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Italian Cultural Studies in Studio Art, Art History, Language, Cuisine, Fashion and Photography

“Open my heart and you will see, Graved inside of it, ‘Italy.’" Robert Browning


Join us in Florence this summer for an adventure of a lifetime! You will be inspired by the beauty of Tuscany and its cultural capital, a living museum holding the world’s greatest treasures from the Renaissance era, a city of elegance, history and art.

Program Highlights

  • Live in upscale, spacious student apartments in the historical center of Florence
  • Enjoy fresh authentic food prepared by our culinary staff and local chefs
  • Learn in a fun, interactive way, outside of the classroom (hence our Experiential Learning Method!)
  • Be a savvy, sophisticated traveler. Go above and beyond the standard tourist checklist!
  • Meet local Italian youth and make friends from all over the world
  • Option to receive college credit, studying with our local partner institutions
  • Included trips to Venice, Verona, Milan, Siena, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, Viareggio and more
  • All inclusive 3 or 4 week sessions

I also really liked the tri-weekly cooking groups because it gave everyone time to bond, learn a new skill and my cooking group even ate together on a balcony with a view of the Duomo! McKenzie O., California

Residential Life

You will live in upscale, comfortable student apartments, in the very center of the city, a short walk from the Piazza del Duomo, the heart and soul of Florence, right by the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. The apartments have living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and 2-3 bedrooms. Each bedroom is shared by two students, with staff members housed in a separate apartment down the hall.

You will be part of our Abbey Road family, making new friends, learning to be independent and self-reliant, to share responsibilities with your peers, manage your time, and getting ready for college years!

Night sketching was really fun because we got to go out to the bridge and draw the Ponte Vecchio when it was all lit up. The reflections in the water and all the lights of the city were just really amazing to see. Maddie K., Connecticut

Daily Schedule

Every student on the program chooses two classes as their academic focus in Florence: a major and an elective. Major classes meet every morning Monday to Friday, while electives meet three afternoons a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Students interested in earning college credit will have the option of doing so via our local partner school, Lorenzo de Medici Institute.

Majors: Art History, Studio Art (Drawing, Oil Painting) Italian Language

Electives and Workshops: Photography, Fashion Design, SAT Prep, Italian Conversation, Italian Cinema, Tuscan Cuisine, Drawing, Oil Painting, Art History & Architecture, OSA Soccer Academy

This frees up two afternoons per week for you to attend the many workshops, excursions and fun activities, such as gelato-making, ultimate Frisbee, leather binding, museum touring or enjoying a swim at the local pool. We will always give you at least two to three options to choose from just to make sure there is something for everyone.

Some of our students' favorites are:

  • admiring the legendary Renaissance masterpieces at the Uffizi, Bargello, Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Medici and countless other Florentine museums
  • sketching Michelangelo's David at the Galleria dell'Accademia as part of the art class taught by our faculty
  • an evening soccer match in Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Iron Chef culinary competition at our residence judged by the staff
  • sketching Florentine life in Piazza Santa Croce
  • swimming in the local Olympic size pool
  • fashion workshop with Italian fashion designers
  • outdoor movies in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
  • Italian cuisine workshop with a local chef
  • climbing to the top of the Duomo to admire an incredible view of Florence
  • Italian conversation over coffee and gelato
  • An outdoor dance with local Italian teenagers
  • Shopping at Mercato Centrale and San Lorenzo
  • Picnic in the Boboli gardens
  • Attending an art show at Palazzo Strozzi

Food

Our culinary staff will buy daily fresh food for breakfast and lunch from the local markets and shops. Some evenings our staff and students will make delicious meals together, armed with fresh ingredients and our own Tuscan recipe book. These culinary adventures quickly become a favorite bonding and cultural activity among our students and staff. We will also enjoy authentic local cuisine during outings to local restaurants.

Our staff will provide you with daily groceries (bread, pasta, cereal, water, olive oil, etc.) and house supplies. If you need more food or house supplies - just tell us. We will get them for you.

My trip this summer was one I will remember and cherish forever and was an amazing learning experience and summer of growth. I won’t forget the friendships I’ve made and the many lessons I’ve learned. Samantha O., New York

Weekend Day Trips

In addition to showing you all of the most celebrated and “lesser known” cultural sites in Florence, the program allows you to explore cities outside Florence and even Tuscany each week. From hiking along the cliffs on the Italian Riviera to following in the footsteps (and postures) of millions as you “lean” in front of the tower in Pisa, you and your new friends will be able to explore some of the legendary sites that make Italy one of the most visited countries in all of Europe.

Some of the students' favorites include:

  • Hiking along the beautiful Ligurian coastline at Cinque Terre
  • Swimming in the turquoise lagoon of Vernazza
  • Group dinner on the beach of Monterosso
  • A shopping tour of Tuscany's premier fashion outlets (Prada, Gucci, Cavalli, Ferragamo, etc.)
  • Sailing on the private beach in Viareggio
  • Biking on the walls of Lucca
  • Taking the famous "leaning tower" picture in Pisa
  • Tasting the legendary Ricciarelli cookies in Sienna's Piazza del Campo
  • Touring San Gimignano and its famous Torture Museum
  • Fashion expedition to Milan, the world capital of style

Included: Three Days in Venice & Verona

Join us for a sunset gondola ride through the famous canals of Venice! With its looming fortresses, breathtaking architecture, and history of naval dominance, Venice is the perfect location to examine the intersections of art, history and present-day Italian culture. From an afternoon chat with friends over espresso con panna by the famous Rialto, to taking in a street performance in Piazza San Marco, get ready to learn the story of how Venice influenced centuries of European history.

On the way to Venice, stop by Juliet's house in beautiful Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's greatest love story, the annual opera festival and its Roman amphitheatre. Ponder finding true love and your own Romeo as you stand on Juliet's balcony (but please do not miss our bus departure!)

This program went beyond my expectations. It was really worth it! They did more than what I expected…and if I were to do it again I wouldn’t change a thing! Marisa L., California

Optional Travel Extension – Rome

This final portion of the Florence program includes four days of cultural discovery in Italy’s capital. Saying « Arrivederci » to Florence will be difficult, but greeting Rome with an enthusiastic « Ciao Roma!» will no doubt ease your pain. Hosting such influential sites as the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, Fori Imperiali and the Pantheon, this trip allows you to study first hand some of the most important cultural landmarks of Western Civilization. From throwing coins over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain to sketching on the Spanish Steps, you will have the opportunity to experience every aspect of this city’s incredible history and vibrant life.