Exploring Art in Italy

Study art history in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Whether you’ve studied art history before or not, Exploring Art in Italy gives you the tools you need to enjoy Italian art and culture. This program is designed for any student interested in Art, Architecture, History, Italian Culture or Museum Studies. You will gain a new appreciation for its art once you live in the city and experience the food, window dressing displays, fashion, and all Florence has to offer.
 
This 3-week, 3-credit program is packed with daily site visits and lectures. The city of Florence becomes your classroom during this program. You will read about these revolutionary artists and their masterpieces. You will then go to see their artwork and analyze their techniques. This program is the perfect place for students to explore the art of the Renaissance highlighting innovators such as Giotto, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo, and Michelangelo. The program includes several on-site lectures and visits, such as museums and day trips to Rome, Milan and Pisa.
 

What You'll Accomplish

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • An understanding of Renaissance art and local cultures in Rome and Florence
  • Skills to identify and articulate the influence of contemporary philosophy and history on art
  • Sharp critical visual skills by studying the techniques of masterpieces in person

Florence, Italy is the capital city of the Firenze province and Tuscany region. It is surrounded by the picturesque rolling hills of Tuscany. Florence is a majestic city that is visually stunning, culturally rich and has a storied past. Florence was founded as a Roman Military colony around the 1st Century BC. The city’s population began to grow due to its location in the fertile, farmable hills. Its location also was perfect for economic development in the region. Florence became a haven for an ever-growing immigrant population that still exists today. Florence has its strong Italian roots, but is also very much a multi-cultural city.
 
Due to the growing economy and influx of immigrants it became the perfect location for merchants and artists. This in part, led to the Renaissance period in the 14th to 16th centuries. Many of the most influential artists of that time period flocked to the city to work on their art including Michelangelo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Leonardo da Vinci. They left behind masterpieces in the forms frescoes, sculptures, paintings and architecture that are still visible throughout the city today. Students will earn 3-credits in History of Art and Architecture. The city will be your classroom for this program as it feels like a living, breathing museum of Italian Renaissance masterpieces. Florence is a major tourist destination, but the authentic-Italian experience is easy to discover.

Program also includes the following visits:
 

  • Day trip to Pisa to see Pisa Duomo Tower, Baptistery, Campastano, Sinopie Museum, Cathedral, [Walk past Keith Haring Mural, Sta. Maria Della Spina on the way to the Campo
  • Day Trip to Milan to see: Cenacolo, Brera, Castello Sforzesca, visit Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Duomo and Galleria stop
  • 3-Day, 2-Night Excursion to Rome to see: Pantheon, Colosseum & Belvedere,  Forum, Vatican and a full-day to explore on your own
    • During your excursion to Rome, you will stay in a hotel room

 
Temperatures and precipitation vary based on the season. In May, the temperatures are pretty mild can average 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 54 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The old stone buildings across the city are designed to make sure they are never too hot, nor too cold. It is important though to be prepared with a variety of clothes that you can layer with during your semester. It’s also a good idea to bring a comfortable pair of slippers for walking around your apartments.
 

Where You'll Live

Students will live like a Florentine during their time abroad. Housing placements are scattered throughout the city-center and location depends on availability and housing option. Exact addresses are provided closer to departure. The city is a very flat, pedestrian friendly, and walkable city. Most students travel around Florence on foot or by bus (the public transportation system will be explained during orientation in Florence). In the historic center of Florence, almost anything a student might want to see or do is within a 30-minute walk, but Florence's public bus system is easy to use and is an efficient way to travel throughout the metro area
 
Like the streets of Florence, no two apartments on the Pitt in Florence program are alike in terms of design, but all will give you a comfortable place to call home in Italy.  Most apartments are located within an hour commute to the CAPA Center, either on foot or by bus. Apartments are still within what is considered the city-center.  

You can expect the following at your accommodations:

  • Shared bedroom
  • There are typically up to six students in each apartment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • En-suite bathroom
  • Shared living area
  • Washing machine(s) in the building (Italian apartments typically do not have dryers). 
  • Meals aren’t included, so plan on learning to cook with local ingredients or budget money to eat out. 

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions. 
 

What You'll Study

You'll earn a total of 3 credits on the Art in Italy program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same course. The History of Art and Architecture course is taught by Pitt professor Amber McAlister. The course will be taught in English and it will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers, city tours, cultural activities and visits to museums, churches, palaces and town halls. In this course you will study:

  • Italian art and culture in the birthplace of the Renaissance
  • The materials and techniques of fresco and tempera painting
  • Famous works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you. Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.
 

