Villanova Italian Language and Culture Program

Villanova University/ Universita degli Studi di Urbino. Urbino, Italy

Nestled in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, the city of Urbino played a significant role in the Italian Renaissance and offers a unique climate for Villanova students to participate in the Italian language, culture, and lifestyle for a year or a semester. For over 20 years, Villanova University has partnered with the University of Urbino (Universitá degli Studi di Urbino) to provide a summer program for students wishing to improve their language skills. From this longstanding partnership has come an exciting opportunity for Villanova students to study the Italian language and to enroll in courses directly at the University of Urbino, taught in English and in Italian, during the regular school year.

Academic Program

Villanova students who choose to spend a year or semester in Urbino will benefit from a program that combines intensive language study with coursework taught in English or in Italian, by one of the ten University of Urbino academic faculties. The academic program for Villanova students at the University of Urbino focuses on required language study and also offers a selection of Italian art, culture, history and business courses taught in English. Students with a prior knowledge of Italian may opt to enroll in one or more regular Italian-taught courses in any of the University’s ten academic departments. Because some content courses are offered in English, students do not need to possess a background in the Italian language to participate in this program, however it is highly recommended. Participating students should be willing to immerse themselves in the Italian language.

 All Villanova students are required to complete a full-time course load for the semester including the pre-semester intensive Italian language, the Italian language course, the Villanova Italian Studies Seminar, and 2-3 additional courses.

  • REQUIRED - Villanova Italian Studies Seminar – ITA4130
  • REQUIRED - Pre-session Intensive Language course
  • REQUIRED - Language course during semester
  • Elective - (In English or Italian)
  • Elective - (In English or Italian)

Required Component - Villanova Italian Studies Seminar

The Villanova program in Urbino provides participating students with an opportunity to explore all aspects of Italian life, from the early years of the Renaissance to modern day issues that currently affect the country. To further emphasize the study of modern Italy, the Villanova Italian Studies Program offers a semester-long seminar series that covers a variety of topics related to contemporary Italian society. Sample topics include: the family, religion, immigration, politics, the educational system, and corruption. Villanova students will receive a letter grade that will count towards their GPA for this Italian Studies Seminar.

Dr. Peter Cullen – Resident Director
General description
This course is designed to present the student with analytical tools and informational background with which to understand better the structures and functions of Italian society, economy, politics and culture in the current decade. Students will gain a socio-anthropological understanding of Italy and Italian cultures as they relate to nation and state-hood, economy and business, structure and change in community and society as well as relationships to the church and belief-ways. The Italian social systems active in the first decade of the twenty-first century will be contextualised in the broader Mediterranean, European and global systems in which they operate.
Other aspects of Italian culture will also be explored during our field trips and in the classroom. These topics include the historical roots of current political divisions, political parties and the organization of the state, Catholicism in Italy today, regional attitudes towards the Church, the relationship between the Vatican and the Italian state, the role of saints and relics in the Catholic church, the state of the family, lifestyle and social and cultural norms, the educational system, the mass media, the north-south divide, immigration, the development of the Italian language, dialects and traditional regional foods and festivals.

The course will cover a wide range of topics related to Italy’s place in western civilization and contemporary Italian society. Visits to Rome, Venice, Assisi, Perugia, Ravenna, Rimini, Lecce, Bologna, Gubbio and Urbino are an important part of the program, and expert guides will provide an overview of each city’s unique history and civic identity, as well as its contribution to western civilization as a whole in the fields of art, architecture, religion and politics.

Topics will be explored through lectures, class discussion, encounters with local guides and expert guest speakers, the reading and analysis of newspaper and magazine articles and book excerpts as well as the viewing of films and television clips. Students will research the topic they have chosen for their independent study project, give a short class presentation on their project and write a project paper. Field research for the independent study project may include interviews with local experts, and students will be assisted when necessary in making initial contacts with those experts. The seminar will be conducted in both English and Italian, and readings, films, and television clips will be in both languages. Students will be given linguistic support in the form of glossaries, notes etc. to facilitate comprehension of all materials presented in Italian. Students may write in English or Italian on their midterm and final essay exams. The independent study paper will be written in English unless the student has been granted special permission to write in Italian. Supplementary readings in English and Italian will help students follow class topics and direct their research projects.

Midterm essay exam (25%)
Final essay exam (25 %)
Student presentations and overall participation (20%)*
Independent study project (30%)

*Attendance is mandatory and students must always come to class prepared to take part in class discussions

Required Components - Italian Language Courses

The required language study consists of two parts and will place students at their level of Italian ability, from true beginner to advanced.

