CENTER FOR ITALIAN
GUIDE TO LECCE AND
Travel documents 5
Travel Insurance 9
Welcome to our Program 10
Lecce: city and culture 11
The Italian people 12
Living in Lecce 13
Living with an Italian family 14
Living in apts 16
Health & safety 19
Italian Law 21
Medical needs 15
Getting around Lecce 25
Phone calls 26
Travel outside Lecce 27
Non US/non EU citizens 28
What to bring 28
Before you go… 32
Congratulations on your decision to study in Lecce!
This program started in 2003 and today continues to
offer students a full immersion language learning
experience. FULL IMMERSION is the only way to
acquire practical and lasting language ability and a true
feel for the culture, customs and way of life in a foreign
This booklet will provide you with the essentials for
traveling in Lecce and Italy. It will give you some good
tips and advice on how to behave and what to expect in
particular situations and in every day family life.
US State Department Services
The US State Department provides a number of
very useful services, which we encourage you to
utilize. In fact, they have a website designed
specifically for student travelers. They also publish
consular information about every country, as well as
issue long-term travel warnings and short-term
travel alerts for countries with conditions that may
pose threat or danger to visitors. They provide a
list-serve that will send notices of changes directly
to your email account.
Many countries require that the passport be valid for
at least six to nine months after your date of return
into the U.S. If your current passport will expire
within six months of your return to the U.S., you
must renew it before your program begins.
Register Your Travel
We strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to
register their travel with the US State Department
prior to their departure. Doing so will help the local
US Embassy or Consulate provide assistance in
case of emergency.
Consulates and Embassies
The State Department maintains a current list of US
Embassies and Consulates. We strongly advise
international travelers to carry with them the contact
details of the countries they will be visiting.
The CIS provides entry requirement information to
students on our Lecce Program.. However, students
often travel independently to other countries –
either during the Lecce Program or on a program
through another provider. The State Department
maintains a list of entry requirements for every
country. While this information is helpful, we
advise you to also contact the foreign
consulate/embassy directly to ensure the
information is current.
Center for Disease Prevention and Control
The Center for Disease Prevention and Control
(CDC) maintains a wealth of information about
health and medical issues for travelers. We
encourage students to explore their website for
information relevant to specific locations and
The visa application processes and requirements are
always changing and vary greatly from location to
Students may be required to make a personal
appearance at the appropriate consulate to obtain a
visa. Students participating in multiple programs
may have different visa requirements. If you plan
additional travel before or after the program dates,
you are responsible for making your own entry
arrangements. The CIS cannot apply for you or
guarantee receipt of an entry visa.
We encourage program participants to consider
purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance comes
in many forms and can protect you in case you need
to change your travel plans due to unforeseen
circumstances. The coverage ranges from help with
lost baggage to delay in flight plans to trip
Travel insurance that covers fees associated with
changing your airfare plans is especially helpful for
those attending programs that require entry or
student visas. Immigration approval can take
months with regulations changing often that can
cause the need to delay or cancel flight plans. Often
airfare arrangements are non-refundable or cannot
be changed without fee penalties. Certain types of
trip cancellation insurance will reimburse you the
cost of your airfare or penalty fees.
Welcome to Our Full Immersion
Benvenuti! We’re glad you’re going to be with us
and are certain your time in Lecce will be
personally and educationally stimulating,
challenging, and rewarding.
The Academic Environment
L’ Universita’ del Salento continues to set and
achieve standards of academic excellence with
superior faculty. Your academic preparation will
include traditional classroom lectures and applied
cultural and language activities through visits to
museums, churches, markets, and other historical
sites, as well as projects within the community.
The Salento University students come from many
different colleges and universities worldwide to
share in the common experiences of international
education. Salento University faculty members are
Italian scholars who contribute innovative and fresh
research to their academic fields. The Lecce staff is
firmly committed to facilitating your cultural and
academic experience in Italy
The City and Culture
Throughout Lecce a church stands in practically
every square or is tucked away in the narrowest of
alleys..Lecce is wedged inside Italy's heel in the
Puglia region. With its uniquely high concentration
of churches, Lecce is Italy’s most dramatically
Baroque city. Though originally founded as a Greek
colony and later conquered by the Romans, in
addition to numerous other occupiers (including the
Normans and Spaniards), Lecce is most stubbornly
sealed within the ornate airborne swirls of the 17th
century. It has frequently been called "Florence of
the South." But that's a misnomer because Florence
is most closely associated with the Middle Ages and
the Renaissance. Lecce is clearly a Baroque
masterpiece. And just as that period celebrated
artifice and theatricality in all aspects of life, the
town itself appears to be one sprawling stage set.
While Lecce’s charm still resides, and always will,
in the art heritage of the past, it also has the
characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of all
contemporary cities. Getting to know the city and
its people, how they speak and live today, means
falling into the rhythm of the place. This is as
important as learning about the city’s history, art,
The Italian people
Italians from Lecce are mostly warm and
welcoming people. While Italians are not as
informal as Americans, they nonetheless touch
more yet have different concepts of personal space.
