ECU Tuscany: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have been accepted into the program?

Once your application has been reviewed, you will be sent an email saying that you have been accepted into the program and should send in your non-refundable $75.00 administrative fee and $200.00 housing deposit. Your place on the program will not be confirmed until these fees are paid.

When do I pay my application fee and housing deposit?

After you get an acceptance letter saying that your application has been reviewed and you have been accepted to the program, pay your fees! Acceptance is not confirmed until the application fee and housing deposit have been paid so pay this fee as soon as you are sure that you want to confirm you place on the program. There may be 50 students accepted, but the first 28 students to pay the fee will be going to Italy!

If I receive financial aid already will it apply to the ECU Tuscany program? How do I know if my financial aid will apply to the costs?

Students who already qualify for financial aid should have no problem using the funds for their study abroad program expenses. Please check with the Financial Aid Office of your home institution. For additional questions, ECU students can contact:

Jeff Evans
Office of Student Financial Aid
East Carolina University
Phone: 252-328-6610
Fax: 252-328-4347

ECU Financial Aid

I don’t attend ECU, can I still enroll in the ECU Tuscany program?

Any student enrolled in an undergraduate program at another university can easily apply to East Carolina University in order to be a part of the ECU Tuscany program. A visiting student application along with a $70.00 application fee is required. You will also need a form completed and signed off by your advisor to certify your classes. You do not have to wait to be accepted to ECU before applying to the ECU Tuscany program. If you make any payments for the program and are not accepted into ECU, the ECU Tuscany payments will be refunded.

If you have completed an undergraduate degree at ECU or another university and wish to attend our program, you will need to complete and submit a Non-Degree Graduate application through the Graduate School. Visiting student applications are for undergraduate degree-seeking students only. The non-degree application requires a $70 application fee payable online and an official transcript showing your awarded undergraduate degree. Please be aware that non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid. You do not have to wait to be accepted to ECU before applying to the ECU Tuscany program. If you make any payments for the program and are not accepted into ECU, the ECU Tuscany payments will be refunded.

Will the classes offered count toward any major?

We try to offer a variety of classes that count as required credits for students of any major. The courses satisfy foundations requirements in Humanities, Fine Arts, Science, Foreign Language, and sometimes Social Science. The classes may change each semester due to availability of faculty or student demand. We strongly encourage you to contact your advisor before signing up for classes. Once you arrive in Italy you will have an opportunity to drop/add if you change your mind about classes.

Can I find out what time the classes meet before selecting classes I will take in Italy?

Unfortunately no. Our class schedules change each week to accommodate field trips and unexpected weather. Each class takes turns meeting early in the day or late in the day and the class schedule is posted at the beginning of each week. We will wait to see which classes the students take before planning the schedule to find out which classes can overlap. During the summer we often plan our class days on weekends so we can travel during the week when there are likely to be less tourists.

How do I cancel my housing on campus so that I am not charged for it?

The study abroad office will submit the ECU Tuscany committed student roster to Campus Living. Once you know you are coming to Italy, you should contact Campus Living at 328-4663 to find out what cancellation paperwork you might need.

How can I contact current ECU Tuscany students to see if they might be interested subletting my apartment while I am in Italy?

Please email the director at and she will forward your request for either seeking or subletting your lodgings to the current, or future group of ECU Tuscany students. We will create a Facebook page for each group, and posting information about lodgings on the Facebook pages is another way of contacting students about lodgings opportunities.

Do I need a VISA? Can I apply for a VISA in order to travel after the 90 day program?

Students who participate In the ECU Tuscany program do not need an Italian visa. Italian visas are required for anyone staying in Italy or the Schengen area for more than 90 days total (all of our ECU Tuscany programs are less than 90 days). Because our program is less than 90 days, ECU will not issue documentation for students wishing to stay before or after the program. If you would like to know more about applying for a visa you may look at the US Embassy website:

U.S. Embassy

The official reasons that visas may be issued by the Italian Consulate include: Adoption, medical reasons, certain business trips, family reunion (with family member currently residing in that country), or research/study opportunities sponsored by a US or international institution. The consulate requires official documentation if you need a visa. Travel/tourism is not considered an official reasons and it is our experience that it is very difficult to get the consulate to issue a visa for extended travel beyond program dates. International students not holding a U.S. passport may be required to obtain a visa to enter Italy for the program. No one can travel in the Schengen territories longer than the 90 days without a visa. You can however, travel to non-Schengen territories after your 90 day allotment. We recommend that you contact the Italian consulate representing the state in which you reside to inquire.

