Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions are of the site!
Take a look at the most popular FAQ's about Dante Alighieri Siena and things in general. If you cannot find an answer you are looking for please write to and we will answer as soon as possible.
How will I be placed in class?
New students that are NOT absolute beginners will take a placement exam which will be in multiple choice format either on-line prior to arriving to the school, or the Monday before class starts. Each student also has a short oral assessment to check his/her communicative ability. There are eight different levels and usually 2 levels within each of those as in 1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, and so on. This makes it possible to place students within the right group of their level.
What happens if I want to change the class level?
It is no problem if you want to change class level at any time. It is important for us that you are happy with the level and rate of progress in class. If you are not happy for any reason, you may speak to your teacher or the Director of Studies in order to be placed in your appropriate level.
What is Continuous Enrollment?
Continuous enrollment means that it is possible to start and stop any week. We have a system where the syllabus is divided into separate weekly modules. Each teacher is given a study program that should be covered for each level so the Director of Studies knows exactly what the students are doing. The Director visits every class each week to check the levels and the students' progress.
What teaching methods are used?
The classes are full-immersion meaning that classes will be taught in Italian and students are politely but strongly dissuaded from speaking their mother tongue in class. All four language skills will be explored in class: speaking, listening, writing and reading. In most classes, emphasis is placed on speaking and listening, while written work is usually done as homework and checked by the teacher.
How can I be sure that I'm making progress?
Students benefit from intensive classes and their progress is measured and evaluated on a weekly basis. Every two weeks you are given a quiz to verify that you have understood all the concepts, functions and vocabulary covered in that period. During this time, you will also be given an opportunity to revise and to deal with any specific areas of interest or difficulty. This constant monitoring of the students' progress ensures your confidence and success. Because of the tightly structured syllabus, it is also easy to change a level without losing any time or repeating the same aspects of the course.
How much Italian can I expect to learn during the courses?
As all our courses are specifically planned to meet the needs of our students, and all Italian language lessons are held in Italian language, you can be sure you will learn a lot and you will learn it quickly.
When and how should I apply?
We recommend you apply no later than one month prior to the start date. You can apply online by clicking here.
Will I have access to Internet or Wi-Fi connection?
At Dante Alighieri Siena you will have free Wi-Fi access. When you arrive at the school we will give you the password for the WiFi.
Should I bring a laptop?
We do not require you to bring a laptop but strongly encourage you to, provided it is insured. You should make sure that your computer accepts local electric currency and can be used in foreign countries.
Please note: Dante Alighieri Siena does not offer technical support for personal computers and cannot assist with hardware or software malfunctions or incompatibilities.
Cost of living in Siena
What is the cost of living in Siena?
The cost of living in Siena is average. Basic food costs are in line with the rest of the European Union.
Food and drinks come in all price ranges, from reasonably priced eateries to fine dining. The following can be used as approximate numbers for reference for food costs at a grocery store:
one loaf of bread: € 1,40
250 gr. of butter: € 1,40
one liter of milk: € 1,50
one liter of mineral water: € 0,30 - 0,60cents
one can of Coke: € 0,50
one bottle of beer: € 0,90
Complete lunch in an average restaurant will cost about € 15,00/30,00, typical Italian breakfast of a pastry and coffee or cappuccino costs about € 2,50, delicious Italian gelato (ice-cream) costs € 2,50.
If you feel like having a snack, there are plenty of cheap pizzerias, where a slice of pizza costs about € 1,10 / 3,00.
A cinema ticket will cost about € 8,50.
A full cycle of washing, including drying, at the launderette, costs € 6,00.
Urban bus is € 1,20 for a one-way trip, while a monthly pass will cost € 33.00.
Are all field trips included in program fees?
We offer both mandatory and optional field trips. Mandatory field trips that are part of the syllabi are included in the program fees and will be specified in the program description under "included in fees". Optional trips offered in our Co-currcular and Social Activites calendar http://www.dantealighieri.com/social-activities.php may require payment. Please note that no refunds are given to students who do not participate in field trips that are included in the program fees.
When will I know details about my housing assignment?
Because of logistics we will let you all the housing details (address & landlord/homestay phone number) about 2 weeks before your course starts.
When should I arrive/depart from my housing?
You can move in your housing the day before your course starts which is usually on Sunday. You should move out no later than the day after your course ends which is usually on Saturday.
Can I stay in my apartment before and/or after the course start/end dates?
If you need to arrive or depart on dates other than the day before/after your course please let us know right away and we will try our best to accommodate your request. We cannot guarantee these types of requests given that we give absolute priority to our students.
Who should I contact if I have a problem once I'm in my housing?
If you have any problems please don't wait too long to let us know. We are here to help and want nothing more than for you to be completely happy, comfortable and safe in your housing. Let someone at the front office know right way or write an email to the Housing Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I have guests over?
