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I Tatti - The Harvard Univ. Center for Italian Renaissance Studies

text Julia Zanetti

May 20, 2024

American Institutes in Florence

All institutions offering international study programmes in the city

Florence, renowned as a city of art and history, is celebrated for its monuments and illustrious historical figures. The Tuscan city has a special bond with the United States that goes far beyond formal diplomatic relations.

This privileged relationship is accentuated by the presence of the U.S. Consulate in Florence, which has been operating in Tuscany for more than 200 years. This consulate is the second oldest U.S. diplomatic office in Italy, preceded only by the one in Naples. The long history of the consulate testifies to the importance of the relationship between Florence and the United States(read HERE our last interview with former Consul General in Florence, Ragini Gupta and HERE her tour around Tuscany)

The bond between Florence and the United States has been further strengthened over time, particularly thanks to the invaluable help of Americans after the 1966 Arno River flood that caused severe damage to the city's art treasures. Numerous volunteers from all over the world, who have gone down in history as the Mud Angels, rallied to save works of art and historical archives. Among them was Ted Kennedy (brother of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy), who was 32 years old when he arrived in Florence the day after the flood and quickly became the symbol of American commitment to safeguarding Florence's cultural heritage.

In addition to cooperating in times of crisis, the relationship between Florence and the United States has also manifested itself in the academic field. The city is home to more than 30 American colleges, universities and institutes, known for their top-notch academic programs and international prestige. These offer a wide range of educational opportunities, attracting students from all over the world and helping to strengthen cultural and intellectual ties between Florence and the United States.

An example of this connection is Polimoda, which has one of its main offices in the historic Villa Favard and is directed by Massimiliano Giornetti, an internationally renowned creative director whose training took place at this very school (you can read our latest interview with the director HERE). This is an excellent, internationally renowned fashion institute, founded in 1986, which throughout its history has set new standards for training in the fashion industry, offering bachelor's and master's degrees, personalized tutoring and internships at leading companies in the industry. Polimoda was born through a joint initiative of the municipalities of Florence and Prato, in collaboration with the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) of the State University of New York. This collaboration made it possible to create an educational and cultural bridge between Florence and the United States, helping to strengthen ties between the two. Today, the Fashion Institute of Technology continues to maintain a significant presence in Florence through a dedicated program. Students have the opportunity to study Fashion Design or Fashion Business Management directly in Florence benefiting from a unique educational experience that combines the artistic and cultural tradition of Florence with American innovation and academic excellence. (Via Curtatone, 1)

Villa Favard (ph. Dario Garofalo)

New York University (NYU) offers extraordinary academic opportunities for study abroad, and one of its most fascinating locations is New York University Florence. Located in Villa La Pietra, a stunning Renaissance villa that once belonged to the Acton-Mitchell family, this location offers students a one-of-a-kind educational experience. Thanks to a generous donation from the Acton-Mitchell family, NYU acquired the villa and embarked on a restoration project to transform it into a center for artistic, historical and exhibition research. Villa La Pietra is now a vibrant campus that hosts a wide range of courses in disciplines such as art, science, architecture and philosophy, allowing students to immerse themselves in the rich cultural and intellectual heritage associated with the villa. NYU Florence gives students the opportunity to study in an extraordinary setting, where the beauty of the Tuscan landscape and the historical significance of the building create a stimulating context for learning and personal growth. (Via Bolognese, 120)

One of the most acclaimed academic centers is the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. This prestigious center for advanced research is in Villa I Tatti, an ancient and beautiful residence nestled in the Florentine hills. The villa and its exceptional art collection were bequeathed to Harvard by American historian and art critic Bernard Berenson. Villa I Tatti represents a place of excellence for the study of the Italian Renaissance, creating a unique and stimulating environment for research. Only a select number of Harvard students have the opportunity to participate in a summer internship at this center, enjoying exclusive access to invaluable resources and working in a setting of incomparable beauty. Surrounded by beautiful Italian gardens and the sunny Tuscan hills, students can fully immerse themselves in the history and culture of the Italian Renaissance. (Via di Vincigliata, 26)

I Tatti - The Harvard Univ. Center for Italian Renaissance Studies

Another very important academic institution is the American University of Florence. This university welcomes students from all over the world, creating a rich and diverse international environment. The American University of Florence offers a wide range of academic programs from marketing and wine expertise to creative writing and environmental studies. Students have the opportunity to benefit from a wide range of educational offerings and numerous academic resources. The university is committed to making education affordable through various scholarships and payment plans, supported by partner institutions and organizations. These financial supports are available to both undergraduate students and academic professionals, facilitating access to high-quality education. (Corso dei Tintori, 21)

American University of Florence

Far from being less prestigious is Syracuse University in Florence, which offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Renaissance history and local culture while living with an Italian host family. This program allows students to experience Italian daily life, improve their language skills and deepen their understanding of Florentine culture. Syracuse University in Florence offers a wide range of more than 30 courses, including Industrial Design, Sociology, Jewellery and Food Studies. These courses are designed to provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary education, allowing students to explore different areas of academic interest in a unique setting. Classes are held at Villa Rossa, a historic building that once belonged to the Gigliucci family. The villa, with its distinctive orange façade, has become a symbol of the institution and has welcomed hundreds of students every year since 1959. Located in a charming and inspiring setting, Villa Rossa offers students not only excellent educational facilities, but also an environment rich in history and culture. In summary, Syracuse University in Florence represents a premier academic institution that provides students with an immersive and culturally rich educational experience. Through a wide range of course offerings and the opportunity to live with Italian host families, Syracuse University contributes to strengthening ties between Florence and the States, promoting intercultural knowledge and global learning. (Piazza Savonarola, 15)

Syracuse University di Firenze (ph. C.Fallon, Villa Rossa)

This academic hub of American universities makes Florence a unique place in the Italian scene. The city is not only a world-famous tourist destination, but also a lively and stimulating educational center which attracts students from all over the world. The consolidation of American academic institutions in Florence is unparalleled in Italy, offering a wide range of programs and courses covering disciplines as diverse as fashion, the Renaissance, marketing, and creative writing. Firenze offers American students an immersive academic experience in which they can live the culture and the history everyday, enriching their studies with unique experiences and cross-cultural contacts.

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