The rumors are true: Italy is one of the top five countries where you can study abroad.
Italy’s cultural history and world-renowned cuisine – combined with its reputation for academic excellence – make it one of the best student destinations in the world. Italy is all about the masters – from the art you see throughout some of the world’s most visited museums to the Italian chefs who are waiting to prepare you the ultimate risotto or bolognese sauce. Then there’s the unbeatable coastal vistas that are just a few hours away from some of the most visited historical sites in the world. It’s no wonder tens of thousands of international students study abroad in Italy every year.
Our study abroad guide to Italy will teach you how to plan for your trip: everything from the big decisions of what city to study in to the best student travel tips – like what you should bring with you, the best discounts and the travel apps you’ll need – to make sure you have the most amazing Italian experience possible.
Home to the largest collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you won’t have a lack of things to see, do and eat in Italy. Best of all, this beautiful country has an extensive rail system that makes traveling within its borders a breeze. Whether you want to visit beaches, art museums, volcanoes, islands or enotecas (aka wine bars), there’s something for everyone.
Italy’s top attractions
It just seems wrong to narrow down the top sites in Italy to a short list. Nevertheless, here’s a look at a few must-see places for your journey:
The Colosseum: This structural marvel at the center of Rome is one of the most visited places in the world. While the history is grim, you’ll be able to stroll along the stands of the Colosseum where the Roman Emperor and his people watched gladiators fight for their lives.
Venice canals: Everyone should visit this famous floating city at least once. Go for a Gondola ride, wander the small streets and bridges and drink a cappuccino at one of the cafes in St. Mark’s Square.
The Historic Centre of Florence: If you’re an art or history major, the heart of Florence is a must-see attraction. Lace up your walking shoes and explore this beautiful city by foot, taking in the sites of the Ponte Vecchio, Pizzale Michaelangelo, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza del Duomo and Michaelangelo’s David (we could go on forever!).
Vatican City: Did you know Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, in both size and population? At just over 100 acres and 1,000 residents, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church is worth a visit for the history and architecture, regardless of your religious views. St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are among the highlights.
Cinque Terre: Almost everyone has seen photos of the Italian Riviera’s famous fishing villages, known as Cinque Terre, but visiting there is a bucket list-worthy trip. Directly accessible by train (from Rome, Florence or Pisa), take in the beautiful coastal sites, hike between the villages of Vernazza and Monterossa and eat amazing seafood. Bonus: Cinque Terre is the birthplace of pesto!
Amalfi Coast: Visit this stunning coastline in Southern Italy to get one-in-a-lifetime views of small beach towns like Ravello, Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento by boat or car. Traveler’s tip: Visit during the shoulder seasons (May/June or October) to avoid the heat, traffic and enormous crowds.
Pompeii: The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD engulfed the neighboring city of Pompeii in hot lava and ash. When the city was unearthed in the 1700s, archaeologists found a Roman community frozen in time. You see two stories when touring Pompeii: a once-thriving city and the horror of the day the volcano erupted. It’s an equally magnificent and devastating site, and one worth your time.
Italian food is arguably the most delicious and most popular cuisine in the world due to its fresh and simple ingredients. While pizza and pasta can be found almost anywhere, eating these authentic meals in Italy is an experience like no other. Italian food is also kind to a student’s budget-friendly lifestyle, where you can experience world-class dishes for a very affordable cost.
The culinary highlights include:
Let’s cut to the chase … pizza: Americans love to pile on toppings, but in Italy, chefs are judged by how good they can assemble dough, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and olive oil (e.g. the Margherita). Pizza is more simplistic in Italy and you’ll find some of the best offerings in Naples.
Espresso, cappuccino, caffé macchiato … need we say more?: Nope. You get it. Just enjoy.
For the carnivores … bistecca alla fiorentina: A two-pound porterhouse steak, typically from a young cow, is grilled to perfection with a combination of herbs, seasonings and a lot of fat (i.e. butter and olive oil). This famous dish originated from Florence and is a must-try when paired with a delicious house red wine.
