Pitt in Florence - Semester


Florence is the ideal setting to spend a semester studying in one of the most historic, cultural and beautiful cities in the world. The city is filled with cobblestone streets, open-air markets, unique food experiences, artistic masterpieces, stunning architecture. This program is designed for students of all majors interested in: Italian language, culture, studio arts, art history, cinema, psychology, urban studies and more.  You will take 12-15 credits on this semester long program. No previous Italian experience is necessary, but you are required to take an Italian language course on this program. Florence is the ideal location to begin your Italian language studies and then come back to Pitt to continue. Selected part-time English language internships are also available depending on your desired field.

The city of Florence and hills of Tuscany becomes your classroom during this program. The program includes full day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano. Students also have the opportunity to interact with the local community and immerse themselves in optional cultural activities 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.


What You'll Accomplish: 

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

  • First-hand experience of Italian way of life and a greater appreciation for Italian language and culture
  • Italian language skills that will enable you to interact and acclimate within the community
  • Knowledge about Italian culture from a full-semester of courses of your choice


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 have the opportunity to spend a full-semester taking 12-18 credits while still have to explore the city which 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 the Fall Semester as the season change, the temperatures can average 75 degrees Fahrenheit at the beginning of the semester to 45 degrees Fahrenheit by the end. As the seasons change and head towards winter, you will see more cloudy and rainy days. The beginning of the Spring Semester can be chilly, cloudy and rainy with temperature averaging around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. As winter transitions to spring, the temperatures will begin to rise and average 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 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 semester abroad. Housing placements are scattered throughout the city-center and location depends on availability and housing option. Exact addresses are provided closer to departure. Regardless of the option you choose, nothing is ever far from you in Florence. 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 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 bedrooms (2 students/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 between 12 and 15 credits on the Pitt in Florence semester program. You will have the opportunity to choose 4 to 5 courses from a variety of academic areas.

No previous Italian experience is necessary, but you are required to take an Italian language course on this program.

The courses will be taught in English and will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers, city tours, cultural activities and excursions.

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.

If you are a business student interested in this program, please check out the Global Business Institute Florence Program: https://www.abroad.pitt.edu/gbiflorence

NOTE: Museum Studies HAA1030 is not offered in the fall semester.

Business International Internship (BUS1910)

This is a part-time internship (20 hours per week). In addition, you will attend weekly discussion-led sessions that include educational support and mentoring in a classroom environment, develop personal and professional skills, and learn to contextualize your internship experience socially and culturally. You will receive 3 credits for this course.
Please note internships are available for students who have successfully completed three semesters of coursework at Pitt or a transfer university as a degree-seeking student. 

Writing the City-Florence (ENGWRT1200)

This course is a creative writing workshop designed to explore the experience of traveling and living abroad in Florence in both verse and prose. Along with the workshop we will also read and discuss texts that focus on Italy in general and Florence specifically from both the native and foreign perspectives, noting particularly the literary techniques and strategies that various writers have used to verbally map out the territory of the city and to express their own place and experiences within its walls. The texts will provide us with a forum for discussing each author’s relationship to and the literary expression of place. The texts will also provide us with models for weekly writing exercises.  I believe that we can use our unique position as sojourners abroad to begin to chart our own internal and imaginative landscapes. Our ultimate goal will be to produce a finalized, substantial text—or series of short texts—suitable for performance and/or publication in the literary world beyond this class.


Italian Renaissance Art History (HAA0302)

This course introduces students to painting, sculpture, and architecture in Florence in the Renaissance. Beginning with the great projects of the Middle Ages that defined the religious and political centers of the city, attention focuses on major monuments of the Renaissance. Discussion will center on how works of art were made, their style, and how they communicate intellectual meaning. Sub-themes that intersect with the most recent research in the field of art history are interwoven into each class period. Topics for discussion include the cross-cultural fertilization of artistic ideas, how women, the poor, and children were depicted in Renaissance art, conflicting ideas regarding patronage, and how works of art construct religious, political, gender, and class identities. This course analyzes the interrelationship between people's creative achievements and their society. In other words, students must understand a work of art in the social, artistic, and historical context of medieval and renaissance Florence.


Special Topics: Museum Studies (HAA1030)
Through museum visits in Florence and Rome students will realize that most of the artworks actually displayed in public museums once belonged to private collectors and were not produced to be seen by a large public. During the course students will explore the history of collecting objects. They will start with the sacred collections of Classical temples, passing then to the libraries of Medieval monasteries and the ideas of the Abbot Suger. They will imagine recreating a Medieval Schatzkammer and an Early Renaissance Studiolo thanks to the remaining precious vases that belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent and the documents of the Urbino Palace and Isa-bella d’Este Studiolo. They will ‘virtually’ visit the Paolo Giovio collection, and the real Studiolo of Francesco I as well as 16th and 17th century Baroque Galleries. They will follow the growth of European National Museums of the nineteenth century (Louvre, British, Muse-ums Island in Berlin) as symbols of national pride as well as the Florentine private collec-tions transformed in foundations like the Bardini and Horne Museums. An in depth study will be done on the Uffizi Gallery in order to understand the transformation of the gallery from the late 16th century to the present day. Finally they will face the role of museums in the contemporary world making a personal research on Florence main museums’ visitors.


