Exploring Art in Italy


This program is on pause for 2022 but is expected to return in summer 2023.

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, Camposanto, Sinopie Museum, Cathedral
  • Day Trip to Milan to see: Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper (pending ticket availability), Brera Museum, Castello Sforzesca which houses Michelangelo's last Pieta and a room decorated by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • 2-Day, 1-Night Excursion to Rome to see: the Pantheon, Colosseum, Forum, Vatican.
    • During your excursion to Rome, you will stay in a hotel 


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)

Florence, the regional capital of Tuscany, is located in central Italy and is considered by many the birthplace of the Renaissance. This course will explore the art of the Renaissance highlighting innovators Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael with on-site lectures and visits in Florence, Rome, and Milan. Special attention will be given to the context of art and its relationship to its original location, and to the role and influence of humanism and Neoplatonism on the development of the style of the Renaissance.


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: 

Lauren Perri

Hi! I'm Lauren, Program Manager for Arts & Sciences students. As an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Marburg, Germany. Since then, my career in international education has taken me to many locations around the world. Particularly, I have an affinity for Florence, Italy. There is nothing quite like the challenge of navigating a new city, country, and culture! Let's chat about global experiences.

Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways! 

  • Schedule an appointment with me using my personal link.
  • Login to Pathways with your Pitt username and password
  • Select Find Available Time
  • Select the time you want to meet
  • Review the appointment and click the schedule button
  • You will see a graphic that confirms that you have made an appointment with me & receive a confirmation in your Pitt email 

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email at lap140@pitt.edu

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.

Jenny McCord

Jenny McCord teaches the Italian 0101 and Italian for the Professions Course on this program. She is also your in-country program advisor. Jenny earned a Master of Arts in Italian literature and a Master of Teaching in foreign language education at the University of Virginia. She has been teaching Italian classes at the University of Pittsburgh since 2006 and has worked for study abroad programs in Bologna, Florence and Rome. Jenny has recently completed a Master in intercultural studies and social mediation at the University of Padova, and is interested in promoting intercultural competencies in an effort to expand social bonding and facilitate integration of vulnerable parties in our communities.

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $2,328 $2,528
Program Fee $2,171 $2,171
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $4,799 $4,999

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~1,300
Meals and Personal Expenses ~$1,000


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.

The amounts above are for the 2019-2020 academic year and should be used as estimates only. Pricing for 2020-2021 will be posted and announced in the fall term.

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
  • Class related museum and site visits 
  • Select Cultural Activities through the My Global Education program
What Else You Need to Know: 
  • Students from all campuses can participate in the program.
  • This 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