Italy is a top choice for the United States collegian who is planning to study abroad.  According to the 2009 Open Doors report on international educational exchange, Italy continues to rank at number two, right behind the number one United Kingdom, even with the increase in popularity of non-traditional destinations such as South Africa.

Italy’s destination status is linked in part to the length of the typical study abroader’s trip.  The Open Doors report stated that the majority of students (56.3%) kept the duration of their stay abroad short-term (meaning either summer term, January term, or eight weeks or less.)  Many schools typically offer more short-term courses in these highly visited destinations.

So with the end of the school year upon us, and many students prepping for study abroad in the coming May and summer terms, I find it only appropriate to fill you in on what can be newly expected in Rome and Venice!

Rick Steves, author and television personality of European travel, posted a recent article on CNN Travel filled with tips that will help you bypass long ticketing lines at the Vatican Museum with its online reservation system and even beat taxi scams to and from the airport in Rome.  He also informs us that Venice, although suffering from the hectic economic downturn and huge crowds, still offers beautiful architecture and pleasant dining.  In Venice, you’ll now see more billboards than murals, but you’ll also receive better discounts at the museums!

Both the Open Doors report and Rick Steves insist that Italy’s classic destination cities do not disappoint. Those recommendations are good enough for me, and hopefully you’ll find them to your satisfaction as well. As Rick Steve’s so aptly puts it, “Buon viaggio!”