Pasta … all of it: In Italy, pasta is typically the first course of the meal (served in a much smaller portion than in North America). There’s so many incredible dishes and pasta shapes to try, including cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), carbonara (spaghetti with egg and bacon), linguine alle vongole (pasta with clams) and Pasta Alla Norma (eggplant).
House wine is a perfectly fine option: Restaurants typically offer a vino della casa, which is an inexpensive wine sold by the glass, half bottle or full bottle. These wines are nothing to scoff at and are typically a good option, especially if you’re looking for a cheap option. (Bonus for early college travelers from the U.S.: The drinking age in Italy is 18. But please enjoy your vino responsibly.)
You’ll dream about gelato: As you roll down the street from your pasta and bistecca, you should finish your evening off with gelato. This custard-like dessert is so creamy and delicious, and you’ll have so many flavors to choose from. (Though we recommend pistachio.). If you find yourself in Florence — the birthplace of gelato — try a little shop called Perchè No! You’ll thank us later.
Eat an Italian sandwich as big as your head: You’re in a country that leads the world in cured meats and cheeses, so you can imagine the sandwiches are out of this world. Whether it’s a quick lunch or dinner, we highly recommend you try some Italian classics such as panino al prosciutto or mortadella, porchetta (pork) and mozzarella di bufala e pomodoro (cheese and tomatoes).
The sights of Italy
Italy is simply magnificent – from the beautiful hill-top cities in the countryside to the art and ancient ruins to the vineyards and stunning coastlines of the Mediterranean. And this is only a partial list of what this wonderful country has to offer. Here’s a list of possibilities before you start exploring:
Unlimited coastlines to explore: From Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast or Sardinia, Italy has countless picturesque beachfront destinations to explore. If you’re looking for major “White Lotus” vibes (RIP Tanya), check out Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean.
The Tuscan countryside: The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, there’s so much to see in this region of the country with Florence, Siena and Pisa (yes, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is worth it, if only for a brief stop).
For luxury and sophistication, try Milan: Northern Italy is very different from Southern Italy, because most of the country’s largest businesses operate in or near Milan. If you’re into fashion and design, then this part of the country is for you. Also, it’s home to mountains and beautiful landscapes, with popular destinations like Lake Como and Lake Garda nearby.
For arguably the best eats, visit the Emilia-Romagna region: Many of Italy’s culinary traditions have originated in this part of the country, including meats, cheeses and wines. In fact, the city of Bologna is a very popular destination to study abroad in Italy and is home to one of the oldest universities in the world.
Laid back vibes in Southern Italy: This is where you’ll find the best beaches and some of the most famous historical sites. While Southern Italy has gotten a bad reputation for ongoing issues of poverty and organized crime, it’s perfectly safe to visit. Cities like Naples are just a little grittier than others, but you’ll be fine if you’re with a small group of friends.
Improve your Italian language skills
Good news for English speakers: you don’t need to be fluent in Italian to study abroad in Italy (and your program likely won’t test your Italian skills unless you’re taking courses in that language). There are many international programs that offer courses in English. However, we still recommend you learn baseline communication to make your time there easier, as assimilating into the local culture will be rewarding.
More good news: The Italian language is one of the easiest languages to learn, but it does take time and effort. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it will take roughly 600 hours of rigorous study to become fluent in Italian (similar to Spanish and French). You can access FSI’s free Italian language courses here. If you prefer a mobile app, download Duo Lingo or Babbel to gamify your Italian language learning experience.
Italian culture can be summed up in just a few words: tradition, family, food, art and style. They’re also pretty loud and extroverted, but in a good way. You’ll find most locals to be extremely kind, cheerful and affectionate. There will always be exceptions, where some regions might have more elite attitudes than others. We suggest that you know essential Italian language phrases to ensure you get off on the right foot such as hello (ciao), please (per favore) and thank you (grazie).
And while you’re focusing on being polite, here’s a few things to know about what Italians are like and what they value most:
These folks are fashionable: You’ll see lots of high-end brands like Versace or Prada. They’re always presentable, never dressing too casually or too over the top.
They’re huggers: Italian culture is all about public displays of affection, so don’t be surprised if you receive a kiss on the cheek upon someone greeting you.
