Think being on a tight budget is a “problem”? Not if you want to study in Italy – here’s seven ways to study abroad in Italy on a budget. Don’t worry! It is possible to experience the beauty of Italy on a budget. When studying abroad, many students use their time and money to travel to neighboring countries. If you’re a student on a budget you may not get a chance to visit all of those countries, but that’s ok! This just means you’ll have that much more of a memorable study abroad experience in Italy. So, take advantage of this beautiful country and use these tips to help you save during your Italian study abroad!
1. Participate in a homestay
Before you even arrive in Italy, find out if it is possible to do a homestay. Usually homestays are not much more expensive than staying in a dorm, and they include cool benefits like home cooked meals every day. During the weekdays, laundry, public transportation and even cooking lessons, can be extra advantages as well! Participating in a homestay program helps you avoid spending a lot of money on groceries and scrambling to make a meal every night. Instead, you can simply spend a little more time exploring the city and come home to delicious home cooked Italian meal after!
2. Take a train
Italy is such a beautiful country with so much to see. Thanks to the high-speed trains, you can travel to other cities in a short period of time. You can get to big cities in Italy such as Rome, Venice, Florence, and Sicily all by train. Some tickets can even be bought for as low as 3 euros! And, 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 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, so go check them out!
3. Ask questions
Talk to locals. Not only could you get some practice in with your Italian, but you could also get some good information from their insights. Ask them about smaller towns that are nice to visit, or some places that are worth going to see. Most major cities students study abroad in are surrounded by little towns that are quite often hidden gems! Florence, for example, is literally minutes from the countryside. Towns such as Fiesole, where you can get an entire view of Florence, or Impruneta, where you can visit a “frantoio” (place that makes olive oil), will be some of the most intriguing cities to visit while you’re abroad. Having these unique experiences is what will set your study abroad experience apart, and it’s all only a short bus ride away! Pay a few euros, hop on a bus, and go visit all the tiny towns in Italy the tourists miss!
4. Shop like a local
Besides traveling, it is important to shop and eat locally. Many times in bigger cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice, the prices at nearby supermarkets and restaurants are sky high. This is usually because of the hundreds and thousands of tourists that visit the city every year and don’t know any better. But, smaller neighborhoods that are less than 10 minutes outside of these big cities have supermarkets and restaurants with prices that are lower. Going to more local based markets and restaurants not only helps when you’re on a budget, but it allows you to experience life as a real Italian!
5. Know where the discounts are
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? Make sure you’re there early to avoid the long lines though! Many theaters and local sites also have student pricing. Take advantage of these deals – especially when all you have to do is show a student ID card provided by your program!
6. Read a guidebook
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 and get a full day of access to many Jacuzzis, saunas, salt rooms, and more. Italy is well known for its spas and natural hot springs: Saturnia (Tuscany), Lago di Garda, Fosso Bianco (Tuscany).
Sidenote: 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. Keeping an eye out for their work is definitely worth it!
7. Avoid phone fees
Avoid any type phone service provider fees. There are apps such as WhatsApp that allow you to make phone calls and send unlimited texts for free. Just tell your family members or friends to download the app and staying in contact will be easy! The only thing you need to be able to use the app is Wi-Fi. Certain phone service providers and phone plans that you may already have in the US may not charge you extra for data roaming, but it varies from provider to provider. Make sure you double-check these things to avoid the hassle of purchasing an Italian sim card or Italian phone and/or plan to avoid data roaming fees.
Follow these tips and your experience will be full of enjoyment and relaxation instead of financial worries. Trust me, Italy on a budget is just as beautiful! If your looking to further save, be sure to check out our discounted hotel and flight prices too!