Extracurricular classes on your year abroad in Italy

Italian cooking by campdarby

It would be a crime not to make the most of Italian cooking, eating, dancing, trampolining, speaking, drinking etc on your year abroad here. After all, the food is second to none, the wine doesn’t get tiresome and you’re noticing it doesn’t get much better than this: la vita è davvero bella. Oh yes, yes it is. You’re through a few months of it now and family and friends are expecting lots from you: an academic’s knowledge of Michelangelo, the ability to make perfect hand-made ravioli, distinguish your espresso from your americano, get the froth right on the cappuccino AND speak the local dialect.

Lots to learn, then, but where to start? In your free time (and yes, the free time you spend eating gelato gazing at passers-by does count), you could take on a multitude of courses and classes to get your inner Italian just that little bit more native, or learn some great skills for your life or work experience...

1. General Courses and Classes

The great thing about Italy is the fact there is so much on offer here, if you’re planning on taking up new and exciting activities during your year abroad. Theatre is big, big news and as such, there are many sites offering to have you hooked up with the best schools out there, city by city. Although it is not general, La MaMa Umbria has a very fine reputation for allowing budding playwrights, painters and actors from all corners of the world to mesh together, over a summer retreat.  Similarly, if you’re into your art, check out AllArtCareers to find your ideal Art school, by course and location. Another good website to help you choose an art workshop in the country is Shawguides’ listings; although the site itself is not very pretty, it does its job well and gives a rather lengthy list of places you might want to sign up to, or better still, get your visitors to sign up to while they’re there! Find your ideal cooking school by checking out it-schools, replete with a huge list of the best schools to learn how to make real lasagna, outstanding gnocchi and much, much more.

2. Rome

If you plan on spending your year abroad in Rome, the choice of artistic colleges and universities is second to none. Indeed, the renowned theatre and art college, Accademia Silvio d’Amico has an extensive list of courses and workshops available to students and year abroaders alike. If you are interested in mime and theatre studies, make sure you check out the ICRA project, with locales in Rome and Naples. If you are after music, you couldn’t really get better than the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, for a range of courses from the singing to learning the skills of becoming a conductor. Anglo-info also comes to the rescue if you’re short on inspiration and fancy something a little more low-key, in smaller groups. Cooking Classes in Rome has some good reviews, though if you’re after something a little more authentic, you could take a look at Tu Chef, holding lots of clout in cooking circles.

3. Florence

Florence is famed for its artistic and cultural influence on our modern-day world, so it would be a shame to not make the most of its plethora of courses and workshops if you are so lucky as to be placed here for your year abroad. Art and design aficionados will be pleased to hear that the Accademia Italiana offers courses in graphic design, fashion and photography, amongst many more. With so many foreigners in Florence, it’s also quite easy to pick courses in English, in case your Italian needs a bit of brushing up first; both the NYFA film school and the American art centre, SACI, offer you or your visitors the chance to get to grips with artistic know-how, in Italy, in English. Music fans can take out a variety of classes at the ever-popular Accademia Europea di Firenze, boasting not only musical song and dance, but also cooking, art and language courses too. If you fancy stretching your limbs, you should enrol onto one of the dance schools on offer in Florence - from tango to ballet, you will have your pick of the very finest dance schools in this part of the world. Of course, no trip to Florence would be complete without a short course in art and painting and Firenzeonline, again, offers some good advice about what’s on and where. For those of you that couldn’t imagine coming here without even trying to try their hand at Italian cooking, with some great help and wise words from chefs of good repute, make sure you take a short pasta class (or 10-week Tuscan course!) in Italian at La Pentola delle Meraviglie.

4. Milan

Although primarily known for its fashion sense and its Euro-pop vibes, Milan certainly has a lot to show off in terms of courses and workshops to inspire the unsuspecting student. Drama queens will find their kicks at the Accademia la Scala, with hundreds of courses on offer. Cooks and foodies will love the scene at La Scuola Cucina Italiana, with beginners and more advanced courses available. Of course, if you were after fashion, there are plenty of schools to choose from, most notably the Istituto Maragoni as it offers a selection of short courses and holds a good reputation across the globe, with sister colleges in London and Paris. Seeing so many gorgeous people might have you itching to go to the gym or take up a sporty activity - why not try yoga or joining in some zumba thanks to Anglo-info’s concise listings.

5. Naples

Theatre lovers will enjoy classes at the iteatrini with mime, acting and more on offer. As mentioned earlier, the ICRA offers drama workshops in the heart of the city, with a set of professors from all corners of Europe. Seeing as food is a pretty big deal in Naples, you should try to enrol at one of the many cooking schools dotted around the city - our personal faves are CucinAmica as well as the Napoli Culinary Academy to learn how it’s done, from experts in the field of gastronomy. Learn the local dance, Tarantelle, to show off your newly-found Italian dancing feet by finding a class on olx.it. Indeed you can find many classes and workshops on olx, ranging from dance to language classes, through to more technical classes, such as a coding course. 

6. Bologna

Bologna is famed for its cooking and architecture. Indeed, the city is steeped in art and culture, and as such, you should think about taking a short course in art and/or history of art at the Accademia Belli Arti Bologna with seminars and lectures to really get to grips with the movements, the history and the kudos of this city. As well as offering language classes, cooking courses and then some, the Arca Bologna also throws some cultural seminars into the mix, which are free so make sure you keep an eye out for them. Now for something really unusual, you could sign up for a small (ok, maybe not that small) fee to learn how to...wait for it: make leather masks, in the style of Commedia dell’Arte, right here - how cool would that be! The local university also offers a range of Summer and Winter workshops and short courses, so make sure you check out their extensive list, which boasts everything from Law to Medicine to Sport theory. If you’re looking to perfect your lingo whilst having fun (conversation classes, wine tasting and cooking, to name but a few), enrol at the ALCE.

7. Turin

Once the capital for a united Italy, Turin is quite obviously rich in courses and workshops for students who want to develop their cultural knowledge. Take out a course at L’Italiano Porticando in architecture, history of art, literature or even religion, for a small fee. Similarly, the website also offers language classes should you or any of your visitors along the year choose to study the lingo a little more in-depth. The Turin Theatre Company offers plays in English, with regular casting auditions, so if you fancy your chances as an actor or actress, make sure you like their Facebook page to find out more. The IED in Turin has many art and design courses to tempt budding creatives, with special workshops, lasting a day or two, to help you train in a field you are interested in. Courses include graphic design, photography and fashion so it’s one to have in your little black book, if you are interested in these sectors.

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