Schools in Italy

Le Scuole in Italia

In Italy, pupils attend school from approximately 8.00 a.m. till around 1.00 p.m. six days a week - including Saturdays.  Sometimes, pupils return to school after lunch for extra activities.

The youngest children attend nursery school:- la scuola materna. 

Primary School
At the age of six years, pupils begin primary
school:- la scuola elementare.  It is also called la scuola primaria.  There is no school uniform at Italian primary schools, but pupils must wear a long-sleeved overall on top of their clothes.  This school overall is called
un grembiulino and its colour varies according to where you live.  In some areas it is white.  Sometimes it is dark blue or black.  At nursery school, often the overall is pink for the girls and light blue for the boys.  Il grembiulino can be 'personlised' by attaching a motif of the wearer's choice.

Above: a typical primary school grembiulino.  Would you like to dress like this at school? What do you think your friends would look like?  The overall is worn by boys and girls until they finish their primary education at eleven years of age.

Primary school pupils purchase a school diary - un diario - for each school year. 
The Italian shops stock lots of different styles and makes, especially at the end of the summer holidays, ready for the new term.  It is always a very big decision when choosing a school diary because it has to look fashionable. 
In il diario children write notes about the homework they have to do. 
The Italian word for 'homework' is i compiti.

Middle School
At the age of eleven until fourteen years, Italian pupils attend a high school known as 'middle school' - la scuola media. 

Senior School
At the age of fourteen, pupils start 'senior school' - la scuola superiore They stay at this school until they are nineteen years old.  When they leave this school they get a diploma.  This diploma is also known as la maturità and it is the qualification required to attend university.   

  When Italian pupils begin to attend the senior school, they must make a very important decision.  Even though they are only fourteen years old, they must decide what kind of career they would like to have and therefore choose a senior school that specialises in the correct subjects for that career. 

There are so many different types of senior school, for example:- catering, classical, tourism, art, scientific, engineering, etc.... 

Very often, the students change their minds about their preferred career and by the time they have reached eighteen or nineteen years of age, they find themselves 'stuck' with a choice they made when they were fourteen years old.  This often causes problems and means that many students do not have the correct university entrance requirements for the career they would like to have.


The word for 'university degree' is la laurea.  This word is linked to the word 'laurel' and at Italian degree ceremonies the graduates wear a laurel wreath on their heads. This wreath is known as una corona di alloro.

School Dinners

Many pupils go home for lunch as this is the main meal of the day in Italy.  However, if you do have a school dinner it is referred to as la mensa
La mensa is the name given to the canteen.

Pupils also take a snack to school - it is called

la merenda
 A typical merenda is a sandwich (un panino) and a fruit juice (un succo di frutta) and it is eaten mid-morning at school.

School Holidays
The holidays are called le ferie.
The summer holidays are very long in Italian schools. 
They start in mid June and finish in mid September.

A Summary
Italian pupils must attend school until they are at least
sixteen years old.
Here is a list, in order, of the schools you attend in Italy:

1.  la scuola materna
2.  la scuola elementare
3.  la scuola media
4.  la scuola superiore
5.  l'università


Return to the Italian Zone