Italy Writes Competition

Building on the tremendous success of JCU's Italy Reads program that began in 2009 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), JCU launched Italy Writes, a national English-language writing competition for Italian high school students that includes on its panel of judges professors from one of America's most highly-ranked creative writing centers: the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.

2023 Winners Announced

On May 31, Writer in Residence, Susan Bradley Smith and Professor Tara Keenan-Thomson announced the winners of the Italy Writes 2023 Creative Writing Competition at the online award ceremony.

Since 2011, JCU’s Italy Writes Competition has been promoting the discovery of the personal creative voice in Italian high school students whose primary language of study is not English. This year, 101 submissions were received from students representing 10 high schools in Rome, Pomezia, and Venice.

Special thanks go to historic external member of the panel of judges, Professor Hugh Ferrer, Associate Director of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program and his team for their contribution to the Resources for Teachers and Students. To provide students with the opportunity to earn the Percorsi per le Competenze Trasversali e per l’Orientamento (PCTO) certification (a mandatory program that provides Italian high school students with practical work experience), the Italy Writes program made available to teachers a variety of resources to use as supplements to their own Creative Writing Workshops with their students. In addition to those provided by JCU’s Writing Center, resources for teachers included recorded Craft Talks on specific aspects of Creative Writing from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.


  • 1st place (€300 gift certificate) to Denise Messina, 3rd year, Liceo Classico Linguistico “Immanuel Kant” in Rome (Prof. Gina Reale) for Madness
  • 2nd place (€200 gift certificate) to Elena Sofia Battisti, 3rd year, Liceo Classico/Linguistico Statale Tito Lucrezio Caro, Rome (Prof. Serena Strianese) for The Start
  • 3rd place (€100 gift certificate) to Mariia Komohortseva, 5th year, Liceo Classico/Linguistico Statale Tito Lucrezio Caro, Rome (Prof. Serena Strianese) for War Through the Eyes of a Teenager


  • 1st place (€300 gift certificate) to Thi Thuc Matilde Rosci, 5th year, IIS Blaise Pascal, Pomezia (Prof. Giorgia Proietti) for The Girl from The Yellow House
  • 2nd place (€200 gift certificate) to Caterina Verdecchia, 5th year, Liceo Ginnasio Statale “Dante Alighieri”, Rome (Prof. Carla Mummolo) for Jivica
  • 3rd place (€100 gift certificate) to Francesca Di Chiara, 4th year, Liceo Classico Linguistico “Immanuel Kant” in Rome (Prof. Valentina Popa) for The Last Inheritance

Congratulations to the winners as well as to the many students and teachers across Italy who participate in Italy Writes each year!

Participate in the Program

Italy Writes engages high school students in the development of their English creative-writing skills and is open to all students enrolled in Italian or international high schools that do not have English as the primary language of instruction. Students compete annually for awards for the best creative writing piece in the genres of fiction and nonfiction. This national competition takes place each spring and the winners will be announced in May/June.

PCTO opportunity: Percorsi per le Competenze Traversali e per l'Orientamento (PCTO, Dlg. 107/15): students can  earn up to 10 hours for PCTO with the Italy Writes Competition.Students must be registered for this activity by their English teacher. Teachers can register their students for this program and receive digital resources provided by JCU's Writing Center and Italy Writes partner the International Writing Program (IWP) of the University of Iowa. These resources are to be used by the teacher for in-class workshops with their students. PCTO certification is based on the teacher's evaluation of in-class activities, the use of the digital resources provided, and participation in the Italy Writes Competition.

To participate:

A. Select one of the two categories indicated below and write a work no longer than 1000 words.

  • Fiction (Narrativa)
  • Non-Fiction (Saggistica)

B. Evaluation criteria

  • Works of fiction will be evaluated on grammar, spelling, mechanics, creativity, as well as storytelling style (dialogue, character, plot, narration, and vividness of detail
  • Works of nonfiction will be evaluated on grammar, spelling, mechanics, paragraphing, rhetoric, and innovation in style.

C. Do NOT include your name or any identifying information in your submission.

D. Your submission document will have the TITLE as the name of the file.

E. Upload your submission in Word or pdf format by March 1st.  

F.  All submissions to the contest must be sent using this Application Form

In May, the 6 finalists will be invited to meet with an instructor in the JCU Writing Center to select a brief excerpt from their work to be read at the Award Ceremony in June.

According to Professor Carlos Dews, Director of the Creative Writing Institute, "Finding creative expression in a language other than one's own is an exciting exploration of the emotions at the core of the human spirit. Following the lead of Italy Reads, JCU hopes to continue our tradition of providing support for English language learning in the Italian high school community." Italy Writes is wholly funded by John Cabot University.

Historic Italy Writes external judge Professor Hugh Ferrer, Associate Director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program (IWP) was guest speaker at the Italy Writes 2020 Award Ceremony. He congratulated the students and described briefly the role of the IWP as a UNESCO Creative City.

Professor Ferrer said, "I'm a big believer in the power of the creative imagination and the literary imagination to cross borders and to reach across and connect people who would have never met but who share the ability to imagine things and to feel things and to express themselves. It's been a real pleasure over the years to be part of JCU's Italy Writes Contest. An extraordinary amount of talent went into this year's finalists".

Italian high school teachers of English who would like to join the more than 165 Italian high schools already participating in one or more of the other Programs for High Schools offered by John Cabot University are invited to visit Programs for High Schools for information.

Learn more about studying English Language and Literature at John Cabot University in Rome.
Learn more about studying Creative Writing at John Cabot University in Rome.