Smith in Florence
Florence is a historic city of uncommon beauty and importance in European history, arts and humanities. While gaining an appreciation of medieval and renaissance Florence, experience contemporary life in this thriving, bustling city in Italy.
The Smith program in Florence offers a curriculum for a full year abroad, as well as an option to study in Florence for a single term.
The full-year program begins with four weeks of intensive language study, cultural orientation, an art history course and excursions. During the fall semester, students take classes at the Smith Center ("Sede") and audit one course at the University of Florence. In the spring, students take one or two courses at the University of Florence and two or three Smith courses at the Sede. Tutorials are arranged in conjunction with the university courses.The fall and spring terms program begin with an abbreviated version of the orientation program described above in the full year curriculum, and then mirrors the full year fall/spring term curriculum.
Over two weeks, students take an intensive Italian language course at the Smith Center ("the Sede"), as well as an Art History mini course focusing on Medieval and Renaissance art in and around Florence.
In addition to the two-credit academic orientation, students divided in small groups are escorted by faculty to explore the city, get introduced to the transportation system, the best parks, shops, markets, libraries, and all the cool places where Italian students gather to eat, drink, listen to music, dance, and talk.
- Orientation – three-week interdisciplinary introduction to Italian society (2 credits)
- Italian Stylistics (ITL 240) – required for all students (4 credits)
- Three additional Smith courses at the Smith Center (4 credits each)
- One audited university course with required written work (2 Smith credits)
- Two to three Smith courses at the Smith Center (4 credits each)
- One to two courses at the University of Florence (generally 4 credits each)
Students enroll in 36 Smith College credits: 16 credits per semester, 2 orientation course credits and 2 credits for written work associated with the fall semester audited university course.
Internship and Community Service Placements
Smith's long-standing relationship with many Florentine and Tuscan organizations has resulted in a wide variety of possible part-time internship and volunteer placement opportunities for students. Serving as an intern or community volunteer is a fantastic way to meet local Italians, understand Italian society and culture, and to offer reciprocal benefits to the community from which you are learning Italian language and culture.
Many of these internships have resulted in research proposals for summer International Experience Grants or prospective Fulbright research proposals.
A sample of recent internship placements includes:
- Florence Family and Juvenile Court
- Uffizi Library
- Children's Library Santa Croce
- Tela di Penelope Consortium (restoration of ancient fabric and leather)
- UNIFI Farmacology/Neuroscience Lab
- Organic Farm La Talea
- Doctors for Human Rights
- Specola Museum of Natural History
- Arcetri Astrophysics Observatory
- Music Room of the National Library
- Archeological Museum in Fiesole
- Vista Magazine
- Golagioconda Slow food Magazine
- Florence Cathedral (Duomo) Choir
- Fiorentina Nuoto (Swim Team)
Pistoia Early Childhood Education Practicum
A limited number of year-long internships are available at the Pistoia Early Childhood Centers for 4 credits. The internship course is graded and requires a presentation and a major research paper. The internship can take the place of a Smith course, but not a university course.
About the Smith Center
The Smith Center is centrally located on the second floor of a historical building that dates back to the 17th Century. The premises are very spacious and full of natural light, and some rooms have frescoed ceilings and mosaic floors; the main classroom overlooks the inner garden and is incredibly quiet.
Artists, Saints and Patrons. The Secrets Behind the Monuments that Made Florence Great
4 credits, Fall
This course focuses on some of the most important monuments of Florence, examining their history and art. The result will be the analysis of these monuments from different perspectives, studying the artists who created them, the preachers and saints who lived in them and the patrons who sought and financed them. Particular attention will be devoted to Medici patronage, specifically the figures of Cosimo the Elder, Piero the Gouty and Lorenzo the Magnificent, who had such a profound influence on the artistic events of the fifteenth century in Florence. The workshops on fresco and panel painting will offer deeper insight into the works observed and analyzed during our visits, letting the students see and experience different artistic techniques.
Immigration and New Italian Identities
4 credits, Fall
The course — divided in two different parts — is a cognitive tool to understand in a better and more thorough way the phenomenon of migration. In the first two weeks the theme of migration will be treated in its most genuinely statistical, legislative and ethno-anthropological aspects. Starting from a picture of Europe and Italy as a macro level, students are then led to explore and learn about the phenomenon through meetings and visits carried out on the territory of Florence and nearby Prato. The thematic focus that ties classes together is the body in its physicality. Strong bodies on which one counts to embark on a long and dangerous journey. Bodies subject to deprivation and violence. Bodies that require a space in the arrival society but that also need a cultural mediation to get to integration. Rejected bodies, but also accepted and integrated, which add diversity and plurality to a concept of national and personal identity that is shaping each time and whose boundaries are becoming increasingly weakened.
