Accademia di Belle Arti explained: the Italian fine arts university and how to apply for It

By mina
13 May 2024
Reading Time: 6 minutes
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In this article we will guide you on navigating Italian art school (or fine arts university, in Italian known as Accademia di Belle Arti), covering entrance exams, study fields, and degree structures in Italian fine arts education.

Art, much like music, is a universal language, but when it comes to the realm of fine arts, Italy holds a special place. The Italian art terms are still now commonly used in the art world. Terms such as chiaroscuro, which refers to the dramatic effect of contrasting areas of light and dark in artworks; sfumato, a technique that allows for the soft blending of colors; contrapposto, a pose in sculpture where the figure’s weight is shifted to one leg; and fresco, a method of painting on wet plaster, highlight the significant impact of Italian artistry.

Studying art in Italy offers students the unique opportunity to walk in Italian cities that are living museums. Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Caravaggio have shaped the global art scene with their groundbreaking techniques and masterpieces. 

Moreover, some Accademie di Belle Arti have their own art galleries and music collections within the school premises, allowing students to immerse themselves in masterpieces that span centuries, every day just by attending classes. 

For example, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan not only provides a rigorous education in the fine arts but also houses the Pinacoteca di Brera, one of Italy’s most prestigious art galleries. This environment creates an unparalleled educational experience, where students can directly engage with original works by the very masters they study, such as Raphael and Caravaggio, breathing life into their learning experience and inspiring their artistic journey.

For students of fine arts, learning Italian and Italian culture opens up new dimensions of creativity, allowing for a deeper connection with the work of great Italian masters and a more nuanced understanding of artistic expression.

Origin of the Accademia di Belle Arti

Accademia di belle arti di brera Italian art school

Accademia di Belle Arti in Italy has its roots in the Renaissance period when art academies began to form as centers for the study of the human body, perspective, and anatomy in art. These academies were established as a response to the growing need for formalized art education, transitioning from the medieval guild system to a more structured approach to artistic training.

The focus of these institutions was to cultivate the skills of young artists, offering them comprehensive training in drawing, painting, sculpture, and other forms of visual arts. Over time, these academies became pivotal in promoting the ideals of beauty and technique that define the Renaissance.

Today, Accademie di Belle Arti offer degrees recognized under the Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale, AFAM in short, which translates to “Higher Education in Art and Music” in English system, ensuring a high standard of education. They have evolved into modern institutions that still cherish their historical roots while incorporating contemporary art and design into their curricula.

Studies offered at Accademia di Belle Arti

The Accademia di Belle Arti offers a wide range of programs designed to cultivate artistic talent and prepare students for careers in the arts. Here’s an overview of the primary fields of study:

Painting and drawing: These foundational courses develop skills in various mediums and techniques, emphasizing color theory, composition, and artistic expression.

Sculpture: Students learn to create three-dimensional works using traditional and modern methods, studying form, space, and materials.

Graphic art and design: This area covers visual communication through typography, illustration, web design, and multimedia art, blending traditional printmaking with digital design.

Photography: Courses explore both the technical aspects and the artistic potential of photography, including digital and analog techniques, editing, and lighting.

New media arts: Focusing on contemporary art forms, students experiment with video art, digital installations, and interactive media, exploring art’s intersection with technology.

Restoration and conservation: Specializing in the preservation of art and cultural heritage, students learn the science and techniques behind art restoration.

Art history and theory: These courses offer a critical understanding of art’s evolution, teaching students to analyze and contextualize artworks.

Decoration: Students learn about designing interior and exterior spaces, focusing on aesthetics, materials, and functionality.

Stage design: For those interested in theater, film, and television, this field covers set and costume design, teaching practical skills for creating narrative spaces.

Fashion design: Available at some academies, this program teaches about textiles, pattern making, and the history of fashion, merging art with practical design skills.

 Accademia di Belle Arti offers a rich educational experience, providing students with the tools and knowledge necessary to pursue various artistic careers. 

