ESN Italy was officially founded on October 22nd 1994 by the members of the 7 oldest italian sections (Siena, Parma, Pavia, Milan, Trento, Bologna, Genoa) who were interested in creating a uniformity of intentions and a coordination of the activities in order to produce on a national level the same organization that operates on an international level. In these years ESN Italy has widened its network and at the moment is made of 49 sections that cover the entire national territory. The legal headquarters of the association is in Parma, in Via Università 12.

The activity of the local sections is rather homogeneous. Generally speaking, most of the sections give the incoming international students practical help in the first days on exchange. Mainly it consists of orientation services, help with housing, information about courses, explaining the academic rules and activities, as well as helping with bureaucratic problems. Once the students are settled in their new environment, the social activities begin. Sport competitions, cultural and recreational activities, language exchanges, theater, cinema and music nights are just some of the activities organized by the sections. Moreover, they also organize several trips all over Italy in order to offer the students the opportunity to visit the country in a fun and cheap way.

Most of the sections organize trips in cities where there is another ESN section present, since this is a possibility for the students to discover the country and for the members of the Network to meet members of other sections. However, they don't only organize trips to the most renowned cities, but also trips to the beach or skiing trips, according to the geographical location of the section.

The italian sections work on a volunteer basis, with around 25.000 exchange students hosted yearly in Italy. Each section is an independent association and most of them are recognized by their University, having developed a collaboration with their International Relations Office

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