Do you dream of visiting a place where life slows down to a comfortable pace? Where people make time to stop and talk to friends, acquaintances, and the people they run into every day? An environment that isn’t “hustle-bustle” or revolved around cell phones? Do you imagine yourself relaxed, laughing and enjoying everyday life? Sounds like you should study abroad in Italy.
A Cultural Fountain
From the days when kings and queens ruled Italy, it has been a central birthplace of Western culture. It is the home to some of the most famous figures throughout history. From Dante Alighieri, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Vivaldi — to Federico Fellini, Gianni Versace, Isabella Rossellini, and Mario Andretti — Italians have made world-changing contributions to arts, sciences, and sports.
The Birth of a Great Nation
As a place to study abroad, Italy is one of the most culturally significant countries you could choose. Its global influence began long ago when the foundations of the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Renaissance movement took hold. The Roman Empire has rooted itself into human history, casting a worldwide influence on government structure, the arts, architecture, and more in many current civilizations.
With the conversion to Christianity in 312 by Emperor Constantine, the Roman Catholic Church assumed control of the Roman Empire, unifying Europe. Italy was the central hub to European art during the Renaissance, the “golden age” that churned out innovations and masterpieces. By the 15th century, an astounding number of Italian architects, painters, and sculptors were creating artworks that have remained famous throughout the centuries. Later, in the Baroque era, Italy housed the “era of genius,” with scientists such as Galileo Galilei revolutionizing the foundations of science.
Italiano, La Lengua Del Amor
This Romance language is the closest to Latin of all the active languages. Italian is not only the official language for Italy, but also for the Republic of San Marino. It’s one of the four official languages in Switzerland, and the primary language for Vatican City. However, a critical part of speaking Italian is using the principal element of hand gestures. Italians are a very expressive people, and their gestures are an extension of the spoken language. If you study abroad in Italy, you will notice before your first week is over that natives of all ages will be deep in conversation with someone, throwing their arms all around the place. As you observe, make sure to find key words that are used when they make specific gestures. Before you know it, you will be doing it too!
L’Arte Più Bella
If you enjoy classical and majestic art pieces, studying abroad in Italy is an absolute must. The history of Italian art is also the history of Western art. It spans Etruscan, Roman, Medieval (Byzantine and Gothic), and Renaissance art styles, and its influence continues into today’s society. There are hundreds of art museums throughout Italy. Some must-sees for the artistic soul are the Vatican in Vatican City; Galleria degli Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence; Galleria Borghese and Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome; and Palazzo Ducale in Venice. If museums aren’t your thing, just walk around! Italy has done a fantastic job at preserving its ancient architecture and outdoor art. You will find hidden gems at every turn.
In Vino Veritas
You simply cannot study abroad in Italy and not taste the wine. No, really — you can’t. Wine is served at every meal, including breakfast. Home to some of the best and oldest wine-producing regions in the world, Italy has even surpassed France as the world’s largest wine producer.
Elegance is in the Italian blood. Italy is known for its share of legendary fashion designers and design houses including Gianni Versace, Elsa Schiaparelli, Giorgio Armani, Mario Prada, Guccio Gucci, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, and Emilio Pucci. The Italian fashion industry is one of the country’s most important and powerful manufacturing sectors. This is a nation that cherishes and idolizes appearances. If you can’t step off the plane looking fabulous, a stint in Italy should sort out your style. Ask locals for the names of up-and-coming designers — a garment you bought on a semester abroad in Italy, from a little-known designer, could be worth a fortune one day!
A Convenient Booting-Off Point
The Italian peninsula is very convenient for students looking to travel. The train system is efficient and reliable, and you can travel anywhere within Italy for a day trip, or to other European countries within a matter of hours.
Italian food is regarded as the most popular cuisine in the world, made up of traditional dishes and ingredients such as pasta, pizza, focaccia, lasagna, risotto, gnocchi, polenta, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, gelato, and more. If you have checked off everything on this list as something you have tried already, uncheck it all before you study abroad in Italy! The food you probably know as Italian cuisine, in many cases, tastes very different than the delectable dishes you will enjoy in Italy. Food is almost a religion there. Italians put a great deal of time, care, attention, and emotion into preparing and eating their meals. Lunch is the most important meal of the day and a sandwich will not satisfy. A real meal must consist of pasta, a main dish, and a salad. Meals are never hurried! So, prepare yourself for long afternoons spent truly savoring and enjoying all of the different delicacies of this beautiful place.