Which Italian cities are best for students?

I am studying Italian and can't wait to go to Italy on my year abroad! However, I know that Italy is a popular tourist spot and I don't want to end up somewhere that is overcrowded with English speakers. For that reason, is it a mistake to go somewhere like Venice, Rome or Florence? And, if so, where else would you recommend? I would prefer to be in a city or a large town, where there is plenty to do for young people, but I don't want to sacrifice learning about genuine Italian culture.

This question was asked on 28th July 2014 and has been read 6097 times.

  • Lizzie Fane · 8 years ago

    You can definitely spend your Italian year abroad in Venice, Florence or Rome - I spent mine in Florence and it was just FANTASTIC, mainly because I made a huge effort to live with and integrate with locals. If you feel this is something you can do confidently and independently, then those are brilliant cities to study in. If your Italian is not degree level, you will find that people tend to reply to you in English so you must be determined and respond in Italian!

    If this doesn't appeal, then living in a smaller city will force you to get involved with the local culture and activities - which is a very good thing. Places like Turin, Bologna (the oldest university in Europe! It has a very high proportion of foreign students during the academic year though), Ferrara, Siena, Perugia and Verona are popular with students.

    I know that students who went to small towns and villages had the biggest change in their spoken Italian though. You might be the only native English-speaker there, recognised as 'l'inglese', which means you can find lots of opportunities to teach English and talk to the locals about your culture and background.

    You should consider:

    • How confident you feel about your spoken Italian (the more confident, the bigger the city you can choose - though this is a generalisation!)
    • What accent you want to end up with! 

    • How easy it is to get there - do you want to travel a lot? If so, being near an airport might be helpful.
    • What activities you enjoy - if you are a History of Art buff, you might want to be in Venice, Florence or Rome, if you love skiing then Turin might be more your thing, and if you are a sun-worshipper then the further south the better!
    • Where you want to live in future!!! Chances are you might not want to come back... :)
  • Jennifer Meehan · 8 years ago

    I went to Ferrara. It's a small city about half an hour on the train from Bologna, and about an hour away from Venice - two big cities if you want to visit but not live in them. Personally, I found it fantastic. As a student, you realise how much of a student town it is - there are loads of opportunities to make new friends. Although it can get a bit touristy in the summer months - a lot of groups of German tours seem to pass through - it doesn't feel like a tourist town. The ESN (Erasmus Student Network) group there are also very accommodating. 

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