The Ultimate Study Abroad Guide to Rome

Authored By:

College Study Abroad

If the thought of studying abroad has you dreaming of ancient ruins, tiramisu, and gladiators, we’ve got advice for you: Stop dreaming and start planning!  

It’s clear studying abroad in Italy is on your mind and we’ve got you covered. Our guide to studying abroad in Rome may be the nudge you’ll need to submit your application and head to Italy! 

Why Study in Rome? 

First things first, you may be wondering “why study abroad in Rome?” The better question is “why not Rome?” 

1. History and Sites

Take its storied history, which spans 2,000 years. Rome, which is now the capital of Italy, was the longest-enduring Western empire and was once considered Caput Mundi or the center of the world. Studying abroad here gives students the time to really explore Rome’s political and cultural institutions. This includes famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Pantheon, the early senate building in the Roman Forum, and its spectacular neighbor, the Colosseum. 

Rome is also unique in that it is the only city to host another sovereign state within its own walls; the Vatican City -- the seat of the papacy and center of the Roman Catholic Church. Studying in Rome allows you to investigate the past and present roles of the pontificate in Italian and international affairs. You can also delve into the Vatican’s stunning Sistine Chapel frescoes and the largest church in all of Christendom, St. Peter’s Basilica. 

vatican city cultural excursion with students while on study abroad in rome

2. Ancient Monuments

Rome boasts more than 900 churches, 280 fountains, and an amazingly large number of public monuments scattered across its legendary seven hills -- illustrating the city’s multiple layers of history, from ancient to Renaissance and Baroque to Neo-classical and Fascist. 

There’s so much to do and see, and wonderfully, a lot of it is completely free of charge. 

3. Food!

Have we mentioned the food, yet? Delizioso! Imagine having tiramsu al fresco in the heart of this vibrant city. Better yet, imagine learning to make your own tiramisu while in Rome. After all, you are here to learn! 

So much to do. So much to see. Studying abroad in Rome will provide you the kind of time and opportunity you need to really explore it all.  

Tips for Studying Abroad in Rome  

Convinced? We thought you might be! Then let’s get down to practicalities. Here are a few tips from seasoned travelers that will help make your Rome study abroad experience truly exceptional: 

  • Learn a little Italian. Fortunately for non-Italian-speaking students, most CIEE courses are offered in English. And many people in the city speak English as well. However, it’s always helpful to know some basic Italian so you can more easily communicate with locals and navigate the city. As such, we make it easy on students by offering Italian language courses to cover the basics. Grazie! 
  • Get a student discount card. While a lot of what you’ll want to see in Rome is free to the public, there are still many museums, galleries, and cultural institutions that aren’t. Fortunately, many offer discounts to students. Make sure to get a student discount card, like the International Student Identity Card, to take advantage of these cost savings. 
  • Wear a pair of really comfortable shoes. Rome is a compact city, and many of its most famous landmarks and attractions are within walking distance of each other. So, you’ll be walking. A lot. Plus, exploring the city on foot gives you the chance to discover its hidden corners and gems.  

These are just a few useful tips to help get you started on your Rome journey. But we’d be remiss to not offer advice on how to pack. That’s critical!  

Study Abroad in Rome Packing List 

Part of setting yourself up for a great study abroad experience is packing the right stuff. You definitely don’t want to waste precious travel time getting documents at the U.S. embassy in Rome. 

  • Essential documents: Bring your passport, visa, student ID, health insurance documents, and proof of enrollment. We suggest making a copy of each, just in case. 
  • The right clothes: Pack a mix of casual and formal clothes, including jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, dresses, and/or blouses. Rome has a Mediterranean climate, so make sure to pack light, breathable clothes for the summer, and warmer clothes for the cooler months.  
  • Functional shoes: Pack comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city. Rome has many cobblestone streets and uneven surfaces, so make sure to pack shoes that are comfortable and supportive. We prefer athletic shoes that tie. Flip flips, well, we’d avoid those at all costs! 
  • Preferred toiletries: Pack your essential overnight toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and deodorant. This will be helpful for your first few days in Rome. But, as you can imagine, Rome has many pharmacies and supermarkets, so you can easily buy additional toiletries. Plus, why waste precious suitcase space on things you don’t really need to bring? 
  • Medications: Bring all medications that you regularly take, as well as any preferred basic over-the-counter medications, such as painkillers and allergy medicines. 
  • Devices and chargers: Pack your laptop, phone, and any other electronics that you need. And do not forget chargers! Italy operates on a 230V supply voltage, so you will likely need a travel adapter. It’s also advisable to leave other electronics like hairdryers at home – they likely won’t work safely in Italy. 
  • Use a big bag: Our bet is you will find a souvenir or two while in Rome. Bring luggage that has enough wiggle room for you to bring home more than what you took. Trust us on this. 

fall semester students arriving in rome with luggage

Best Programs for Studying Abroad in Rome 

Rome is a fantastic study abroad destination. And CIEE offers truly amazing options that create an authentic experience for students wanting to immerse themselves in Italian culture. Notably, CIEE students are encouraged to not only engage with the local community, but to contribute to its improvement and well-being.

Our students can choose to experience Rome through coursework or as international interns and can attend for a summer, J-term, or as part of our Open Campus Block program. With Open Campus Block, students can choose from one, two, or three consecutive six-week blocks, with each block set in its own destination. So, Open Campus Block students can stay in Rome for 6, 12, or up to 18 weeks or spend the other blocks traveling around Europe – or the world! You can’t beat that flexibility. 

Many students also opt to explore Rome through our Summer Global Internship program. These students get to enjoy Rome while building their portfolios and resumes in ways that will make future employers take note. A really smart way to intern if you ask us. 

Ciao, Italy!

Is studying abroad in Italy your dream? If so, visit our guide to the Best Study Abroad Programs in Rome to get inspired and find your perfect program. And, if you’re ready to start planning your Rome study abroad adventure, you can start your application right away!