Venice has an enchanting reputation both in Italy and throughout the world. Learning Italian in Venice means exposing yourself to a whole new type of culture -- despite being a part of Italy, Venice is a very unique city and takes pride in its individuality. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind when you are thinking about spending a few months enveloped in La Serenissima (“the most serene one”).
However, over the past couple of decades foreigners in Venice have come to outnumber the locals, thereby threatening their way of life. Butcher shops and greengrocers have shut their doors and been replaced by souvenir shops. Rent has become prohibitively expensive for locals.
By staying a little longer to learn Italian in Venice, immersing yourself in Venetian life (or at least, what authentic aspects of it that remain), and really, truly making an attempt to understand Italian life and culture, you'll get a glimpse at life behind the tourist facade -- just make sure you do so with the right intention.
Overall, Venice has fewer language courses and study abroad programs than other Italian cities like Florence and Rome.
There are a few different schools you might want to look into in the region that offer the chance to learn the language through different methods. You’ll find there are many different kinds, but the most popular ones you will find at an institute usually teach the communicative method.
You’re also more likely to learn Tuscan Italian as a dialect, since it’s become the standard that most schools tend to teach with.
For college students in particular, taking a course at an institute rather than through a university should still allow you to transfer back the credits you need.
Unfortunately, Italian learners looking to study Italian in Venice will soon learn that nothing is free in this city. It’s very expensive. However, if you want to supplement your class time, or get out there and meet a few locals, look for a conversation exchange.
Through conversation exchanges, you can partner up with a Venetian or two who would simply like to meet for a cafe and practice his or her English while you practice your Italian. It’s free (except the cost of a cup of coffee) and easy to join.
Planning Your Trip
- Venice has around 409 bridges, though depending on who you talk to, some will say more or less.
- Venice was the biggest power in the Mediterranean from around 1300 to 1500—not bad for a small island.
- The Venetian dialect is one of the most difficult to understand in Italy, and even the most fluent of Italian speakers have a hard time decoding it when they choose to visit.
What's life in Venice like?
Venice is a small city, so the atmosphere is pretty insular. Venetians are hesitant to trust foreigners, so it might be a while before you find yourself making some friends or getting a discount at your favorite bar. Knowing a little Italian certainly helps when you are planning on asking for directions -- Venetians are more likely to offer you some help if you can politely ask them in their own language.
When's the best time to go to Venice?
The best time to study in Venice is in the spring. It can get very cold in the winter since it’s literally on the Adriatic Sea, and scorching hot with little relief in the summer, but the spring is lovely, and there are many festivals and religious holidays that keep things interesting.
One reason many Italian learners choose Venice is the festival of Carnevale, which takes place over two weeks in February. You’ll want to buy a mask and have a spritz (a local alcoholic drink) and dance the night away at parties in San Marco Square or on the famous Rialto Bridge.
What kind of visa do I need to learn Italian in Venice?
If you're staying for less than 90 days you won't need a visa. For longer stays, you'll need to apply for a student visa.
Sadly, Venice has become more of a tourist city than a livable city -- as such, the cost of living is quite expensive, especially compared to other Italian cities.
However, there are ways to learn Italian in Venice without breaking the bank. The Istituto Venezia offers an intensive program for those who would like to experience what a high quality program is like without spending more than needed.