Italian Courses Frequently Asked Questions
What should I expect to do on the first day at school?
The school personnel will wait for you at 8:30 am at the school office. Students having little or no knowledge of the Italian language will attend the first lesson in which the oral capacity and the understanding will be tested. All other students will take a written and oral placement test which enables us to find the appropriate level.
Which books do you use in the lessons?
Our basic text and exercise books have been developed by our school. These books are used in conjunction with authentic teaching materials such as newspaper and magazine articles, audiovisual materials, and activities inside the classroom.
Is the teaching material included in the course price?
All text books and other supplies are provided by the school, but you are expected to bring your own dictionary.
Which teaching method do you use?
SCUOLA LEONARDO DA VINCI teaches according to the Direct Method: from the first day on, at all levels, only Italian will be spoken. The spoken language is the most important part of the tuition. Continually promoting the use of verbal communication permits you to learn Italian 'naturally', to unite theory and practice with no great problems and to increase your knowledge quickly and with confidence. You are encouraged to practice your spoken Italian in real-life situations, with your teacher, and with other participants, in pairs and groups. In advanced courses the written language will also be promoted.
Which course certificates do students receive?
SCUOLA LEONARDO DA VINCI certificates:
- At the end of each course, students with regular attendance receive the certificate of attendance indicating the level of proficiency attained.
- At the end of 3rd ability level, students who passed a test receive the "Certificato di Conoscenza della Lingua Italiana".
- At the end of 5th ability level, students who passed a test receive the "Diploma di Lingua Italiana".
- DELI - basic level: at the end of the first ability level;
- DILI - intermediate level: at the end of the third ability level;
- DALI - advanced level: at the end of the sixth ability level;
- DALC - Diploma of Business language, advanced level: at the end of the sixth ability level;
Which is the average age of students attending the school? I'm interested in attending a course for older students aged 30 and above. Do you have suitable courses for this age group?
Sixty percent of our students are aged between 17 and 30 seeking to improve their Italian language skills and awareness of Italian culture.
Sixty percent of our students are already working; about ten percent are business managers and executives of different nationalities.
Five percent are retired and wish to improve their Italian and familiarize themselves with Italian culture and attend the course DOLCE VITA, which is a course designed for 50+ students.
Usually students aged 30 and more feel comfortable in our classes and enjoy to meet people from all over the world. In the Intensive Plus and Small Group Courses the average age is higher.
After twelve weeks, how much Italian will I be able to speak, assuming I am a complete beginner upon arrival, I work very hard and I am good at languages?
SCUOLA LEONARDO DA VINCI offers 6 different course levels from beginner to advanced. Each course level usually consists of 20 lessons/week over a period of 4 weeks. If you are good at languages and you work hard, it is possible to complete Beginner, Basic and Intermediate levels in 12 weeks.
At the end of the Intermediate level you already possess considerable knowledge of Italian. Your feeling for the language has become confident and your range of expressions has developed greatly and is more differentiated. You will be able to sit for the Leonardo da Vinci certificate examination "Knowledge of the Italian language" and for the "Firenze-Diploma" DILI of the Accademia Italiana di Lingua.
ALL ABOUT CULTURAL AND LEISURE PROGRAMS
The four cities and the surroundings offer a nearly unlimited variety of leisure activities, which our students might undertake by themselves. We offer leisure activities as well and organise on a regular basis:
- dinners, which enable teachers and students to get to know each other better
- guided visits in History of Art
- film evenings at school
- day and half-day excursions
- visit to wine cellars
Every month our schools distribute their own calendar of cultural activities. In this way participants will always be well informed concerning exhibitions, concerts, films and other events. For the weekends we hand out special leaflets for individual trips. All students receive a written guide indicating active and passive sporting activities and the secretary’s office can also help with the organization of sporting activities.
Can you give me an example of a monthly activity calendar in Florence?
- Day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano or Pisa and Lucca etc.; every 4 weeks, normally the first Saturday after a month course begins (at cost price).
- Half-day excursion to the vineyards of the "Chianti" area, visit to a winery incl. "merenda" (typical Tuscan afternoon snack); every 4 weeks, normally the third week after a month course begins (at cost price).
