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Education in Italy

Student Life in Italy

Top 5 urban attractions for students

The cheapest places to travel in Italy are often located in the southern part of the country but this doesn’t mean that there are no cheap activities in the other parts. Here are the best places to travel on a budget in Italy’s popular cities:

  1. Discover all the free attractions in Rome. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rome is often referred to as an open-air museum. Indeed, in the Italian capital, thousands of years of history will be surrounding you. There are also several free activities to enjoy in Rome, including visiting the 2,000-year-old Pantheon, which is now a church; St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest basilica in the city; the famous Spanish Steps; and the Trevi Fountain, where people toss coins and make wishes. 
  2. Do window shopping in Milan. It may be hard to enjoy Milan’s luxurious living as a student but you can still visit its galleries for free. Take a stroll at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping gallery, to see how luxury and exquisite architecture meet.   
  3. Visit the piazzas in Florence. A paradise for art and culture lovers, Florence has many piazzas (or town squares in English) that offer great views of the city’s Renaissance-style architecture, and its landmark, Santa Maria del Fiore. Combine these views with an espresso and enjoy people-watching in this historical city.  
  4. Cross the bridges on Venetian canals. Riding a gondola in Venice is a bucket list experience but it might be quite expensive on a student budget. An experience that will let you in all those iconic canals though, is crossing the bridges on foot.  
  5. See the Historic Centre of Naples (Centro Storico di Napoli). Dating back to 470 BC, every corner of Naples is adorned with history. A visit to the Historic Centre of Naples, a UNESCO heritage site will take you back in time as you will see Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Spanish influences.  

Learn more on courses and application to Study in Italy

Top 5 outdoor attractions for students

Although Italy has gorgeous beaches, many of them are managed by private beach concessions. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the outdoors for free or for a cheaper price. Here are some popular activities for the outdoorsy among you:

  1. Visit the Gran Paradiso National Park. An hour north of Turin, close to the French and the Swiss border is the Gran Paradiso National Park. Stretching over 173,000 acres, the park is the perfect place to watch the towering mountains, hike on lake trails, and observe wildlife. Entry is free and you can get there by car, bus, or train. 
  2. Hike on the Dolomite Mountains. Italy’s famous mountain range, the Dolomites is a mountain lover’s paradise. With unreal views of alpine meadows, mountain peaks, and rolling green hills, there are many activities you can do, including skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, and cycling.  
  3. Visit the Pompeii ruins. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., it destroyed the entire city of Pompeii. Today, you can visit the ruins and see the main attractions, including theatres, houses, and sculptures. For entry, there are no student discounts but EU citizens between the ages of 18-24 receive a reduction. Everyone can benefit from free entry if they visit on the first Sunday of the month, as is the case with other Italian museums.  
  4. Explore the Cinque Terre villages. A UNESCO world heritage site, Cinque Terre consists of five villages. If you purchase the Cinque Terre Card for €7.50 per day, you get access to all the trains between the villages as well as hiking trails full of scenic spots and the iconic colourful houses that the region is known for.
  5. Relax at the Cascate del Mulino. Located in rural Tuscany, Cascate del Mulino consists of natural spas and hot springs. It is open all year round and admission is free so if you’re planning to rent a car in the Tuscan region with friends, this place might be worth stopping by. 

Travelling in Italy

Train travel is common in Italy through Trenitalia or Italo. German company Flixbus also offers low-cost bus connections within Italy and the rest of Europe. Alternatively, local bus companies such as Marino or Itabus also have good deals. On Skyscanner, you can also find cheap flight tickets from budget airlines depending on the season.

Here are other ways of getting student discounts through memberships:

  • Trenitalia Young Offer provides individuals who are under the age of 30 with a discount of up to 70%. You need to sign up for a free CartaFRECCIA membership to benefit from the discount. 
  • Italo Young Offer has a similar discount for people aged between 14 and 29. 
  • Itabus Membership costs €19.99 per year. Members enjoy a 20% discount on all fares. 
  • Student discounts in museums: Before visiting a museum in Italy, we recommend that you take a look at their website. Some museums have student discounts, some are free for EU students, and some offer free entry to architecture students no matter where they’re from. 

Learning Italian

Even if you’re studying an English programme, learning at least basic Italian is important, be it for administrative tasks or for your daily life. Most Italian universities offer language classes to international students so the best way to start is to ask your university.

Here are more ways to improve your Italian while you’re studying in Italy:

  • Start speaking in Italian when you’re doing your groceries, buying clothes, or ordering food. 
  • Practice with native speakers and fellow learners. 
  • Find a language partner. It is likely that you’ll meet Italian students who want to improve their English so consider organising a language exchange.  
  • Expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Read books, listen to songs, and watch films in Italian. 
  • Use language apps such as Duolingo and Babbel. 

Living as an expat in Italy

An Irish expat living in Italy for 35 years says that „not learning Italian is the biggest mistake someone can make while moving to Italy”. If you’d like to look for jobs and stay in Italy after you graduate, learning the language during your student years is one of the best investments you can make.

If you ask around, you’re likely to find out that, just like international students, expats choose to stay here because they enjoy Italy’s good weather, vibrant nightlife, and wide range of cultural activities. Getting an easy start in Italy is considered extremely difficult by many expats, especially due to the country’s infamous bureaucracy. However, having already spent your student years here, you may not have the same problem.

Expat communities in Italy

Internationals make up 8.7% of the resident population in Italy, and statistics also report large Romanian, Albanian, Moroccan, Chinese, and Ukrainian communities. Most expats reside in the northern and central regions of Italy since these are the areas where the most industrial activity takes place.

What better way to learn more about how to become an expat in Italy than connecting with fellow expats and reading real-life expat stories? Here are some resources you can use:

  • Expatica: Expatica provides information for English-speaking expats in various countries, including Italy. They create guides on work, healthcare, and residence permits in Italy.  
  • InterNations: InterNations is an international community that aims to connect expats through events and online forums. Its members can join Italy expat forums to share tips and experiences. 
  • Expat.com: Also creating guides on life in Italy, this website features many popular expat cities. 
  • Facebook groups: Groups such as Expats Living in Italy or Expats in Italy are places where expats ask and answer questions. You can also find city-specific groups by searching “expat + city name” on Facebook. 
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