Not necessarily the top destination for many tourists and foreigners visiting Italy, but the gritty city of Naples has a lot more to offer than meets the initial unapproving eye. Sure, some quarters are not as pristine as the rest of Italy, graffiti offering a modern take on typical Italian frescoes, but you won't be disappointed if you're looking for something a little more rough and ready. Naples has had bad press, but what it does offer is a contemporary Italian lifestyle — a city founded by the Greeks all those centuries ago, it sits between a sleeping volcano and the Campi Flegrei caldera, offering its locals and visitors a real cosmopolitan experience.
Less touristy than similar-sized Italian cities, the dynamic metropolis of Turin can found be to the north of Italy right at foot of the Alps. With its astounding Baroque buildings, wide promenades and museums, some Italians say that Turin is more like a French city than an Italian one.
At the heart of Italy lies the capital of Umbria: Perugia. With its old, sand-washed buildings perching atop two hills, this vibrant medieval hill town brims with an almost storybook-like charm. Glancing at the sloping steps, sweeping arches, open squares and the snaking cobbled streets, it's almost as if this setting had been created by the very pen of Shakespeare himself. Perugia rolls in romance. At its heart is the Piazza IV Novembre, an open square with the grand Maggiore fountain pinpointing its centre. From its carefully carved panels illustrating fables and mythical beasts to its pink and white stone finish, it makes for an intriguing starting point to this relatively tourist-free town.
Bologna, home city to the famous "spag bol" (ragù in these parts), has as of yet never really been prone to floods of tourists. As such, the city known for its food (and boy, is it good here!), student demonstrations and political activities is well worth staying put in. You'll struggle to hear any English, improving your Italian and your understanding of the country as a whole. Because Bologna doesn't just give its name to the classic Italian dish, restaurants literally climb on top of one another, offering you the very best in Italian cuisine.
Just a stone's throw away from Venice in the north of Italy, is the vivacious student emporium that is Padua. Famed for its history (boasting its famous university, founded all the way back in 1222, and the oldest botanical gardens, Orto Botanico, whose flora can date back to the 16th century...), Padua is an attractive option for Italian-speaking students..