Innovations in Early Childhood Education: Philosophy, Practice, and Public Policy in Pistoia, Italy
4 credits, Year-long course
This 4-credit course accompanies the Pistoia Early Childhood Center internship and typically involves an academic year commitment. The internship can take the place of a Sede course in the spring, but not a University course. The internship course is graded, and requires a presentation and a major research paper turned in to the Pistoia program coordinator at the end of the spring semester.
Italian Social and Cultural History From the Great Immigration to the Present
4 credits, Fall
A multidisciplinary approach to contemporary Italian culture. It also takes into account the historical reasons for the current political situation. The course offers an overview of Italian 20th century history and includes the study of important aspects of Italian life: regional differences, local identities, emigration and immigration, the integration of recent immigrants into Italy, internal fighting during WWII, terrorism in the late ‘60s and 70s, organized crime and the Mafia, Italian politics, sport, the evolution of the concept of family and the role of women in society.
Italian Stylistics (ITL 240)
4 credits, Fall
A review of basic and advanced language structures. It includes a variety of activities to learn different linguistic registers: collaborating with a local radio station, visiting a newspaper, preparing video material and improving linguistic skills through a full immersion in the city and in Italian life. This is a required course for all students unless they place out of this language level.
University Auditing - The Road Less Traveled
2 credits, Fall
Students are asked to audit, once a week, a course at the University of Florence. They are also asked to write weekly diaries about their experience. The Director reviews these diaries and meets with the students to discuss their experience and to help them prepare for University of Florence classes in the Spring. This course is graded S/U only.
A Factory of Genius - Workshops and Painters in Lorenzo the Magnificent's Florence
4 credits, Spring
The course will focus on the workshops of Florentine painters in the fifteenth century, examining the different kinds of workshops, their organization, and the relationship between painters and artistic production. After discussing the problem of artists’ training, the course will examine the different types of production, specifically those destined to furnish homes and decorate churches. Master-apprentice relationships will also be examined (Verrocchio and Leonardo, and Botticelli and Filippino Lippi) and the familial qualities of some workshops (e.g. the Pollaiolos and the Ghirlandaios). We will try to recreate the everyday life of a Renaissance atelier, observing drawings that portray artists at work and reading about their jokes and pranks.
Site vsits include
Opificio delle pietre dure: restoration
The church of Santo Spirito: the fifteenth-century furnishings
Palazzo Davanzati Museum
Brancacci chapel: three different artists
History of Fashion and Costume
4 credits, Spring
This course analyses the origins, evolution, decline, re-birth and finally, the most recent developments of Italian fashion, from the Renaissance up to contemporary Made in Italy. The approach is an interdisciplinary one in which the various manifestations of Italian fashion will be examined in relation to such fields as history and art history and viewed in an economic, social and international context. The relationship between fashion and cinema, photography, the Web, journalism and social media will also be examined. Site visits include an artisan workshop to make traditional Venetian masks for Carnival, Church of Santa Trinita to see how people used to dress in the 1400s, a guided visit of Palazzo Vecchio on how was courtly fashion in the 1500s, various artisans’ workshops, the textile Museum in Prato to see documents history of textile industry, behind the scenes at the Pergola Theater, the Costume Gallery and the Silver Museum at Palazzo Pitti, but also the Ferragamo Museum.
Site visits include:
Artisan workshop to make traditional Venetian masks for Carnival
Church of Santa Trinità: dress in the 1400s
Guided visit of Palazzo Vecchio - courtly dress in the 1500s
Various artisans’ workshops
Textile Museum in Prato that documents history of textile industry
behind the scenes at the Pergola Theater
The Costume Gallery and the Silver Museum at Palazzo Pitti
The Ferragamo Museum
The Gucci Museum
Pronti, Partenza, via! (Rready, Steady, Go!)
2 credits, Spring
This course designed specifically for spring-only students is a three-week Italian Language module meant to provide a thorough review of some of the most important grammar and syntax structures already covered and to develop advanced writing skills in order to manage assignments and exams at both the Sede and the University of Florence.