Sure you can but only if everyone in the apartment is OK with it. Make sure to ask all your roommates ahead of time and arrange appropriate times. If you are in a homestay make sure you ask the family before you invite anyone. In any case make sure you don't make a habit of it and please note that over-night guests are prohibited.
What is the difference between Private Apartment and Mini-residence?
The main difference is that the Private Apartment is exactly that... a private apartment while the Mini-residence is in a tourist accommodation facility that has a reception desk and where you will have to pay the "tassa di soggiorno" a "tourist tax" just like in any hotel or tourist type of accommodation and the room is usually like a studio apartment.
Am I required to get housing through the school?
Absolutely not! Feel free to find your own housing but be aware that from our experience and problems that past students have had, we strongly discourage this option unless you are very familiar with the city, the language and the landlord.
Can I pick my roommate?
Of course you can! Make sure your choice of roommate also lets us know that they want you to be their roommate as well.
Medical emergencies and non-emergencies
What should I do if I have a life-threatening medical emergency?
If you have a life-threatening emergency call:
Medical Emergencies: 118
Police (Carabinieri): 112
Police (Polizia di Stato): 113
Fire Department: 115
Taxi in Siena: 0577-49222
AFTER calling one of the above numbers please make sure to let someone know at the school.
What should I do if I have a non-life threatening medical emergency at night or on a weekend and need to see a doctor?
Call 118 and ask for them to send you a Guardia Medica which is available throughout the night from (8:00pm - 8:00am) and during week-ends. Doctors from the Guardia Medica make house calls, yet this service is only for extreme emergencies such as high fevers, etc., not for flu or cold symptoms. It could occur that the Guardia Medica tells you to go to their medical office. If you need a taxi in Siena to reach them call:
Siena Taxi: 0577-49222
Where can I get a doctors appointment for a non-emergency visit on weekdays?
If you need to see a doctor, Dante Alighieri Siena recommends the following physicians who have previously and successfully worked with our students. Some of these doctors speak English and you may go directly to them. Doctors' visits cost € 30.00 on average.
Via Pantaneto, 105 (in the city center)
Visits by appointment ONLY
They are open from Monday to Friday 8:30am – 7:30pm.
Make sure to take your passport with you or some type of ID. If you want, we will gladly call to make the appointment for you just let us know at the front office.
Who should I contact to get a specialized doctors' visits?
If you need to see a gynecologist, dentist or any other specialist, please ask someone at the front desk and we will make an appointment with the appropriate doctor for you.
I don't feel comfortable going on a doctors' visit on my own. Can someone at the school help me?
Throughout the program, when needed, we provide you with information on local medical care facilities and assist you in case of emergencies. When necessary we assist with special health-related needs by translating or personally accompanying you to a local doctor, specialist or hospital. Just ask, we are here to help!
Where can I find a Pharmacy that is open 24 hours?
In the city center you will always find one pharmacy that will be open 24 hours. Pharmacies take turns for this 24-hour service, but the timetable is clearly shown outside each pharmacy. If you go to the pharmacy in the middle of the night you will probably have to ring the doorbell for them to let you in.
Official Italian language certificate
Will I receive an official Italian language certificate?
You may take the PLIDA (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri) exam which is offered on specific dates in November and May every year. The PLIDA (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri) certificate is an official diploma issued by the Società Dante Alighieri under an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (no. 1903 of 4 November 1993) and with the scientific approval of the "La Sapienza" University of Rome (agreement of 29 June 2004). The PLIDA is also recognized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies (decree of 18 October 2002) and by the Ministry of University and Research as a qualification for the facilitated university enrollment of foreign students (ref. no. 1906 of 9 October 2006). The PLIDA certificate attests proficiency in Italian as a foreign language on the basis of a 6-level scale. We offer specific preparation courses for the exam. (more info)
Visas and Passport
Will I need a passport?
Yes, you need a passport valid for at least six months beyond the end date of the program. If you don't have a passport, apply for one as soon as possible!
Will I need a Visa?
Citizens of the European Union and EEA states do not require a permit to stay in Italy.
If you are coming to Italy to study for 90 days or less, and you come from one of the following countries you do not need to obtain a Italian student visa: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, South Korea, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ex Republic Yugoslavia of Macedonia, Japan, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, United Stated, Uruguay, Venezuela. The residence permit has now been substituted with a declaration of presence "dichiarazione di presenza" which will be submitted to the Police Station directly by your landlord.
If you are a Foreign student intending to come to Italy to study for MORE THAN 90 DAYS you must obtain a Italian student visa before entering into the Italy. Procedure for VISAS (only for those staying more then 90 days):
Here is some useful information on our School Policy and Procedure and an easy Step-by Step Guide when applying for a VISA:
1. Enroll and pay the full tuition fees and the accommodation fees – click on link for different methods of payments.
2. We will send you a Certificate of Enrollment by post with the necessary details required by the Italian Consulate. Federal express costs (€ 35,00) will be added to the fees.
