The Catholic University of America

Homestay Accommodations

Students interested in immersing themselves fully into Roman life may apply to live with a host family. All Loyola students live with host families. Students may request to be placed in a host family with another student in the program. The host families are managed for Catholic University by Italiaidea, a local language school. The student will be placed in an Italian home; he or she will have dinner during the week with their hosts, get to see the local neighborhoods, local cooking styles, and speak Italian. Students move in with their host families on the Sunday after arrival and remain there until the morning of the last day of the semester.

For a pleasant and relaxed time, students are encouraged to respect the habits and mode of life of the person(s) of whom they will be a guest. It is imperative for the success of their time in Rome that they adapt themselves to this life and respect the rules of the house. In particular, they should be attentive to the rules and guidelines set out below. Our students find that living with families becomes one of the most memorable aspects of their Roman stay. Many of them stay in contact with their hosts after they leave, and sometimes return to visit.


Students will receive a private room in an Italian home, which they may share with another student upon request. A house (casa) in Rome almost always refers to what those in the United States would call an apartment or condo. The student will become part of the life of the family, helping with setting up and cleaning up after the meals, perhaps watching television with the family or participating in family activities, integrating into their patterns, and getting to know them. The student's time, however, remains his or her own. Students are given a key to the building and to the home so that they can come and go as they please. On occasion, there may be a student from a different program in the same house, with their own room.


The types of housing situations vary widely. Some are families with young children, others are widows living on their own, and others are young professionals who both work. Some have simple lifestyles, others not. Each family has been carefully chosen by Italiaidea through personal contact and verification. They are all friendly and eager to get to know students and help them with their time in Rome. In these families students will get to know life as it is lived by modern Romans. Their interaction with their hosts will vary from situation to situation. They may invite the student to participate in their activities, or they may give him or her the space to develop their own pattern.


Almost all of the host families are located in the residential area beyond the historic center of Rome. They are located all around the city, so students will get to know local neighborhoods that the casual visitor or tourist never sees. In order to get to the Rome Center, students will take Rome’s public transportation. They will get to know how to move about the city in order to make the best of their Roman experience. The families are within 6 miles travel distance of the school. With the buses and metro, studnets can expect, on average, a 45-minute commute, with some taking only a half hour while others over an hour. Every neighborhood of Rome has its own charm; the further the student is from the school, the better the experience of Rome will be.


The most important general attitude students should have is one of hospitality and openness. Students are both guests in these people’s home and a representative of their culture, their school, and the USA. They should always act in a way that is both welcoming and helpful. Students should offer to help around the house, cleaning up after themselves, cleaning your room and keeping it neat, helping with the dishes, and remaining kind and considerate. This will go a long way to making their stay pleasant and rewarding.

Regulations and Guidelines

General Norms

  • It is absolutely forbidden to invite any other people into the house (whether they be other students in the program, visiting family, or other acquaintances) without the express permission of the host. Under no circumstances may anyone be invited by the student to spend the night in the house.
  • Under no circumstances should the address or the phone number of the phone in the house be given to anyone in Europe other than those involved in the program.
  • Students who return home after 10pm should be especially attentive not to create any loud noises; for example, closing doors softly.
  • Showers and baths are not allowed after 11pm and before 6am.
  • Students may not use the house phone except in cases of real emergency. They should not ask anyone to call them on their cell phone at home after 11pm and before 8am as the sound travels easily throughout the house.
  • Students should always turn off the light when they leave any room and be sure that all the lights and electrical appliances are off when they leave the apartment. Electricity is very expensive in Italy; for this reason, Italians are very careful not to leave unnecessary lights or appliances on. Also, students should be sure to unplug any electrical appliances that have a transformer (computer, digital phone charger, cell phone charger) when not in use.
  • Students may not keep alcohol or alcohol containers of any kind in their room.
  • Students should take special care in using the furniture and other things of the house. If they damage something, they will be asked to pay for its repair or replacement.
  • Students should adjust themselves to the standards of neatness and cleanliness of their hosts.


