International Exchanges

Pitzer Exchange in Italy
(open to Pitzer and non-Pitzer students)



Throughout Italian history, the Emilia-Romagna region has played a vital role in the nation’s economic, cultural and political life. Since Roman times the corridor of prosperity that runs from Parma and Bologna to Rome has produced an entrepreneurial spirit responsible for one of the world’s most sophisticated and ecologically well-balanced economies. Pitzer has selected the city of Parma in Emilia-Romagna to provide students with a high degree of integration into Italian family life and community.

Host Institution

The Pitzer Exchange in Italy is affiliated with the University of Parma

Required Courses

Studies in Italian Culture
Using the city of Parma as a case study, students will explore topics in Italian history, politics, economy, religion, art, literature, and culture through a series of lectures by area scholars and specialists. The course also incorporates the home stay, local visits in Parma, and other more experiential components of the program to put a human face on the material presented in lectures and readings.

Intensive Italian Language
Intensive Italian is offered at the University of Parma. Becoming fluent in Italian, however, is not just a classroom exercise. It is part of students’ everyday life through interactions with their host family and local Italians. The competence
students develop in Italian will be one of the treasures of their Pitzer exchange in Italy experience. Working with their Language Tandem Partner (an Italian student learning English), auditing University of Parma classes, participating in a
Community-Based Service Learning (CBSL) project will advance their fluency.

Survey of Italian Renaissance Art, 1400-1550
The course aims to give students an overview of the main artists and works of art that have characterized the Renaissance period in Italy. Students will get an introduction to the historical period, the concepts of Renaissance and Humanism, the main artistic techniques used by the different artists and the set-up of a "bottega". Students will analyze how the different artistic centers (Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan and Parma) have influenced the artists and their works. Emphasis will be given to the analysis of the different works of art through images and originals. The course will include a series of on-site visits in Parma to see works by Correggio and Parmigianino and a full day trip to Milan to see Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper and other important Renaissance works. Class will meet twice a week for a total of 30 hours. Students will receive a half course credit.

Community-Based Service Learning (Independent Study)
According to their interests, students are assigned to a volunteer organization in Parma (health, education, immigrant assistance, environmental, etc.) for a full immersion experience that combines Italian language, socio-anthropological
training and field work. Through hands-on volunteer work at a local service agency, students learn about contemporary Italian society.

Course Options

During orientation in Parma, students’ Italian skills are assessed and classes are chosen based on the students’
levels. Students with an advanced level of Italian (Italian 44 or higher) may be eligible to take regular university courses in Italian (in lieu of the Intensive Italian Language course)  if the test results in orientation show they have sufficient skills.

Family Stay

The heart of the Pitzer Exchange in Italy program is being a full member of an Italian family with all its privileges and responsibilities. Through your family, you have the best opportunity to be incorporated into the social fabric of the local community. You witness the real rather than the theoretical culture and, as a consequence, come closer to knowing what it means to be Italian. Most families speak little or no English, though younger family members may be studying English in school. They usually live in apartments with amenities similar to those of an American middle class home. You will find there is less privacy than you may be used to and that there is the expectation that you will spend time with the family. Host families may be located in central areas or outside the town of Parma. Our criteria of selection are primarily based on family’s willingness to open their homes to our students making them feel as members of the family.


Studies in Italian Culture
Intensive Italian Language
Survey of Italian Renaissance Art, 1400-1550
Community-Based Service Learning  
Suggested Preparation
Prior Italian language study and/or coursework in European or Italian history is strongly recommended.
Students must be in good academic standing.
Program Dates
Fall: Early September to mid December
Spring: Late January to early May
Full Year: Early September to early May
Students live with families for the entire program except on study trips.