Coming Fall 2020: Study Abroad in Milan, Italy

Because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Italy, the study abroad program in Milan is suspended in Fall 2020. The college is monitoring the situation and hopes to restart the program once the current health emergency passes.

Belmont Abbey College has partnered with the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano–UCSC) to provide an amazing opportunity for a select group of students to study in Milan, Italy for the full Fall Semester of 2020. UCSC offers a Study Abroad program that lets our students enroll in a wide variety of courses taught in the English language on an extensive range of topics such as Business and Economics, Banking and Finance, International Relations and Global Affairs, Literature and Philosophy, Fashion and Design, Language, and Sociology. All students, from any major, who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who will be at least sophomores in the Fall 2020 may apply.

Study abroad in Milan, Italy for the 2020 Fall Semester at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart-UCSC). This amazing opportunity comes for an investment very similar to a regular semester at Belmont Abbey College.  Applications will be collected and acceptance communicated by April 2020.

  • Enhance your education with an academic and cultural experience in a foreign country.
  • Enjoy learning in a rigorous and engaging academic environment in one of the most important European cities.
  • Take advantage of a program that will make you stand out in the job market.
  • Explore the beauty, history, and culture of Italy.
  • Encounter a meaningful experience of faith by getting to know other Catholic students who attend UCSC and by living in the heart of one of the most ancient Christian cities in the world.
Send your application to Dr. Alessandro Rovati, Director of the Study Abroad Program, at

Applications due on March 1, 2020.

Acceptance by March 31, 2020.

Program begins the Last Week of August.

Program ends in Mid December.


UCSC offers a Study Abroad Program that lets foreign students enroll in the university for one semester. The program offers a wide variety of courses taught in the English language on an extensive range of topics such as Business and Economics, Banking and Finance, International Relations and Global Affairs, Literature and Philosophy, Fashion and Design, Language, and Sociology. International students have been attending courses at UCSC for many years and the university has developed great expertise in facilitating their transition into the Italian setting. The university offers help to students when it comes to housing, transportation, and all academic matters, mentoring the students on an individual basis.

Dr. Alessandro Rovati is an alumnus of UCSC and has been involved in the Study Abroad Program himself. He has a close relationship with a number of colleagues who teach in the program and has easy access to the university’s administration personnel. Dr. Rovati’s expertise and connections to the city and the university have been instrumental in starting the partnership with UCSC to allow Abbey’s students to participate in the wide range of courses taught in the English language that it offers. The credit hours accrued abroad may meet the requirements of all the majors offered by the Abbey, thus opening the possibility of participating in the program to all students. Belmont Abbey College’s students need to apply by March 1, 2020 in order to study at UCSC in the Fall Semester 2020.

Important dates:

Application DeadlineMarch 1, 2020
AcceptanceMarch 31, 2020
Beginning of the ProgramLast Week of August
End of the Semester Abroad Mid December


Upon enrolling in UCSC, the students will have access to the following academic resources:

Course Offerings
Students studying in ItalyArchitectureCanals

Financial Information

Each student will pay to Belmont Abbey College his or her usual Tuition plus a $1500 Study Abroad Fee. Travel, Visa, Housing, Living, Books and Supplies are not included in the Tuition and the Study Abroad Fee.

Table of Estimated Costs:

Books and Supplies$250
Milan, Italy Skyline


To apply, please send 1) a cover letter, 2) a GPA and course transcript, and 3) a list of the UCSC courses and/or internships that you have an interest in to Dr. Alessandro Rovati, Director of the Study Abroad Program, at In the application, make sure to provide both email address and cellphone number. While waiting the result of the application, students must regularly enroll in the Fall Semester classes of Belmont Abbey College. If you are interested in applying, please also review the To-Do-List for Accepted Students that is posted below.

To-Do-List for Accepted Students

Upon being accepted into the Study Abroad Program the students will have to:

  • Confirm their participation in the program by paying $500 within 7 days of receiving the acceptance notification. This sum is non-refundable and will count toward the payment of the $1500 Study Abroad Program Fee.
  • Submit their chosen courses to the Registrar and their Department Chair for approval. If interested in either the Service Learning Program or the Part-Time Internship, they will also have to seek the approval of the Office of Carrier Services and Internships.
  • Submit their information to UCSC.
  • Make their travel arrangements. These will include buying airplane tickets, getting a US Passport, and applying for a Student Visa through one of the Italian Consulates in the US.
  • Find housing. UCSC uses a third-party service called MIL Service to help students find a suitable accommodation, but students are free to find housing in other ways.
Headshot of Alessandro Rovati