  • Most Italian homes do not have dryers and the clothes are hung to dry. Always hang your wet clothes in the places reserved for drying. Hanging them elsewhere may damage furniture or the apartment itself.
  • The student (and their requested roommate, if applicable) will be given a room of their own, which should always be kept clean and neat.
  • Clothes (clean or dirty) may not be left on the floor.
  • The hamper or bag provided should be used for dirty clothes.
  • Students are expected to take out the trash in their room on a regular basis (perhaps daily). The hosts will indicate where the outdoor garbage cans are.
  • Students may not keep any alcohol or alcohol containers of any kind in their room. If they purchase a nice bottle of wine to give to their parents, they should ask their hosts to keep it for them until it is time to deliver the gift.
  • Students are expected to clean their room once a week, sweeping and mopping the floor, dusting the furniture, and cleaning the mirror.
  • Students should take care not to leave wet clothes or towels on the bed, chairs, furniture, or in chests of drawers or armoires.
  • Should students prefer to walk around the house in bare feet (an odd practice to Italians), they be sure to wash their feet before getting into bed. If they choose walk around in bare feet, they should also wash their feet upon removing their shoes to avoid spreading offensive odors.


  • Students should be attentive to put the bathroom back in order after using it, even if it is their private bathroom.
  • Students who have a private bathroom are expected to clean it once a week, mopping the floor, cleaning the sink, toilet, and shower. Those with a shared bathroom are expected to share in the cleaning tasks.
  • Students should not leave towels on the ground and never use them to dry the floor. The hosts will indicate what they use to dry the floor after a shower or bath.
  • Italian toilets are very sensitive. For this reason, it is important not to put any products other than toilet paper into the toilet.
  • Italian toilets flush differently than US toilets. Students should take care that the toilet is completely clear before leaving the bathroom. This may at times involve using the toilet brush and flushing a second time.


Students should always help in setting the table before meals and cleaning up after meals. If they use the kitchen or eat something in their room, they should take care to clean up afterwards.


Students may only make outgoing calls from the house phone in cases of real emergency. For their own calls, they should use their cell phones. Students should not ask anyone to call them on their cell phone at home after 11pm and before 8am as sound travels easily throughout Italian homes.


  • Students should do their laundry every week to best take advantage of the provided laundry option. A load means one load of wash in the washing machine and hanging the clothes out to dry. In general, European washing machines take about 2 hours to wash one load of clothes. The hosts will indicate whether they prefer to do the laundry for the student or whether the student should do their own laundry. They will also provide a hamper or sack in which to put one’s dirty clothes.
  • Towels and sheets are provided by the hosts and will be washed by them. 
  • Most Italian homes do not have dryers, and the clothes are hung to dry. The student should take care to always hang their wet clothes in the places reserved for drying. Hanging them elsewhere may damage furniture or the apartment itself.

Heating and Hot Water

Most apartments have heating that is centrally controlled for the whole building, and thus the owners have no control over the temperature. For those that have their own heating system, the heating will be on around 6-7 hours a day, in respect of Italian environmental laws. For all types of heating, national law requires that the heating not be used to raise the internal temperature above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). The law states that heating may not be turned on before a certain date (usually 15 November) and must be turned off for the season on a certain date (usually 15 March). Hot water is usually provided by a hot water heater, which is much smaller than US water heaters. Your daily shower should be limited to 10 minutes. Very few Italians have air conditioning.


Each student will be given keys to the door to the building and to the apartment. Care should be taken not to attach anything with the address on it to the key chain. In case of loss, the student will be charged about 250 euro—but possibly as high as 900 euro—to change the locks.

Alcohol and Smoking

It is forbidden to keep containers of alcohol in one’s room. This includes bottles or boxes of wine, as well as hard liquor. If the hosts do not smoke, it is forbidden to smoke in the host family’s apartment, including in one’s room.


Students will receive some breakfasts and some dinners with the host family.

Meals are served on the days indicated. If they are missed, the student misses the opportunity to have the meal, as they will not be served on other days.