Can I opt out of the insurance plan provided by ECU if I have my own insurance?

No, the GeoBlue Insurance plan included in your program cost is required. This plan covers 100% of your medical costs, drugs, doctor appointments, hospitalization etc. while you are overseas with no deductible! You can visit our doctor in Florence, who will file the insurance for you, or you can see other doctor’s in Certaldo and save receipts for reimbursement when you get back to the states. This is an exceptional insurance plan and even if your own insurance plan will cover international costs, we must purchase this for all of our students traveling abroad. Most insurance plans from the states do not work internationally.

What does the program cost cover?

  • Transportation to and from airports in Italy
  • International Health insurance while abroad on the program
  • Lodgings and utilities in Certaldo
  • Lodgings on all overnight trips
  • Tuition and instructional costs
  • Transportation on all school trips in Italy
  • Dinners on all class days
  • Breakfast and Dinners on all overnight trips with the program
  • Museum entrances and tours
  • 3 days in Rome for fall and spring semesters
  • 3 days in Venice
  • 3 days on the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii
  • Overnight trips to Florence and Cinque Terre
  • Day trips to San Gimignano, Volterra, Pisa, Siena
  • Entrance to Cinque Terre National Park on the Mediterranean
  • You will need to pay for your own transatlantic flight, which is not included in program cost

How much money will I need to take with me in addition to the fees I have already paid?

Depending on how many souvenirs you purchase or how much independent travel you do, you might spend anything between $1,000 and $3,500 dollars during the full semester, $300-$600 for summer sessions. Some students have spent less, others more.

You will pay for all of your lunches when in Certaldo or traveling. When traveling you can estimate about $4-$10 each lunch. When in Certaldo the cost is much less because you prepare meals in your apartment kitchens, making sandwiches, salads, soups, pizzas or pastas together.

You will also need to pay for your breakfasts in Certaldo which can easily be prepared in your apartment kitchen- eggs, cereal, pastries. Cost for groceries here seems a bit less than in the states. Breakfasts and dinners are included on all overnight trips.

Weekend dinners can be cooked in your apartments. Dinners are provided for you on all school days, usually 5 or sometimes even 6 days a week.

I have special dietary needs and allergies, how can I eat with the group?

Easily! We simply tell our restaurants the number of vegetarians, vegans, celiacs and we explain what allergies our students have. They will accommodate us!

When can I book my flight?

Once the faculty flights have been booked, you will be sent recommendations for what flight to take so that you can fly with other students or faculty, if you wish, arriving at about the same time in Italy to take advantage of the group transportation provided. If you arrive later than the recommended time for the pickup, you will need to pay for your own transportation to the hotel. Flights into Rome (FCO) should be booked to arrive before 11:00am and due to the time it takes to get to the airport by boat and bus, flights out of Venice (VCE) should be booked after 11:00am. You will book your flight using a multi-destination search, into Rome (FCO) and out of Venice (VCE). Don’t make the mistake of booking your flight in and out of the same city!! Recommended flights will be sent to the group well before it is necessary to make the bookings so please wait until you receive that email from the director before booking your flights.

Can I book a flight with frequent flier miles that might get in one day earlier, or not arrive by the designated time?

Yes, but if you come in a day early, plan to take a taxi to the airport to meet the group, or to the hotel in the program handbook to meet the group. Make this arrangement with the director well in advance of your travel dates.

How much luggage can I bring?

For the Fall and Spring semester programs you can check one bag up to 50 pounds, and carry on one small roll on or back-pack that will fit in overhead compartment, as well as a bookbag or purse that will fit under the seat. See airline requirements for specific sizes. For the summer shorter programs you may bring only the two carry-on bags, not checking the larger 50 pound bag. You will find a packing list and luggage recommendations in the student handbook that will be sent to you well before your departure.

How much time do I have for independent travel?

