The 21-year-old woman— named locally as Lorna Urwin, 21, from Lincoln — was with a pal when they were targeted by two knife wielding attackers as they returned from a night out.
The victim was stabbed in the stomach as she tried to stop her attacker stealing her phone.
The pair's screams scared off the men who were later arrested by cops.
Officials in Milan, Italy, where the drama took place, said the men, described as north African migrants had been involved in the fatal stabbing of another man just an hour earlier.
A police spokesman said:''The victim was very, very fortunate.
"She suffered a serious knife wound to the abdomen but what she didn't know at the time was that her attackers had previously killed.
''They also left another man seriously injured and all the attacks were robberies for phones and cash.''
Police said they had used CCTV footage to trace the men who were arrested a dew hours later.
Both women were on a study abroad programme at Milan's Cattolica University.
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