3. Apply for a STUDY VISA at the Italian Consulate in your country giving them our Certificate of Enrollment.
4. If you are granted a VISA you will be able to come to Siena and attend our courses; please take note that we must inform the Foreigners Police Office in Siena (Questura) if one of our students doesn't attend our course without a specific reasons (i.e. health problems).
5. If you are not granted a VISA the Italian Consulate will return our Certificate of Enrollment to you. You will then need to mail back to us the original Certificate of Enrollment. Once we have received the Certificate, we will refund in full the tuition and accommodation fees.
In order to assure a timely processing of visas, you (or your parents on your behalf) should begin the visa application as early as possible but no sooner than three months prior to the program's initiation. You should contact your nearest Italian consulate and follow the directions for obtaining a student visa. The visa will not be issued the same day; the process can take up to 60 days. Student visas will be issued only for the length of time you are enrolled in the program. No other type of visa will be accepted. Therefore you have to apply to the competent Italian Embassy/Consulate and ask for a study visa in your name.
The study visa will be issued only against demonstration that you:
1. Have a suitable accommodation in Italy.
2. May dispose of enough financial means to support yourself.
3. are entitled to medical care in Italy.
4. Possess the amount of money necessary to travel back to your country, or have already purchased a valid return-ticket.
Procedure for Residence Permits "Permesso di Soggiorno" (only for those staying more than 90 days):
Within 8 days from arrival, all students who hold a study visa for Italy must apply for a stay permit for study purposes.
The Residence Permit is issued by the police station (Questura - Ufficio immigrazione) in Siena after you complete and mail a "KIT POSTALE" which you will find at the post office. In the kit you must include:
- original passport
- photocopy of entire passport
- photocopy of Certificate of Enrollment issued by the Soc. Dante Alighieri - Siena Committee previously approved and stamped by the Italian Embassy/Consulate a document giving evidence of medical insurance in Italy
- 4 recent and identical passport-size photo s
- receipt of payment for lodging
- one revenue stamp (marca da bollo) for € 14,62
- proof of enough financial means to support yourself while in Italy
* Cost of the request of a permesso di soggiorno : The marca da bollo for € 14.62 on the completed form. € 30.00 to be paid at the post office for insured mailing. A pre-completed bill for € 107.50 which covers the cost of an electronic permit (permesso elettronico).
Subsequently you will be contacted by the Questura where you will have your fingerprints and pictures taken. Afterwards you will be issued your Residence Permit which will expire on the date shown on your visa.
Where exactly is Dante Alighieri Siena?
The school is comfortably located right in the city center of Siena! click here for a map of the city.
How can I reach Siena from the airport?
Please click here for travel details from all major airports in Italy.
Do you have a pre-departure checklist that you recommend?
Here is a short list of essentials you don't want to forget:
- Valid Passport/ID card;
- Visa (If required – not for EU citizens) – Check with Italian Embassy;
- Insurance Documents;
- Cash, Credit Cards - It is a good idea to change money once you are in Italy (commission rates are lower in banks) but bring some cash for the first few days;
- Prescription medicine – Put them in your purse or carry-on NOT in the bags you will check-in;
- E111 Form (EU citizens only);
- Adapter plug for electric goods - Italy has a 220volts/AC system, and the 2pin plug system.
I'm not familiar with the city of Siena. Will there be an orientation tour of the city?
Yes, every Monday after class one of our instructors will hold an orientation meeting at the school and take you on a practical tour of the city of Siena. This is a great time to ask the instructor to show you where something is that you are looking for.
What is the weather like in Italy?
The summer months are very warm throughout Italy. The south is always a few degrees warmer than the Center and the North. The average temperature in the summer is between 18°C – 30°C (64°F – 86°F), and in the winter 4°C – 16°C (39°F – 61°F). During the winter it is best to bring warm clothes - also for wearing around the house - as Italians tend to turn off the heating at night due to the high costs.
What is the time difference in Italy?
Italy is on the Middle European Time (MET). Rome is 1 hour ahead of London, 6 hours ahead of New York, and 8 hours behind Japan. During the summer months (March-October) the clocks are set one hour forward.
When are shops open?
Most shops are open between 9:30-13:00 and 15:30-19:30. During the summer, many shops stay open all day during the week, but close Saturday afternoon and re-open on Monday afternoon, but this differs from shop to shop. On Sundays, most shops and banks are closed all day so it's a good idea to make prior arrangements if you arrive on Sunday.
How can I travel around Italy?
Siena is well connected by train and bus to all major cities in Italy such as Florence, Pisa and Rome. Special discounts on trains are sometimes available for persons under 26 years of age. It is also possible to buy a season ticket, saving you money on your travel. Siena is very close to the main highway, making it easy to travel around by car during your stay. Non-residents are not allowed to drive in the historic city-center of Siena as well as in other cities in Italy, so make sure you get informed before you drive to other cities. In Siena you can park your car for free at the fortress which is right is outside the city center.