Hannah Zeiler samples the immersion programs in Italy’s most seductive cities
Florence (or Firenze) is the capital of the famed region of Tuscany and sits on the banks of the river Arno, between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian seas, almost in the middle of the Italian peninsula. This beautiful city, world renowned for its art and architecture, is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. In 1982, the historic center of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Florence is an elegant city with so much to do and see. The city center is simply filled to the brim with stunning sights, museums to make Getty green with the originals of the most famous and finest art, shopping to die for, as well as exquisite food and wine. Florence is an excellent city to immerse yourself in while learning about the Italian language and culture, but plan your trip out of the main tourist season (June-September) to avoid the mass influx of tourists who overtake the city in the summer.
Accademia Europea di Firenze (AEF) is situated right in the heart of historic Florence, literally feet away from the Cathedral, and is dedicated to teaching the Italian language and culture. Because of its fantastic location, AEF participates actively in the city’s diverse cultural activities, creating an atmosphere of spontaneous and pleasant interaction between Italians and foreigners.
Their instructors keep up-to-date with methodology and research to assure natural and active learning of the Italian language. As well as regular courses, AEF offers a rich program of optional language and cultural activities (concerts, seminars, films, visits to museums and farms, language games, etc.) as well as extra-curricular and recreational activities (parties, dinners, food and wine tasting, sports, etc.) every week to ensure not only the enjoyment and cultural fulfillment of students, but also to encourage them to practice their language skills.
The Galilei Institute of Italian Language and Culture, established in 1985 in the center of Florence, specializes in full immersion Italian in intensive one-to-one and small group programs. Their experience in one-to-one education and personalized programs makes them the ideal choice for students with only a short time to acquire a solid and active knowledge of the Italian language. For this reason, the school provides training to some of the world’s top companies. One week of their one-to-one program corresponds to about a month in a class with other students. The secret of their quality is very simple: excellent teachers with years of training and the school’s size, which has been kept rather small in order to give everyone the opportunity to receive individual attention.
Their Italian courses are offered all year round (including Christmas, Easter, and summer), in a choice of three different types of environments: the city of Florence, for those who wish to have a more immediate contact with people, the museums, and sights of the city; the countryside of Florence (Chianti), for those who seek concentration and tranquility; or the island of Elba and the Tuscan coast, for those who wish to study in the serenity of the seaside.
Since 1976, Language Liaison has been offering international students the opportunity to learn Italian in Florence, in a friendly and thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere. They offer Italian and choices in the Arts with everything from Studio Arts to Visual Arts, Theater, Interior Design, Furniture Design, Industrial Design, Textile, Jewelry Design, Restoration and Conservation, and Archaeology. There are also certificate programs in Mediterranean Cuisine and Food Culture, Baking and Pastry, Wine Expertise, and Food Communication and Design. For adventure, there is even an Italian and Sailing program.
Located in the plains of Lombardy in Northern Italy, and once a capital of the Roman Empire, Milan (Milano) is one of the largest cities in Italy and is regarded as one of Europe’s creative capitals. This fashionable city has plenty to offer the restless vivitor with a slew of clubs, operas, theaters, sports (being home to two of the world’s top soccer teams), restaurants, and of course, plenty of high-end shopping. Milan provides students excellent surroundings to learn the language of Italy as well as the rich culture of one of its top, powerhouse cities. Milan’s location is optimal: not far from the sea, the mountains, and the lakes.
International House Milan is located in the city’s center close to numerous famous monuments and historical attractions. The works of world renowned painters, writers, and musicians can all be enjoyed here.
The school offers a variety of courses throughout the year; catering to individuals and groups, specializing in General and Professional Italian using the communicative method. In addition, they offer culture modules, learning activities outside of the school, and exam preparation for CELI and CIC — certificates from the University for Foreigners of Perugia. IH Milan’s classes have an average of seven students, taught by highly trained teachers in a friendly atmosphere with a full program of social activities. Accommodation facilities are carefully selected and their host-families always welcome students with typical Italian warmth.
Linguadue has been offering students the opportunity to learn Italian in Milan since 1990. The school is in an excellent location in the center of Milan in a well-known street — Corso Buenos Aires. The school attracts students from more than 50 different countries, mostly interested in design, fashion, music, and business, so they offer language programs for professionals, for academics, and for everyday situations. They also have schools in Sicily and Florence.
Thanks to its creative and innovative approach, L’Orlando Curioso has become a reference point for learning Italian in Milan. The school is located in an historic building in a very central and charming neighborhood with a beautiful park and a wide range of shops, monuments, restaurants, and bars.