Studio Art (students may take one course)
4 credits, Spring
Sample of recent courses taken: Photography, Etching, Printmaking, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, Book Making
4 credits, Spring
Since the foundation of the Slow Food movement, but also from its very origins, Italy has been synonymous with an appreciation for good food. This course examines the social and historical evolution of the production of food and the impact on Italian society. The site visits provide a compelling argument for both the ethics and superior quality of sustainable food. This course approaches sustainable food from both a social and historic aspect, which includes the study of new alternative distribution channels, new and old production techniques that respect animals and the environment, culinary history and the origin of Italian cooking traditions, the impact of Italian cuisine, and food production and eating habits on Italian culture. The course is augmented by lectures of guest speakers directly involved in sustainable food production and by field trips to visit two farms in the countryside to discover Parmesan cheese production and a fully organic and vegetarian approach to farming.
Words Beyond the Page: Six Centuries (1500-2000) of Italian Classics Beyond the Confines of the Text (ITL 251)
4 credits, Spring
A comparative approach to the relation between literature works and their adaptations to the screen, the main goal of this course is to introduce students to some Italian literature masterpieces from the fourteenth to the twenty-first century through their film adaptations. The first part of the course will be dedicated to an introduction to the adaptation and its endless features in terms of changes of plot structure, setting, time, language, characters addition and elimination, etc.. For the rest of the semester students will have to work on the cinematic adaptation of key works of Italian literature. For every century, except for the 1900s — towards which there will be a particular attention determined not only by the wealth of adaptations made but also by the greater accessibility of the transposed works —, there will be a combination of a literary work and its translation into images.
All students take one or two 4-credit courses at the University of Florence during the Spring semester. This involves attending between 4 and 6 class hours per week.
Please note: The courses listed here are examples of courses that have been offered in previous years, and may not necessarily be offered at the time of registration. Please check your specific college program for current course offerings.
- History of Medieval Art
- Archaelogy and Greek and Roman Art History
- Art History of the Middle East
- History of Medieval Church I
- History of Musical Instruments
- Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature
- History of Italian Language
- Economics of Situations of Crisis
- History of Religious Institutions
- Italian Culture and Society
- History of Contemporary Europe
- History of Contemporary Political Thought
- History of the Political Parties
- International Relations
- Italian Political System
- History of Political Philosophy
- History of Urbanism
- Clinical Psychology
- Pedagogy of Social Marginality and Juvenile Deviance
- Literature for Childhood
- Mineralogy I
Arrive in Florence
Thursday, September 5
Monday, September 9 – Friday, September 20
Fall Semester 2019
- Courses begin at Sede: Monday, September 23
- University courses begin: Monday, October 7
- Fall courses end: Thursday, December 12
- Fall semester exams: December 17-18
Thursday, December 19, 2019 – Sunday, January 19, 2020
Spring Semester 2020 Program Orientation(for spring-only students)
- Arrive in Florence: Sunday, January 19
- Orientation: Monday, January 20 – Wednesday, January 22
- Group Excursion to Sicily: Friday, January 24 – Thursday, January 30 (together with the year students)
Spring Semester 2020
- Courses at Sede begin: Monday, February 3
- University courses begin: beginning of March
- Spring Break: Thursday, April 9 – Sunday, April 19
- Spring Semester at Sede ends: Thursday, May 7
- Spring Semester Sede exams: Monday, May 12 – Wednesday, May 14
- Spring Semester University exams: late May to mid June
Students live in Florentine homes, situated either within the city or nearby in the Tuscan countryside.
By boarding with an Italian host family, a student can learn a tremendous amount about Italian culture and make significant progress in speaking Italian. Many students say this experience is one of the most rewarding aspects of their year abroad.
Meals & Allowances
Students typically share breakfast and dinner with their host families. The program provides a monthly allowance to cover lunch costs.
Activities & Excursions
A wide range of activities are available in Florence, including guided trips to culturally and historically significant locations that students might not otherwise reach.
Excursions include a trip up winding mountain roads to the tiny walled town of Urbino, one of the central locations of the Renaissance; a visit to Ravenna to discover the town that was once the Western seat of the Roman Empire, gaze at intricate Byzantine mosaics, and pay homage to Dante's tomb; and a day picnicking and wandering through the Val D'Orcia region, forever embodied in paintings of rolling hills and cypress trees. Other excursions may include Ferrara, Pompeii and the Amalfi coast.