- Dinners with the school in a typical Florentine trattoria: students and teachers have a good chance to get to know each other; every 2 weeks, the 2nd day of the course after a 2 weeks course begins (at cost price).
- Free guided History of Art tours in Florence: every second and third Saturday after a month course begins.
- One or two guided museum visits the month (at cost price).
Can you give me an example of a monthly activity calendar in Rome
- Day excursion to the seaside at Sperlonga, to Naples and Pompei, to Cortona etc.; every 4 weeks, normally the first Saturday after a month course begins (at cost price).
- Dinner with the school in a typical Roman restaurant; every 4 weeks (at cost price).
- Free guided History of Art visits in Rome: every week.
- Free cinema italiano: every 2 weeks.
- Free diction lessons: every 2 weeks.
- Free concert evenings at school: every 2 weeks.
Can you give me an example of a monthly activity calendar in Siena?
- Dinner in a typical Tuscan country house: teachers and students get a good chance to get to know each other; every 4 weeks (at cost price).
- Half day excursion with private bus to the surroundings of Siena, i.e. vineyards in the "Chianti" region, Montepulciano, San Galgano, incl. "merenda" (typical Tuscan afternoon snack); every 2 weeks (at cost price).
- Guided tours around the city; every 2 weeks.
- History of Art tours to some of the most important sights in Siena, as the Duomo, Pinacotheque (art gallery), Palazzo Pubblico etc.; every 2 weeks.
- The Italian cinema: a film presentation with comments and discussion; every 2 weeks.
- Seminar: the History of the "Palio" - historical horse race: 4 lessons in the afternoon and visit of the museum of a "Contrada", for beginners as well as for advanced students; in the summer months.
- The Italian music: an afternoon listening to the Italian music and learning about different groups and singers; every month.
Can you give me an example of a monthly activity calendar in Milan?
- Day excursion to Lago Maggiore, Lago di Como, Lago d’Iseo or Lago di Garda (all of them make up the famous lake district close to Milan); at least once every 4 weeks, normally the first Saturday after a month course begins (at cost price).
- Half day excursion to Monza, Brescia, Pavia: every two weeks (at cost price).
- Guided tours around the city: every two weeks.
- Soccer match: if enough students are interested there’s the possibility to buy tickets to see Inter or Milan soccer matches in the “S.Siro Stadium”: every week.
- Art History tour to some of the most important sights where Leonardo da Vinci worked are on show: Castello Sforzesco, Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica, Refettorio S.Maria delle Grazie, Museo d’Arte e Scienza: every two weeks (at cost price).
- Aperitivo night in “Navigli”, students will appreciate the typical after-work activity in Milan, buy a cocktail and the price includes snacks and aperitivi, at some of the most beautiful bars and cafes in town: every week.
- Dinners with the school in a typical Milanese restaurant, students and teachers have a good chance to get to know each other over a delicious “risotto alla Milanese” and a good glass of wine: every 2 weeks (at cost price)
- For the weekends we hand out special leaflets for individual trips to: Monza, Brescia, Pavia, Ligurian coast, the lake district (Lago di Garda, Lago Maggiore, Lago di Como, Lago d’Iseo), Venice and Switzerland
- If enough students are interested we organize volleyball, basketball and soccer games
- All students receive a guide indicating sporting activities, either to take part in or to watch and the office can also help with the organization of sporting activities
ALL ABOUT ARRIVAL, TRANSFER & HOUSING (A - Z)
Accommodation in host-family
In selecting host families, we do not look for luxury and comfort in the material sense but for Italian families who appreciate receiving foreign students. Additionally, the word ‘family’ should not be taken too literally, as a family can be ‘traditional’ with children, a single parent or a childless couple who take in students because they enjoy the company.
Hand-washing of clothes as well as the use of the ironing board is permitted with no extra charge. The use of the washing-machine is not included, but arrangements can be made between the landlord, the school and the student.
Accommodation in a shared apartment
You share a flat or floor of a house either with other students from our school, with other Italian students or with the owner.
Kitchen and bathroom are of common use.
The apartments are furnished and the kitchens are supplied with all essential kitchen utilities (cutlery, plates, pans etc.).