The pre-session intensive language course is taught during the first few weeks in Urbino at the Linque Ideale and will count as a three-credit Villanova language course. This intensive course prepares students to use their language skills in everyday life. Students who participate in the fall program will be placed in these intensive classes with other international students from across Europe. Due to the University’s academic calendar, students who participate in the spring program will be placed in these intensive classes with other Villanova students. Students will receive transfer credit for this class.

After the completion of the pre-semester intensive language program, all Villanova students will enroll with other non-Italian students in a three-credit Italian language course taught in Urbino. This language course will supplement students’ out-of-classroom language practice and will run through the end of each semester. Students will receive transfer credit for this class.

Choosing Electives

In addition to the required Italian language study and the Villanova Italian Studies seminar, all Villanova students will enroll in two-three other courses at the University of Urbino. Students can choose to enroll in only English-taught courses, Italian -taught courses with English language support or all Italian-taught courses. Schedules are not determined until the student is on-site, so course flexibility is key.

Upon arrival in Urbino, Villanova students will be advised by the on-site resident director and the University of Urbino's Registrar's Office as to which courses will be the best fit for each student and their schedule.

Students must be flexible during this registration time and Villanova cannot guarantee enrollment in to a particular class. All students who have a background in Italian will be encouraged to consider enrolling in at least one Italian-taught university course during their time in Urbino. Some of these courses (but not all) offer English-language support material and English language tutoring. These arrangements must be made through consultation with the Villanova Resident Director in conjunction with the course professor.

Elective Offerings - English-taught Courses at the University of Urbino

  • Italian Cultural Studies (3 credits): The course introduces students to contemporary Italian culture, focusing in particular on those features that are peculiar to Italy and make it famous worldwide. Course topics include Italian cinema (from post-war neo-realism to Federico Fellini and closing with Nanni Moretti's most recent pictures), Italian applied arts (fashion and graphics), as well as Italian theatre and music. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the fundamental contributions of contemporary Italian culture and applied arts to Western culture and will be able to appreciate its influence throughout the world.

  • Contemporary History and Geography in Italy (3 credits): After an introduction to the physical and human geography of Italy, the course will focus on some crucial themes of contemporary Italian history. Course topics will include Fascism and the Second World War, the diaspora of emigration, the Mafia and post-communism. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the physical and political features of the country and will be able to fit the history of Italy into the broader framework of contemporary European and world political history.

  • Italian Art History (3 credits): The aim of this course is to investigate the concept of the Renaissance and its forms of visual expression.  We will use a wide lens to locate Renaissance artistic innovation and interpretation in the long path of Western development from the break-up of the Roman Empire to the beginning of industrialization.

Elective Offerings - Courses taught by local professors

Art class urbino

Students have the option of enrolling in a course offered by a local Italian artist and professor.  The course focuses on the theory and creation of contemporary art and will allow student to explore their own creativity through different artistic media. Villanova students will receive a letter grade that will count towards their GPA for this SAR1000 class.Course:

Theory and laboratory for the creation, development and exhibition of contemporary art.

Villanova Urbino

Professor: Antonio Salviani


This course aims to create a space in which students can learn about the theory and practice behind the production of contemporary art from the point of view of the working expressive artist. The course is designed to introduce the theories and intellectual questions that inform artists choice of expressive topic, media and delivery for the purpose of communicating a message. To achieve this goal, theories and techniques will be explained and illustrated, but great emphasis is placed on the students’ practical application of these. Through experiential learning, students will internalize the challenges of producing a work of art, following the intellectual stages behind the production itself. Given this premise, students need no prior technical knowledge. With reason of cost and availability, a range of artistic media may be explored, individually or in combination as best suits the precise path of expressive development chosen by the student.

The course - laboratory will take place in 7 classes of 4-5 hours each for a total of 30 hours.

The course calendar will be established together with the resident director in Urbino. Classes will take place in the classrooms available in the student residence buildings.


Students are expected to come to class and to participate actively in discussions and laboratory work. This is particularly necessary as the course itself will take shape around the students’ choices. The exhibit phase of the course requires that the students use their in class and out of class time to work toward the goals set out at the beginning of the course– that is, to work through the intellectual and productive processes of the working artist from concept to exhibit and understanding of the work’s reception.

The resident director will provide laboratory and exhibit space for the students.

This course is taught in Italian, but will be facilitated in English.

The professor will include a written report on each student’s participation and final work to be submitted with the final mark. Final marks will follow the Villanova standard letter grade system.

Course structure:

Workshop 1: Source initial discussion on the specific concept “what is art” in terms of planning and producing an artistic project. Identification of messages and significance. Exploration of conceptual and practical limits to artistic expression.

Workshop 2: Influence throughout history, which artists or artistic movements influence personal production of art? How does this happen? Identification of major trends in contemporary art history and today’s influences. Which influences are most striking to the student?

