Useful Information

Academic Calendar

The academic year in Italy is made up of two semesters. The first semester starts in September/October and ends in January/February. The second semester starts in February and ends in July. The actual start and finish dates will vary in the different universities but each semester lasts around 20 weeks and is made up of a teaching period lasting around 14 weeks and an exam period lasting around 6 weeks.

Teaching and learning

Most teaching still takes place in large lecture halls but this will depend very much on the single course of study. Students are also expected to carry out a considerable amount of self study outside the classroom in order to prepare for exams.


Exams are held after the teaching period and are mainly oral exams although some courses will have written tests taking place during the semester or before the oral exam. Each exam will have a number of dates offered during the exam period and students can choose which date they wish to take the exam. They are also entitled to turn down a mark and take the exam again if they are not satisfied with the result. Rules apply as to how often a student can take an exam within an examination period.

Grading systems

Examinations are graded according to a scale ranging from 0 to 30, with 18 as a pass mark. A "cum laude" may be added to the highest grade (30; 30 e lode) as a mention of special distinction. All examination results are used to calculate the overall degree mark on a scale of 0 – 110. The final result is based on exam results plus the presentation of a project or dissertation in front of a Board of Examiners. The pass mark is 66 and students who obtain full marks of 110 may also be awarded ‘summa cum laude’ (110 e lode).

Vacation periods

There are three vacation periods:

  • Christmas break (end of December to the first week of January)
  • Easter break
  • Summer break (from 1st to 31st August)

Local and national holidays:

  • 1st November All Saints’ Day
  • 8th December Immaculate Conception
  • 5th February St Agatha’s Feast Day (Patron Saint of Catania)
  • 25th April Anniversary of Liberation
  • 1st May Labour Day
  • 2nd June Republic Day

Formalities in the host country

European Union students do not need to undertake individual formalities concerning their entry into Italy. Nevertheless, for stays lasting more than 3 months, students need to go to the local police authorities in order to obtain a "leave to stay".

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For this purpose they have to report with the following:

  • two passport-size photographs;
  • a valid passport or equivalent document;
  • a declaration certifying that they study in Catania in the context of Socrates-Erasmus or other foreign exchange program (issued by University of Catania on student’s arrival);

For further information, please contact:

Questura di Catania - Foreign Office
Corso delle Province 218 - Catania
Opening hours: from Monday to Friday 8,30 am - 12,00 am

How to get to Catania

  • By plane. If you arrive by plane, please consult available flights and useful information about the International airport "Vincenzo Bellini" FontanarossaFrom the Airport to the city centre and to the Train Station the "Alibus Service" leaves every 20 minutes from 5.00 am to midnight.

  • By train. If you reach Catania by train we recommend you to check the Italian railway services online (
    The Catania Railway Station is located in Piazza Giovanni XXIII
    Phone +39 095 532226
    Switchboard +39 095 532710
    Ticket Office +39 095 532227

  • By ship. It is possible to get to Catania by ship from Napoli (Naples) with the companies Tirrenia ( or TTT Lines ( Moreover you can sail from Genova to Palermo with "Grandi Navi Veloci - Passeggeri, Merci e Crociere" ( and then take the motorway A19 from Palermo to Catania (Km 190).

  • By car. Arriving by car from Milan, Motorway A1 Napoli-Milano, then take the Motorway "Salerno-Reggio Calabria", exit at "Villa San Giovanni" and get on the boat to Sicily. Then from Messina to Catania Toll-Motorway A18 (km 95). From Palermo to Catania: Motorway A19 (km 195). Get updated information about the current road situation, visit the website of the Road Society

Local transports

Urban buses (the orange ones) are managed by the A.M.T. company and reach the whole town area. A single ticket costs 1€ and is valid for 90 min. (Toll Free Number 800 018696)

  • Out of town buses

F.C.E. CircumEtnea (Railway – Bus Service)
Telephone number: 095 534323 - 095 54125
Departures from Catania, Via Dusmet – near the Port - from 7.00 to 20.00.

A.S.T.- S.p.a – SAzienda Siciliana Trasporti
Telephone number 095 7461096

SAIS Autolinee
Telephone number 095 536168
Departures from Catania, via D'Amico,181, near Piazza Giovanni XXIII – Central Station

ETNA Trasporti
Telephone 095 530396
Departures from Catania, via Archimede, in front of Central Station

Telephone 095 530396
Departures from Catania, via Archimede, in front of Central Station

Catania at a glance

The second largest city in Sicily by population, Catania spreads out over the Plain of Catania, between the Ionian Sea and the slopes of Etna. The surrounding countryside, which the volcanic eruptions have made very fertile, is mainly given up to the cultivation of citrus fruit. The close link between the city and the volcano is also visible in the buildings, many of which are constructed in lava stone.

According to Thucydides, Katane was founded after 729 BC by the Chalcidian settlers from Naxos, on the hill now known as the "Colle dei Benedettini". In the 7th c. the legislator Caronda gave the city a moderately inspired government, half-way between oligarchy and democracy. In 476 BC Catania was conquered by Hieron of Syracuse, and the inhabitants were deported, only to return after 15 years. During the Punic Wars the town was conquered by the Romans (263 BC) and it succeeded in maintaining a position of considerable affluence until the Imperial Age. After the decadence caused by the invasions of the Barbarians and the Byzantine conquest, the town was occupied by the Arabs, who redistributed the land and promoted agriculture and commerce.

In 1071, after the Norman conquest, construction began on the cathedral, and numerous country villages were founded, each under the jurisdiction of a monastery. Under the Swabians, Frederick II built the Castello Ursino here, in order to complete his fortifications in this part of Sicily. The arrival of the Aragonese in Catania, which the Court often chose as a centre for its activity, led to the foundation of the Siculorum Gymnasium, the first prestigious Sicilian university.

The great eruption of 1669 and the terrible earthquake in 1693, which affected all the island and destroyed most of the city, annihilated an economy that was already in a critical state. Catania was eventually rebuilt, and it spread considerably; it then suffered the effect of a new agricultural crisis, before recovering yet again. It was elected provincial capital in the 19th c. and again began to expand towards new zones, until it achieved in our own days its present-day image of a modem city.

Visit Catania

Learn more about Catania and Sicily

Last updated: 
01/12/2017 - 13:18