Dr. Alessandro Rovati

Director of Study Abroad

Dr. Alessandro Rovati is an alumnus of Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and a native of Milan, Italy where he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2015. During his graduate work, Dr. Rovati participated in a study abroad program himself at Duke Divinity School, where he combined his extensive philosophical training with theological reflections on the current life of the church amidst contemporary society. After working as an Adjunct and Full Time Lecturer in the departments of Theology and Political Philosophy at Belmont Abbey College, Dr. Rovati is now Chair and Assistant Professor of Theology and Director of Study Abroad at the Abbey. Dr. Rovati’s scholarship focuses on Christian Ethics, Moral and Political Philosophy, Catholic Social Teaching, and Political Theology. He has contributed the chapter “War Is America’s Altar” in the edited volume Cultural Violence and Peace (Brill), traveled across dioceses to teach ministers, educators, and lay faithful, and written articles in Quaestiones Disputatae, the Journal of Moral Theology, and various online publications. Dr. Rovati is now working on two books, Putting Hauerwas in His Place and Learning the Gaze of Christ: A Theological Engagement with Pope Francis. You can contact Dr. Rovati at

A Look Back: Study Abroad at the Abbey

Abbey Missionaries Take to Haiti

As a Benedictine monastery as well as an institution of learning, Belmont Abbey College prides itself on instilling the values of hospitality and service in its students. For those who wish to make the most of their time at the Abbey and put those particular values to good use, an education professor leads overseas mission trips every year that have proved to be successful in more ways than one. “I feel like every faculty member within a department can contribute to our students’ overall growth,” says Dr. Tara Galloway, assistant professor of education. “This involves preparing students’ minds, bodies and spirits to pursue the good for themselves and for their communities, which is our mission at Belmont Abbey College.” Galloway takes interested students on a mission trip to a developing country twice a year to learn about the meaning of charity and giving. In January, she took her students to Haiti, a country ravaged by poverty and natural disasters, where she believes her students find “the perfect opportunity…to change their worldview and broaden their knowledge of the world and what people are going through.”

Take a trip to London 

The course, English Foundations of American Law, examines the historical basis of the American Legal System in the Common Law traditions of England. The course meets twice weekly during the first two months of the Spring semester and culminates in a trip during Spring Break to London. The students visit the British Library to see the Magna Carta, tour Parliament, observe a criminal trial in the “Old Bailey” courthouse, and visit New Scotland Yard and the Middle Temple of the Inns of Court. In addition, there will be visits to the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Hampton Court Palace. Visiting these sites helps the student understand the connection between the two legal systems is still strong and provides them with a unique perspective that cannot be gained in the classroom.

Christianity and Culture Minor 2017 Rome Trip

Check out this amazing video made by one of our students, Madison Caito!

London London 

An Abbey Honors Tradition

The Bishop Pilla Summer Institute is a program that many Honors students eagerly await from the beginning of their academic journey at the Abbey. After six semesters of hearing about the grand European adventures from the previous Honors Institute classes, the anticipation of this exciting voyage finally became a reality. Having experienced this five and a half week program for ourselves, we can join the classes before us in attesting to the camaraderie, cultural learning, and deepened faith that ensues when traveling as an Honors class.

A few days before our departure, Dr. Eugene Thuot set up a video chat with our Bishop Pilla program guides. Amidst the pressing responsibilities of finals week, there was much on everyone’s academically frenzied minds; but, when we heard Dr. Luigi Ferri’s Italian accent over the video chat, our nervous concentration on exams was, for a moment, replaced by enthusiasm for our European expedition.

On the Road to Dublin

With final exams finished and final papers trailing behind, we all met at the Charlotte airport to begin a journey that still seemed surreal. In Canada, we met our enthusiastic Italian language professor, Dr. Casciani, as we waited for the flight that would take us to Dublin, Ireland. When we arrived in Dublin, we met our Italian Literature professor, Dr. Ferri, and the John Carroll University students with whom we would take classes, go on tours and socialize in our free time.

Because the Irish professor who was initially going to introduce us to Ireland was not able to join us, a John Carroll philosophy professor, Dr. Wirkus, generously agreed to come last minute and introduce us to James Joyce’s Dubliners. We had many involved class discussions regarding the themes of identity and exile, which would be applied to everything we would read in class thereafter as well as everything we would see on our tours.