Italian: There and Then (4 credits) (ITAL0102)

This course is designed to teach you the basic vocabulary and grammar you need to navigate Italian culture, history, and society. This innovative class consists of face-to-face class meetings in which students practice their Italian in communicative activities.  In addition, students will watch/listen/read lectures, complete exercises to hone their Italian linguistic skills. Students will also  learn about Italian culture, including Italian fashion and design, travel destinations, popular culture, and contemporary literature.  Primary goal is to achieve competence in the spoken language, along with basic skills in reading and writing.

Italian: What If (4 credits) (ITAL0103)

Learn Italian in a comfortable and interactive classroom environment! This course is designed to teach you the vocabulary and grammar you need to navigate Italian culture, history, and society. This course consists of face-to-face class meetings in which students practice their Italian in communicative activities. Students will also watch/listen/read lectures, complete exercises to hone their linguistic skills to better their Italian. In addition, students will learn about Italian culture, including current events, Italian politics, and contemporary literature and cinema. Emphasis continues to be placed on the oral-aural skills, but the reading and writing skills become increasingly stressed.

Italian: Here and Now (4 credits) (ITAL0101)

An introduction to the Italian language, including basic grammar, vocabulary and speech patterns. Primary goal is to achieve competence in the spoken language, along with basic skills in reading and writing. Face-to-face lesson meetings consist of communicative activities in which students practiced learned structures and vocabulary.  Students will watch/listen/read lectures, complete exercises related to grammar and vocabulary. This instructional approach is designed to allow for maximum interaction in the classroom environment, so that students can receive extensive feedback on their progress. 

Firenze Popolare (ITAL0110)

This is an advanced-intermediate level course, taught in Italian, designed for students who have already taken Italian language for three semesters. Students will expand their existing vocabulary and continue to develop their linguistic competencies by engaging in the reading, viewing, analysis of authentic materials, such as ads, brochures, videos, songs, magazine articles, films and short literary texts selected to expose students to modern Italy and its cultural, political, socio-economic history.

Contemporary Italian Cinema (ITAL0086)
The objective of this course is to give students the opportunity to comprehend contemporary Italian society through the screen images that Italian filmmakers have presented of the cultural, political and working environment they live in. Using a multidisciplinary approach for history, film theory, and social contextualization, this course will explore how contemporary Italian cinema has followed, mirrored, and sometimes even anticipated cultural and social transformations in Italian society. Up to twenty Italian films released between the late '90s to the present will be examined from the point of view of 20th and 21st Century Italian social, political, and cultural history in order to understand the various social and ethical concerns exemplified by the movies.


Medieval and Renaissance Literature - Florence (ITAL1085)

The course will introduce students to the history of Italian Literature, focusing on great masterpieces (in English translation) from the 14th to the 16th century. A multidisciplinary approach, dealing with social, political, historical and philosophical implications will provide further understanding by placing literary works in a comprehensive cultural context. Special emphasis will be placed on the impact of Italian literature in European culture in pre-modern age, stressing the broad influence of Dante's Comedy, Boccaccio's Decameron and Ariosto's Orlando Enraged. Students will be provided with the basic operational tools to help them recognize different literary genres and understand why certain forms of artistic expression are peculiar to certain ages, at times to the exclusion of others. Literary issues such as the great divide between high and low literature, the question of language, the relation between classical, Christian and chivalric epics, the concept of originality in the Middle Ages, the circulation of books and the development of a reading public will be thoroughly investigated. Students will be able to follow the formation and the evolution of the mainstream literary tradition, and appreciate the innovative charge, both in form and content, of the works selected. They will also learn to practice a close reading of the texts, and will be encouraged to form their own critical opinion on the writings analyzed for their oral presentations. The first lessons will be devoted to a general overview of the 13th and the 14th centuries both from a historical and a more specifically literary perspective. Then the focus will shift onto the role of Dante in shaping the vernacular literature as a means to bridge the gap between academic and popular culture, to Boccaccio's ground-breaking work in restyling storytelling into an art of conversation and therefore a collective enterprise, and finally to Ariostol's humorous contemplation of human vanity and foolishness. Each lecture introducing a new author will be preceded by a brief outline of his life and literary output, and will then proceed with the description and analysis of his major work.


