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Smith in Florence

A view of the Florence skyline

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.

Application Deadline

Smith student applications for the 2024-25 Academic Year and for Fall 2024 are due by Monday, February 5, 2024. Smith Programs Abroad accept applications from students of any gender identity. Guest student applications will be accepted until the second Monday in March (March 11, 2024) on a space-available, rolling basis; applying by the February deadline is encouraged.



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.

Each semester begins with two weeks of intensive language study, cultural orientation, an art history course and excursions around the city. All students must attend an advanced language course at the Smith Center ("Sede"), offered each semester. Yearlong students will be required to take the language course in the fall and a Smith course of their choice in the spring. Each semester students are permitted to take up to three Smith courses. The remaining courses will be taken at the University of Florence. Tutoring will be available yearlong as necessary.


Resident Administrative Director: Monica Ginanneschi
Smith Faculty Liaison: Maria Succi-Hempstead, Italian Studies
Academic Coordinator: Guido Reverdito, Ph.D.



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.

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.

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

  • Bargello Museum

  • Galleria Palatina

  • Horne Museum

  • Palazzo Davanzati Museum

  • Brancacci chapel: three different artists

  • Uffizi Gallery

  • Palazzo Vecchio

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

Studio Art (students may take one course)

4 credits, Spring

Sample of recent courses taken: Photography, Etching, Printmaking, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, Book Making

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.

Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia
  • History of Medieval Art
  • Archaelogy and Greek and Roman Art History
  • Art History of the Middle East
  • Museography
  • Etruscology
  • History of Medieval Church I
  • History of Musical Instruments
  • Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature
  • History of Italian Language
Facoltà di Scienze Politiche
  • 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
Facoltà di Architettura
  • History of Urbanism
Facoltà di Scienza della Formazione (Education)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Pedagogy of Social Marginality and Juvenile Deviance
  • Literature for Childhood
Facoltà di Scienze Matematiche, Fisiche e Naturali
  • Mineralogy I
  • Geochemistry
  • Sedimentology

Program Dates

Arrive in Florence

Friday, September 1


Monday, September 4 – Friday, September 15

Fall Semester 2023

  • Courses begin at Sede: Monday, September 18
  • University courses begin: End of September/Beginning of October
  • Fall courses at the Sede end: Friday, December 8
  • Fall semester exams for Sede: Tuesday-Thursday, December 12-14, 2023
  • Fall semester exams for University courses: TBA, usually start in mid-December
  • Fall semester housing ends – Tuesday, December 19

Winter Break

Wednesday, December 20 – Saturday, February 10, 2024 (year-long students only)

Spring Semester 2024 Program Orientation

(for spring-only students)
  • Arrive in Florence: Thursday, January 25
  • Orientation: Monday, January 29 – Friday, February 9

Spring Semester 2024 (all students)

  • Year-long students return to Florence: Saturday, February 10
  • Courses at Sede begin: Monday, February 12
  • University courses begin: beginning of March
  • Spring Break: Thursday, March 28 – Sunday, April 7
  • Spring Semester at Sede ends: Thursday, May 16
  • Spring Semester Sede exams: Tuesday, May 21 – Thursday, May 23
  • Spring Semester University exams: TBA, usually end of May/First two weeks of June
  • Housing ends: June 15th

Life in Florence

Students riding bikes in Italy

Students can choose to live in a homestay with an Italian host family or to live in an apartment shared with other students on the program. 


Students live in Florentine homes, situated within the city. 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/semester abroad.


Students who choose to live in apartments will occupy single or double rooms and will share bathrooms, common space and the kitchen with other students on the Smith program (between 2 and 4).

There are many opportunities to connect with local students (both Italians and international students) at the local University, libraries and cafeterias.

Meals & Allowances

Students who choose to live with a homestay family will typically share breakfast and dinner with their host families. The program provides a monthly allowance to cover lunch costs.

Students who choose to live in a shared apartment a monthly stipend to cover expenses for food will be provided by the program. Students will cook for themselves in the kitchen shared with their housemates.

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 might include: 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; visit to Ferrara and Mantova, Renaissance Courts in Northern Italy; Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri and the Amalfi coast.

Other excursions might be organized at students’ request: Carnival in Venice, Rome, Milan, Verona, Perugia and Assisi.

Cultural Activities

Individual or group outings to the Opera, theatre, exhibitions, conferences and to the soccer match of the local team.

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

Accepted Students

For resources and information about the Italian visa application process, please visit the Florence Accepted Students website.