Italy is a beautiful country and I’m sure you’ve seen how beautiful it is in pamphlets, movies or TV shows, or maybe even a friend or family member has told you about its beauty. It’s possible to experience the beauty of Italy when you’re studying abroad on a budget.
When studying abroad many students experience traveling to neighboring countries. But if you’re a student on a budget you may not get a chance to visit all of those countries, and this doesn’t mean you can’t have a memorable study abroad experience in Italy! Here are some tips to help you save money while studying abroad in Italy!
- Before you even arrive to Italy, find out if it is possible to do a homestay. Usually homestays are not that much more expensive than staying in a dorm and they include cool benefits like home cooked meals every day or during the weekdays, laundry, and sometimes public transportation and even cooking lessons. You can avoid spending a lot of money on groceries and scrambling to make a meal every night, when you can simply spend a little more time exploring the city and come home to delicious home cooked Italian meal thereafter!
- Italy is such as beautiful country with so much to see. Thanks to the high-speed trains, you could travel to other cities in a short period of time. Visit big cities in Italy such as Rome, Venice, Florence, and Sicily all by train. You can even book a ticket on the high-speed trains for as low as 3 Euro. You don’t always have to plan in advance. If you choose to wake up one weekend and want to take a day trip to another city, you could just walk to the train station, visit a kiosk, and buy your ticket. Easy, right?
In fact, if you’re in Verona for an example, you could take a 15-minute train ride to Peschiera del Garda for only 3 Euro. This town has plenty of good seafood restaurants, parks, and you could even take a boat ride on the beautiful Lago di Garda. It also includes the car remnants of Giovanni Falcone who was an Italian judge who prosecuted over 200 mafiosi in 1992, and had his car blown up in retaliation. Sometimes small towns have more to see than you would imagine.
- Talk to locals. Not only could you get some practice in with your Italian, but you could also get some good information out of locals. Ask them about smaller towns that are nice to visit or some places that are worth going to see. The country is literally minutes from Florence. Towns such as Fiesole, where you can get an entire view of Florence, or Impruneta, where you can visit a “frantoio” – where olive oil is made – or visit the place where terracotta is made, or Chianti, where many of the vineyards are and wine is produced. Most of these smalls town are a short bus ride away. The bus tickets are less than 3 Euro one way!
If you’re studying in Rome you could also take the train 30 minutes to the town of Tivoli, which is a small town full of waterfalls, lavish vegetation, and beautiful gardens.
- Besides traveling, it is important to shop and eat locally. Often, in downtown areas of big cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice the prices at near-by supermarkets and restaurants are sky high because of the thousands of visiting tourists. Smaller neighborhoods that are less than 10 minutes outside of these big cities have supermarkets and restaurants where you will rarely find tourists and have lower prices. Going to more local based markets and restaurants not only help when you’re on a budget, but also allows you to experience life as an Italian.
- Museums and other attractions in Italy can be expensive, so take advantage of their free or discount days. On every first Sunday of the month you can get free entry into Italian state museums. Isn’t that awesome? I know right! But make sure you’re there early to avoid the long lines! Many theaters also have student pricing and will allow you to take advantage of the deal if you show a proper student ID card given by your study abroad program. This also includes many of the local gardens which are a must see!
- Grab a local guidebook at your nearest Tabacchi. These small books cost a small price and include every event going on in the region you’re in. It lists plays, operas, theaters, festivals, vineyards, spas, restaurants, shops, and practically anything you could think of that takes place in the city or local towns during a particular month. Many of the festivals that take place within the city are free and only a short walk or bus ride away. If you feel like pampering yourself, you could visit a day spa for less than 30 Euro for a full day of access to many Jacuzzis, saunas, salt rooms, relaxing rooms, and more. Italy is well known for its spas and natural hot springs: Saturnia (Tuscany), Lago di Garda, Fosso Bianco (Tuscany).
While you’re on your way to pick up a guidebook, make sure you pay attention to street art. Some of the most popular street artist in Italy includes Blu, Millo, Clet, and Blub. I’m certain you will enjoy these works of art.
- Avoid any type phone service provider fees. There are apps such as WhatsApp that allows you to make phone calls and gives you unlimited texting for free. Just tell your family members or friends that you want to keep in contact with to download the app. The only thing you need to be able to use the app is Wi-Fi. Certain phone service providers and phone plans that you already have in the US may not charge you extra for data roaming. Double-check these things to avoid the hassle of purchasing an Italian sim card or phone plan and avoid data roaming fees.
Follow these tips and your experience will be nothing short of amazing! To save some additional cash for your trip, book with StudentUniverse to score exclusive student discounts on flights and hotels.