Italian Students

» Italian Studies

Italian GroupBENVENUTI!  Welcome to the Italian Studies program! 

Our program offers a full range of instruction from elementary language classes to upper level courses in Italian and Italian-American literature, film, and culture. We are a group of committed professors dedicated to assisting individual students in growing professionally and personally, both at Chapman University and on an international level. Chapman University's italophile character also offers numerous possibilities to experience Italy while on campus through student events organized by the Italian Club, operas performed by the Conservatory of Music, numerous Italian American and International celebrations, and resources such as the Italian Heritage archive and group study room at the Leatherby Library.

Our students acquire proficiency and fluency in the classroom through immersion in Italian paced to build linguistic competence and foster understanding of the artistic traditions and cultural history of Italy. Upper level courses further develop the students’ critical use of the language as well as knowledge of Italy. While introducing students to interdisciplinary research in cultural studies, the curriculum also aims to nurture connections with the students’ professional goals and personal interests. Our students choose to fulfill the Multidisciplinary Cluster in Italian Studies or the Italian Studies Minor by completing coursework in Italian as well as by drawing from the rich disciplinary range of academic opportunities relating to Italian culture available at Chapman University.

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+ - Degrees Offered

The Italian studies program prepares students to become effective participants within Italian communities in America and abroad. In addition to language acquisition, students explore central aspects of Italian civilization, increasing their awareness of the influence of the Italian classics and their understanding of Italy’s modern condition, including both the highbrow domain and popular culture. By studying the work of thinkers of Medieval and Renaissance Italy and of those who led to national Unification in the 19th century, or by analyzing the experiences of Fascism and the World Wars and of modern anthropological and societal changes, students become aware of the vital relationship existing between literary and cinematic production and the history and identity of Italy.

Multidisciplinary Cluster in Italian Studies: 12 Credits. Students have the option of counting either ITAL 201 or ITAL 202, but not both, to complete the Italian Studies cluster requirements. For more information, please visit the general education pages. 

Minor in Italian Studies: 21 credits. For more information please see the course catalog. Click here to access the form to declare a minor.

Self-Designed Major in Italian Studies: 27 credits. Click here to access the form for a self-designed major.

+ - Study Abroad in Italy

ItalyIn order to learn the necessary socio-cultural skills to be able to communicate effectively with Italian speakers, we encourage Italian minors to experience Italy firsthand through the courses taught by our professors abroad during the summer and interterm on a travel course. In addition, students are encouraged to study abroad through a semester exchange program with Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, the Umbra Institute in Perugia, as well as other programs Rome and Florence. Click here to download the information sheet. Visit the Center for Global Education for more information.

+ - Student Italian Club

Italian ClubThe goal of the Italian Club at Chapman University is to create a social network among people with the common passion for Italian culture and language. We wish to promote the Italian lifestyle through cultural understanding and social interactions with the greater Italian community of Orange County. Film showings, Italian board games, Italian food demonstrations and fairs, Italian Carnevale, and field trips, are just some of the ways students can become involved. The club is also a great opportunity for students interested in studying or working abroad, as it provides a casual and fun setting outside the classroom environment to hone language skills and to learn about the regional cultures that make up the country of Italy.


 President: Sara Delucchi

 Advisor: Professor Francesca Paduano

+ - The Italian Studies Council

council logoThe Italian Studies Council is a non-profit initiative whose goal is to benefit the teaching and learning of Italian Studies at Chapman as well as to develop the role that the program plays within the city of Orange and greater Orange County. The Council hosts artistic events and scholarly presentations open to the academic and local community. The program aims to bring students and community into contact with the heartbeat of Italy by facilitating direct experience with the culture and its arts. The members of the Council collaborate in constructive endeavors along with the Italian studies faculty and students to promote academic achievement, student and faculty projects, cultural and artistic programming, and community-service initiatives. The Council is interested in projects of mutual enrichment originating from individuals or groups outside academia.

Click here to download the Council’s brochure

For more information contact the chair Vicky Carabini or Dr. Federico Pacchioni


Joseph Baird is a native of San Francisco and life-long Californian. He has a diverse background in building and running businesses here as well as in Europe. His grandparents came from Piemonte in 1921 after Nonno Senestraro served in WWI in the Alps.  Joe is active in his family’s area of Val d’Ossola restoring homes and helping young farmers as well as entrepreneurs. He also serves as an advisor to Italian technology start-ups through LA-based Bridges to Italy.

