take Classes in Florence or Sorrento, Italy

Study Abroad Italy - Julia, ASA Italy
Photo credit: Julia, ASA Alum

Academic Studies Abroad provides courses, internships with Italian companies, and experiential classes that will change not just your resume but your perspective as well! From finance, linguistics, and math to business, photography, and wine studies, ASA offers courses for everyone.

ASA’s intentionally small program size ensures personalized attention, smooth integration into Italian culture, and a flexible learning environment. Students live in the historic districts of Florence and Rome and can take advantage of unique experiences such as visiting the Coliseum or climbing the steps of Duomo, a thirteenth-century cathedral.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “ASA couldn’t have been a more helpful and supportive program! The program offers so many opportunities in enhancing the abroad experience, and I'm so glad I chose them on my study abroad journey.” – Bri
  • “I don't know who I would be or where I would be if I had selected another provider to study abroad with, but I sure am grateful I chose ASA.” – Julia
  • “ASA was extremely helpful and supportive throughout the entire process from application to boarding my plane to go home. I would highly recommend the program as well as the general study abroad experience.” – Amanda

These reviews show that ASA offers a program that’s known for strong student support throughout the entire study abroad period. Reviews highlight an emphasis on being immersed in daily Italian life in their respective cities, especially as students get to enjoy living just minutes from some of the world’s most iconic sights. While academics are rated a little lower, reviewers assure potential students that the cultural experiences are second to none.

9.63 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • Academics 7.5
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.9
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 10

7. IES Abroad Milan: Business Studies

Study Abroad Italy - Petey, IES Abroad Milan
Photo credit: Petey, IES Abroad Milan Alum

Situated in the business capital of Italy, IES provides students with one-of-a-kind coursework that takes advantage of this diverse and state-of-the-art city.

Take classes on managing fashion companies and the history of the Mafia or add complementary electives such as art history, political science, or photography to balance your course load. Extensive field study options and internships allow students to study economics and Italian business culture at one of the top business schools in the world.

Alongside your studies, you’ll have the chance to learn Italian and put it to good use as you enjoy living in this bustling and historic metropolis.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in studying business in Italy, and having a diverse and unique experience!” – Kathleen
  • “The IES Milan School has a great program for students who also want to take classes at Italian universities.” – Elizabeth
  • “I highly recommend IES Abroad as a program due to the incredible flexibility that the program provides you to enjoy your own unique time abroad and cannot speak highly enough of Milan as a host city.” – Petey

These reviews highlight that foodies and students alike will enjoy IES’s take on studying business in Milan. The program’s flexibility allows the student to customize their study abroad experience in order to pursue unique interests and opportunities that are only available in this city.

9.63 Rating
based on 35 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.5
Students standing on a sunny street in Milan
Students standing on a sunny street in Milan
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
IES Abroad Milan - Business Studies
Aerial view of Milan
Aerial view of Milan
Lake Como, Milan, and Venice
Lake Como, Milan, and Venice

8. CIEE - Language + Culture in Ferrara, Italy

Study Abroad Italy - Ketevan, CIEE Ferrara
Photo credit: Ketevan, CIEE Ferrara Alum

Begin or build your Italian language skills in the charming old-world setting of Ferrara, Italy. Students with CIEE learn through immersive language classes, and language studies are just the tip of the iceberg compared to the wealth of cultural experiences that await you.

You’ll have the chance to explore more of Italy’s most renowned cities such as Florence, Ravenna, Siena, Venice, and Padua and get hands-on experience of regional specialties as you make pasta and pottery. Students stay with Italian host families, which guarantees a welcoming local experience unlike any other.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “I cannot stop talking about this program and the incredible things I learned about the Italian way of life.” – Ketevan
  • “Getting to experience life in Italy firsthand and having extremely immersive language classes was the greatest way to learn!” – Maria
  • “I loved going on the CIEE summer abroad trip. I felt as if my Italian speaking greatly improved and I learned so much about the Italian culture.” – Amanda

Despite a small number of reviews, these highlights show the spectacular program offered by CIEE. Four out of five categories are ten out of ten, indicating an experience that exceeds expectations and provides once in a lifetime opportunities in a special part of Italy.

