By Tillie Pasternak
“If I could give some advice to a student when they are picking classes to take in Florence, I would put taking this travel course at the top of my list. It impacted my entire Italian study abroad experience in a positive way.”
For students spending one month, or multiple years at Florence University of the Arts -The American University of Florence (FUA-AUF), there is a variety of classes each student can take. A major part about studying in a new country is the ability to take Italian culture or Florence specific classes that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else. These courses help students connect with Italy and can reduce the culture shock around the topics they focus on.
The course travels from Rome to Florence over a week with different stops to be exposed to Italian culture, landmarks, and a variety of foods. Starting in Rome, students get a wonderful tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and various landmarks throughout the city like the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Many students start their studies with this course hitting the ground running with their new knowledge and exposure to Rome.
If you take the course in the fall, students travel up the Tuscan coast, visiting villas and gardens to learn about the architecture and design through different periods in Italy. You may see the creation of the carnival floats for the parade in Viareggio and learn about the Etruscan societies. Students stop at a vineyard in Tuscany to learn about the winemaking process and taste a few of the local wines. One of the last legs of the trip is to Cinque Terre, a chain of 5 towns along the coast of Italy. Visitors can only get around by foot and travel between them by boat, train, or an intense but gorgeous hike along the national park protected paths between each town.
While the sights of the trip are unmatched, this course is truly great because it is the best way to be introduced to a new country. Students on the trip often remain friends throughout their stay in Florence and travel together to other places. The class also helps set a great example for learning basic Italian language, history, and cultural norms. Studying abroad or getting your degree in Florence leaves an impact educationally and on personal growth. This course exceeds expectations and opens a space for learning that most students have not experienced before.