Cross Cultural Psychology in Florence (PSY0186)

This course will explore the field of cross-cultural psychology through a focus on a specific country and its inhabitants: Italy. Aspects of cross-cultural analysis from the field of cross-cultural psychology (as well as interdisciplinary elements from sociology, anthropology, biology and ecology) will be discussed, including: cultural influence on human behavior, attitudes, values, communication and societal organization. Special topics of ethnocentrism, individual vs. collective societies, plural societies, cultural views on mental health, and intercultural communication are highlighted. Methodological issues of cross-cultural research will be reviewed, and students will have the opportunity to conduct a cross-cultural interview and be participant-observers of their own experience here in Italy. The city of Florence and its inhabitants become the classroom through various excursions and field work. Participants are encouraged to reflect on their own cultural origins in regards to behaviors, communication, attitudes and values, as well as their acculturation experiences while studying in Italy.


Sculpture - Figure and Portrait (SA1440)
Figurative sculpture is a basic studio course designed for beginners and intermediate students. It explores the skills and techniques necessary to approach clay modelling. Students are invited to take advantage of class activities as much as possible since it is through constant commitment and exercise that they will achieve the technical mastery of the medium. At the same time, it is necessary for students to acquire a certain theoretical awareness. Stimuli provided by projections, workshop and site visits to the most important sculptures in Florence are integral to the course. Students will visit these works during the week. Students will have a sketchbook in order to document at least one work per visit.


Foundation Painting (SA0120)
Investigate concepts of color, form, line, composition, volume, space, and the use of oil paint as a medium. Beginning or intermediate levels accepted. This course is structured to introduce oil painting starting from the basic techniques and introducing new approaches and ideas. Students should take advantage of open studio hours to complete their assignments. At the beginning of each new topic and project students will be asked to list the techniques acquired in the previous lessons before moving on to a new exercise. Students will be expected to complete at least 4 paintings to successfully complete the course in addition to completing the weekly assignments.


Foundation Drawing (SA0130)
A studio arts drawing course for beginning and intermediate students that explores an essential aspect of artistic self-expression and the techniques necessary to learn to draw what you see. The course will examine Florentine artists' drawing techniques that raised the level of this medium during the Renaissance period from preliminary studies to that of true works of art. Visual perception is a way of seeing that differs from our typical way of seeing. The objective is that of teaching students how to transmit what they see, an artistic perception which will permit them to explore their personal mode of expression. The course will concentrate upon the component parts of drawing, the necessary aspects self-awareness and general creativity, learning to draw what is out there and self expression.


Analyzing and Exploring the Global City - Florence (URBNST0408)

Florence is a global heritage city: millions of people every day crowd into its small streets admiring the ancient buildings and its artistic heritage, which creates revenue as well as issues. For this reason, contemporary Florence and its inhabitants are less well-known by visitors. Florence today has an ethnically diverse population with complex socio-cultural dynamics that shape the identity of this fascinating city. Although migration to the city has intensified over the last few decades, ‘multiculturalism’ is not a recent phenomenon: over the centuries the city has celebrated diversity, with different ethnic groups, different nationalities and various religious groups who have contributed to Florence’s social and cultural wealth. Even the briefest of walks can unveil this wealth to the eyes of the attentive observer – and it is precisely this ‘below the surface’ understanding that this course provides. Florence is, and always has been, a ‘global’ city. We will analyze the complex dynamics that shape the identity of Florence by applying a critical perspective to the notion of globalization and by analyzing the socio-cultural forces at play both historically and presently. Students will learn to analyze the cultural variety present in the city, examining which ethnic communities live in Florence today, and gaining insight into their lives through scholarly sources and direct observation. Throughout the course we will discuss the relativity of cultural values; we will analyze how multicultural aspects of Florence’s identity have been discursively constructed and by which social actors; we will review which policies the local and national administration have put into effect to deal with these issues.


Experiential Learning Description: 

Limited internships are also available for credit in select fields. Please contact your program manager for more details. 

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.



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: 

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 $9,880 $17,982
Program Cost $8,519 $8,519
Study Abroad Fee $400 $400
Total Billed by Pitt $18,799 $26,901

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare $1,000 - $1,500
Personal Expenses and Meals $3,000 - $5000
Local Cell phone $100
Visa ~$70
Passport ~$165

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 Pitt in Florence fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 12-15 credits
  • On-Site Orientation
  • Housing 
  • Welcome and farewell dinner
  • International Health Insurance
  • One-day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano
  • My Global City activities and events through CAPA


What Else You Need to Know: 

Florence does experience seasons/change in temperature. Be aware that both heat and A/C (when available) are regulated - heat will not be as warm as you are used to and A/C (when available) will not be as cold as you are used to.