Sant'Anna Institute

Via Marina Grande 16 Sorrento, Naples 80067 Italy

About Sant'Anna Institute

Year Founded: 1998

Sant'Anna Institute was founded in 1998 as Sorrento Lingue and started hosting faculty-led programs with United States universities a few years later. We work closely with the State University of New York Alfred State College, our regionally accredited U.S. partner, to offer students a wide range of academic courses. We are an international community of constant cultural exchange between faculty or staff and students. We are located in an impressive historic structure perched on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast, overlooking the fishing village of MArine Grande and is a short walk from the center of Sorrento, Italy.

Discover Programs

Sorrento: Spring Semester Program at Sant'Anna Institute

Italy : Sorrento

Study in the unspoiled scenery of the Amalfi Coast. Be unique and study outside of the major Italian cities with the authentic traditions of southern Italy. Study abroad...

Sorrento: Fall Semester at Sant'Anna Institute

Italy : Sorrento

Study Abroad in the unspoiled scenery of the Amalfi Coast. Be unique and study outside of the major Italian cities with the authentic traditions of southern Italy. Study...

Sorrento: Faculty Led Programs at Sant'Anna Institute

Italy : Sorrento

We welcome new partnerships with foreign faculty members. Foreign faculty members teach core curriculum courses while Sant'Anna provides instruction in language and other...

Sorrento: Summer program at Sant'Anna Institute

Italy : Sorrento

Study Abroad in the unspoiled scenery of the Amalfi Coast. Be unique and study outside of the major Italian cities with the authentic traditions of southern Italy. Study...

Sorrento: Internships for Credits

Italy : Sorrento

Available during semester or summer terms with credit transferable through SUNY Alfred State College. Students pair the internship with Italian language and elective courses...


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Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

  • Serena Vacca - Assistant Program Coordinator

    Serena Vacca - Assistant Program Coordinator for Sant'Anna Institute-Sorrento Lingue

    Serena studied Modern Language and Literature at University of Naples "Federico II" and also studied a semester abroad in Bristol (UK) at the University of Bristol. Inspired by her own study abroad experience, she joined Sant’Anna Institute as Assistant Program Coordinator.

    How did you get involved with the Sant’Anna Institute?

    I had also studied abroad, which opened and broadened my mind and my view of the world. After graduating, I desired to work in a field that put into practice my language skills, and I was fortunate enough to come across Sant’Anna, which was the perfect match! I became the Assistant Program Coordinator where I help coordinate both the study abroad as well as the Italian language programs that Sant'Anna offers. 

    SantAnna Institute Staff at a Study Abroad Fair Table

    Serena with other staff at a fair.

    Why do you think students should choose study abroad programs through the Sant'Anna Institute?

    First of all, because we are the “authentic Italy”. Rarely have any programs offered the student an opportunity to experience the unique culture, customs, and climate of southern Italy. But more importantly, at Sant’Anna, we do our very best to fulfill the expectations of our students; from making them feel at ease when arriving to a new place to excellence in academics and cultural experiences. Our staff is like a family, and our mission to make each and every student feel apart of our family before, during, and after their abroad experience. 

    What are the key things students take home with them from programs at Sant'Anna Institute?

    Academic excellence and knowledge in their field of study, but also they will gain a better perspective on Italian culture and authenticity.

    What program attracts the most students?

    The summer program, because our location on the sea allows students to study, learn, and get credits while enjoying a summer in a sea resort town. 

    What is one place you suggest students visit while studying in Sorrento?

    The excavation site of Pompeii and the island of Capri. 

    What is a typical day like for a Sant'Anna Institute student?

    Class in the morning at Sant’Anna Institute. Field trip in the afternoon with the Archaeology professor, then watching the sunset on the beach while tasting a real pizza. 

    What does Sant'Anna Institute do to help students further explore the culture and help them feel more at home?

    We organize field trips to explore the surroundings, cooking classes, events at Sant’Anna, meeting with locals, and we let them stay with Italian families that become their second families. We make them feel at home and Sant’Anna as well becomes another family for them.

    What are the biggest difficulties your students face? How do you help provide them with the support they need to overcome difficulties?

    Adapting to a new culture is often difficult, but also money problems are always present. We help them with grants and scholarships. Also, they sometimes find it difficult to make friends with locals since they tend to stay with other international students, therefore we organize meetings and events here at Sant’Anna with locals and Italian students.

    How does Sant'Anna Institute ensure the safety of all students?

    Sorrento is a very safe and small town. All our apartments are at a walking distance and pretty close to the school so that they do not have to take subway or any other mean of transportation. Students have three emergency phone numbers of Sant’Anna Staff that they can contact anytime, 24 hours, and also the contact of English speaking doctors available even at night 

    What can we expect from the institute in the next year?

    Our goal is to always grow and improve. Our mission is to enhance our offerings but also to meet our students needs: we do our very best to fulfill their expectations and we want to give them the best study abroad experience possible. We are planning on enlarging the program offer with new courses and programs as well.