Midyear Trip to Sicily
In the early spring, after the fall semester classes and exams are finished, the group adventures to the southern island of Sicily. Circumnavigating the island, students experience for themselves the rich cultural diversity that has formed the historical island. Marvel at the Grecian archeological sites still standing today in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the baroque architecture of Catania and the original seat of the Sicilian Empire in what is now the thriving modern city of Palermo. And of course, there is ample time for relaxation in the sun the island is named for, as well as to experience the unique Sicilian cuisine.
Please be sure you meet Smith College's eligibility requirements for approval to study abroad. In addition, Smith in Florence has its own program-specific requirements.
- Two years or the equivalent of college-level Italian: normally four 4-credit courses
- The Smith College course ITL 250 or the equivalent during the spring semester preceding study abroad
- The ability to follow course work in Italian: aural comprehension, reading and writing ability; and to converse in Italian
- Evidence of maturity, responsibility, preparation for study abroad and demonstrated interest in Italian culture
- Smith Programs Abroad Application
- Language Evaluation
- Non-language Faculty Recommendation
- Personal statement
- Copy of passport
Applicants from other colleges must also submit:
- Home School Statement of Support
- Official transcript
- Original sample of written work in language of the program which has been submitted for a course and graded by an instructor
Students can find the application materials and apply to a Smith Program Abroad online using the new Smith International Travel Experiences System (SITES) by clicking on the appropriate log in option below.
Before applying to a Smith Program Abroad be sure to:
2020-21 Semester Fees
Room and Board: $9,380
The Smith Program Abroad fees in Florence, Geneva, Hamburg and Paris include intensive language instruction, cultural orientation, tuition, academic advising, assistance with university enrollment and course selection, supplemental study abroad insurance, medical evacuation and repatriation coverage, excursions and cultural events, room, board, cell phones or SIM cards, and the services of on-site directors
Smith Program Abroad fees do not include international travel, passport and visa fees, books and art supplies, and personal expenses including phone calls.
Smith College students are eligible for financial aid on the same basis as when they are studying in Northampton (with a few exceptions). For questions about Smith financial aid related to study abroad on a Smith program, please visit Student Financial Services.
Smith College does not provide financial aid to students from other institutions; those students should contact their own college for financial aid assistance.
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and University of Hamburg Scholarship
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) together with the University of Hamburg are collaborating to offer scholarships to students who are studying abroad in Hamburg during the academic year. All year-long students (including guest students) are encouraged to apply to this merit-based scholarship. Two scholarships for €4,250 each will be awarded each year. Information on how to apply is included in the Smith in Hamburg program application.
All students enrolled in one of the four Smith Programs Abroad are automatically covered by a supplemental study abroad insurance policy through Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk.
Please note that this is a supplemental plan only. All students participating in these programs are also required to be covered by a U.S.-based primary health insurance and will be automatically enrolled in and billed for the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk at the beginning of the term abroad.
For students who are U.S. citizens, this insurance plan may be waived online at Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk if the student has another primary health insurance policy that provides comparable coverage. International students are required to be covered by the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk as you would on campus.
More information about insurance is available on our Health & Safety section.
Visas for Studying in Italy
All students are advised to throughly understand the visa application process for their destination country before making any summer plans including summer jobs that take them out of state or international travel.
The Italian government requires all students staying longer than three months to obtain a student visa before arriving in Italy. Smith's Office for International Study will facilitate a group visa application for students who are accepted on the Smith in Florence program. Students should not make international travel plans in the summer preceding the year in Italy.
Students must have a passport that is valid six months after the end of the program and submit a copy of their passport with their Smith program application form. Proof of passport application or renewal is acceptable.
Things to Consider
The Italian visa process is complicated and requires submission of passports to the Italian consulate in Boston for a period of two to four weeks. The specific date of Smith's visa appointment depends upon the Italian consulate's availability, and can't be set until mid-May at the earliest. Once the consulate issues the visas and returns the passports to Smith, the Office for International Study will send each student her passport with visa via courier service. Again, students who wish to study in Italy should not make international travel plans in the summer preceeding their year in Italy.
Please note that students who stay in Italy during the summer are responsible for all living expenses, visa requirements, medical insurance, etc.