Italy attracts thousand of visitors and students every year, flocking to experience the country’s scenic beauty, artistic treasures, and the allure of la dolce vita – ‘the good life’. Those that come find all that and more. A place of welcoming people, delicious dishes and a more relaxed way of life. Above all the chance to learn about one of the most fascinating countries on earth.
For any student wanting to study abroad, Italy offers top-class universities, with programs for international students like Erasmus and Overseas. There’s a good standard of living, top cultural offering, and relatively affordable accommodations. From the buzz of big cities Milan and Rome, to the more laid back Siena, Florence or Bologna, Italy it’s a study destination you’ve always dreamed of.
Best Places to Study Abroad in Italy
Rome – Italian Capital and cultural hub
Let’s start with the Capital, and largest city in Italy. Known as ‘La città eterna” (eternal city) – the name given to it by Roman poets – it’s easy to see why Rome is a popular choice for international students. Its history is literally legendary, and so are its sights. The Colosseum and the Fori Romani transport you back to a time when Rome was the centre of the ancient world. For anyone that loves classical culture and history, Rome with its 12 Unesco sites, is a must.
Modern-day Rome is a major European capital that hosts international organisations, embassies and governmental offices. The atmosphere is at once friendly and inspiring which is why it attracts learners of all kinds.
The Italian Capital offers a top-class educational offering. It’s home to the prestigious La Sapienza University – the largest public University in Italy, a great choice for classical, engineering and business study. Other notable institutes are Tor Vergata , Roma 3, Università degli studi Foro Italico => see more about Rome Universities.
Milan – Modern megacity in the north of Italy
Milan is the biggest city in the north of Italy, home to financial and fashion industries, media and design companies. It’s the most European city in Italy, with a young, dynamic and modern feel. It’s a trendy, busy, ambitious city where you never run out of things to do; from exploring top art galleries, to visiting the magnificent Gothic Duomo, to enjoying endless aperitivi in Corso Sempione or the Navigli area, and of course shopping!
Students that like the sound of Milan, can choose between eight great universities, both public and private, and a variety of subjects. Most institutes offer lessons in English. Popular programs include business study at the Bocconi University (a high-ranking private university), Polytechnic University for Business study in Milan, and University of Milan Bicocca. The IULM has great Translation and Conference Interpreting courses. And TheWordPoint has a solid knowledge base of many useful resources for future translators.
=> In terms of cost of living, Milan is a bit more expensive than Rome. Check out this informative article about how much it coast to live in Milan.
Padua – Historic university town in Veneto
With its beautiful historic centre, museums and markets, Padua (Padova in Italian) is the preferred choice for those looking to experience Italian culture without compromising on accessibility and comfort. Padua is in the north of Italy, not far from Venice and Verona, and it has a University that boasts a long history – it was founded in 1222! – and a great academic reputation.
The University of Padua has over 40 English-based degree programs in a variety of subjects, from engineering to business, humanities, science, agriculture and veterinary medicine. Being a public university, the fees are extremely reasonable, and cost of living in Padua is also quite affordable.
Bologna – Home to one of Europe’s oldest universities
If you’re after a more intimate experience, then one of Italy’s smaller towns might be the place for you. Check out the University town of Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, where a great cultural offering is matched by a relaxed pace of life (everyone moves around on a bike), affability, top food ( traditional dishes like tortellini, lasagne, mortadella just to mention a few). It’s not as touristy as some of the other places in this list, so you can expect fewer crowds, and cheaper prices when it comes to accommodation and eating out. Another point in favour of Bologna is its great music scene.
Interestingly, Bologna has got a few nicknames – rossa (red) for its red bricks, grassa (fat) for the rich food, dotta (learned) because is home of Europe’s oldest university in Europe. The Bologna University founded in 1088 today offers a great range of International courses and has a great reputation as one of Italy’s leading educational institutes.
Florence – The city of the Renaissance, art and beauty
Florence is the major city in Tuscany, central Italy. An ultra-popular destination that attracts thousands of students and tourists from all over the world. This middle-sized city, one of Italy’s top destinations, every year literally becomes invaded with visitors. And it’s easy to see why. Its beauty is undeniable, with Renaissance art and architecture at every corner, sights like the famous Cathedral, Piazza Signoria, world-famous at museums, plus a range of bars, trattorias and shops to die for.
So if you choose Florence for your educational experience abroad, expect to be surrounded by an inspiring cultural environment but also by crowds of people trying to capture (like you) the Florentine spirit. Florence is home to many international universities, art and language schools for all levels. The public University of Florence has a very good reputation, offers various courses, and is one of the cheapest in Italy. And if you decide to study in Florence and would like to explore the city more simultaneously, you may need more time. Visit WritingUniverse for free writing samples, guides and resources that will help you learn faster and have some spare time for sightseeing.
Other towns in Tuscany – Pisa and Siena, central Italy
The University of Pisa and Siena are other great options in Tuscany for international students. You’ll find a friendly and tranquil environment, and plenty of things to do, in town and the surrounding areas, with the coast close to Pisa and the scenic countryside surrounding Siena.
Pisa and Siena, which are smaller (and cheaper) than Florence, boast some stunning art and architecture. Siena is one of Italy’s Medieval gems, with long-standing traditions and symbols that you see first-hand when walking around its contrade (historical neighbourhood). The Square of Miracles in Pisa, with the beloved Leaning Tower, is one of the top sights in Italy.
In Pisa there’s the prestigious Normale School that promotes collaborations with national and international institutes, and Siena is home to a great Università per stranieri with plenty of programs and subjects.
=> Check out the 12 Top Unesco sites to visit in Italy
Perugia – Medieval feel and a more intimate experience
The university town of Perugia is located in Umbria, a small verdant region in central Italy. Its Medieval vibe and welcoming feel are among the reasons that make this town a great destinations for students looking for an experience abroad. Easy to get around, surrounded by lovely countryside, Perugia is home to a University that dates back to the 14th century, today welcomes international learners with a rich program. Still untouched by the great waves of tourists that regularly colonise other parts of Italy, Perugia has a feel of authenticity. A place you can experience the real Italy away from the crowds.
“The University of Perugia remains to this day one of the top academic institutions in Italy, always striving to maintain its reputation for excellence and to keep up with the ever-changing reality of the modern world” (from the Università di Perugia website)
Insider’s tip => Check out the popular Jazz Festival that arrives in Umbria every summer.
Is it expensive to study abroad in Italy?
The cost of living and tuition at the public universities is still relatively cheap in Italy. But it also depends on where you choose to go. If you want the bustle of cities like Milan, Rome and Florence you’ll find it more expensive than their smaller cousins like Bologna, Padova, Pisa, Siena or Perugia. It’s worth noting that the private universities and schools charge more for tuition, but also provide help with the living arrangements, and give you guidance during the course of your stay.