I-rish I Was in Dublin…

Dublin presented much in the way of culture, as we took group excursions through the city in the daytime, visiting the places that inspired Joyce in his stories, and passing through Trinity College, which houses sections of the renowned Book of Kells. The students, occasionally accompanied by Dr. Ferri, would frequent the local pubs in the evening, fulfilling the important cultural tradition of tasting Guinness, as we took in the lively scenery of exceptional Irish dancing and Irish music performances.

We were given a day to explore on our own, in which some went to visit a castle, others familiarized themselves more with Dublin city, and the small group I joined took a bus to Glen de Lough, where we hiked for about five hours in the chilly, yet breath-taking Irish mountains. In the famed song “Molly Malone,” Dublin is described as “fair”; however, if I had to portray my impression of Dublin in three descriptions, I would say Dublin is: rainy, infused with hidden beauties and historically rich.

A Luxurious Stay in Milan

Following our introductory week in Dublin, we departed for many new adventures in Italy, beginning in Milan. Our stay in Milan was quite luxurious. We shared hotel “rooms” which in some cases were more like little apartments.

Every morning, we were offered a buffet of gourmet foods in the hotel’s fancy restaurant before beginning our morning classes. We were given some free time between morning and afternoon classes, in which we could eat lunch and relax. In the evening, after more free time, we would gather again for a bountiful dinner of several courses.

During our stay in Milan, we took several day trips to other places, as well. We followed James Joyce’s life to Trieste, where Joyce and Svevo became friends. Our guide took us on a tour from the Svevo museum to sections of Trieste that were relevant to Joyce’s life.

One of the most interesting sites was an opera house that Joyce went to thirty nights in a row in order to gain a more detailed sense of humanity for the realistic qualities of his writings. We also took a boat ride on Lake Como, where we were surrounded by vast mountains, encountering some movie history as we passed by the place in which the original 007 series was filmed. Of course, we could not leave Milan without having seen Leonardo Davinci’s famous painting, “The Last Supper.”

Milan was a place of unity for the Honors students because amidst the excitement of traveling to new places, we strove to keep in mind the message of our college, “That in all things God may be glorified.” Almost every evening, we would join together, either in the hotel or sitting by the pond with turtles and black swans, to pray and reflect on the psalms. As we studied about exile and identity, we were traveling in a place where the language and culture was unfamiliar to us. At the end of the day we were still able to find that element which joins all people – that we are all children of God.

The Adventures of Arezzo

Leaving the black swans of Milan, we moved on to the adventures of Arezzo. Arezzo was the first place where the students were able to put what they had learned of the Italian language course to use. We stayed in a more modern part of Arezzo, but a short walk from our hotel took us under the arches that revealed an older section which harbored many churches, shops and sculptures. Apart from old architecture and delicious gelato shops, the old section of Arezzo harbored an awe-inspiring overlook of far-off mountains, which seemed to be common to nearly every place we visited in Italy.

Similar to Milan, our stay at Arezzo was sprinkled with adventures to other places. We took a bus to Siena where we were given five hours to explore in our own little groups. Siena was a lot more tourist-oriented than I had anticipated, but there were so many hidden away places, like the aqueduct we found and the museum of St. Catherine of Siena’s home.

The city had a very artistic and lively feel, with street musicians playing jazz music and a sidewalk artist who reminded me of the sidewalk artist/chimney sweep, Bert, in the movie “Mary Poppins.” There was also an opportunity for peaceful reflection, as there seemed to be a church at nearly every other corner, including a massive cathedral that displayed some of the most intricate of Siena’s architecture.

Dante and David in Florence

The day following our trip to Siena, we caught a train to Florence, where we were overwhelmed by the beautiful architecture. We hiked up a large set of stairs as a group to get a view of Florence. We could see Il Duomo on the horizon, where we would later visit. We were given time to explore for ourselves before we met again on a tour. Some went straight to the market and others wandered through the city.

My friends and I went into the church that Dante frequented, which was incredible because we had just taken an Honors course entirely on the subject of Dante’s Divine Comedy. We went inside the museum that held Michelangelo’s “David” and spent a long time taking everything in. Arezzo, Siena and Florence were all very different places, which contributed to our reflection on the meaning of identity.

“I felt the most free in Abruzzo”

The next series of adventures was to be experienced in the countryside of Abruzzo, where we stayed for two weeks. Looking back, it is very difficult to say which place was my absolute favorite, but I can say that I felt the most free in Abruzzo.

Because of our more lengthy stay, we shared bungalows, which instigated a deep sense of camaraderie through cooking, running, game nights of Charades and Catch Phrase, star gazing and adventuring through the countryside. We walked a mile every morning to class on a street lined with a menagerie of wild flowers. We frequently took that time of transit to pray together, talk, and sing.

