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Parma, Italy

program description



The City

Parma is an elegant and cosmopolitan city of about 180,000 inhabitants. Located in a prosperous region of northern Italy, Parma offers easy access to other Italian cities and to destinations all over Europe. Parma is home to Verdi and Toscanini, and the Opera is only one of many cultural highlights Parma has to offer. The city’s rich artistic heritage includes museums and churches displaying the great works of Correggio and Parmigianino, da Vinci and van Dyck. Parma is also renowned for its rich culinary history and is responsible for such delights as Parmesan cheese and prosciutto. Students find endless opportunities to explore festivals, museums, galleries, castles, gardens, markets, theaters, restaurants, and more.

The University

The University of Parma dates back to the 10th century, making it one of the oldest universities in Europe. Today, nearly 25,000 students are enrolled in the university’s ten faculties. Most of the departments are in the downtown area of the city, equipped with modern scientific laboratories, a foreign language center, and sports facilities.

The highly regarded Istituto Dante Alighieri is located in a historical building on via Repubblica, one of the main streets of the downtown area. Founded in 1923 and recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education, Istituto Dante Alighieri is the premier Italian institution for Italian language learning.

The Program

The program offers a beginner and advanced track. Prior to the start of the terms, students of both tracks spend time in Florence studying art history.

Beginner track

In the Fall students can take either Elementary I or Intermediate I at the Istituto Dante Alighieri. In the Spring students can take either Elementary II or Intermediate II. In addition to the art history course in Florence, these students will take their courses in English at the Instituto Dante Alighieri. A core course will focus on the culture and history of Parma, including weekly field trips in and around the region.

Advanced track

Students must have completed Intermediate II to be part of the advanced track. In addition to the art history course in Florence, these students enroll in courses taught in Italian at the university or choose from a limited number of courses taught in English. In addition, students enroll in a core course taught by the BC on-site coordinator and in an Italian Language course. The core course focuses on the culture and history of Parma and includes weekly field trips in and around the region. The ongoing Italian language course is taught at the University of Parma’s Language Center.


Students participate in a three-day orientation organized by the BC on-site coordinator. Each BC student is assigned a mentor to facilitate integration into Italian life.


Students can opt to live in shared, furnished apartments or with families in Parma.


Activities include evenings at the opera, a weekend in the Alps, Venice Carnival, historic tours of museums and libraries, castle visits, and visits to a Parmesan cheese factory. A weekly cooking course which includes a large dinner is offered to the students.