Early Childhood Education in Florence: Undergraduate Program


Florence is the ideal setting to study the differences between early childhood education in the US and Italy. This program utilizes classroom lectures, guest lectures, and visits to educational institutions around the city.  On this program you will get an introduction to language and literacy practices for children birth through grade 4 in the U.S. and Italy. You will also be introduced to the varied theories and practices of teaching young English Language Learners as well as Best Instructional Practices used in the ESL classroom and the mainstream classroom.

This four-week, six-credit program is designed for undergraduates interested in early education, specifically rising sophomores and juniors admitted into the CASE program, Primary Plus candidates working on their prerequisites, and ADP traditional students. This program is also open to rising sophomores and juniors at the regional campuses who are in the Education program at their campus. Both courses on the program are pre-requisite courses for the Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) program and the Primary Plus PK-4 teacher certification program. If you are studying in other majors related to education, you are encouraged to apply as well.


What You'll Accomplish: 

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

  • The ability to use theory in practice when working with young children and literature
  • Deeper knowledge of best practices in teaching English Language Learners and managing bilingual classrooms
  • Language and literacy practices for young children, including applied theories, language development and literature selection


Florence, Italy is the capital city of the Firenze province and Tuscany region with approximately 370,000 inhabitants and expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. 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 of: 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.


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.

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 a 30-40 minute commute (usually less) 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 6 credits on the Early Childhood Education in Italy program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same courses. The Language and Literature for the Young Child course and Teaching Young English Language Learners are taught by Pitt professors Anna Arlotta-Guerrero and Patricia Crawford. The courses will be taught in English and it will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers, city tours, cultural activities and visits to local schools around Florence. You will also have the opportunity to meet and engage with local teachers and school administrators. In this course you will study:

  • Language and literacy practices for young children including: applied theories, language development and literature selection
  • Practice and theory of teaching young English Language Learners (ELLs)

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your academic advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you.



Language and Literature for the Young Child (TLL1042)

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a wide range of information related to language and literature for young children.  Attention will be given to applied theories and stages of oral language development, transitions from oral to written expression, and the selection and use of quality literature with children, birth through grade 4.  Students will explore a variety of literature and investigate the pedagogical components that offer invitations for young readers to engage with texts and respond to them in different developmentally appropriate ways. Methods of instruction include, but are not limited to the following:  lecture, discussions, exploration and deconstruction of student writing and drawing samples, literature study groups, pedagogical modeling, technology via use of the Internet, DVDs, and other appropriate media, and individual, small group, and whole class activities. This course is a required prerequisite for the Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) program and the Primary Plus PK-4 teacher certification program.

Teaching Young English Language Learners (TLL1045)

As the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) continues to grow in our public schools there is an increased need for highly qualified teachers to instruct them.  This course will be an introduction into the varied theories and practices of teaching young English Language Learners.  Prominent research in the field of second language acquisition will be discusses, as well as Best Instructional Practices used in the ESL classroom and the mainstream classroom. This course will give you an overview to support the effective instruction of students who have a first language other than English.  While in Florence, students will visit schools each week and observe students whose first language is not English. This course is a required prerequisite for the Combined Accelerated Studies in Education (CASE) program and the Primary Plus PK-4 teacher certification program.


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: 

Professor Patricia Crawford

Professor Patricia Crawford is the associate chairperson for the Department of Instruction and Learning. An associate professor in the Early Childhood and Language, Literacy, and Culture programs, her academic interests focus on the connected areas of early literacy, children's literature, and teacher education. Dr. Crawford is a former teacher of children in kindergarten and the primary grades. She has worked with prospective and practicing teachers throughout the United States and in a variety of international settings. She is the past co-chair of the Publications Committee for the Association for Childhood Education International and serves on several editorial boards, including Early Childhood Education Journal, The Reading Teacher, Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Literacy Research and Instruction, and Dragon Lode.

Professor Anna Arlotta-Guerrero

Anna Arlotta-Guerrero, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in Education. She earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Pittsburgh.  She is currently a clinical assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Psychology in Education.  She also serves as the Undergraduate Coordinator of the CASE teacher certification program.  Her teaching and research interests include the instruction and learning of Young English language learners and early childhood education.  Prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh she taught for many years in the public school system in grades PK-4.


Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Program Fee $6,099.00 $6,299.00
Study Abroad Fee $300.00 $300.00
Total Billed by Pitt $6,399.00 $6,599.00

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~1,500
Meals and Personal Expenses $1000 - $1,500


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 Florence Education program fee, the follow are included in the program:

  • Tuition for six credits
  • Guest lectures and panel discussions
  • Shared apartments in Florence for the duration of your program
  • Class related activities and site visits
  • Welcome and farewell meals
  • Full day excursion to Reggio Emilia area
  • Full day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano
  • International travel insurance
  • Florence bus pass for the duration of the program


When You'll Go: 

This program runs during the month of May. Exact dates for May 2023 are located in the dates sidebar.

What Else You Need to Know: 
  • In addition to the Pitt Global Experiences Office agreement meeting and pre-departure orientation, all students MUST attend two academic sessions prior to departure for Florence. These sessions will count as class sessions towards your grade.
  • If you are a non-US citizen, you may need a visa to travel to Italy, in which case you will be responsible for your visa. The Global Experiences Office will provide the supporting documents for your visa, but you will need to travel to Philadelphia to obtain the visa.
  • 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.
  • Time management skills will be a very important part of this program.
  • 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. 
  • You will do a lot of walking on this program. 
  • Florence is very warm in the summer. Please prepare yourself that A/C is not common and is regulated.