More than 84 percent of students said that some Americans would think twice about studying in Italy following the Knox trials, according to a survey conducted by the Italy-USA Foundation in collaboration with Loyola University Chicago. Nearly 14 percent of those questioned said the murder case would definitely discourage American students, while just one percent said it wouldn’t have an impact.
Knox spent four years in an Italian prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher at their apartment in Perugia, central Italy, although returned to the US after the conviction was overturned. The American was reconvicted in absentia in January, along with Italian Raffaele Sollecito, and is currently appealing the verdict.
Despite American students being influenced by the case, nearly 42 percent of those surveyed had already travelled to Italy and 99 percent of those who hadn’t were keen to visit.
Each year around 30,000 American university students go on exchange to Italy and, according to the Italy-USA Foundation, nearly a third are attracted principally by the country’s food. Other key reasons were language-learning, Italian fashion and the quality of life, while less than five percent of students surveyed said making Italian friends was a factor.
The survey also showed American students’ broader perspective on Italy, with most saying espresso was the country’s most typical drink and gelato Italy’s favoured desert. More than 52 percent also said Italy boasted the best wine, ahead of France, the US and Spain.