Taking a gap year in Italy is a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture, heritage and life of the country. While you’re in the country you have the chance to learn Italian, visit some of the world’s best art galleries and see all the tourist hot spots.
A gap year, which is sometimes known as a ‘sabbatical’, is generally a one year break in your usual academic or work calendar. For example, you can take a gap year after high school before you start at university or you can take a year out during college and live in Italy as an expat.
A gap year usually involves working, travelling or engaging in other activities which further your personal development and understanding of the world. Some of the most popular choices for people taking a gap year include:
- Travelling to other countries to learn about different cultures and societies.
- Volunteering abroad.
- Working or taking an internship.
- Learning a new language.
- Studying or taking part in other educational programs.
How long is a gap year? Traditionally a gap year is one full academic year although in some cases people take longer breaks than just a year. The amount of time that you can take off will depend on your other commitments in life.
For instance, if you are at university then you’ll have to speak to the course organizer but most universities won’t let you take a ‘gap’ of more than a year or two in the middle of your course. On the other hand, if you take a gap year before you start at university you could take either a year or two without falling too far behind your peers.
Best Ways Of Spending Your Gap Year In Italy.
Italy is one of the best places in the world to spend your gap year. Not only is the country extremely safe with excellent public services but the cost of living is low while the quality of life is high! This makes it a perfect destination for students or young professionals who want to develop their skills and learn more about other parts of the world.
Tuscany – Live And Work On An Organic Farm.
Tuscany is famous for its superb agricultural products including wine, truffles, vegetables and more. If you’re interested in finding out how an organic farm operates then you can spend your gap year, or part of it, working on an organic farm in Tuscany. The beautiful rolling hills, pristine environment and fantastic weather all make Tuscany the ideal place to work on a farm during your gap year.
Different farms have different policies regarding gap year workers. You will usually be fed during your stay and provided with comfortable accommodation as part of the package. There will usually be a fee to pay for your experience which will be fairly modest. This fee is used to cover the costs of your food, accommodation and utility bills although you will still have to pay for travel and other discretionary costs yourself.
For example you can work on a farm in Tuscany by joining the Spannocchia Foundation which costs around $30. This foundation helps to preserve the traditional rural life of Tuscany while encouraging sustainability and other environmentally friendly practices.
Learn To Cook Authentic Italian Food.
If you love your Italian food then why not join a cooking course to learn how to make the genuine article yourself? Not only will you meet other like minded people but you’ll also be left with a great skill for life! You can learn to make authentic Italian pasta, seafood and vegetable dishes as well as traditional cakes, pastries and deserts.
There’s many ways that you can study cooking in Italy. You can sign up with a cooking school to take lessons each day for a few weeks or if you’re more serious about learning to cook you can apply for an internship with an Italian restaurant. Doing an internship with an Italian restaurant is an excellent idea if you are considering a career in hospitality because it will give you an invaluable insight into the day to day workings of a restaurant.
Cooking courses vary in price but usually start at about $250 per week although you will have to arrange your own accommodation and travel.
Work As A WWOOFer.
WWOOFing, or ‘Working Weekends On Organic Farms’, was originally founded in England in the 1970s by Sue Coppard to give people who worked in the cities a chance to learn about organic farming on the weekends. However, since then the movement has expanded massively and is now a worldwide organisation that allows volunteers to learn about growing vegetables, taking care of animals, building walls and much more besides.
WWOOFers are hosted by a farm or other agricultural business and are provided with accommodation and food while having a truly authentic experience in rural Italy. To learn more about the opportunities that are available in Italy you can check the WWOOF Italia website for all the up to date details.
Study The History Of Art In Italy.
If you’re a keen art student then you can study an art history course in Italy that involves travelling around the major cities to explore the cultural and artistic heritage of the country.
To access this fantastic experience you can sign up with Art History Abroad to book your place on an upcoming course. There’s a wide range of options but one of the most popular choices is the 3 month course which takes you around Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples, among other incredible locations. The course is aimed at students between the ages of 18 and 23 and costs about $10,000.
The course includes your accommodation, guided tours, museum tickets, breakfast, travel in Italy, drawing tuition and classes about the history of art in Italy. This course is the perfect compliment to the rest of your education and will leave you with a deep understanding of art and its history in Italy.
Work On A Ski Resort During The Winter Season.
One of the most exciting options for a gap year in Italy is to work on a ski resort through the winter season between November and April. Ski resorts need seasonal workers each year to work as resort reps, chefs, waiters, bar staff, nannies and even ski instructors.
Generally speaking, you will be working for 6 days a week and as part of your package you also get your plane tickets, cheap ski lift passes, discounts of ski and equipment hire and even discounts for your friends and family who may be staying at the resort.
A premier company that arranges seasonal jobs on ski resorts in Italy is Work A Season which can set you up with a job in a number of locations in Italy as well as other parts of the world.
Studying In Italy During Your Gap Year.
If you’ve decided to study at an Italian university during your gap year then there’s a great selection of courses that are taught in both Italian and English. Italian universities are extremely prestigious and so as well as learning valuable knowledge it will also look great on your resume.
Before you can study at an Italian university you need to apply for a Visa however you must already have been offered a place on a course. It’s worth noting that citizens of the European Union don’t need to apply for a Visa but anyone from the United States, UK and other parts of the world need a Visa to stay in the country.
How Do You Get A Student Visa In Italy?
Firstly, you need to apply to a university and be accepted onto a course. If you are successful in your application you will receive an official letter of acceptance from the institution.
Next, you’ll need to establish what type of Visa you need. For shorter courses, such as a month-long language course, you need to apply for a Short Stay Visa (Type C) which is valid for up to 90 days. For longer courses that are more than 20 hours per week and last longer than 3 months you need to apply for a Long Stay Visa (Type D).
If you have any queries about what Visa you need then you can check the Farnesina website where you can fill out a short questionnaire which will tell you which Visa to apply for.
What Do You Need To Apply For A Visa?
In order to apply for a Visa you must:
- Be able to show proof of acceptance onto a course.
- Have a valid passport.
- Be able to provide a copy of your flight plans.
- Not have a criminal record.
- Not have been previously refused a Visa to Italy.
Where And When To Apply For A Student Visa?
To apply for a Visa you need to visit the Italian consulate or embassy in your home country and schedule a Visa meeting with the staff.
You should try to schedule your Visa appointment as soon as possible, leaving yourself several months or more before your planned departure date. Once you’ve had the meeting the Visa may take up to a month to be processed and in some cases, even longer
Documents Needed To Apply For A Student Visa.
To apply for your student Visa you will need:
- Passport photo(s).
- Proof that you have already booked your accommodation.
- Proof that you have the financial means to support yourself during your stay – officially you must have a minimum of around $1000 per month at your disposal.
- Health insurance for the period of your stay.
- The acceptance letter from the university in Italy.
- Your travel documents.
A Gap Year In Italy Will Open Up A World Of New Opportunities For You.
Taking a gap year can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life and with so many options available there’s bound to be one that suits you and your future ambitions.
Before you take the leap and set off for your gap year you should always do plenty of research in advance to ensure that you find the opportunity that will not only serve you well in the future but will also be fun and enjoyable.