10 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • Academics 8.7
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 10
group of students smiling
group of students smiling
large group of people with ocean behind them
large group of people with ocean behind them
group of girls wearing sunglasses sitting by a tree
group of girls wearing sunglasses sitting by a tree
Group of girls in Italy
Group of girls in Italy

9. Accademia del Lusso School of Fashion and Design: Fashion Summer Courses in Milan

Study Abroad Italy - Accademia del Lusso Italy

Experience fashion at one of the best places in the world to learn it: Milan. Offering high-level training for students looking to engage with the fashion industry, Accademia del Lusso provides courses on fashion, brand management, design, communication, and marketing to help students develop into haute-couture professionals.

Accademia del Lusso’s slogan is “creativity directed at luxury,” and this top-quality curriculum gives students the skills they need to not only navigate the fashion industry but to be a part of it. Learn firsthand about materials and techniques from experts in the field and see if you have what it takes to be on the cutting edge of fashion.

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “I attended the Accademia Fashion Brand Management course with the idea to explore more the possibilities in the field I am passionate about and I am really glad I did. The course gave me much insight into the industry and practical tools to explore also afterward.” – Davide
  • “I attended the summer course in fashion design because I wanted to experience fashion in Milan and I got even more than I expected.” – Amber

Four reviewers gave Accademia del Lusso ten out of ten in all categories, citing the growth they experienced as students striving to become professionals, the attention of the staff in helping them settle into the program, the practical tools and knowledge they acquired!

9.67 Rating
based on 6 reviews
  • Academics 9
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.7
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan
Accademia de Lusso | Fashion Courses in Milan

10. AIFS Study Abroad in Florence, Italy

Study Abroad Italy - Chris, AIFS Florence
Photo credit: Chris, AIFS Alum

AIFS Study Abroad lets you live like a local as you earn academic credits. Complementing a wide variety of classes to choose from are cultural experiences that can only be had through an all-inclusive program like this one. Airfare, tuition, housing, meals, and outings are included in the price, and the generous meal plan lets you explore the restaurants and Italian cuisine of your host city.

During your stay, experience open markets, olive oil tastings, soccer games, and opera with your fellow students. Visit the art you learn about in class! Cooking classes, guided city walks, and museums will ensure you experience as much of your home city as possible, whether you’re staying in Rome, Florence, or Brixen (the Italian Alps).

A few highlights from alumni reviews:

  • “Studying abroad in Florence, Italy, with AIFS remains one of the best decisions I have ever made. My only regret is that I didn't stay there for a year!” – Stacy
  • “Studying abroad in Florence with AIFS was the best decision I made during my undergraduate career! The housing, meal plan, cultural excursions, and activities were top-notch.” – Liz
  • “It may seem excessive that I rated this program 10/10 in every category, but it was seriously the greatest experience of my life and I can't imagine how any aspect of it could have been better.” – Busia

These reviews reflect a program that works hard to help students navigate some of the most daunting aspects of going overseas, including applications, arranging flights, and obtaining visas. AIFS strives to give students memorable experiences by empowering them to travel, build relationships, and experience a culture that will soon feel like home.

9.79 Rating
based on 42 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Positano
View of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo
Fountain at the casino in Monte Carlo
Cruising the canals of Venice in a gondola
Enjoying the Christmas lights of Florence
Final presentation and critique in Drawing for beginners
Day trip and hike at Cinque Terre
Final dinner party

No matter which program you choose to study abroad in Italy, you are guaranteed to come away having experienced the deep richness its culture, its food, and its people. The knowledge you carry home in your suitcase and the memories you’ll make will last a lifetime.

This post was originally written in April 2018, and was updated in October 2019.