Family is everything: Most Italians have extremely close relationships to their family, especially sons and mothers. Families gather for meals and celebrate together frequently.
They really do love pasta: It’s not a stereotype, and many Italians eat it everyday.
Give them a 10-minute grace period: They’re not only fashionable, but also fashionably late.
While you can visit many of the headline attractions year round, here are a few more highlights that are exclusive to Italy that you shouldn’t miss:
Carnevale: This isItaly’s version of Mardi Gras – also held on Fat Tuesday – but the parties start in the weeks leading up to the big day. Similar to here in the U.S., Carnevale is a massive celebration before people observe lent — a chance to clean out the local stores of wine and meat for the next 40 days. Parades, colorful masks, floats and elaborate costumes, you’ll see it all in the various celebrations hosted all over the country.
Scavi Tour: One of the most exclusive and underrated experiences in Rome is the Vatican’s Scavi tour, which will wind you through the necropolis underneath St. Peter’s Basilica. There are over 100 popes buried here, including the tomb of St. Peter. You must request tickets months in advance through the Excavations office (follow instructions here). Trust us, you don’t want to miss this one!
Il Palio di Siena: Siena is a beautiful hill-top town in Tuscany, with rolling hills and views for days. Among its many cultural festivities, one of the most important is the Palio horse race that takes place twice every summer – July 2 and August 16. Horses and riders, representing different areas of the city, compete in the roughly 90-second race directly in the Piazza del Campo. The rules and regulations of the race are quite complex – especially in deciding which 10 of the 17 horses are allowed to race – but it’s a unique opportunity to witness the passion of the residents of Siena during this special, multi-day event.
Where in Italy should you study?
Whether you’re studying law or art history, Italy has a wide selection of study abroad programs, including many that are taught in English. These six Italian cities all have thriving student cultures and will deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience:
If location is your top concern, it doesn’t get much better than studying in Bologna. The city is an hour from Florence and roughly two hours from Milan or Venice. As the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna supports a community of over 100,000 students and is home to the oldest university in the western world (University of Bologna). Aside from being one of the best places to study, it’s also one of the best places to eat (it was voted food capital of the world in 2022). Mortadella, tortellini in brodo and lasagna bolognese are just a few must-try dishes. While Bologna is an ideal travel hub to other parts of the country, there’s plenty to see for those weekends when you decide to stay at home. The beautiful Piazza Maggiore, Santuario di Santo Stefano (a complex of seven churches) or the Ducati museum for motorbike lovers, are among the city’s highlights. Being a college town, there’s plenty to see and do, including a vibrant nightlife scene.
Average temperatures (high/low): July 86°F / 69°F; December 44°F / 36°F
Location: Emilia-Romagna region, northern Italy
The eternal city of Rome will likely provide you with the richest cultural experience. It’s also one of the most popular destinations at which students choose to study abroad in Italy. The landmarks and historical sites are endless: there’s remnants of the Roman Empire including the Colosseum, Parthenon and Roman Forum, plus the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. We could go on, but we’ll switch to the delicious food and drink. Coffee connoisseurs are in for a treat, as you’ll have walking access to some of the best espressos and cappuccinos on Earth (Italians usually drink these in the morning, not the afternoon). Tazza D’Oro is one of our favorites, and we highly recommend you sip your espresso at the bar counters like other locals. Roma Termini train station is a gateway to all other major cities in the country, including the airport if you’re looking to get out of town. With respect to your studies, Rome offers a program for everyone, whether you’re pursuing art, film, medicine or political science at one of their top institutions like Sapienza and Vergata, or study abroad favorite John Cabot University. Convenience and culture does come at a cost, though: Since Rome is both a popular tourist and student destination, you can expect the cost to study in the eternal city to be amongst the highest in the country.