During the 3-month semester long program we include two 3-day weekends as well as a 5-day semester break. Students meet each other after arriving and plan trips in small groups all over Europe! We are very near airports in Florence or Pisa and European travel from Italy is not so expensive. During the summer sessions, there is little time for independent travel, but often, when students do not have class days, they travel independently by train to nearby cities like Florence, Pisa or Siena.

Should I plan and book travel for my fall or spring break trip before arriving?

No! We don’t recommend that you plan this trip until you arrive in Italy because you will likely make many new friends and plan travel together once you are here. We will begin meeting about the travel opportunities, how to book best flights, where to stay, best places to go, etc. once we arrive together in Certaldo.

Are there any other costs I should be aware of?

Some classes will include a cost for supplies that may be purchased for the class to share, especially in the art classes. This cost will be no more than 15-40 euros per class depending on how many art supplies they use. Sharing supplies keeps students from incurring the cost of travel to Florence or Siena to purchase supplies on their own. Tool kits are provided for book arts, drawing and jewelry/enameling classes.

Do I need to purchase books before I come?

To prevent the additional weight they would add to baggage, we provide books in our library for students to use in classes. We are very proud of our library! Italian literature and Italian language students will need to purchase a small book once they arrive in Italy that is less than 15 euros.

Can I choose my own roommate?

Yes, you will be emailed a questionnaire about lodgings preferences – but don’t worry if you don’t know anyone else! We won’t make the rooming assignments right away. After we spend our first few days together, before arriving in Certaldo, we spend a great deal of time working out our rooming situations. You will have plenty of opportunities to talk to the director about who you might like to live with.

How do I register for the classes I will take back at ECU, while I am in Italy?

You will do it online, just as you do back at ECU. Be sure you talk to your advisor BEFORE you depart for your trip so they can advise you, and give you a pin code to register if that is necessary.

What kind of camera do I need for the digital photo class offered in Italy?

You will learn more about the camera requirements when you read the photo class syllabus.

If you are in the fall or spring semester photo class: your camera needs to be a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)! This course includes teaching the fundamentals of photography through controlling the cameras manual & automatic settings. These basics will teach you to operate the camera through practice for assignments and classes. You will learn to manipulate and utilize the camera by turning off many of the automatic features. Features your camera body/lens must have for fall and spring term:

  • Can shoot in RAW format
  • Can zoom and focus manually
  • Can set aperture and shutter speed manually and separately
  • Can set white balance and ISO manually
  • Has a high ISO range for night & dim indoor conditions

If you are getting a new camera, the question you need to ask yourself is: do you want something to grow into or out of? If you are borrowing a camera that meets the above requirements, test it before coming, make sure it works and that the battery is good and can hold a full charge. A second battery is strongly recommended and they are much less expensive in the states than in Italy- same goes for your SD cards and external hard drives. Other cameras that may work are some newer non-DSLR cameras. These cameras have different labels (mirror-less, Single Lens Direct View or Micro 4/3s) an example of these is the newer NEX series in Sony and some Fuji, Canon, Nikon cameras. Please contact our photo instructor prior to the spring or fall programs if you have questions about your camera: James Abbott at

How do I receive mail while I’m in Italy?

You can receive letters right at the school here in Certaldo as explained in the handbook. But be cautious about having packages sent to Certaldo. It is important to remember that all items must be declared and they must go through customs. This means that absolutely no fresh food can be sent and everything entering Italy is subject to tax (23% IVA). The delivery time is usually between 2 weeks to a month! We do not recommend that family and friends send you care packages – one student accepted a package with crackers, syrup, salad dressing, socks and similar items, and spent over 100 euros to receive it. Never have medications or medicines sent by post or FedEx. It is extremely expensive to receive medicine, it takes many weeks through customs to be inspected and processed & you may not receive them at all.

Can I buy medicines and prescriptions in Italy?

We have several pharmacies here in Certaldo and pharmacies are always easy to find when traveling. While you can find many over the counter medicines they may be called something else here or have a different potency. We recommend bringing with you any medicine you take regularly when you get sick (i.e. NyQuil, Uristat, Benadryl, Tylenol, Dramamine, etc.) If you take a prescription medication speak with your doctor about getting an extra refill before leaving. NEVER send medicine by post, it will get held up in customs to be inspected and it will be very heavily taxed! Sometimes it is never received so we highly recommend taking care of your medications before departing from the USA.