Florida offers more than beautiful beaches and bustling cities — it is a gateway to a world of art, history and vibrant traditions deeply rooted in Italian heritage. Florida’s thriving appreciation for Italian culture makes it an ideal location for language learners. Studying the Italian language in Florida can lead to fluency and a deeper connection to a diverse global culture.

Chiara Mazzucchelli, an associate professor in UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities and the Neil Euliano chair in Italian studies, directs the Italian studies program and has made significant research contributions to cultural studies, literature and language.

Mazzucchelli recently received the Italian national honor of “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia” (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy). The president of the Italian Republic confers this honor to Italians living abroad or foreigners who have acquired special merit in promoting friendly relations and cooperation between Italy and other countries. The ceremony took place at the 2024 celebration of Italian National Day. Her dedication to students and curriculum development highlights her expertise and influence in the field.

Below, Mazzucchelli shares the top reasons why studying Italian is a valuable endeavor.

1. How Learning a New Language Helps You Live a Longer, Healthier Life
Numerous studies show that there is a way to boost your brain power, improve your life and career opportunities, and keep you sharp as you age. The secret is not a new drug or supplement but a timeless tool that’s been around for centuries: learning a new language.

It’s no wonder that studying Italian in Florida offers a unique opportunity to not only learn the language, but also to immerse oneself in a culture renowned for promoting health and longevity. By delving into the Italian cuisine and lifestyle practices, individuals can gain valuable insights into fostering overall well-being and extending their lifespan. This understanding can incentivize people to pursue Italian studies in the vibrant setting of Florida.

2. Increase Employment Opportunities
Studying Italian opens doors to a world of opportunities, regardless of your chosen major. Italy’s influence spans across numerous industries, from business and technology to art, education and science, making proficiency in Italian an invaluable asset for aspiring professionals in various fields.

Also, Italy’s status as a world leader in culinary arts, interior design, fashion, graphic design and furniture design makes it a goldmine for students pursuing careers in these areas.

Florida also plays a crucial role in Italy’s economic ties with the United States, with Italian exports to the state reaching a staggering $3.5 billion in 2022. Italy is therefore Florida’s third major bilateral trade partner in the European Union, highlighting the strong business relations between the two regions.

Some of the most renowned Italian businesses and organizations also have a significant presence in the state, like Azimut-Benetti and the Ferretti Group, world-leader companies in luxury yachts, Beghelli, a leader in emergency lighting, and Pininfarina, a global icon of Italian design. By learning Italian in Florida, you’ll be positioning yourself to engage with Italian businesses and organizations, opening up professional opportunities.

3. Connect With a Thriving Community in Florida
The Sunshine State is home to a thriving Italian community, with over 2 million Italian Americans and a rapidly growing number of Italian residents. The Italian population in the state has increased by 30% in just the past four years.

With this substantial community and over 12,500 students learning Italian in Florida, from K-12 to university level, you will be part of a supportive and inclusive network of learners. This vibrant community is ready to welcome and support you in your language-learning journey.

Moreover, Florida remains a sought-after destination for Italian tourists, welcoming 130,000 visitors from Italy in 2022 alone. These enduring cultural and economic ties position the state as an exceptional locale to engage with native Italian speakers. This presents a unique opportunity to gain valuable insights into their experiences and relish the many advantages of learning this exquisitely beautiful and rich language.

4. Immerse Yourself in Italy’s Great Art Scene
As a country that is home to over 60% of the entire world’s art treasures, Italy is a haven for those who appreciate beauty, creativity and cultural heritage. The Consulate General of Italy for the southeast jurisdiction and the recently inaugurated Italian Culture Institute in Coral Gables, Florida, are official branches of the Italian government dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of the countless masterpieces that have emerged from this incredible nation.

5. Prepare for an Amazing (Study) Abroad Experience
Once you’ve caught the Italian bug, it will be hard to resist the temptation to experience the country firsthand. According to the U.S. Department of State, in 2021-2022, 73% of American students who studied abroad went to Europe. Italy was the No. 1 destination, with over 30,000 American students choosing to earn college credits in the land of art, history and more. With ITA Airways flights connecting major airports in Florida to Rome, all you have to do is pick a date.

With a wide array of scholarships available, including merit-based and need-based, our UCF study abroad program in Italy will be a unique opportunity to participate in a global high-impact practice and an unforgettable experience.

The Italian studies program at UCF offers a flexible minor that can be easily combined with any major, allowing you to enhance your chosen field with the skill of Italian language proficiency. Thanks to UCF’s small classes, students receive an exceptional degree of personalized attention. Students with a native background in Italian or prior study in the language may be eligible to place out of the pre-requisite language courses and dive directly into advanced coursework. The program’s faculty will work closely with you to arrange a placement assessment and ensure that you’re positioned for success from day one.