Workshop 3: Theme- individual choice of theme. What is the importance of this choice in the context of contemporary art, and what are the narrative priorities of an expressive ethic? Acquisition and development of a coherent message that may be expressed given available media and exhibit space.

Workshop 4: Technique –The choice of expressive instruments painting, sculpting, video, music, installations, performance. Students will have the opportunity to try out and consider which media best express their chosen themes. How does the media influence the communication of the message?

Workshop 5: Creation – Techniques of production, choice of materials, organization of laboratory work. How can different media be manipulated either individually or in concert to produce a desired expression?

Workshop 6: Exhibition – technical planning of final exhibit and display in an exhibit space. (development, exhibit and effect). How can the artistic expressions be structured to work together in an exhibit. What forms of logic apply and how does context help or hinder the individual artist’s expression.

Workshop 7: Evaluation – open discussion of the whole experience from concept to exhibit. What worked, what didn’t, and why. Which components of the experience were most rewarding for the artist? Which aspects of the exhibit generated most interest from the public? What would the artists do differently in the future?

Directed Reading In Italian Renaissance History (30 hours)
or: Italian Society, Economy and Politics before the Nation State – The Duchy of Urbino in Central Italy

Prof. Peter Cullen
Faculty of Languages and Foreign Literature

Much of the course of Italian history has been specifically influenced by its geographical position as a cross-roads of Mediterranean trade routes and population displacement. As these axes shifted away from the Mediterranean in the seventeenth century, the Italian peninsula lost hold of its Medieval and Renaissance primacy in trade and Mediterranean politics. The seventeenth century is often seen as a period of post-renaissance decline in Italian history, but this assumption merits more specific attention. This course examines the political, economic and social shifts in the Italian system of territorial state-building from the 15th to the 17th centuries, focusing on the Duchy of Urbino as an example of these shifts. Exploring the concepts of “primacy” and “culture”, the workshops are structured to investigate relationships between regional and super-regional political, economic and social forces in Italy that re-shaped its position in the wider world-systems of the pre-industrial period – focusing on the contextualisation of local realities (Urbino) in this wider world system.
Lessons will function as laboratories for analysing both primary and secondary source material as well as a forum for discussion of the academic interpretation, production and dissemination of historical knowledge. Many lessons will take place in the State and Town Archives of Urbino, where students will be taught to read, contextualise and analyse original late 16th century documents regarding the administration and social functions of the territorial government of Urbino. From the orientation carried out during the lessons, students will be expected to carry out document analysis in the archives on their own – collecting material for a final research paper.

The evaluation of the student is structured as follows:
Geography Quiz: 10%
Short comparative assignment: 20%
Term paper: 30%
Class participation: 40% = 100% (30 cum laude)

Students will receive a Villanova letter grade for this course as HIS3216.  This will fulfill a free elective credit and not LAS core History.

Electives Offerings - Italian-taught courses at the University with English language support and exams in English

Some classes may consist of lectures in Italian, but will offer exams in English, so students do not need to be fluent yet in Italian to enroll in an Italian-taught course, though it will help to have a background in the area of study. Students will finalize their enrollment in these courses once on site in Urbino.

Literature of English Theatre
English Literature
English Literature II
Anglo American Literature I
Anglo American Literature II
Modern Language Teaching Methods
Italian Literature I
Italian Literature II
English Culture 

- Subject to availability - not all classes will be offered each semester.

International Sales Management
Dynamic Models in Econ and Finance
Service Marketing and Management    
Business Market Management
Scenario Analysis and Forecasting
Monetary Economics
SME Economics and Management
Financial Mathematics
Financial Mathematics II
Advanced International Marketing
Economic Policy
International Economics
Financial Market Law and Regulation
Advanced Tax Law
Economics of Globalization
Industrial Economics
Bankruptcy Law
Regional Economics
Public Finance
International and EU Labour Law 
Regional and Comparative Italian Law
Internet Marketing
Business and Management
International Marketing
Lab of Social Media Marketing
Business Communication
- Subject to availability - not all classes will be offered each semester. Some classes may be offered in Pesaro, a 45 minute bus ride from Urbino.

Intercultural Comm for Business
Sociology of Health
Sociology of Sport
Advertising media and communication
New Media and Internet Studies
Intro to Wellness and Social Policy
Urban Sociology
Sociology of Consumption and Brands
Sociology of Culture
Anthropology of Cultural Mediation
Public Communication
Theory and Techniques of Public Communication
Theory of Society and Cultural Process
Sociology of Communication
Sociology of Deviance
Sociology of the Environment
Social Construction of the Economy
Sociology of Development

- Subject to availability - not all classes will be offered each semester.