Be respectful of unfamiliar customs and try to
immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible.
The more you try to speak the language and adopt
local customs of behavior, the more open they will
be in return.
Most students arrive with conscious or unconscious
expectations about Italian families. You will be
pleasantly surprised by the versatility of modern
Italian family life. The Italian family is a close unit;
you will notice that even if your hosts are single
persons, they will still have very strong
relationships with their parents, adult children, and
Living in Lecce
You will probably be living outside the center
where life is quieter and less demanding. You’ll
learn to travel by bus like most ―leccesi‖ who
commute to school and work. You’ll learn to deal
with day-to-day requirements of a city that is unique
but very routine in its daily life.
The Center for Italian Studies believes that
home-stays are an integral part of the academic
program in Lecce. There is no better or more
rewarding way to acquire language skills than to
become an active participant in Italian life by
living with a host family.
With the Italian Family
Our Lecce host families are carefully screened by
the Salento University Housing Office and many
have hosted FSU students in past years. They
represent all walks of life and professions; some are
traditional large families, some are retired couples,
some are widowed, divorced, single parents, or
young couples. All host environments have
advantages and disadvantages.
Most students expect to ―feel at home‖ from the
very first moment they walk through the door. This
is a legitimate expectation, but can be reached only
if you give yourself time to overcome initial stress
and a certain amount of culture shock before feeling
comfortable. Many students with initial concerns
later express delight with their family after working
through communication issues and cite their home
stay experience as one of the best parts of the
You must make most of the effort—your hosts are
already ―at home.‖ Their routine life goes on with
jobs, school, worries, and joys, and they invite you
to become one of the family. You may need to
adjust your American sense of ―privacy‖ to the
more inclusive Italian style.
Living in an Apartment
Apartments are reserved and assigned in advance by
Salento University Housing Office. All apartments
are fully furnished, include bedding, and are
equipped with basic utilities.
Before moving in, you will sign a housing contract.
This contract will be between you and the apartment
owner, but Salento University facilitates the
process. An English translation will be provided.
When you sign the contract, you must leave a
security deposit of approximately $100 dollars from
your personal funds that will be offset by your first
food allowance. The Housing Office takes care of
paying the monthly rent and utilities, but you will
be responsible for any additional damages and final
cleaning charges (25 Euros).
Students are responsible for observing all rules
stated in the contract and respecting the rights of
other tenants in the building. Please note that the
apartment cannot be sublet, nor can other people
live in the apartment (or even spend a few nights)
without notifying police authorities; the apartment
must be kept clean and in good condition; neighbors
should not be disturbed by excessive noise after 11
Health, Safety, & Wellness
Italians have certain expectations about drinking,
dress, and social behavior. Behaving contrary to
these expectations can lead to uncomfortable
results. Observe the locals around you and be aware
that the best way to guard your personal safety is to
conform to cultural expectations. Generally, Italian
women do not walk on the street alone after 10 p.m.
or go to bars or discos alone. In Lecce, groups of
friends make sure they each get home safely. Male
students should accompany their female friends
home when leaving any social occasion.
Women should always accompany each other
home. Walk with a roommate, take a cab home, or
arrange to spend the night with a friend if you have
to walk any distance alone. Be prepared in all cases
for unsolicited comments and stares. Students can
limit unwanted attention by adopting a more Italian,
more ―formal,‖ mode of dress. Occasion usually
dictates apparel: Italians dress up for the evening;
an overly casual appearance is not acceptable in
churches and is frowned upon in museums and
restaurants. This disapproval may not be direct, but
you may be treated rudely and not know why!
The Italian police are very helpful and can be relied
on if you need their assistance in any way. Plain
clothed police officers are also stationed around the
city. DO NOT bring or buy drugs of any kind. The
laws prohibiting them are very strict. You should
also beware of being in the company of others using
Before leaving the U.S., please let us know if you
have any special medical conditions that may
require a doctor’s attention. We treat this
information as confidential. Medical services in
Italy can be just as expensive as they are in the
United States. You will be expected to pay for these
services in cash when they are rendered. Be sure to
keep receipts, in order to be reimbursed by your
The best way to get money in Lecce, most of Italy,
and the rest of Europe is with a Visa or MasterCard
with an international PIN. Checking account debit
cards linked to an international Visa or MasterCard
network like PLUS or CIRRUS will get the best
exchange rate. You will be charged a service fee for
each international transaction. Check with your
bank about international debit card usage and call
your credit card company to notify them of your
travel dates and destinations.
The second best way is Travelers Checks or Cash.
When purchasing travelers checks, there are a
number of considerations to keep in mind-- check
with your bank about what will work best for you.
American Express offices cash their own travelers
checks without charging an additional fee. Banks
charge a fee for cashing travelers checks and for
converting dollars to euros.
If, in an emergency, your family
must send you money, it must be in
one of these forms:
Western Union- You must take your
passport and the confirmation
number (given to sender at time of
transaction) to any Western Union
location to pick up your money.
