PLEASE NOTE: Places for programmes to Italy are still available! Get in touch asap

Exquisite art, music, food and architecture make the perfect backdrop on an evening passeggiata (an after dinner stroll) in Italy. From sunny isles and electric blue surf, glacial lakes and fiery volcanoes, rolling vineyards and urban landscapes, Italy is a country of unparalleled beauty. It’s impossible not to marvel at splendid palaces, paintings, churches and monuments without admiring the centuries of devotion to traditional techniques. In addition to a rich history, Italian culture consistently leads the way in style and fashion. It also offers the world’s best gelato, rich home-cooked meals, remnants of the Roman Empire, snow-capped Alps, and picturesque coastal towns on the Adriatic Sea.

People & Culture

Italy has a rich history, with a lot of different civilizations having a big influence in the art domain such as architecture, painting, sculpture, music and literature. However, Italy is also modern in its technology, car design and, of course, always leading the way in style and fashion. Italians are often described as passionate, warm, friendly people. Family is very important, and strong traditional ties bind families together.

Climate & Geography

Italy is very recognisable by its boot-like shape. But Italy also includes a number of islands, the most famous being Sicily, Sardinia and Elba Island. Italy has a special geography because you can find two independent micro-states in the middle of its territory: the Vatican and Saint-Martin. Italy sometimes has earthquakes, and there are four active volcanoes: Vesuvio, Etna, Vulcano and Stromboli. Mostly, Italy is bordered by either sea or mountais.

The climate in Italy is temperate with in the north an average of 11°C and in the south of 16°C during the year. But over the last few years the climate is getting warmer, with a record summer high of 49°C recorded in Sicily in August 2022!


Italian culture centers very much around food. Food is a source of pleasure and enjoyment, and Italians like to enjoy lunch in the company of family and friends. It is no secret that pasta is a fundamental part of Italian meals; however, generally speaking, the Mediterranean diet is very healthy and well-balanced, including a lot of cheeses, seafood, vegetables and fruit. And for dessert there’s a broad selection of traditional pastries, including tiramisu, a rich cake whose name means ‘cheer me up’ because of how satisfied and full it makes you feel. Mealtimes are generally eaten later than in New Zealand, though it changes according to the family’s routine and geographical location. Dinner in the north may be at 7.00–7.30 pm while in the south it’s more common to eat at 9.00 pm.


Italian is the official language, although there are different dialects from city to city, including the complex Friuliano dialect close to the Slovenian border. There are also significant French- and German-speaking pockets of people. To help you feel comfortable with the Italian language before you begin your exchange, you will receive access to an online language course (BUSUU) to ensure you have a minimum amount before you arrive, and the programme will be available for you to use for at least two months after arrival. Once you are in Italy, a tutor from your host school will follow your progress, to help you fit in at the school and learn Italian. Local volunteers will provide additional Italian lessons for the first two or three months of your stay.u feel.


A typical school day in Italy starts around 8:30 am and ends between 1:30 pm and 2 pm with 10 minutes break time for a snack around 10:30 am. Most schools have classes from Monday to Saturday. In contrast to a lot of other countries, in Italy you do not move from class to class – you stay in the same room and the teacher comes to you.

Italy has a large variety of schools available, so students are asked to specify the subjects they are required to study abroad so Italy can take them into consideration when choosing the school. However, Italy cannot guarantee they can satisfy all requests or requirements, because you have to take into consideration the schools available in the hosting community, the schools’ sensibility towards AFS, as well as the preference of the host family.

Host Family

AFS students live throughout Italy, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, usually in a small town. It’s common, especially in the south, for many generations to live together under one roof. Mealtimes are social events, lasting for hours on weekends or holidays. Conversations can be very passionate, and loud discussions with lots of gesturing and emphatic facial expressions are the Italian way to go. Houses in Italy vary quite a bit, but there are three main types of houses: apartment or condominium, a big country house surrounded by land, or a townhouse with a small garden. And often it depends on which style of house you have whether you will need to share a bedroom.

Teenage Life

In Italian culture, teenagers are used to being independent and organising their own time, chatting in cafés, walking around town, going out dancing or playing sports. Calcio, the Italian soccer league, is the cause of celebration for many Italians, whose teams have won several World Cups. Other sports Italian teenagers enjoy are basketball, cycling and skiing.

Young people usually get together at the house of a friend, or in places where one can play. Young Italians talk a lot in the afternoon about what they are going to do at night, but rarely ever do what they had planned earlier. In fact, they usually prefer to ‘stare insieme’, just to stay together. They tend to go to a bar (Italian bars are completely different from American bars, they are more like snack bars), a pizzeria or a birreria, or to a discoteca or ‘festa’ (party). In small towns and cities, both young people and adults traditionally go to the main piazza, park or street in the afternoon or on a Sunday morning to walk and meet their friends.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

AFS provides comprehensive orientation for all students and families before, during and after your exchange – AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you the whole way through! In-person orientation camps in New Zealand and your host country are supplemented by our world-leading online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to develop essential global skills, learn intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact. This journey will help you maximise your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community, and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad and as you return to your home country. Find out more about our educational expertise here!

Explore the Programmes Available in Italy



  • DestinationItaly
  • DurationsMultiple durations
  • Program Dates
    • Jan 24, 2025 - Jul 6, 2025
    • Jan 24, 2025 - Nov 30, 2025
    • Sep 5, 2025 - Jul 5, 2026
    • Nov 2025 - Jan 2026