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.
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).
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
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" Fontanarossa. From 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 (www.trenitalia.it).
The Catania Railway Station is located in Piazza Giovanni XXIII
By ship. It is possible to get to Catania by ship from Napoli (Naples) with the companies Tirrenia (www.tirrenia.it) or TTT Lines (www.tttlines.it). Moreover you can sail from Genova to Palermo with "Grandi Navi Veloci - Passeggeri, Merci e Crociere" (www.gnv.it) 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 www.autostrade.it.
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 wonderful strength of Etna, the snow-covered peaks, the crystal clear sea of the Ionian coast, the historical and archaeological heritage, the baroque churches and palaces, the enogastronomic traditions and music, the innate warmth and hospitality culture of the people, welcome tourists in every season.