You can prepare your meals separately or together with your flatmates and fellow students.
Electricity, gas water, local costs and taxes are included in the price.
The apartments are cleaned before your arrival. During the stay, you and your flatmates are responsible for the cleaning of your room and of the rooms used in common (kitchen and bathroom).
Normally there is no telephone in the apartment.
You should bring some food for the Sunday of arrival and Monday morning, as food stores are closed on Sundays.
Italy uses a 220 Volts/AC system. Plugs may differ from those in your home country and it’s possible that you need an adapter.
Accommodation in a private apartment
Private apartments are more comfortable than shared apartments and therefore more expensive. They are available for one or more persons. Prices are available on request. Please note that the private apartments must be reserved well in advance and the prices may vary depending on the city and season.
Accommodation in a Hotel
We work with Hotels situated close to the schools (basic offer always: bed & breakfast, rooms with shower or bathroom). Prices are available on request and according to the categories of hotels and the season. Please make Hotel reservation well in advance.
Housing reservations run from the Sunday evening before the beginning of the course to the Saturday morning (12:00 am) at the end of the course. If you need to arrive a day earlier or to stay a day longer, please contact the school for help with extra accommodation arrangements. Different arrival or departure days must be confirmed in writing.
Arrival date and time
We need to be informed at least 4 days in advance of your arrival day and time. Therefore, upon receiving the accommodation address, you have to contact the landlord (by telephone) or the school (by telephone, fax or e-mail) to communicate the date and time of arrival in order to make the waiting time for both parts as short as possible. If there is no communication, you will be expected to arrive in the evening, after 6:00 pm.
Bed-linens / towels
Bed-linens are provided and changed every 2 weeks but you need to bring your own towels.
Normally, there is no washing-machine in the apartments. You may use the many self-service laundromats.
Our accommodations are located in the city centers as well as in the suburbs. In any case you can easily reach the school and the center of the cities by public transport. To get from the suburbs to the center takes 15 - 25 minutes by public transport (Rome up to 50 minutes). If you have been placed in the town center (if available) it takes about 15 minutes walking to reach the school.
If you book host family accommodation you can choose between breakfast and half board (breakfast and dinner). You will have your meals together with the family but you should be aware that Italian eating habits can be rather different from your own. Breakfast usually only consists of coffee or tea and bread, butter, marmelade. Dinner is a complete meal served normally at around 8:00 pm.
Payment of accommodation
Scuola Leonardo da Vinci only makes the reservations for accommodation. Payment for accommodation has to be made directly to the landlord/landlady, to the apartment owner or to the hotel receptionist.
Room-mating with another student
We recommend to book a ‘place in a double room’ only for young people. According to our experience mature people normally do not feel at ease in a double room as they may have to share it with very young people who have different habits and attitudes.
At arrival, we recommend that you take a taxi to your accommodation. Taxis are:
1) easily found at the TAXI stations, which are always in front of the train station and the airport
2) the best way to bring your luggage to your ‘new home’
3) not expensive
Scuola Leonardo da Vinci also offers a transfer service from the airports in Rome and Florence and from the train stations in Florence, Rome and Siena. For prices please consult our current price list - transfer costs. If you wish the school to arrange a transfer, please send us the arrival information (date and time of arrival and flight or train number) possibly with the enrollment form or at least one week before your arrival date.
ALL ABOUT....USEFUL INFORMATION (A - Z)
- Valid passport or identity card
- Tickets and reservations
- Insurance documents
- Money, traveler’s cheques and credit cards
- Personal medicine or medical prescriptions
- E111 form (for citizens from EU countries)
- Italian address given to parents etc.
- School informed about arriving time
- Transfer requested from school
Although summer in Italy, from the Alps to Sicily, is quite warm, the winter in Northern and Central Italy can be quite cool; winter in the south, however, is relatively mild. The best weather in the cities is in spring and autumn.
Average summer temperatures range from 18°C to 30°C (64°F to 86°F), the average winter temperature is around 4°C to 16°C (39°F to 61°F).