  • Dr. Cristiana Panicco - Founder, Director, & President

    Cristiana grew up in Turin in the north of Italy, where she started studying languages at the age of 13. Her passion for international cultures was further enriched from the travel experiences she had been fortunate enough to have since childhood. Upon moving to Sorrento in the south of Italy, Cristiana was inspired to unify her love of Italian and international cultures and began what is now Sant'Anna Institute, a school for both Italian language and study abroad students. Cristiana's mother was a teacher and her father was an entrepreneur so the idea for Sant'Anna Institute was also naturally bred from the skills and values she learned from her parents.

    You are a study abroad alumni yourself, having studied abroad in England and Germany during your academic career. What drew you to study abroad initially? How did your experiences abroad impact you?

    I had a curiosity to discover a different culture and to meet different people. When I lived there I avoided Italian interactions, like Italian restaurants and even Italian people. I really just wanted to immerse myself with the locals, listening to what they said and observing the way their culture was. Especially in England, I was really lucky because I lived in a flat with an international group of students (from Iran, Sweden, England, and France), our dinners every evening were diverse and enlightening. I probably would have never had the idea to open the school if I hadn't had those experiences. 

    Apart from learning in a new environment and enhancing your knowledge in the discipline of your choice, what did you gain from studying abroad?

    I think the freedom of being who I am. If you always live within your comfort zone, you can find yourself constrained by that environment. When you go away, you gain the freedom to be who you really are without the pressure and influence of your culture. Once you have the freedom to be who you are, you’re mind is free to to fly and to discover its own way.

    I am lucky because I have always brought my roots with me, I never planted my roots in the earth. It's the way you look at things, the way you see things, that allows you to feel good anywhere, without judgement, with enthusiasm and curious eyes, like a child. Judgement is a limit, so with an open mind, I have found myself at home wherever I have been.


SantAnna Institute staff and study abroad students in Sorrento, Italy

    A group of Sant’Anna Institute students and staff in Sorrento.

    Your world changed after studying in England and Germany. Can you explain how you felt about study abroad before you left and when you returned home?

    I didn’t have a single expectation of studying abroad. I was open to whatever the experience would take me. When I returned home to my old surroundings, I realized that I had changed. When I moved here, I felt like it was my turn to give this type of experience. Sant'Anna's very existence represents myself and what my views have become...curiosity, new challenges, shared experiences, no borders, and no limits.

    As a native of Torino, Italy, what must-see sights do you suggest students visit while studying abroad in Italy?

    The known but also the less known places. For example, the countryside in Umbria is not a foreigners typical view of Italy, but it is breathtaking, every single meter. From the most important cities to the medieval small remote towns, everything in Italy is filled with history, culture, and poetry. 

    Sant'Anna Institute has won many awards for its academic programs. What strategies do you employ in providing great, life-changing programs to students from other countries?

    Having a good staff and a good faculty that share the same passion, not only for our country but also the passion to share their knowledge with someone else, this is the key. Someone can have an amazing knowledge but lack the capability to communicate it to others, I put a lot of attention on having high communication skills. You have to be able to talk with the heart of people...this has been the real success of Sant'Anna's mission.

    What is the Sant'Anna Institute's most popular areas of study?

    The programs with the strongest links to the territory tend to be the most popular. We don't do fashion because that's more Milan's strong point, as engineering is Torino 's, etc. However, we are incredibly lucky that our territory has such an abundance to learn from – the Italian language, Archeology, Volcanology, Marine Biology, internships in Tourism/Culinary/Hospitality, etc. It's hard to pick just one! We also offer the unique opportunity to connect and give back to the local community through service learning and community service projects.

    You founded the Sant'Anna Institute in 1998 as the language school Sorrento Lingue. What has been the toughest part about establishing the organization? What has been the most rewarding aspect?

    To get people's minds unfixed on from Rome and Florence as the only cities in Italy for studying abroad and to open them about the south... that has been the toughest challenge.

    The most rewarding part is every single time we have a thank you from a student, seeing their tears when they leave, or getting letters from parents about all that we have done for their kids. Seeing the growth and success of our alumni in their careers is immensely rewarding as well.

    How does the Sant'Anna Institute select applicants?

    We do so on a more personal basis, in the sense that we don't stop at just the application, but try to get the best sense of who a student is and what he/she truly wants to gain from his/her abroad experience.

    Safety is a concern in most study abroad programs. How does Sant'Anna Institute ensure the safety of international students?

    We already live in a town where safety is not a problem, so that helps. We do an in-depth orientation explaining cultural differences between the U.S. and Italy, especially about alcohol. It's a safe place, but it's still a new place for students so we always try to make them aware of possible challenges/encounters.

    Where do you see the institute in five years?

    We hope to continually increase the number of students we reach as well as the number of  faculty-led programs, because we truly believe we are the perfect location for a truly integrated study abroad experience. We would also like to further enrich our programs in Tourism and Hospitality Management, because Sorrento has around 300 hotels, a great local resource. We are looking for American universities who might like to start an 18-month Masters program in Sorrento, which would consist of ten months of study and eight months of an intense internship immersion.