Analytical Chemistry
Anatomy of Movement
Animal Biology
Animal Biology
Biochemistry for Cultural Heritage
Cell Biology I
Drug Analysis and Food Analysis III
Drug Analysis II
Drug Design and Development
Environmental Biochemistry
Food Science
From Atoms to Cells
General Physiology
Geodynamic/environmental models
Geoengineering and Geological Hazard
Geophysical Exploration and Seismology
Human Anatomy
Human Biology
Marine Ecology
Molecular Biology
Nutritional Biochemistry
Organic Lab for Extraction of Drugs
Pharmaceutical Botany/phytochemistry
Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy
Plant Biology


- Subject to availability - not all classes will be offered each semester.

Philosophy of the Mind
Flemish and Dutch Art History
Medieval History III
Logic and Rhetoric
Early Modern History
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of religion/multiculturalism
Anthropology of Religious Pluralism
History of Sociological Thought
Forms and Languages of Performance  

- Courses are subject to availability. Not all courses will be offered each semester.

Elective Offerings - Italian-taught courses at the University of Urbino

Villanova students who have a background in the Italian language can enroll in Italian-taught university courses in any one of the eight University of Urbino academic departments. Students can search for potential course offerings using the University of Urbino search tool. Choose the Facoltà (department) of interest and a list of potential course offerings, along with descriptions will be displayed.


Students will live in dorm-style accomodations along side Italian students. The residences are located within a 15 minute walk from the center of town and university buildings. A partial meal plan is included but students should budget to buy some meals during the semester.

Villanova Program Calendar

Fall 2014
September 1 Latest day for arrival in Urbino
Orientation of Urbino/Ducal Palace/Day trip to Pesaro/Day trip to Rimini/ Day trip to Ravenna
Language classes start/conversational Italian begins/art class starts/Directed Readings course starts
Trip to Milan
University classes start
Trip to Bologna
Trip to Venice – group dinner
Trip to Perugia /Gubbio /Assisi – group dinner
Trip to Rome – group dinner
Trip to Lecce – group dinner
Oral Final Exams Scheduled for this week
December 20-21 Return to the US
Spring 2015
January 10 Departure from US
January 11
Arrival in Urbino
  Weekend trip to Lecce
Weekend trip to Rome
Day trip to Ravenna and Rimini
Overnight trip to Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio
Easter Break
Weekend trip to Bologna
Weekend trip to Venice
Weekend trip to Milan
June 15th
Latest possible departure date from Urbino

NOTICE: Villanova University reserves the right to modify or cancel the Program if circumstances warrant.


Student Blog

Read the blog of a past Urbino student!
Nicholas Schaefer, Spring 2010.

Urbino student group

Estimated Costs

For an breakdown of estimated costs for a semester in Urbino, please see the Cost Worksheet below. Full room and board included in the program! Ask your OIS advisor for more information!

Ducale Palace Urbino

Program Activities and Excursions

Various tours throughout Italy will be included in the program. Weekend visits to such locations as Rome, Venice & Florence will be arranged. Day trips to Pesaro, Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio and Ravenna are also part of the program. Additional activities may include cooking classes, a visit to a winery and olive oil producer, and group dinners throughout the semester. These trips will keep students busy on many weekends, so students should not plan any additional travel before consulting the activity schedule provided by the Villanova Resident Director.

Hiking through the Italian countryside

How to Apply

No prior language study is required, though highly recommended. If a student is a true beginner, they must be committed to learning and immersing themselves in the Italian language. 

A 2.75 GPA is required for a year or semester study abroad in Urbino, Italy. Interested students will need to submit a completed application, a letter of reference, and their official transcript to the Office of International Studies prior to the fall and spring break deadlines. All students planning to study abroad in Urbino will be required to complete the Prior Approval Form with the help of their Office of International Studies adviser.

Urbino program "classroom"
* Urbino Application 2014-15.pdf
Apply Now! Deadline April 15th for fall 2014 or October 15 for spring 2015!

A View of Urbino

Solo Andata - The Town of Urbino

Italian Student VISA

Italian student VISA

All students participating in the Urbino semester program must apply for an Italian student visa after acceptance in to the program. The Italian Student Visa is placed in the student’s passport by the local Italian Consulate. Application requirements vary based on each student’s permanent address, and the student visa application must be sent to the appropriate Italian Consulate in the U.S. Because jurisdiction varies by home address, it is the student’s responsibility to determine which consulate they will need to deal with to obtain a student visa. Students are also responsible for determining the student visa application requirements for their particular consulate. Villanova University and the University of Urbino will provide proof of enrollment for all participating students. Students should plan to apply for their Italian Student Visa 2-3 months prior to their intended departure date.