International Money Order
The average extra student expenditure will be
between $750-2,000. These figures do not include
airfare home, personal travel or lunches. The actual
amount varies according to your initial budget, your
tastes, and your travel plans.
Local Transportation: taxi, bus, bike
Food: Students placed in private homes
receive 2 meals a day. Budget for additional
meals and recreational eating and drinking.
Personal: Gym membership, health &
beauty care, laundry, phone & email use
Academic Supplies: textbooks, course-
packs, architecture/art supplies, etc.
Entertainment: Theater, clubs, museums
Getting Around Lecce
Like most people in Lecce, you will either
walk, bike or ride the bus. It is possible to go
almost anywhere on foot in Lecce, which is
certainly the best way to become acquainted
with the streets in the old city.
Buses run less frequently after 9:30 p.m., and most
service stops around midnight. Taxis cannot be
hailed, but are available either by phone or at one of
the taxi stands.
Most Italian hosts will not allow you to use the
home phone since in Italy even local calls cost
money. In the event you are allowed to use the
phone, you must dial 170 to make an operator-
assisted long-distance call. Most operators speak
Most students in Lecce choose to purchase cell
phones. Cell phones provide a convenient and
relatively inexpensive alternative to calling cards.
Numerous internet cafes are located throughout
Lecce. Postage for letters or post cards sent to the
U.S.A. is .85 Euro. Generally airmail between Italy
and the USA takes about ten days, although delays
of two to three weeks can occur.
Traveling Outside Lecce
Lecce is centrally located in Italy’s Salento region.
All of northern and central Italy is within 4 hours of
car or train travel from Lecce. Many beautiful and
ancient hill towns are well within a weekend’s (or
even a day’s) travel. Train travel is recommended as
the most practical and economical. Get information
online about Eurail passes (www.eurail.com) if you
plan to make multiple train trips.
If you will be traveling on a non-U.S. or non-E.U.
passport, check your travel plans with the consulate
of the countries that you plan to visit before you
depart. You may need to apply for supplementary
travel documents, such as tourist or transit visas. If
you have access to the internet, you can contact
most world embassies and consulates at
What to Bring
This document is absolutely mandatory and will
serve as your primary document for identification
purposes for your entire sojourn. Make sure that
your passport is current and valid.
Within eight days of your arrival in Lecce you must
apply for the ―permesso di soggiorno‖ at the local
police station. We will assist you with this simple
process, however, it is ultimately each student’s
responsibility to fulfill this requirement.
Be sure to inquire about airline restrictions before
packing or purchasing new luggage. You will have
to carry your own bags when you travel and often
you’ll have to walk some distance to stations or
hotels. You’ll find that the best bags to take will be
light and easy to carry, keeping in mind that they
will take a pounding. Divide your load and
remember that you should carry something on your
shoulder or on your back to have your hands free to
open doors, juggle maps, etc.
May in Lecce is generally warm and pleasant with
occasional rainy days. June and July get
progressively warmer. Pack comfortable casual
clothing that you can launder easily. You will
inevitably buy some clothing and footwear once
you arrive in Italy so PACK LIGHT.
Computers & Electronics
Availability may be limited compared to what you
may be used to and you may not be able to connect
to the web from your home-stay residence. Should
you decide to bring your laptop with you, carry it as
hand luggage on the plane.
Our advice is NOT to bring electrical appliances if
you can do without. If you do bring any personal
appliances, remember to bring an appropriate
voltage converter AND adapter.
past Lecce students
Before you Go, Remember:
Call your bank and credit card company to
inquire about international transaction fees
and to notify them of your travel dates and
Make copies of important documents (visa,
passport, travelers' checks, credit cards, etc)
to leave with a trusted friend or family
Read up on your destination.
Fill all medical prescriptions for your entire
journey abroad. This may require contacting
your insurance ahead of time.
Notify Prof. Leparulo if you have any
special medical and/or psychological needs
Adjusting to a new culture affects every aspect of
your life. Take full advantage of living in Lecce.
The essential key to adjustment is, of course, getting
involved, learning the language, and forming
friendships with Italians. Don’t be satisfied with just
going to class and hanging out with other American
students. You have made the significant decision to
study in Italy: you will have a much richer and more
rewarding experience if you make the effort to meet
Italians and engage in the history, culture, and
language around you.
Lecce and the Salento region have a lot to offer, so
be adventurous and open. Learn the city through
your feet; roam with open eyes, learn the names of
the streets and piazzas. While you’re roaming, read
signs, and newspaper headlines. When you go out in
the evening, try to go with Italians. Take advantage
of cultural activities in the city and the many events
organized by Salento University.
And finally, one student summed up his experience
in Lecce with a single word:
“Discovering Martinucci ice cream
for the first time, discovering the
majestic beauty of the Duomo,
discovering my appreciation for art
while walking through the Basilica
Santa Croce, discovering that I can
live without a hot shower every day
of my life, discovering the awesome
capabilities of man in constructing a
city as beautiful as Lecce,
discovering myself as a minority in a
These and many other exciting discoveries await
you in Lecce. Your summer abroad will be one of
the most enriching and unforgettable experiences of