La bella vita is alive and well in Italy. From the incredible history of Rome and Venice, to the art of Florence, the fashion of Milan and the beaches of Naples, not to mention the football and gelato happening pretty much everywhere—Italy is the place to be.
- Language: Italian, the language of Dante is spoken all over Italy—although some of the regional accents can almost seem like another language!
- Popular Destinations: Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan
- Cost of Living: Prices vary quiet a bit in rural areas versus big cities, but in general prices are pretty average compared to the rest of the western world.
- Fun Facts: In Italian culture, the number 17 is considered unlucky. In Italy notice that buildings often do not have 17th floor, hotels don’t have a room 17 and even the Italian airline, Alitalia, doesn’t have a seat 17.
There are tons of different programs to appeal to everyone. Are you a master chef? Consider a program that will get you into the kitchen, or even give taste of culinary school! Do you want to paint like Michelangelo? There are a lot of art-focused programs that will help you perfect your techniques. If you’re a history buff, look for programs that will take you to all the archeological sites in Rome and beyond. And if you just want to travel, there are great programs that will get you out and about.
Vuoi parlare l’italiano? (Wanna speak Italian?) – Most programs offer basic Italian language classes in addition to other activities. But if you really want to whip your Italian language skills into shape, find a program that gets you studying full time.
Planning Your Trip
There’s a lot of planning to organize your summer abroad, but just take it step by step and you’ll be eating pasta in no time!
After you submit a killer application for the program of your choice, you may be nervous about your chance of acceptance. Don’t let the stress get to you! Most programs are looking for passionate participants who are excited about the culture and adventure of Italy. Few programs will require knowledge of the Italian language, although they may ask you to take a test to show your language level.
Depending on your choice of program you could be staying in a youth hostel, dorm, or host family—or maybe all three!
Because most summer programs combine a variety of activities with travel, you may find yourself in a couple different living situations. From old churches converted to hostels to university dorms, there are myriad possibilities.
Keep your eyes peeled for programs that emphasize a host family component. Living with an Italian family (while it may be scary to think about living with strangers) is the best way to experience REAL Italian life—not to mention eating the best Italian food! Your program will pair you with a family that matches you, and you can be that it will become your new home away from home!
Do you have a valid passport? Before you head out, make sure you check out passport requirements AT LEAST two months in advance (average processing time is 4-6 weeks!). If you’re under 16, you’ll have to appear at your regional passport agency in person. Don’t stress the paperwork though, if you’re staying less than three months you won’t need to bother with a visa to experience Italia.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there are ways that you can lessen the cost of traveling abroad. These programs, while all-inclusive, can get pricey, costing several thousand dollars. Though you won’t be wasting money on buying breakfast, that’s still a hefty price tag. BUT, a lot of programs provide scholarships that cover some (or all!) of the costs of studying abroad in Italy. Check out the information on your program website.
There are also many opportunities fundraise in your community—ask the local paper if you can write a weekly column from abroad in exchange for some cash, or start a lemonade stand (really, every little bit helps!)
Make sure you budget some cash to cover extras. You’ll want a scoop of gelato sometimes (always) or souvenirs and gifts to bring back home.
Top Reasons to Spend a Summer in Italy
There are lots of reasons to go abroad in High School— besides that it looks great on a college application. A summer abroad is an awesome way to get a little independence. I mean, we all love our mom, but sometimes it’s good to get out on our own (just make sure you pack a sweater; you don’t want to make mom angry). It’s also a great way to try something new—want to start painting but can’t fit 3rd period art into your schedule? Find an art program in Italy and see what you think! Going abroad is an amazing adventure that shouldn’t have to wait until college!