Accademia di Belle Arti degree program structure

The Italian art schools follow a 3 + 2 years path, adhering to the Bologna Process, offering a Bachelor’s degree after 3 years of study and a Master’s degree after an additional 2 years. Some institutions also offer postgraduate research opportunities.

  • Triennio, Diploma Accademico di I Livello (Bachelor’s Degree): This course lasts 3 years, requiring 180 academic credits. Admission typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent and passing an aptitude test that may include portfolio review and a practical examination.
  • Biennio, Diploma Accademico di II Livello (Master’s Degree): The Master’s course requires an additional 120 credits over 2 years. Admission requires a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, along with a portfolio and possibly an interview or practical test.
Accademia di belle arti Venezia Italian art school

How to Apply for the Accademia as an international student

The application process for international students includes passing an entrance exam (which may include a portfolio review) ,obtaining a student visa, and meeting language proficiency requirements. Non-EU students need a visa, while EU students do not but depending on the school, must demonstrate Italian language proficiency.

Entrance examination

The entrance exam for the Accademia di Belle Arti, known as prova d’ammissione, assesses candidates’ artistic skills and potential. This usually involves submitting a portfolio, completing a practical test, and an interview.

Language requirements

Prospective students may need to prove their Italian language proficiency through tests or certificates. Preparatory Italian language courses are recommended for those who need to improve their skills. Check out our Italian language school partners, they offer specialized preparation courses. 

Fees and financial assistance

Tuition fees at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Italy are primarily calculated based on the ISEE, Indicator of Equivalent Economic Situation, which assesses the financial condition of the student’s family to determine an appropriate fee level. This method ensures that tuition fees are proportionate to the financial capabilities of each student, promoting equitable access to arts education.

International students at the Accademia di Belle Arti may face different tuition fee structures, especially those from countries with higher GDPs per capita. This approach reflects an effort to balance economic diversity and access to education, while also considering the global economic situation.

Choosing the right Accademia

Italy boasts several prestigious Accademie di Belle Arti, each with its unique strengths. Here is a list of prestigious art institutions in Italy:


Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera

The Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, located in the heart of Milan, is one of the most prestigious art schools in Italy, known for its rich history and contribution to the art world. It offers a wide range of programs, from painting to sculpture, graphic arts, and new technologies for art. The academy is also home to the Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the most important art galleries in Italy.


Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino

Founded in 1678, the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino is among the oldest academies in Italy, offering a diverse curriculum that spans traditional and contemporary artistic disciplines. The academy is celebrated for its comprehensive approach to art education and its commitment to fostering the talents of emerging artists.


Accademia di Belle Arti di Verona

Situated in the historic city of Verona, this academy is known for its dynamic approach to art education, blending classical techniques with modern artistic expressions. The institution focuses on developing students’ creative and technical skills across various mediums.


Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia

Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, located near the Grand Canal, offers a unique study experience in one of the world’s most artistically rich cities. It is renowned for its focus on both the preservation of traditional arts and the exploration of contemporary artistic movements.


Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti di Genova

With a history dating back to 1751, the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti is a cornerstone of artistic education in Genova, offering courses that emphasize the mastery of traditional arts while encouraging innovation and creativity in art practice.


Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze

Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze is one of the most esteemed institutions for studying fine arts in Italy, located in the birthplace of the Renaissance. It offers a wide array of programs that cater to the study of painting, sculpture, and graphic arts, deeply rooted in classical art education while incorporating modern artistic trends.


Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma

Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma offers a comprehensive art education in the historic center of Italy’s capital. The academy is known for its dedication to fostering artistic talent and creativity through a curriculum that spans the traditional arts and modern digital media.


Accademia di Belle Arti di Salerno

This academy stands out for its innovative programs in fine arts, design, and visual communications, offering students the tools and knowledge needed to succeed in the contemporary art and design world. It is known for its vibrant student community and its location in a city rich in history and culture.

Starting your journey in the fine arts in Italy can be both thrilling and challenging. Go! Go! Italia is here to assist you if you’re seeking a specialized Italian fine Arts university preparation course or an art and culture immersion course combined with Italian language studies. 

Reach out to us to turn your dream of studying fine arts in Italy into a reality.

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