Population: 2.86 million
Average temperature (high/low): July: 89°F / 67°F; December 55°F / 40°F
Location: Lazio region, central Italy
Another popular Italian study abroad destination is Florence, in the heart of Italy’s Tuscany region. There’s arts and culture (Uffizi Gallery), there’s fashion (check out the Firenze school of leather), there’s amazing food and wine (some of the best trattorias in the country are here) and even more to explore. The city is small and walkable, with little need for public transportation to get around. Best of all, it’s really affordable compared to other Italian destinations on this list. Known for being the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, this is a perfect destination for college students studying art, history or fashion (among others). Many American universities have programs here, including New York University, Stanford and University of California. There’s also prestigious institutions such as the University of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici and Florence University of the Arts.
Average temperature: July: 90°F / 65°F; December: 52°F / 37°F
Location: Tuscany region,central Italy
If you’re about international business, Milan is the Italian city for you. It’s is the financial epicenter and fashion capital of Italy. While the majority of Italy has a historical vibe, you’ll find that Milan is more modern in comparison. If you’re pursuing a career in fashion, the ultra competitive Accademia di Brera is located in Milan and considered a top school in Italy. There are a number of other top universities to consider such as Politecnico di Milano for architecture and engineering, Statale di Milano for law and Bicocca for natural sciences and medicine. Given Milan is an international hub for both professionals and students, the cost of living tends to be higher. Students often share housing and other amenities to minimize their expenses. Finally, there’s lots to see and do in this lively metropolis. You literally can’t miss the Duomo — Milan’s massive gothic cathedral — in the middle of the city. Stare at Leonardo da Vinci’s original “The Last Supper” mural at the Santa Maria delle Graziea. And don’t miss an A.C. Milan or Inter Milan football match at the San Siro (which will also host the Opening Ceremonies of the 2026 Winter Olympics).
Population: 1.4 million
Average temperature: July: 87°F / 69°F; December: 45°F / 36°F
Location: Lombardy region, northern Italy
Once you get past the thousands of people taking goofy tourist photos in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you’ll notice a quaint, medieval college town that has a lot to offer international students. The University of Pisa — a top 10 university and one of the oldest colleges in the country — is the academic highlight, which offers a number of courses in English in social sciences and humanities. (Not to mention, Galileo Galilei was the Chair of Mathematics in the late 1500s.) Pisa gives off a small, college town vibe and will be kinder to your budget. And it’s just a short train ride away from Florence, where you can connect to other major cities in Italy.
Average temperature: July: 85°F / 63°F; December: 53°F / 37°F
Location: Tuscany region, Central Italy
Turin (aka: Torino)
Given the city’s proximity to Milan, studying abroad here will gives you exposure to two cosmopolitan cities in Northern Italy at a lower cost. Turin is gorgeous, known for its stunning architecture, magnificent piazzas and thriving arts culture. You can find a number of top universities to study political science, art, design and engineering. Most students take advantage of Turin’s location, escaping to neighboring highlights like Milan, Lake Como and Venice. A day trip to the Alps’ snow-capped peaks is convenient for skiers. And Turin has an international airport, too, meaning you can take advantage of low-cost airline deals and spend long weekends in other European countries to round out your study abroad experience.
Average temperature: July: 82°F / 68°F; December: 48°F / 39°F
Location: Piedmont region, northern Italy
Planning your trip to Italy
There’s so much to consider as you plan to study overseas. But don’t worry, these next few sections will walk you through all the important aspects – from program timing and travel arrangements, to housing, transportation and how to stay safe.
Where to start: Timing and courses
While it’s a priority to understand program fees (more on that later), studying abroad in Italy is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That means you should first figure out your ideal time to go. Here are a few considerations:
Potential timeframes: The good news is you have several options, even if you don’t go through your current institution (though definitely start there). If your school doesn’t have the span you want, a variety of third-party providers offer study abroad programs ranging from a few weeks at J term to summer programs to a full semester to an entire academic year.
Availability of courses: Try to stay flexible, especially if you have your heart set on a specific school, program or city. Our advice is to start early to maximize your choices. For example, many students prefer to study abroad in Italy during the spring semester, but it’s common for universities to only have the classes you want in the fall.
Check your eligibility (and make sure your credits transfer home!)
The last thing you want is to spend time and money on study abroad programs that won’t count towards your degree at home. Also, many study abroad programs in Italy have eligibility requirements such as prerequisites, language certifications (English and Italian) and GPA. Do your due diligence – don’t skip this step.