Renaissance Art in Florence  (HAA0306)

This course will explore Italian art and culture of the Renaissance highlighting innovators such as Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Students will examine famous works, identify and articulate the influence of contemporary philosophy and history on art ,and study the materials and techniques of fresco and tempera painting. Learning in the classroom and on site in local museums and, churches, palaces, and town halls will allow students to gain a deeper understanding of Renaissance art.

The University of Pittsburgh partners with the CAPA the Global Education Network for this program. For more than 45 years CAPA: The Global Education Network has worked with institutions of higher education to build programs that meet their goals for learning abroad. CAPA operates education centers in Global Cities and have developed distinct academic offerings, support frameworks, and oversight structures for students and visiting faculty.
 
The CAPA Florence Center is housed in Palazzo Galli-Tassi, a 15th century palace in the Santa Croce neighborhood. The CAPA Florence team is available throughout your program to assist and support you 24/7 with any urgent situations.
 
There are many CAPA-led events during the program through CAPA’s own My Global City Program. These events/activities may include a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for stunning views over the city of Florence and a hike in the nearby hills, followed by dinner in one of the best pizzerias in town. Other activities, often self-guided, reflect what is on in the city at the time and may include a walking tour to the most important markets of Florence, tasting typical Italian snacks, a night at the Opera or attending soccer match at the Florence Stadium. Some events/activities are free while others may require a small fee. Many students say that the CAPA My Global City Programs were some of the best experiences on their entire program.

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts

Tim Crawford

Hi Everyone! I’m Tim, a Program Manager here in the Study Abroad Office. I’m proud to be from a small town in Central PA but now love calling Pittsburgh home. My study abroad experience includes a semester in France during my sophomore year, Spring Break in London during Grad School and Summer in Italy as a Program Assistant. My experiences opened my eyes to the rest of the world and I’d love to help you take advantage of the numerous study abroad opportunities here at Pitt. Outside of the office, I’m always looking for the next adventure whether it’s exploring a new city or new neighborhood in PGH. I fully embrace the yinzer way of life and plan my schedule accordingly around every Pens, Bucs and Stillers game. I’d love to talk to you more about any of our study abroad programs and answer any of your questions. Please reach me at TSC29@pitt.edu or 412-648-2156.

Your In-Country Contacts

Dr. Amber McAlister

Amber McAlister, PhD, Assistant Professor, History of Art & Architecture University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. She ​specializes in Italian Renaissance art history.  Dr. McAlister's research trips to Italy have been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship and grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and Renaissance Society of America.  She has presented at national conferences, including the annual meetings of the College Art Association and the Renaissance Society of America.  Publications include an essay in The Historian's Eye on echoes of Dante's Divine Comedyin fifteenth-century frescoes in the Chiostro Verde at Santa Maria Novella, catalog entries on Italian paintings and drawings, and most recently in Sanctity Pictured: The Art of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Renaissance Italy.  Dr. McAlister’s current research explores divine presence and personal experience at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, and is supported by an award from the Central Research Development Fund at the University of Pittsburgh.
As an undergraduate Dr. McAlister studied abroad in Paris, France, which ignited her love of travel and seeing art in person. She is happy to share these experiences with students in the classroom and in study abroad opportunities. She has been leading this trip to Florence, Italy, since 2016. Dr. McAlister is the advisor to the Visual Arts Society, and a former president of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

  In- State Out-of-State
Estimated Expenses Billed by Pitt  $4,700 $4,900
Estimated Additional Expenses $2,200 $2,200
Total Estimated Cost $6,900 $7,100

Final program costs and will be available by November 15 .

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

What's Included

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 3 credits
  • Shared accommodations in Italy
  • International travel health insurance
  • Excursions to Rome, Milan and Pisa
  • Museum access in Florence
  • Class related site visits 
  • Cultural Activities through the My Global Education program
When You'll Go

The program will take place from early May to late May. Exact dates will be posted soon.

What Else You Need to Know
  • Students from all campuses can participate in the program.
  • Students from Pitt-Greensburg are encouraged to talk to Michele Shuey for additional scholarship opportunities.
  • Other scholarships can be reviewed at abroad.pitt.edu/scholarships
  • is program has a very structured schedule. Your free time may be limited to evenings. Most weekends have scheduled excursions and activities (They're to places you would plan to see on your own, and some you may not discover during your own research). If you're planning to do independent travel, please do so after the program has concluded.
    • Due to the nature of the program, the schedule is subject to change. There may be instances where a guest speaker or visit needs to be rescheduled. We ask for your patience and understanding in advance..
  • Remember that this is an academic program and that you should expect to invest the same amount of time and effort on your courses abroad as you would on a course at Pitt.
  • Course is taught in English