How amazing would it be to study abroad in Italy. The country that gave the world Versace, Gucci, Armani, Prada, Raphael, Michelangelo, pizzas, scarlet Ferraris, Opera, gelato and what not? From its ancient history to its enlivening present, the “boot” in the Mediterranean is the ideal destination for any international student. And thousands of visiting students would agree.

Home to the World’s first ever university, the Università di Bologna, Italy has played a pivotal role in the development of the modern higher education system. The institute itself dates back to 1088, right about the time when the word ‘university’ was coined – also of Latin origins.

Today, there are around 90 universities in the country, along with a number of polytechnic institutes and other academies that form a part of Italy’s budding higher education sector. Italy welcomes scores of students from different cultures, languages and countries all over the world and provides them with an experience that no other place can match.

If you want to pursue your education in a place that is home to art, architecture, fashion and a rich culture, Italy is the place for you. And for the thousands of questions running through your head, here is all the information you would need:

Why Italy?

If you are considering study abroad programs in Italy, the first question you’ll be asking yourself is ‘Why Italy?’ Here are a few reasons that would help you answer this question.

The Amazing Climate - When it comes to weather, Italy is a true land of contrasts. On a general note, it has one of the best climates in all of Europe, but conditions can vary quite a bit. For instance, in the winters, the Italian Alps are mostly cold with bright blue skies and plenty of snow all around. Milan, on the other hand is usually foggy, and the Po Valley can get cold and damp as well. If you intend on going around for a bit of vacation (Spring Break, maybe?) with your friends to enjoy the best of winter weather in Italy, look to the Italian Riviera, the Amalfi coast and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. All of these places enjoy a mild winter climate.

Tourist Attractions in Italy - Italy is not short of wonderful tourist spots. Here is a quick list of places you ought to visit, whenever you get a time-out from your study schedule.

  • Colosseum - The famous ancient Roman gladiatorial arena
  • Florence Cathedral - A medieval cathedral with an iconic red dome
  • Pantheon - An iconic Roman church along with famous historic tombs
  • St. Peter’s Basilica - Known for being the world’s largest basilica
  • Grand Canal - A huge canal crossed by the Rialro bridge, providing one of the most beautiful views ever
  • Sistine Chapel - World renowned chapel
  • Vatican Museums - Full of Renaissance art treasures
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa - An ornate 14th-Century tower, known for its famous ‘tilt’
  • Spanish Steps - An iconic baroque stairway and meeting place
  • Basilica of Santa Croce, France - A well-known French place of worship
  • Teatro alla Scala - The Grand Opera house for Italian classics
  • Mount Etna - For the adventurous – volcanoes and mountains, for hiking and skiing
  • Lake Garda - Ideal for camping, kitesurfing, hiking and argitourism

Customs and Lifestyle - Italians are keen on family values, togetherness and traditions. It is customary in Italy for the whole family to get together as much as possible, from the oldest grandmother, to the tiniest of the lot. Social ties are celebrated and give people a reason to shift their attention from work to family, loved ones and quality time. Their simple lifestyle appeals to most people who come in from other countries, especially when they are given a true feeling of ‘home’, so many miles away from home.

The Best Universities in Italy for Interntional Students

Once you have figured out the city, your language proficiency and the kind of locality you want to live in, you need to start to narrow down programs. Here is a list of some of the top Italian universities for international students who are looking for study abroad programs in Italy:

University of Milan - A state-run university with a variety of programs for international students. These include three programs that are entirely in English: Economics, Informatics and Medical School. The university also offers “entry level” programs that allow students to take the first 45 to 60 credits in English and the rest of the courses in Italian.

University of Bologna - As mentioned earlier, this is perhaps Italy’s most famous and oldest univesity, along with being one of the top ranked ones.  Even though most of the courses taught at this institute are in Italian, you may find several interesting subjects that are offered in English. The university also offers Italian language courses for non-native speakers, giving international students the ideal pace to learn a new language.

University of Florence - Founded in 1321, the university has had quite a faculty lineup, including the Renaissance author/poet Giovanni Boccaccio, who was a professor of Divine Comedy at the institute. The university is known for its widespread research on a number of topics and for being home to one of the oldest museums of natural history. If you know Italian, this is the perfect place for you to apply to. (Proof of language proficiency is required for admission at the University of Florence)

Lorenzo de’ Medici, Florence - This is the largest international school in Florence, with students from all over the world attending various programs. Courses here are taught in English and there is a lot of variety in terms of subject matter.