Find a flight
Flights typically aren’t included in your study abroad program fees. And international flights can be quite expensive, especially if you wait to book. Here’s a few tips:
Ask your program representatives about flight strategy: Your program coordinator will be a go-to resource throughout your trip. Universities and private companies often have discount programs setup with specific airlines or websites. Asking about these early could save you a nice chunk of money.
Sign up for frequent flier programs and/or an airline credit card: Make sure you’re getting credit for those international miles, so you can apply them to future flights. Also, look into airline credit cards that offer bonus miles when you spend a certain amount. These introductory offers could add up to the cost of a roundtrip flight.
Take advantage of your student status: Sites like Studentuniverse.com (requires a membership, but it’s free!) are often great bets for students looking for travel deals.
Finding a place to stay
Housing can be the most stressful part of planning your study abroad journey. In many cases, the program or university you’re working with will have housing options. But if you’re shopping around for student housing, your decision will come down to a combination of preference and cost. In Italy, study abroad accommodations vary from dorms (a popular, but hard-to-find choice for students) to furnished studio apartments (more expensive, but these typically have flexible lease options) to shared apartments with roommates (the most affordable option, but you may live with strangers and far away from campus).
With so many students traveling through Italy, you need to keep a few things in mind:
Start your housing search early: Don’t procrastinate. It will make things incredibly stressful.
Consider location: Weigh the pros and cons of living near campus versus saving a few bucks. Spending more time commuting will take away from the time you spend with friends, on your studies and possibly enjoying your new city.
Don’t forget about safety: Italy is a safe country overall (more on that below), but whether you decide to live solo or with roommates in another part of the city, make sure you have a good understanding of the area you’ll be staying.
Getting around in Italy
Italy has excellent transportation systems that connect the whole country. While most people opt to travel by rail, there are options for air, sea and land, depending on your destination. Here’s a look at each:
Rail: Italy’s train infrastructure is quite extensive, with six main operators either running intercity (e.g. exclusively in-country) or between countries. Trenitalia and Italo provide high-speed services between most major cities. In fact, Italo almost exclusively operates popular routes in Northern Italy (Milan to Salerno and Turin to Venice). Trenitalia and Trenord operate regional and airport express routes to help get you to those smaller destinations. And Öbb, TGV, Eurocity and Trenord all operate inter-country routes (Austria, France, Poland, Switzerland and Germany are just a train away).
Local metro systems: Seven Italian cities have their own metro systems: Rome, Milan, Palermo, Naples, Turin, Bari and Genoa. Catania — a city on the island of Sicily — has a tiny underwater metro as well. At less than four kilometers, it’s the shortest metro system in the world.
Air: Aside from major airlines, it’s worth noting that Europe has few budget carriers that can make traveling around Italy a breeze. Check out easyJet, RyanAir and Air Dolomiti for no-frills experiences. However, be aware of the baggage requirements and additional fees, as they’re aggressively enforced.
Sea: We’ve mentioned Italy’s coastlines and islands throughout this guide, and one of the easiest ways to see the country’s beautiful beach destinations is by ferry. Whether you want to hop between cities on the Amalfi Coast or spend a weekend in Sicily or Sardinia, ferries can be a relaxing and affordable option. Check out Ferry Hopper for the latest schedules and to purchase tickets. (Traveler’s tip: Did you know you can take an overnight ferry across the Adriatic Sea to Croatia?)
Car: Renting a car gives you the ultimate flexibility to see Italy on your terms. However, it can be more of a hassle than it might seem. For one, you’ll need an international driver’s license (most rental companies will let you get away with a U.S. driver’s license, but it’s required by law that you have an international permit). And second, parking, gas and dealing with more aggressive Italian drivers could be risky. Do your research before hitting the road.
Bus: Most Italian cities have cost-effective bus systems to help you get around. However, the hassle of taking the bus in Italy may not be worth it. Buses here are typically crowded and trips can take longer than you assume, as drivers must navigate very busy streets.