L’Orlando Curioso offers several different courses to students from all over the world. Their teaching method is based on communicative aspects of the language with creative, up-to-date and authentic materials (mostly produced by teaching staff) that make L’Orlando Curioso so unique. They also offer free linguistic workshops and other cultural and recreational activities.
Rome (Roma), the majestic capital of Italy as well as the Lazio region, is located in the central-western portion of the Italian peninsula, where the river Aniene joins the Tiber. Also known as the Eternal City, Rome’s rich history stretches back thousands of years and, being one of the few major European cities that escaped World War II relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character. The historic center of Rome has also been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This ancient city is a dream destination in which to to learn about the Italian language as well as the fascinating history and culture the city has to offer.
CIAO ITALIA is a center specializing in teaching Italian to foreigners and was founded by accredited teachers working in this field for more than 20 years. It is a member of ASILS and ELITE — Italian and European networks of quality language schools. Located in the historic center of Rome, the school is within walking distance of the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, and the Fountain of Trevi. The school is open year round and offers programs at all levels: Intensive/extensive, group/individual, business, conversation, CILS exam Preparation, art, Italian opera, and cooking. They also have an interesting social program consisting of film shows, lunches with teachers, guided tours, as well as special prices for theaters, concerts, and sports-clubs.
Scuola Leonardo da Vinci was founded in 1977 and has centers in Florence, Milan, Rome, and Siena. Their school in Rome, situated in the central pedestrian area, offers a wide range of programs from their popular Italian standard language course to Italian individual tuition and their Italian Diploma courses (AIL Exams). They also organize semester long programs and summer courses for American institutions. Courses run from two weeks to twelve months. The study abroad program enables American students to earn Italian language credits for Italian 101 and Italian 102.
Stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy lies the world’s most romantic city — Venice (Venezia), the capital of the Veneto region. Among Venice’s many nicknames are “Queen of the Adriatic,” “City of Water,” “City of Bridges,” and “The City of Light.” Venice is an intricate, maze-like city consisting of 150 canals conncted by 409 bridges, making it the ideal place to get lost for the day and explore the riches of this romantic and mysterious city.
Learning Italian in Venice is an adventure in itself, but, like Florence, it becomes very crowded with tourists during the late spring and summer months so try to book your trip for the off-season.
Centro IL FARO is located in the town of Caorle, a charming seaport rich of culture, history, and traditions, just 30 miles from Venice. Its enchanting beaches and picturesque historic center with a variety of restaurants and gelaterie make it an exquisite location for an enjoyable vacation. Besides being relatively small and away from major tourist routes, Caorle gives students endless opportunities to interact with local people and experience authentic Italian culture.
The school offers language programs and culture classes for all levels; it also offers packages for groups and families, with special attention to children. Their methodology is to merge grammar study with the communicative approach, thus enhancing all four language skills — reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
WorldLink Education (WLE) is an international organization that offers quality language immersion programs around the world, including Italian Language programs in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. WLE is dedicated to promoting international education and cross-cultural understanding, and offers a range of unique, comprehensive, and affordable programs. Courses vary in intensity and duration, and start throughout the year.
The courses are designed to provide the most comprehensive and balanced curriculum, combining in-class instruction with cultural excursions and activities. The objective is to deepen knowledge of the language and culture. To cater for the individual needs of students, a range of intensive and non-intensive programs are available for all levels from beginner to advance. WLE’s programs are offered to adults of all ages. The Total Program includes tuition, accommodation, books, certificate, orientation, welcome information, placement test, visa support documentation (when required), and more. Extra features include arrival transfer, guided cultural tours and social activities at no additional cost. International program advisors and staff provide on-going assistance and information, before departure and during the program.
Interesting survey of cities and schools. But many of them are very “touristy” destinations. What about Bologna? Madrelingua offers excellent Italian courses for learners of all ages and nationalities.
There are other interesting Italian language schools for foreigners in Florence, including the Centro Machiavelli. The school also offers programs in art and crafts courses.
Researching some of the recommendations on this page has revealed some problems with WLE (World Link Education), perhaps since this was posted. I have been unable to find a working link to this company, and they have an F rating from the Seattle BBB.
That’s a very interesting article. I study Italian for quite some years now and have attended a few courses in my country as well as in Italy. There are a few schools I can absolutely recommend, namely
– Terramare in Orbetello, Tuscany: a small, very personal school in a great location with many freetime activities (www.linguaterramare.com);
– Centro Puccini: a very welcoming school in Viareggio, a popular seaside town in Tuscany (www.puccini.it);
– Babilonia: a really unique language center in the old town of Taormina, offering various courses and cultural activities, exchange and programs (www.babilonia.it)
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