Accademia Italiana - Accademia Italiana is a top fashion and design school, with campuses in Florence and Rome. It offers 3-year degrees as well as short-term study options. It is authorized by the Italian Ministry of Public Education. Courses here are mostly taught in both English and Italian and the entire faculty speaks English. In addition to design classes, students also have the option of taking courses on linguistics.

University of Pisa - Another great institute for international students, the University of Pisa is home to more than 13,000 international students. Notable alumni of this university include Galileo Galilei and the former Pope Clement XII.

University of Roma - Situated in Rome, the University of Roma is an incredible choice for international students. The university encourages students from abroad by trying to break language barriers. It is one of the first universities in the region to offer a Masters degrees entirely in English. Exchange students enjoy a variety of services here including guidance, free transportation and help desks for students with disabilities.

John Cabot University - Unlike other traditional Italian universities, the John Cabot University is an entirely American university in Italy (and the only one of its kind). Courses offered here are completely in English and there are study abroad options as well. Even though the university is relatively smaller, it is home to students from around 55 countries.

This is only a summarized list of universities in Italy. There are more options available for students who intend to study abroad in Italy. To getv started, jot down a plan for what you want to get out of your university experience and what is important to you when selecting a school. Keep an open mind and don’t get frustrated by the process of college selection and applications.

Getting Around in Italy

Italy has a well developed network of public transportation. The Italian rail network in particular, is very extensive, reducing the need for an alternative more of transport. While there are a number of private railroads, the national railway, Ferrovie dello Stato, also provides a sophisticated, high-speed transportation solution. It joins the major cities of Italy, from Naples to Milan and Turin.

For international students, the best mode of transportation would be public. It offers greater affordability and convenience than purchasing or renting a vehicle.

Travel Cards for Students - Students have the option of purchasing travel cards if they intend on using public transport frequently.  Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) cards are the most popular option. They offer students discounts on a number of routes, times and destinations.

  • Day time student (upto 26 years of age) – with maximum income reevaluated annually and set at 8.490,48 € for the 2015-2016 session
  • Night time student – no restriction on age or income

The potential discounted offers include:

  • Electronic Card for students
  • Urban Travel Card for students  
  • Extraurban Travel Card for students
  • Cumulative Travel Card for students

Details for these can be found on the official ATM website.

Where to Live in Italy?

Residence Permit - This is the first thing you will need to take care of when you arrive in Italy, especially if you are coming from outside of Europe. All non-EU citizens who plan on staying in Italy for more than 3 months, must apply for a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno), within 8 working days from their arrival in Italy. You can get the residence permit kit from any post office.

Accomodation Options for Students - The amount of money you spend on accomodation in Italy depends on where you study and the kind of place you are looking for residence. The two most popular options for international students are:

  • University accomodation – such as halls of residence provided by the university on or off campus
  • Private accomodation – such as houses, flats or apartments

Even though many international students first choose to go for private residences, halls of residence are recommended because of their affordability and the fact that they help students settle into their universities.

Visa and Customs

EU students do not need a visa to enter Italy. However, if you plan on staying for longer than three months, you will need to register at the Registry Office of the Town Council. Non-EU citizens are required to apply for visas at the Italian Embassy or Consulate in their own country. Bear in mind that you can only apply for visa after having recieved the admission offer letter from the university.

You will be required to have the following documents for your visa application:

  • Visa application form
  • Photo (passport size)
  • A valid passport (with at least six months of validity)
  • Proof of economic independence for your planned stay in Italy – such proof may be personal, family asset or a scholarship and should amount to at least 350€ per month for the academic year
  • Proof of accommodation in Italy
  • Medical insurance might be required by some countries

Documents you should have upon arrival at the airport:

  • Passport, tickets and other travel documents
  • Visa (if necessary)
  • Admission letter from the university
  • Medical insurance certificate
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Other immigration related documents (if applicable)
  • Cash (in Euros) to pay for airport transfers and any transport services you might avail
  • Address, telephone number and travel instructions to reach your university/hotel
  • A small handbook of Italian words and phrases

Note: In case of any concerns or issues at the airport, regarding your visa, customs and documentation, contact your university’s international students’ office immediately.

So if you have been wondering about where to go for your Erasmus semester, your masters or bachelors degree, it’s time you start giving serious thought to Italy - a country that has a great atmosphere in terms of learning opportunities, cultural diversity , attractions and its very friendly folk (you will practically be getting hugs all the time!)


  • Capital
  • Calling code
  • Population
    60.7 million
  • Ethnic groups
    Europe 54%, Africa 22%, Asia 16%, Americas 8%, Oceania 0.06%
  • Official languages
  • Time zone
  • Currency
    Euro (EUR)