The highlight of Abruzzo for me was the opportunity to explore the beauty of Italy’s great outdoors. One of the most memorable group adventures was the first hike we took, to see the massive cross that Dr. Casciani and her family placed on the top of the mountain when she was ten years old. Provided with sandwiches and water bottles, all the students piled into the back of a big van, as we were driven part of the way up the mountain.

The travel to the cross was steep, but so beautiful. At the top, we ate and silently appreciated our surroundings for a while, until it was time to descend the slope. Not only was the mountain’s view pleasing, but the fragrance of wild thyme also awakened our sense of smell.

We later traveled to L’Aquila where Dr. Casciani took us on a tour around her home city. The destruction from the 2009 earthquake forced many people out of their homes, but we saw the persevering spirit of the city still present. A Renaissance fair was taking place, with flag throwing and drum-beating. We could hear the instruments playing as we waited inside a church to have Mass with an Archbishop, an old friend of Dr. Casciani’s. At Dr. Casciani’s request, the students provided music for the Mass.

Cooking, Culture, and Castles

Over the following days of our stay in Abruzzo we made gnocchi and tiramisu with the teachers and embarked on several traveling expeditions. First, we visited Pietrantonj’s Winery in Pescina, where we were able to experience Europe in a particularly sophisticated setting. We were given a tour through the winery, and given a chance to learn about different wines in a wine tasting.

We experienced more culture the next day when we visited Benedictine churches in Bominaco. We also walked to the castle in Bominaco, at the top of which we relaxed while eating bread and salami. We encountered many beautiful mountain views throughout our journey, but just as I encounter a sunrise every morning and never tire of it, these views never ceased to amaze me.

Making the most of the time we had in Italy, we took another hike the next day to the hermitage of San Bartolomeo. Instead of seeing the mountains from a distance, we were literally in the midst of the mountains. After the hike, we celebrated by eating a carton of cherries, having a cherry pit spitting contest. After driving in the bus a little more, we stopped for gelato to celebrate again.

After all the mountains we had encountered, we changed scenery, traveling to a beach in Pescara. We made a sand fortress, ate gelato, and some people even kicked a soccer ball back and forth. We enjoyed our day of recreation.

A Roman Holiday

Saying good bye to Abruzzo, we arrived in Rome for the most intense part of our trip. In this last week, we adventured as much as we could, despite frequent rainstorms. On one of our tours in particular, when we set out to walk to a Jewish museum and synagogue nearby a particularly powerful deluge spilled down. Even in “La Tempesta di Roma,” as we named it, no amount of rain could dampen our joy, for the rain provided yet another occasion to vocalize “Singing in the Rain” and other tunes.

Amidst tours to the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and other places, we woke up early one morning to get front row seats in the Papal audience. Later, some of the students even got the chance to go to a Papal Mass.

One of my favorite moments in the trip to Rome came when a student in our group set up a Mass for us in the crypt of St. Peter’s. Once again, we were asked to provide the music of the Mass, but this time, The Belmont Abbey Honors students were the only ones in the small room. This particular Mass felt like the epitome of our spiritual union during our voyage.

At the end of the trip, we were permitted three days during which people could pursue their own interests. Some made pilgrimages to specific churches, others traveled in small groups to Assisi, and still others leisurely went through shops in Rome, finding last minute souvenirs for themselves and their loved ones. Rome was an amazing place to end our adventure, not only because it reemphasized to us our faith, which is the center of our lives, but Rome left us hungry to continue our journey in other places, seeking the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

Excellence and Virtue, Joy and Song

Because of the foundational years as Belmont Abbey Honors Students, we were prepared to experience the Bishop Pilla program with the mindset to strive for and draw others to that excellence and virtue which is the heart and purpose of our college. What the Bishop Pilla Program offered to us, besides an amazing opportunity to learn about other cultures first-hand, was that we were able to further develop our identity as a class.

Through camaraderie, we learned we are a group of individuals who are thoughtful, faith-filled, and human, with an ever-present sense of joy in our hearts, displayed particularly through song.

Mary Margaret Gallaher is an Honors Institute Student of the Belmont Abbey College class of 2015. She wrote these memoirs after participating in the 2014 Honors Study Abroad program.

Abbey TraditionHonors students gather for one last picture together before leaving Dublin, Ireland.RomeManila 2Inside an Italian BasilicaAbbey TraditionFlorencePescara, ItalyBanner in St. PeterGelatoAbbey TraditionAbbey TraditionHave class, will travel.