Study Italian in Perugia!

One of Seattle Perugia City Sister Association’s signature programs for our members is our Scholarship Program. SPSCA annually awards up to four scholarships for one month to study Italian language and culture at the University for Foreigners (Università per Stranieri). The University - located in the heart of historic Perugia - is the oldest and most prestigious Italian institution engaged in teaching Italian language and culture. Scholars not only have an opportunity to study and improve their Italian language skills with native speakers but the intensive one-month program also provides an opportunity to meet students from all over the world, and experience living la dolce vita in the "Green Heart of Italy” in Umbria.

In most cases, scholars can choose the month that works best for their schedule. In addition to tuition, a modest stipend is provided to help defray travel and / or living costs related to their month of studies in Perugia.

For 2024 studies, applications will be accepted February 1 through 29.

If interested, please carefully read the Applicant Criteria and Process.

Learn more about the SPSCA scholarship program in our SPSCA scholarship FAQ. ​

Questions? Write to: SPSCA Scholarships

Recent scholars share their experiences:

Rebecca, October 2023 scholar: My scholarship month in Perugia was a life-changing experience. Although I had done my junior year abroad in Italy and had solid Italian skills, I had lost a lot in the 35 years since then. The immersion classes were extremely important in refining my grammar and pronunciation and expanding my vocabulary into the 21st century. I befriended a German woman in my class. She and I had the crazy idea to attend a neighborhood dinner (we were the only foreigners present) and meet some locals; we became regulars at their Friday gatherings all month. By the end of four weeks I felt confident enough to deliver a lecture on a Seattle artist in Italian.

Beyond the lessons, the teachers also urged us to attend concerts and films, visit local museums and attractions, and even made a hundred-song playlist of Italian hits. I went to different arts venues almost daily – museums and churches – and visited the Barocci in the Duomo frequently.

Heather, June 2023 scholar: Sometimes in life you take a chance. I opened an email from my amazing Italian teacher, Roberta, on March 15th, the afternoon of the final day of the SPSCA scholarship submission. I said to myself, a mother of a 15 year old, Salvatore, on the way to soccer practice, 'STOP! Do this for you!' & stopped my life and sent my application.

In shock, when I received the scholarship, I jumped on it, before I could change my mind. I dove in without expectations, yet felt the support of SPSCA from start to finish.

Universita di Stranieri is the most special place, I will remember my teachers and fellow students, but the beauty of this experience, is the complimentary beauty of the relationships you meet with the locals. Dive in, get your shoes shined, find the laundromat, buy a fish, get on a bus, do the simple things and you will meet the greatest of the Perugians.

Carla, March 2023 scholar: I had the deeply rewarding opportunity to study at Università per Stranieri in Perugia on a scholarship from SPSCA in March 2023. It was so much fun: waking up every day, going to school, knowing my route would take me past glorious ancient buildings and newly installed public art, finding interesting places to eat, and living the rhythms of the city.

But the most significant value for me came from the improvement in my language skills, which allowed me to have natural discussions about anything with local people. Understanding the nuances of the language gives insight into Italian history and its values.

Dianne, Dec 2022 scholar: “Receiving my Italian citizenship at the start of the pandemic motivated me to begin online Italian studies in late 2021, and the SPSCA scholarship provided the perfect opportunity to further my studies. I found that the daily immersion and lessons helped boost my comprehension, vocabulary and conversation. I shared classes with students from Europe, Russia, China and South America, and more, in the beautiful Palazzo Gallenga, among frescoes from the 18th century, ornate stairways and spectacular views of the city. Studying in December also provided the opportunity to enjoy the holiday festivities: Christmas decorations and lights began appearing across town lighting up the Medieval buildings, streets and piazzas. The atmosphere was so festive with Christmas market stalls, chestnut roasters, a carnival on the main pedestrian thoroughfare, an ice-skating rink and many concerts. I especially enjoyed connecting with Perugians at school, in cafes and museums. Thank you SPSCA for supporting my continued Italian language journey and for this rich opportunity to spend time in Perugia.”

Susie, Oct 2022 scholar: “My month of improving my language skills at an accredited Italian university was rather transformative for me. I came away with less trepidation about speaking Italian, less fear of making mistakes (which I’ve accepted is just going to happen) and an increased mastery of grammar and vocabulary. My fellow students were 20-30 years old, save for one gentleman from Germany who was in his eighties. We all bonded well, regardless of age and nationality: ten countries were represented in my class. Perugia itself was an incredibly captivating and friendly medieval city with endless opportunities for discovery. Added to this was the opportunity to speak every day with so many locals and have the chance to use what I was learning. I improved my Italian and I improved myself. Grazie mille SPSCA.”

Karen, Sept 2022 scholar: “How lucky was I to have the opportunity to live and study in Perugia for one month. The University is not only a magnificent 100-year-old palazzo but is home to thousands of foreign students who come to study the Italian language and culture every year. My experience was life changing in that I spent my days absorbing the language that was spoken nonstop by the professors. Of the 9 students in my class, I was the only English speaker, so our common language at break time and after school was Italian. In addition to exploring this magical city and seeing every historic site the town has to offer, I took the opportunity to visit many of the neighboring Umbrian towns. A month’s stay in Perugia allows one the opportunity to study and partake in local culture. It’s a truly wonderful opportunity for which I am very grateful to SPSCA.”

Lily, July 2022 scholar: “The study and living experience in Perugia surpassed my expectations and was truly such a fulfilling, exciting, challenging and beautiful experience. The city itself is simply magical, the medieval interior is charming and hilly, the Umbrian countryside is lovely and idyllic, and the people and food are the best I found in Italy. By the end of my month there, I became so much more confident and fluid in my Italian, and was able to communicate, while not perfectly, effectively. The education and mix of teachers help to develop vocab, grammar and listening, which supplements the incomparable benefit of living in Italy and practicing Italian every day. Perugia is truly amazing.”

We are able to offer these scholarships through the generous support of our friends, business sponsors and the Università per Stranieri.

Individual Scholarship Support

La Borsa di Studio del Presidente 2024 o dei Membri Emeriti del Consiglio is a donation established by a private donor who has stated that the scholarship recipient must have two years of membership in SPSCA, and in addition, must have been an active volunteer for the organization during that time.

Caffè Umbria Scholarship Fund

Caffè Umbria and its owner Emanuele Bizzarri have been long-time supporters of SPSCA, and the Caffè Umbria Scholarship was established in 2016. Bizzari’s grandfather, Ornello Bizzarri, built a roastery in Perugia in the 1940s, and Emanuele is the third-generation to enter the coffee business. The company logo even carries a stylized version of the city’s famous Etruscan arch. For many years Caffè Umbria’s Pioneer Square location was the site of our twice-monthly Italian language conversation group, La Tavola Italiana, which has been virtual since 2020. We are very appreciative of our long-time partnership with Caffè Umbria and Emanuele Bizzarri and his generous support of our programs.

Kent Bakke Scholarship Donation

We would like to announce that this is the second year Kent Bakke has donated funds to support a scholarship for a Seattle Scholar to attend the Università per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. Kent was CEO of La Marzocco espresso machine company until 2018. He is now starting a new chapter as director of the Bakke Coffee Museum which celebrates his love for espresso machines and the art of storytelling as well as all things Italian. We are extremely grateful for his generosity.

If you would like to make a personal or corporate contribution to sponsor a scholarship or artist exchange, please contact us.