Credit Cards / Euro-Cheques / Traveler's Cheques
Euro-Cheques, Traveler's Cheques and Credit Cards are accepted almost everywhere. You can receive money at Automatic Teller Machines (ATM), if you have an ATM card linked to an international network (Eurocard, Cirrus, Plus, Maestro etc.). Mastercard and Visa (with PIN number) may be used to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. In Europe, ATM’s do not often accept PIN’s with more than 4 digits.
Cash from ATM’s only in Italian Lire / daily amount is limited.
Credits for American Universities
We can send transcripts to American Universities, where our courses are usually accepted as valid language credits. Please ask us for more information.
When exchanging large amounts of money it is usually better to do it in Italy. However, you should also bring cash for the first few days (for the taxi, for purchasing small things, etc.). Avoid to change money in change offices because of high commission rates; the best exchange rates are at the bank.
For a stay of more than 3 months, it may even be useful to open a bank account. Our staff will give you further information on it.
Italy uses a 220 Volts/AC system. Additionally, wall sockets and plugs may differ from those in your home country. Be sure to get information about the possible need for an adapter before your departure.
Faxes can be sent from the post office, from a lot of stationer’s shops (cartoleria) and from copy shops. At our schools you can receive faxes free of charge and send them (against a fee).
SCUOLA LEONARDO DA VINCI awards 50 school or university students scholarships entitling them to a 100 percent reduction in the cost of a four-week standard course, not including accommodation. If you wish to apply for one of our scholarships, you are requested to submit an application and registration form to the Italian Culture Institute or your University, enclosing a reference from your Italian teacher, and stating the precise name and address of your school/university, and of the teacher concerned.
Illness and accidents: During your stay at our schools, you must be personally insured against illness and accident. Contact your insurance company to ask whether your personal insurance is valid abroad; otherwise purchase a travel insurance. Members of the national insurance-companies in EU countries should demand the E111 form to obtain free health service in Italy.
Robbery coverage: Is often included in personal insurance; if not, we suggest you to purchase coverage for your stay in Italy.
Internet access and sending & receiving emails
The e-mail addresses of our schools can be used for the receipt of private messages. For sending a message our schools in Florence and Rome have installed an Internet/e-mail terminal. Close to our schools there are Internet centers, where you can work with Internet and e-mail (against a fee).
Health, Medical Doctors and Pharmacies
The first-aid service in the Emergency Room of the hospital is free for anyone who is in need. SCUOLA LOENARDO DA VINCI can provide a doctor whenever you are in need of a consultation or medical care. In every city you will find 24-hour pharmacies. You should not forget to bring, if necessary, your own medical prescriptions.
Our schools are closed on national and local public holidays. Lessons are not held, not made up and not refunded.
International telephone calls can be made from all public telephones (in the telephone offices, in bars). Also, the schools in Florence and Rome have a public and a credit-card telephone. The country code for Italy is "39", always followed by the "0" before the area code.
Traveling by train
There are several night- and Eurocity-day-connections with Italy. People under 26 years may receive special discounts. Reservations for sleeping car or couchettes should be made as early as possible. Siena is connected with Florence and Rome by a public bus or by the train.
Traveling by car
All of our course locations are conveniently located on the national motorways. In the old city centres parking is normally not allowed. In all other districts parking is free of charge except for specially marked short term parking zones. Paid parking in garages is usually available near our schools.
Traveling by air
Our schools in Florence and Siena can be reached from the airports in Florence, Pisa and Rome-Fiumicino. The school in Rome is easily reached from Fiumicino airport.
Citizens from the European Union do not need a visa and can enter Italy with an Identification card or Passport. Citizens from other countries should check with the nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate. If you need a visa to extend your stay for more than 90 days you should apply for a ‘Type D’ (student) visa. SCUOLA LEONARDO DA VINCI will provide you, after enrolment and payment of the deposit, with a certificate of enrolment for your visa application.
World time zones
Italy uses Middle-European-Time (MET), i.e.: Rome = 0 / New York = -6 / Tokyo = +8. During the summer months (mid March to mid October) the clocks are turned ahead one hour to Middle-European-Summer-Time (MEST = MET + 1h), i.e.: Rome = 0 / New York = -5 / Tokyo = +9.