And even more options: For quick trips, ride-share services are definitely on the table (Uber operates in Italy). You can also rent scooters or call a taxi. MyTaxi might be your most comfortable option when it comes to cost and Italian language barriers.
Staying safe in Italy
International students should find Italy to be a very safe, vibrant culture. The most consistent threat to students and tourists alike are pick-pockets and scammers – acts of theft that can certainly complicate or ruin your trip. Some of the more popular coastal destinations and student-populated areas such as Rimini, Milan and Bologna have higher sexual assault and vandalism rates than other cities, too. Finally, while highly unlikely, terror attacks or moments of civil unrest are always possible in European countries. Staying aware of your surroundings at all times – and getting to know the streets of your host city quickly – is the best strategy for staying safe and having an amazing experience.
Emergency services in Italy
Add your local emergency services numbers to your mobile device prior to arriving in Italy. If you’re living on campus, make sure you know the security contacts there, too.
To save you some time, here’s a guide to the emergency contacts you need to know:
112: National emergency number in EU to connect you directly with police, medical and fire
118: Medical emergency number(for sudden and urgent health-related issues)
113: Local police emergency number (theft, accidents)
115: Fire emergency number
1530: Sea rescue (you never know)
800 86 00 22: National suicide hotline
U.S. embassy website (the U.S. embassy is in Rome, with U.S. consulates in Florence, Milan and Naples)
What to bring on your trip to Italy
You’ve done all the planning. The flights are booked. Now it’s time to pack. One key consideration before you start: Anything you pack at home, you’ll likely need to carry yourself when you arrive in Italy. Only pack the number of bags you can reasonably handle. (Trust us on this one.) With that in mind, here’s a look at the essentials for your time in Italy:
Clothing for a semester in Italy
Italians are stylish. But that doesn’t mean you need to drop $400 on a pair of Versace boat shoes. Some general advice is to save beachwear for the beach, save gym clothes for the gym, and do your best to look presentable when out in public.
Here’s a quick clothing guide by season:
Spring/Summer: The weather can be tricky during the spring, as it’s a dice roll between rain, cold and heat as the calendar transitions to summer. Pack with layers in mind. Jeans are a good option. Light shirts and jackets – including a light raincoat – are also ideal. As temperatures heat up in the summer (it can get very warm and humid), consider dresses, capri pants, light shirts and henleys (think linen and cotton). A nice pair of sandals is appropriate, but save flip flops for the beach. And while shorts are completely fine for men, local women tend to favor dresses or skirts (they’ll wear shorts to the beach).
Fall/Winter: Use a similar layering strategy from your spring wardrobe, but side toward somewhat heavier clothes. All genders will want to mix and match pants (jeans, trousers, etc.) with long sleeve shirts and sweaters. And don’t forget to pack a winter coat, gloves and a hat (or factor in buying them while you’re there).
Essentials: You need a good pair of walking shoes, especially if you’re traveling around Europe on breaks. (If you can squeeze a pair of waterproof shoes, even better.) You’ll want a sun hat, as the sun can be very intense in the warmer months. Also, consider investing in a good travel bag that has security features like zipper locks and RFID sleeves.
Technology and plugs
Italy uses Type C and F plugs (sometimes you may find a Type L). You can easily purchase all-in-one adapters from sites like Amazon that will last you years. These are clutch for moving around different countries – especially if you’re staying in Europe or elsewhere for more than a few months. You should also take time to check if the electronics you’re bringing (hairdryers and straighteners, beard trimmers, etc.) match Italy’s standard electrical voltage (230V) and standard frequency (50Hz).
Top mobile apps for your Italy trip
Your mobile device is probably your most important possession. It’ll become an even more important tool during your study abroad trip. Here’s a guide to the apps you should download before you touch down in your host country (many of which are free):
Google Maps: An underrated app – whether you’re traveling locally or to another part of the continent – as most metro and rail systems are integrated for easy trip planning.
Google Translate: You’ll use this daily – sometimes hourly – to come up with the right words or phrases as you slowly learn Italian.
MyTaxi: Most Americans find taxis easier to hail in Italy, but you can’t simply flag them down like here in the states. You need to pick one up at a stand. This app will help.