Elisabetta Bilardi was born in Alghero, Sardinia. Her passion for world literature led her to focus on American literature during her university studies. A born traveler, she moved first to Rome, where she worked for R.A.I, then to Britain and finally to  Orange County. Here, she has worked as the event coordinator for the Italian Cultural Institute and then in the motorcycle business for Newport Italian, Vespa, Piaggio, and more recently with Dainese. In recent years she has collaborated on many important events such as: the Andrea Boccelli gala fundraiser in Beverly Hills, the Festa Della Repubblica in downtown Los Angeles for The Italian Consulate, and the Italian Opera Festival at Soka University.

Vicky Carabini serves as the Chair of Chapman Italian Studies Council. Since 2007, she has been the ambassador to Capestrano, Italy, sister city of San Juan Capistrano. She holds dual citizenship with Italy and owns a home in Tuscany where she produces olive oil. Currently she is a board member of the Italian Arts Council, the History Mission Preservation Board, and the Orange County Area Coordinator for the National Italian American Foundation. Her new venture is assisting in coordination of the Orange County’s page in the newspaper LItalo-Americano

Erta Matson is a real local! She was born in Orange and graduated with a teaching degree from UC Irvine and teaches for the Newport Mesa Unified School District.  Her father was with the United States Air Force stationed in Italy and there met and married her mother. Throughout her life her family has been committed to maintaining strong relational and cultural ties with their Italian heritage and bridged the family's geographical gap with summer travel to Italy. Erta is a member of the Renaissance Lodge Sons of Italy and has dual citizenship with Italy.

Born in Brooklyn, New York at the end of WW II, Paul Romano has served on the Board of Directors of the Patrons of Italian Culture for more than 20 years and as its President the last six. During this 20 year period he has instituted collaborations with the curators of the Getty Museums & Villa, LACMA, and other Fine Art museums nationwide to explore and promote  Italian art & culture. In the fall of each year he leads many of his Board members on ‘retreats’ to other cities across the U.S. and Canada that have significant Italian communities and explores opportunities to communicate and share valuable resources. He also acts as liaison to the Office of the Consul General of Italy and the Istituto di Cultura Italiano in Los Angeles, and is an active and supporting member of many of California’s leading Italian American organizations. He oversees the awarding of the PIC’s annual ‘Casola Prize’ scholarships to worthy college and graduate students of Italian descent.

Celeste Signorino serves as the Vice Chair of Italian Studies Council. She is currently the Director, Corporation and Foundation Relations at Discovery Cube Los Angeles. For the past seven years, she has worked in the non-profit sector including OCTANe Foundation for Innovation and most recently serving as Vice President, Investor Relations and Business Development for Orange County Business Council. Prior to this, she was the Public Affairs Director for Conexant Systems, Inc. Celeste began her career doing PR for Neiman Marcus and studied International Business at George Washington University. Since 2002, Celeste has visited Italy nearly every year and in 2005, she lived in Florence, where she studied Italian, cooking, and Early Renaissance Art History.


Frank DeBenedetto has been a resident of California since 1973, where he’s been involved in real estate development and the investment field. Prior to his business enterprise in O.C., Frank worked a professional actor in theater and cinema. His grandparents immigrated from Italy in 1921. His grandfather was a WWI veteran for Italy, having fought on both Austrian and French front lines. After his first visit to Italy ten years ago with his family and 80-year old father, Frank has renewed his passion for his Italian heritage.  

Kristan ODonnell graduated from the University of Southern California and resides in Santa Barbara. Kristan has been active supporter of Mission San Juan Capistrano gala committees, also gala committee member of the Shea Therapeutic Riding Center. As a Dame in the Order of Malta, Kristan has served as coordinator of the Serra Pantry (local food pantry serving the surrounding community). Kristan’s heritage is Italian with her maternal grandparents from Abruzzi and her paternal grandparents born in Rome. She also serves on the Vatican Museum’s Patron’s California board.

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