Life in Italy

Friends gather in the piazza and walk around together and talk, occasionally stopping for pizza, gelato, a granita. They do not go to malls or movies as frequently as we do. Talking is the main point. Katherine from OH, Semester Program
Keep your room clean and help clean up any messes you make in common areas because cleanliness is extremely important there. Wear slippers inside of the house and dry your hair if you've taken a shower and are planning on going out. Katherine from OH, Semester Program
Make an effort to learn the language first. It will really make the difference in your first few months, and will boost your rate of learning immensely upon arrival in the countryDanielle from ME, Year Program
School on Saturdays was very difficult. It's hard to catch up on sleep when you go to school six days a week. I had a hard time getting used to my lack of privacy. In Italy, doors to every room (including bathrooms...) stay open. Sophia from CO, Semester Program
Italians are always joking! I don't think I heard anyone my age (especially among males) be 100% serious. Brianna from MN, Year Program
Where I was in northern Italy, physical contact isn't as common and I am from a very touchy-feely family. At first I felt like my host family didn't care about me because we didn't hug, but later on I realized that they showed their affection in other ways. Michelle from AZ, Semester Program
Families always eat meals together and it is very rude if you do not participate. You need to ask for permission or warn your family early on if you plan on missing a meal.Katherine from OH, Semester Program
Italian friends are more 'touchy' and are likely to link arms, hug, and kiss upon meeting and walk with their arms around each other. Dining is a very a relaxed activity and Italians take their time in savoring the food and wine. Claire from CA, Summer Homestay Program
Everyone is brutality honest, to the point of being rude on a regular basis. They aren't trying to be mean, it's just how they are! Don't be offended! Olivia from ME, Semester Program
School was typically more advanced than what I had done at home; more homework, higher expectations, and stricter rules. But I sure did learn a lot! You can't be afraid to make the first move towards making friends. Keyne from OR, Year Program
They only shower maybe every other day. Showering every day was definitely not the norm. Make sure that it is okay with your host family to shower every day if that is what you would like to do, because sometimes it is expensive and they don't understand why you need to shower so often. Eleanor from PA, Year Program
Be as open and communicative as possible. If you feel there is something wrong, be as proactive as you can to find out what the problem is and what you can do to fix it. Many times they will not ask you to do what they want you to do, so you have to do your best to figure it out and be generous with helping out. Kate from CA, Year Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • La vita è bella (1997)
  • Nuovomondo (2006)
  • I cento passi (2000)
  • 1900 (1976)
  • The Story of Roman Empire (BBC)
  • Meet the Romans with Mary Beard (2012)
  • The Invention of Italy (BBC audio/podcast only)
  • Italy Unpacked (BBC series) 
  • Made in Milan (1990)
  • The Director: An Evolution in Three Acts (2013)
Books
  • A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome
  • The Glassblower of Murano
  • The Thief Lord
  • A Farewell to Arms
  • Class of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio
  • The Leopard
  • La Bella Figura: a field guide to the Italian mind
  • Italian Ways: on and off the rails from Milan to Palermo
  • Italian Neighbors
  • Four Seasons in Rome
  • Memoirs of a Solo Traveler: my love affair with Italy
  • Italian Cuisine: a cultural history
  • A Concise History of Italy
  • The Italians


Language Learning


Applicants to the Year and Semester High School Programs in Italy are expected to enroll in an online Rosetta Stone language course and study independently prior to departure on program.  The mandatory online course will be organized and monitored by Intercultura (AFS Italy) who will email registration and login instructions to each student.

Intercultura requires that each student completes at least one LEVEL of the course (not to be confused with one UNIT), before their arrival in Italy for the program.  If this requirement is not fulfilled, then the student must reimburse Intercultura €50 (approx. $55) upon arrival. 

Intercultura also organizes language lessons on a local level two or three times a week according to each student’s language preparation.  The number of hours varies from 40 to 60 and these courses should be completed by the end of December.

Between February and April the local chapters organize an exchange week in which the students (generally, in Italy on the Year Program) can choose to visit another part of Italy, in order to get in touch with a different reality within the country itself. The local chapters are responsible for finding the students a host family for this week and the students are responsible for paying all travel expenses. This activity is not mandatory and can be denied to a student by the local chapter or national office.

Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.