A student who truly wishes to go to Italy fully intending to learn the language and be immersed in the culture would most benefit from such a study abroad program. If that is the case, I would encourage choosing to live with a host family. While students are warned that some homestays are further from the academic center, my homestay was less than a fifteen minute walk away and could not have been in a better area. Though not too busy at night, it was a great area for living, especially given its proximity to the center of the city and school. In terms of safety, I never had any big problems, but as in any large city, it is definitely necessary to be street-smart and try not to travel alone at night.
The program itself provides a good channel through which to experience Italy and the Italian lifestyle on your own, as you are given a good amount of independence. Organized field trips allow for those less inclined to travel to experience other parts of Italy, and the academic schedule was generally such that one was able to balance work and personal life. The school organized a field trip to Naples,Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast over the course of a weekend, and it was one from which the students obtained both a great deal of information and enjoyment. For those seeking an additional challenge, as many students take just four classes, the possibility to obtain an internship is a great option.
If I could repeat those four months and more, I absolutely would, as my time abroad proved to be one of the best- if not the best- time of my life, especially personally and culturally (and, as is obviously the case in Italy, food was never scarce, and there was always something to everyone's liking!) Studying in Italy has certainly instilled in me a desire to return and live abroad again for a longer period of time, which I am already planning to do, for graduate school. It was such a treat to be able to wake up each day in a different country and truly feel at home with the people, lifestyle, and surroundings. If I have one regret, it is not having spent a second semester abroad.