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Italy: Ten Things To Do

Italy: Ten Things To Do main image

If you're studying abroad in Italy, make sure you complete TopUniversities.com's top 10 things to do while in the country.

Of course, you'll barely need our list to convice you of Italy's merits. Imagine studying art where Michelangelo painted, drama in the lands of Romeo & Juliet, cooking in the home of pasta and pizza and history in the lands where Roman ruins come to life.

Choose to study abroad in Italy and your weekend trips could be to Rome, Venice, Florence or Milan – now wouldn’t that be worth writing home about? A country of fashion, food and football, one year in Italy may not be enough...

More about studying in Italy >

1. Start with a trip to Rome

Nearest universities: Luiss Guido CARLI; University of FLORENCE; IED Istituto Europeo di Design; Universita' degli Studi di MACERATA; PERUGIA University; Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa; University of PISA ; Sapienza University of Rome; Università degli Studi di ROMA - Tor Vergata; University of SIENA

The Vatican City, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Spanish steps, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and of course the Trevi Fountain – do you really need any more reasons to visit Rome while studying abroad in Italy? The country’s capital city is a haven for tourists, students and all lovers of good things Italian, from iconic religious monuments to the sets of Hollywood films.

Rome has a chaotic energy about it that envelopes anyone who sets foot on the city’s labyrinth of cobbled streets. You may well need respite from the hustle and bustle after a few days – not to mention the noise of the scooters – but your first visit to Rome certainly won’t be your last.

2. Follow in Michelangelo’s footsteps

If you’ve chosen to study abroad in Italy then you’re studying in the home of the famous Italian Renaissance artist, Michelangelo.

Travel around the country and you’ll see some of Michelangelo’s paintings and sculptures wherever you go, from the altar wall in Rome’s Sistine Chapel to one of his most famous works, the figure of David in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. 

Michelangelo also designed Saint Peter's Basilica in Venice. Following in Michelangelo’s footsteps will take you all around Italy, but once you’ve seen all there is to see of Michelangelo, why not follow his rival, Leonardo da Vinci?

Did you know...? Michelangelo’s full name is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Bit of a mouthful!

3. Indulge in pizza, pasta and all good things Italian

Forget Pizza Hut; you’ll be able to afford the real thing on your student budget while studying abroad in Italy – after all, the country is home to that wonderful dish with its doughy base covered in toppings and sprinkled with melted cheese.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy Italian food, particularly eaten in Italy where it’s made to absolute perfection. Pizzas have minimal toppings, pasta is cooked al dente, gelato has just the right texture and then there’s the wine to wash it all down. Enjoy pizza, pasta and all good things Italian in a quaint little cafe – most likely a family affair – to experience the real Italy.

More advice on what foods to try >

4. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs while exploring Venice

Nearest universities: University of BOLOGNA; CA' FOSCARI University of Venice ; University of MODENA; University of PADUA; University of PARMA; University of TRENTO; University of TRIESTE

Quite possibly one of the most romantic cities in the world, with its network of waterways and neighborhood canals, Venice is a city like no other. From the festivities of the Venice Carnival, to the musicians in St Mark’s Square, there’s a magic to Venice you won’t find anywhere else, even when it’s pouring with rain!

Take a ride on a gondola, marvel at the glassblowing techniques on the island of Murano, walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs or wander the art collection of eccentric millionaire Peggy Guggenheim. But don’t leave the city until you’ve joined the queue to wander through the beautiful Basilica di San Marco.

A student's guide to life at the Universita di Bologna >

5. Escape to Lake Como

Nearest universities: Universitö degli studi di BERGAMO; Università  Commerciale Luigi BOCCONI; ESCP EUROPE - Torino, Parigi, Londra, Berlino, Madrid; University of GENOA; MIP - Politecnico Di Milano; ISTITUTO MARANGONI. Milano, Paris, London; Politecnico di MILANO; University of MILANO ; Università degli Studi di PAVIA; Catholic University of The SACRED HEART; Politecnico di TORINO; UNIVERSITÁ DI GENOVA

Situated among Italy’s famous lakes in the north of the country, and surrounded by mountains just a few miles from Switzerland’s border, is the beautiful Lake Como. A refuge from Italian city life, for both Italians and visitors, Lake Como, the town of Como and its surrounding area is a place to explore, unwind in and simply relax.

Beautiful lakeside villas provide the perfect accommodation in this idyllic setting and an ideal base from which to explore the neighbouring medieval villages, walking tracks or the range of water sports on offer. Why not take a week of readings or the latest essay to write to Lake Como – who knows what inspiration the change of scenery will provide, particularly when it’s this spectacular!

6. Head to the fashion capital of Milan for some retail therapy, or at least some window shopping

Nearest universities: Universitö degli studi di BERGAMO; Università  Commerciale Luigi BOCCONI; ESCP EUROPE - Torino, Parigi, Londra, Berlino, Madrid; University of GENOA; MIP - Politecnico Di Milano; ISTITUTO MARANGONI. Milano, Paris, London; Politecnico di MILANO; University of MILANO ; Università degli Studi di PAVIA; Catholic University of The SACRED HEART; Politecnico di TORINO; UNIVERSITÁ DI GENOVA

London, New York, Tokyo and Milan – the Italian fashion capital is right up there with the best of them. A slightly unattractive and rather drab city on arrival, you may wonder how such extraordinary fashionable creations can be dreamed up here, but whatever the city offers the creative muse – it works.