Breakfast. Breakfast time is flexible (some time before 10am), and the student may be asked to prepare this for themselves. It consists of (1) coffee or tea; (2) milk; (3) orange juice or other fruit juice; (4) cookies, a sweet roll, or bread, with butter and jam, or corn flakes (limited to one 375g box per week). Other breakfast foods like fruit or more fancy cereals are not included, but they may be purchased by the student at the local supermarket. Students are encouraged, however, to adopt Italian habits while in Italy and eat Italian style. Students may not eat the breakfast foods at other times of the day. If they wish this kind of snack food, they will have to purchase it themselves.

Dinner. Dinner is served between 8pm and 10pm. It consists of (1) a plate of pasta or soup; (2) a main dish with meat, fish, chicken, cheese, or egg with (3) a side dish of salad, potatoes, or vegetables; and (4) fruit. It will be served with water and bread. The students may find that their hosts may introduce them to a way of eating to which they are not accustomed. The less selective they are and the more that they adapt to the eating pattern of their hosts, the more they will enrich their experience.

The hosts may allow the student to use the kitchen to prepare their own meals outside of those provided. In this case, the student must purchase everything that they will use, including napkins, spices, oil, and drinks, from the local supermarket. They must leave the kitchen clean and in order after use. 

Should the student not be home for a scheduled dinner, they should be sure to inform the hosts in advance.


It is very important that students cooperate with their hosts in keeping the house safe. As burglaries are very common in Italy, there are many measures that Italians take to prevent unwanted people from entering, such as a secure main door of the building, an intercom system to open the main door, a series of locks on the door of the house, and windows that can be closed with very secure shutters. The student should take care to take some time with their hosts both when they move in and after they have had time to adjust to the house to see exactly how all of these things work and how the hosts prefer to secure the house. Above all, students should never open the door of the house or the main door of the building to anyone that they do not know, no matter what reason they may give.


It is important that students communicate well with your hosts. They should let them know when they will not be there for one of the scheduled meals and inform them when they will be spending the night elsewhere and travelling. If the student has need of something, they should always feel free to ask. They should let the Rome Center staff know if they have any hesitations about communication.

Resolving Problems

Should the student have any problem or are unsure about any of the house practices, they should not hesitate to speak about this with their hosts. They should be sure to bring up any uneasiness or things that they do not understand with the Rome Center staff, who will help them find a solution. The more that the student can resolve small misunderstandings directly with their hosts, the better their relationship with them will be. 

If a situation arises in which a significant problem cannot be resolved, the student may be moved to a different host family. Because most problems arise out of miss-communication and cultural differences, the Rome Center asks everyone to commit to at least the first four weeks with the host with which they are placed.

Overall Behavior

Students should remember that they are guests of the host families and guests in Italy in general. They are a representative of CUA, ACU, and Loyola University Maryland, as well as the United States and Australia, and their actions will reflect back upon everyone. Students are expected to maintain an exemplary relationship with their hosts, respecting their rules, always being considerate of them, and going out of their way to keep the relationship healthy and pleasant. The program continues to be very successful because of the model behavior of our students over the years. Inconsiderate, rude, irresponsible, and other unpleasant behavior will not be tolerated. Serious incidents will receive a written report that will be filed both in Rome and at CUA, ACU, and Loyola. The second such report may result in dismissal from the homestay and the program, with the loss of all financial and academic credit. Serious incidents include, but are not limited to

  • Having alcohol or alcohol containers in one’s room;
  • Returning home obviously intoxicated;
  • Intoxication to the point that the hosts have to take care of the student or clean up after them;
  • Intentionally damaging the hosts’ belongings;
  • Repeatedly missing meals or not spending the night at home without previously notifying the hosts;
  • Loud behavior after 10pm and before 7am;
  • Using the hosts’ things and/or food without permission;
  • Having guests in the house without the hosts’ permission;
  • Neglecting basic norms of cleanliness of the room, bathroom, or person.

We would expect that no one would ever infringe upon these basic standards and that students will maintain the high level of behavior of our students over the years. 


Last Revised  3 February 2017

Student Experience

Thinking about whether or not a homestay is right for you during your semester in Rome? Eva-Maria tells us about her homestay experience and why other students from The Catholic University of America should have this opportunity as well.