The utility of Italian outside of Italy is limited unless you are thinking of a career in the Roman Catholic Church or as an opera singer. Still there is a certain kudos to parlando Italiano. Moreover, Italians love foreigners who speak Italian or try to, which gets you all sorts of advantages when negotiating your way around town. The only trouble is that they [Italians] often want to practise their English and you need enough Italian to impose it as the language between the two of you.
Italian classes are also a great platform from which to build a holiday itinerary as schools have agreements for accommodation, and activities including cooking classes. They are a great place to meet people, being an ideal starting point for a single traveller.
Language, like anything else, is mastered when you have a clearly visible aim. If you’re on a mission and allow the correct balance between lesson time and self-study time, which is at least 1:1, then you’ll have the linguistic advantage over most Italians in a month i.e., you have more Italian than they have English.
Another significant issue is your mother tongue. Spanish, Portuguese and French speakers will recognise immediate similarities with their own grammar and can consequently master Italian in half the time of people from Germanic or Slavic language groups. A good approach is to do a non-intensive course at home and then come and do a course of 3-4 hours a day at a reputable school here in Rome.
Torre di Barbele - http://www.torredibabele.com/
Scuola Leonardo - www.scuolaleonardo.com
Italia idea - http://www.italiaidea.com/
Ciao Italia - http://www.ciao-italia.it/
Instituto Danti Alighieri - www.dantealighieri-roma.it
Group lessons cost 10 euro on average an hour, whilst individual lessons are 50 Euro. When in a group the key factors are the size of the group and the experience of the teacher. If you are coming with a focus on learning, do not be shy in asking precise details about both. If you are here to make friends, spend the afternoon at the beach, the evening on the town and then do your homework on the bus, summer is an ideal time to come. Class numbers hit double figures in summer.