Duolingo: Need Italian lessons? Duolingo provides a gamified way to improve your language skills.
Citymapper: A one-stop-shop for navigating the most popular cities with real-time transportation updates, schedules and maps.
Trainline: While not the cheapest option, Trainline will let you book rail and bus journeys across the six major operators in Italy. This app works across most of Europe.
WhatsApp: Connect to that café WiFi and stay in touch with your friends and family while avoiding those international texting and data rates.
Travel documents you need in Italy
If you’re planning to study abroad in Italy for more than 90 days, you’ll need more than just a passport. Here’s a guide to the documentation you’ll need:
Passport: You need a passport that (1) will remain valid at least three months beyond the date of departure to enter the country and that (2) has at least two blank pages.
Visa: Another important document you’ll need to enter the country for an extended stay is your student visa. But first, check with your program coordinator to see if they offer visa assistance and also which type of study visa is required when studying abroad. You’ll either need a short- or long-term student visa (the latter being more than 90 days), which you can only apply for in person at your nearest Italian embassy or consulate. You’ll need additional information at the time you apply such as the acceptance letter from your program, proof of medical insurance, proof of financial means to cover the cost of your stay, criminal background check and a language proficiency certificate (only if required by your university). Give yourself four to six weeks to complete this process.
Academic documents: Any enrollment forms you need for your study abroad program.
Check on COVID-19 vaccination requirements: Italy was hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. While proof of vaccination is no longer required to enter the country, you should check with your program to see if it has any similar requirements.
What will it cost to study abroad in Italy?
The costs of study abroad programs in Italy will largely depend on what your school includes. If you’ve chosen one of the study abroad programs in Italy offered by your home university, you’ll likely pay your normal tuition costs plus an additional program fee. The additional program costs often pay for necessities – things like meals and student housing. Tuition through a third-party providers will vary widely: students can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to more than $20,000, depending on variables like your study abroad program, length of stay (a few weeks to a full year), add-ons like student housing and any scholarship opportunities you can nail down. It’s a lot to balance, so we created a brief guide to budgeting for your trip.
How to budget for your trip to Italy
Study abroad students can expect to exceed €1,000 in expenses a month when studying in larger cities like Milan and Rome, whereas cities like Florence and Pisa will be more budget-friendly. Here are a few areas every student traveler will need to budget for:
Tuition, registration and any addition administrative fees
Housing – though sometimes it’s included in your tuition (don’t forget about internet and utilities, too)
International health insurance, which you’ll need to study abroad in Italy (check to see if your program includes basic health coverage)
Extracurricular travel to other parts of Europe
Food, as eating at restaurants while traveling on weekends can add up fast
Trip insurance – which can get a little complicated depending on how conservative you want to be. Pro tip: Read up on your international health insurance plan’s location coverage before you study abroad in Italy.
Entertainment, as you should think about cover charges and tickets to unique experiences
Currency in Italy
Italy uses the euro (€). We highly recommend getting an international credit card or debit card that doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees pre-departure, since you’ll get the best exchange rates. Getting a card that has an airline partnership will let you accrue status miles while you travel and spend, too. Be sure you notify your bank that you’ll be studying abroad in Italy to ensure you won’t have issues paying while moving around.
Aside from credit cards, you’ll still need access to cash, especially when traveling to smaller towns where you’re bound to find yourself in cash-only situations. Using your debit card to pull out cash will typically be your cheapest option when it comes to exchange rates.
It’s not cheap to study abroad in Italy, especially if you’re not working. And while your student status may entitle you to some advantages locally, student discounts across Italy can be a more hit or miss proposition than in other European countries. Here’s where you can start your search:
Ask your program leaders or international student office Your study abroad program representatives will likely have info on local discounts you won’t find anywhere else. This could be your biggest source of savings during your stay.
Train passes: While you won’t get a student discount, it may be worth it to look into rail passes, if you plan on traveling around quite a bit.
Paying for a VPN can save you money: Your discounted digital student subscriptions in your home country may not work while studying abroad, but a low-cost VPN subscription should get you around some of those issues.