From the department stores to the boutiques, the shoe shops to the jewellers, a walk through Milan’s shopping district will be a test to your self-control. Either that or it will be a blow to the credit card! Once you’ve tired of the shops, explore the rest that Milan has to offer. It is after all, one of the EU’s most important tourist destinations and is home to football club, A.C. Milan – even Posh and Becks were there for a while! 

More about Milan > 

7. Walk along the Cinque Terre

Nearest universities: Universitö degli studi di BERGAMO; Università  Commerciale Luigi BOCCONI; ESCP EUROPE - Torino, Parigi, Londra, Berlino, Madrid; University of GENOA; MIP - Politecnico Di Milano; ISTITUTO MARANGONI. Milano, Paris, London; Politecnico di MILANO; University of MILANO ; Università degli Studi di PAVIA; Catholic University of The SACRED HEART; Politecnico di TORINO; UNIVERSITÁ DI GENOVA

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beautiful visitor attractions. Five villages, known as “The Five Lands”, sit atop cliffs, along the rugged coast of the Italian Riviera. Free of motorized transport, the best means of exploring these 18km is by foot, which will take you through olive groves and vineyards with some of the most spectacular views to be seen.

Stay in local accommodation, eat the local food and experience the lives of the villagers themselves. With incredible history, geography and agriculture around you – time spent along the Cinque Terre will be an education.

8. Go back in time to Pompeii

Nearest universities: University of BARI; University of NAPLES - Federico Ii; Università  del SALENTO; Universita' degli studi di Salerno

Whether or not you’re studying history, music or modern arts during your time abroad, this archaeological site dating back to 79AD will intrigue, inspire and quite possibly leave you wondering.

Yet another of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Pompeii gives the 2.5million visitors which pass through it each year, the chance to gain an insight into what life was like in the Roman Empire. Previously buried for almost 1,600 years after Mt Vesuvius erupted, today Pompeii is a stark reminder of the impact nature can cause.

Did you know...? There are 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout Italy, the most of any country on earth.

9. Pack your sunnies and head to the Amalfi Coast

Nearest universities: University of BARI; University of NAPLES - Federico Ii; Università  del SALENTO; Universita' degli studi di Salerno

These are no ordinary beaches on which to sunbathe; the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is 50km of sparkling seas, breathtaking cliffs, beautiful villas and picturesque towns. A place renowned for its maritime history, today it attracts everyone from the inquisitive tourist to the couple on honeymoon, even the Italians themselves. 

Make your way along the coast to explore the towns of Sorrento, Positano, Ravello and Amalfi itself. Whether or not you take the study books is over to you – although you may want to save the Amalfi as a reward upon completion of your study abroad year.

From the blog: Italy versus Spain >

10. Go abroad to the island of Sicily

Nearest universities: CATANIA University; Università  degli Studi di PALERMO

Get off the mainland and head to the island of Sicily during your year studying abroad. With its own unique culture, history, art and architecture, Sicily and its five million inhabitants are working to preserve the island’s individuality.

Swim in crystal clear waters, visit the spectacular Cattedrale Di Monreale, shop in the cities markets or island hop around the seven Aeolian islands. Sicily is also home to some of the best preserved Greek temples and structures. So whether it’s the arts, the heritage, the food or the wine that you’re after, or simply an experience of island life, Sicily is where it’s at.

Once you’ve finished those:

- Learn some Italian – it’s one of the romance languages after all
- Head to Verona, Romeo and Juliet land, and attend the Arena di Verona Opera Festival
- Enrol yourself in a cooking and wine tasting course in Tuscany
- Brave Rome’s crazy roads on a scooter – it will take your breath away!
- Eat pizza in Naples

Search universities in Italy >

Italy's top universities by region

North West:

Universitö degli studi di BERGAMO; Università  Commerciale Luigi BOCCONI; ESCP EUROPE - Torino, Parigi, Londra, Berlino, Madrid; University of GENOA; MIP - Politecnico Di Milano; ISTITUTO MARANGONI. Milano, Paris, London; Politecnico di MILANO; University of MILANO ; Università degli Studi di PAVIA; Catholic University of The SACRED HEART; Politecnico di TORINO; UNIVERSITÁ DI GENOVA

North East:

University of BOLOGNA; CA' FOSCARI University of Venice ; University of MODENA; University of PADUA; University of PARMA; University of TRENTO; University of TRIESTE

Center:

Luiss Guido CARLI; University of FLORENCE; IED Istituto Europeo di Design; Universita' degli Studi di MACERATA; PERUGIA University; Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa; University of PISA ; Sapienza University of Rome; Università degli Studi di ROMA - Tor Vergata; University of SIENA

South:

University of BARI; University of NAPLES - Federico Ii; Università  del SALENTO; Universita' degli studi di Salerno

Islands: 

CATANIA University; Università  degli Studi di PALERMO

A student's guide to Pisa >

From the blog: Italy versus Spain >

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