Most of the school of Italian as second language you find in Italy have an excellent reputation and quality - moreover, consider that there is not such a thing as the better school, but it surely exists the better school for you: meaning that, every student has her/his own character, expectations, ideas, way of learning etc., therefore what works for me maybe does not work for you, and vice versa. The same goes for the accommodation: someone finds a family just great, because the mother talks a lot with the students, the father insists to go all together to the seaside during the weekend, and the son absolutely wishes to help with the homeworks, another student find all this same things a violation of her/his privacy...
So, it depends on you, but there are some point to define a good school everyone basicly agrees on, and they can help you benchmarking the different offers you get, and selecting the right school (for you)
DOES THE SCHOOL EXISTS ?
Nowadays it is possible to (almost) everyone to build a very nice Internet site, with a perfect presentation of a fabulous school... that does not exists. Always check the postal address, the phone number, the exact location, ask questions: the number of the classrooms, the equipment of the school, the year of foundation, even better, references from former students: to have your course at the kitchen table of somebody's home can be the best way to learn a language, but it is important that you know it in advance...
THE SCHOOL IS RECOGNISED BY THE ITALIAN MINISTRY OF EDUCATION ?
Even if it is not obligatory, the private schools can request a certification (Presa d'atto) by the State Ministry of Education, which inspects the schools: to verify - on one side - if the building, the classes and the offices comply with the European protocols of safety, accessibility and habitability, on the other side if the management and the instructors have the necessary curricula (teacher must have a degree from the University, they have to receive a certain training, there must be a dean of dydactics and a responisble of first aid in the staff, etc.)
THE SCHOOL IS MEMBER OF ASILS ?
The Association of the Schools of Italian as Second Language is the official category association and sets the standard for its members, cares for the relationships between the schools and the authorities, inform and protects the students about their rights.
HOW LONG ARE THE HOURS ?
Usually one hour lasts 60 minutes, but in the world of the schools one "hour" is synonimous of one lesson, and can last even only 45 minutes ! Therefore check with the different schools about how long is their "hour": 45 minutes ? 50 minutes ? 55 minutes ?
HOW MANY STUDENT PER CLASS ?
The few the students, the better ! even if you have to work a lot more in a small group of 5 persons ! But it is important to know also how many students there are in total in the school, otherwise you risk to be together with students with a dramatically different knowledge of Italian.. on the other side, more than 12 students per class is considered too much.
THE COURSE IS GUARANTEED ?
Especially with small schools, or with special group courses like, say, Italian for florists, or for enthomologists, you could be the only students enroled for your class. Ask in advance which is the policy of the school in this case: do they cancel the course and rembourse you ? Do they offer you private hours in exchange ? Do they run the course anyway ? In that case, the price remains the same ?etc.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO SIT FOR EXTERNAL EXAMS ?
Especially if you stay in Italy for 4 weeks or more, it is important that you end your course in Italy with some certificate, even better if you can sit for am exam. Most of the schools offer exams at the end of the course, but it is important that the exams are external, recognised by some "third party" authority, better if it is an international authority. Beware of the diplomas "recognised by the State" or similar: at the moment such an exam does not exist ! neither the Italian Government nor the Italian State, nor the Ministry of Education recognises any exam of Italian as second language.