10 Unique Study Abroad Programs to Discover in Italy

by Allie d'Almo  |  Published January 3, 2022

Famed for its food, music, art, history and cinema, Italy has quite a few things to teach us all. Thankfully there are now hundreds of study abroad programs now available for international students looking to learn about everything from ancient history to shoemaking. 

Students gain hands-on experience in one of the fashion capitals of the world (Photo: Accademia del Lusso)

Italy has long been a hotspot for international students seeking to combine specialist and high-quality education with an idyllic learning environment. All of Italy’s showstopper cities boast highly esteemed institutions, from filmmaking in Italy’s colourful capital to classical studies by the sea in Sorrento. With so many courses to choose from, we’ve selected ten of the most unique study abroad programs to discover in Italy. 

Fashion at Accademia del Lusso 

Leading higher education institution The Accademia del Lusso offers the opportunity for international students to study fashion and luxury in the heart of one of the world’s fashion capitals. Courses range from marketing and brand management to styling and fashion product design. All courses focus on hands-on industry experience through workshops, field trips and seminars led by industry experts. As if that isn’t enough, the school is located on Via Montenapoleone – one of the fashion industry’s most important and exclusive streets. Classes are offered in English and Italian too. 

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Filmmaking at Rome Film School 

Learn the art of film in the heart of Italy’s film capital (Photo: Rome Film School)

Rome has a storied history of filmmaking. The Rome International Film School – RIFS – offers programmes in screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, acting, production, sound design and more. Courses are open to students from around the world looking to build a portfolio of quality film credits. There are numerous programmes to choose from, but the school’s one-year filmmaking program is particularly popular. Classes are taught in English through workshops, seminars and in-person classes and give students the opportunity to write, produce and direct original films over two action-packed terms. The program also includes masterclasses, Q&As and screenings with influential industry figures. 

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Classical Studies at Sant’Anna Institute Sorrento 

At Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento, you can combine studies in ancient Greek and Latin with seaside living. Established in 1998, Sant’Anna is idyllically situated in the historic centre of Sorrento, on a cliffside overlooking the Marina Grande fishing village. The course features a ‘Greek 101’ introductory course to ancient greek grammar, elementary Latin and a deep dive into ancient greek influence on southern Italy. Students can also choose to stay in residence halls, a shared apartment or with a host family. The university offers three credits recognised by over 80 universities across the United States too. 

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Shoemaking at Accademia Riaci 

Students can learn the art of shoemaking from Italian leather experts at Accademia Riaci (Photo: Accademia Riaci)

Established in 1983 in the historic heart of Florence, Accademia Riaci offers a wide range of practical courses in a variety of artistic fields, from bookbinding to flower arranging. Its shoemaking programme is one of the most prestigious in the world. Students can choose from two-week intensive summer courses to year-long programmes. The course aims to give students a unique chance to learn authentic shoemaking techniques from Italian leather artisans. Class sizes are limited and taught in Italian, with a free English interpretation service. 

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Cooking at School of Culinary Arts at Cordon Bleu 

There are hundreds of cookery schools peppered across the country, but the School of Culinary Arts at Cordon Blue is one of the oldest and most prestigious. Founded in 1985, the school offers a variety of Tuscan, Florentine and international Italian cookery programmes, along with dedicated courses on everything from wine to pasta. Lessons are available in Italian, English or French and take place in a sixteenth-century palazzo in the heart of Florence. The most comprehensive programme lasts for one-year and targets aspiring professional chefs. There’s also a range of ‘summer labs’, evening courses and basic cooking classes to choose from too. 

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Art History at Art History Abroad 

Students can deep dive into the masterpieces in six different cities (Photo: Art History Abroad)

For those who are passionate about learning about art, rather than producing it, an art history course in Italy could be just the ticket. This study abroad programme is aimed at 17–22 year olds and takes place for either a fortnight or a month over the summer holidays. Unlike most art history courses in Italy, which restrict you to one city, students can visit up to six cities with this programme. The Northern Italy programme includes trips to Venice, Florence and Rome while the Southern Italy programme includes trips to Palermo, Syracuse and Ortigia in Sicily and Naples. 

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Semester Program at Sienna Italian Studies

Dozens of schools in Italy work with partner institutions across the world to give students the opportunity to live in another country for a semester, but not all are equal. Sienna Italian Studies is widely regarded as one of the best. Each programme begins with an intensive Italian language course for three weeks, followed by three weeks of lessons in a series of elective courses ranging from international business to the history of Italian cinema. Students get to take a four-day trip too. Past destinations include a spa in the Italian Alps, the Cinque Terre and Pompeii. 

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Two Italies Programme at the Lorenzo de’Medici Institution

Students get to explore two contrasting destinations in Italy on the Twin Italies programme (Photo: Lorenzo de Medici Institution)

The Two Italies Programme offers a total immersion in Italian culture, traditions and language.  The three and a half month course is split between cosmopolitan Florence and the picturesque hill-top town of Tuscania. In Florence, students can take modules such as ‘Exploring Italy through Language and Culture’ and ‘Florentia: the Ancient Roots of Florence’, while in Tuscania modules include ‘Wine business and Marketing’ and ‘Sustainable Food and the New Global Challenge’. Students receive 15 credits for the course and lessons are taught in English too. 

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Opera at IES 

IES offers a highly reputed music, composition and instrumental study abroad program in the heart of Milan. Students get the opportunity to work with world-class musicians and perform at a variety of venues while soaking up the local music scene, with trips to La Scala, La Verdi, Milano Classica and the Mito Festival. The course is suitable for non-Italian speakers too. Students also get the opportunity to enrol in a music-related internship or community-based learning opportunity. 

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Fine Art at the Florence School of Fine Arts 

Students can choose from a wide variety of art courses, from printing to graphic arts (Photo: The Florence School of Fine Arts)

It’s hardly a well kept secret that Florence is home to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces – and the Florence School of Fine Arts gives aspiring artists to hone their craft in the thick of it. The school offers a vast range of art courses, including studio art, print media and graphic design. Courses take place in light-filled art studios, some located in Vasari’s original workshop. The focus here is on small class sizes to ensure a highly personal style of teaching, regardless of whether you’re studying a month-long course or a year-long undergraduate degree. 

Find out more at TheFlorenceSchool.IT