Aria Cohen and Sara Schuster shares their experiences in Art History class:

“Art history with Daniele has been unlike any class we’ve ever taken.  His enthusiasm, coupled with our ability to experience the art in person, changed the way we think of art history.  On a day-to-day basis, we travel throughout the city listening to Daniele explain, or “make confrontations” between pieces on our own.  We constantly engage in analytical conversations, prompted by Daniele, and learn to recognize iconography, as well as understand the movement from Romanesque to Gothic, and finally into the Renaissance that Florence is famous for.  Living in Florence is not the same once you’ve learned to identify the different styles that surround you.  We’ve watched the great masters (namely Michelangelo, Raffaello, and Leonardo) diverge and expand their work, and we’ve (through Daniele’s descriptions) essentially seen the Duomo be built.  Due to this class we’ve gone from being spectators of this city to a group culturally aware of Florence’s rich history.”

Students strategizing during the final scavenger hunt

Danielle, Kate, and Sara 

Aria listens during a guided tour at the Accademia

Daniele and Danielle


Drawing students took to the streets for a culminating course activity this week.  Lead by Lindsay and William, the students explored underground graffiti tunnels in the Le Cure neighborhood of Firenze.  These tunnels are well known and serve as an art gallery, with local artists maintaining it and sharing the space.  There is a waiting list to be granted a workspace within the tunnel, so the drawing students did the next best thing and created a collaborative graffiti project to install at the entrance to the tunnel.  After almost two hours of careful work, studenti connected their work into one long piece and mounted it outside the tunnel for all of Florence to enjoy. They were excited to work with a new material and leave a piece of their (he)art behind for others to see.  Check out their work below!

Checking out the tunnel before starting their projects

Working together to mount the piece

Drawing students and Lindsay with the finished installation


Sara Schuster shares her experiences in Italian Conversation:

“Italian conversation with Valentina has proved to be the perfect mix and learning and relaxation for me in Florence.  In laid back settings (a bar- coffee in hand, or stretched out on a couch in one of the apartments are both prime examples) we practice talking, introducing ourselves, ordering or other necessities.  Personally, after the long hikes throughout Florence that I experience each morning in my pursuit to understand the growth from Gothic to Renaissance to Baroque (art and architecture, that is), these afternoons are perfect.  I love the alternately calm and interesting lessons as I learn everything from “Sono Sara e ho seidici anni” to “il mio fratello si chiama Alex” (“I’m Sara and I am 16” or “my brother’s name is Alex” for those not taking Italian).  The class allows students to, at their own pace, begin to absorb and then tentatively formulate Italian.  Rather than rigid structure and memorization, the class keeps everyone speaking, whether it be about “Milly and Molly”, the characters of a children’s book we’ve been working with, or over what we plan on ordering as the class shares a lunch out.  My comfort level in Florence has changed as I learn to communicate, if only in my broken Italian, and I have no doubt that I will only get stronger by the end of the month.” 


Our grande famiglia enjoyed an evening of culture during our last week in Florence- a trip to the opera to see Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata.  As if this weren’t enough of a treat, we watched this musical masterpiece in the magical setting of the Boboli Gardens.  Studenti put on their finest attire and witnesed (for some) their first opera experience in true Florentine style.  What a way to end the week!

Ladies all dolled up

Cara, Eilis, and Jamie pose in Piazza della Repubblica

Austin, Emily, Elizabeth & Pa 

Lauren, MacKenzie, and Eden ready for a little night music

Eleanor, Emily, and Anna enjoy gelato before walking to Giardino di Boboli

Caroline can't wait! 



Markie Ramage shares her experiences in Oil Painting Class:

“Oil painting is the best experience.  We have painted a still life using a grey scale, which is created by applying grey and white oil paints with a pallet knife, to teach us how to use value in a painting.  We are working on self-portraits and seeing how different color tones affect a painting.  Being in Florence, where the Renaissance was born, you find tons of inspiration from things such as the street artists, who use chalk on the sidewalks to recreate famous paintings, and of course by the centuries old paintings throughout the city.  Although class is held inside, we still find bits of Florence in our own art studio, that has a massive fresco across its ceiling.  During class we have a short break where we can take a moment to look at our paintings and I find myself staring at the studio ceiling in amazement instead.  We receive lots of help from our teacher, Antonio, who challenges us to use our full potential.”

Student self portraits displayed at the Art Show


On Friday, students in the Italian major celebrated their final class at Lorenzo de Medici Institute with a graduation ceremony.  Each student was awarded a certificate for their accomplishments this month and everyone enjoyed refreshments on the terrace before the ceremony.  These language learners have had the chance to show off their new Italian skills throughout the summer and have a lot of fun along the way.  Che bravi studenti! 

Ilana receives her diploma

Studenti d'italiano


On Sunday, studenti were put to the test during our annual Iron Chef competition! Each cooking group was given a bag with spaghetti, mozzarella, onions, tomatoes, bread, and ricotta cheese-plus four “mystery” items: fennel, pear, peas, and provolone cheese. The rules: create at least two courses using every ingredient in the bag (plus two other ingredients of their choice) in 90 minutes. A panel of lucky judges (the staff) got to taste all of their amazing creations (che buono!) and considered presentation, plating, and creativity when making their final decision.  After much discussion, we settled on a three-way tie for first place: “Super 8”, “The Veggies”, and “Valentina’s Great Team”. Needless to say, we were blown away!

One of the winning team's presentations: fennel tea, caramelized pear with prosciutto, and nutella pasta!

The Davids' winning creations

Super 8 (minus Claire and Bari)

The Davids explain their meal in full costume with musical accompaniment 

The judges hard at work


Emma and Melissa are all smiles

Maddie in action during Night Photography

Cooking group dinner on the terrace

Valentina's Great Team! One of our Iron Chef winners :)

Last cooking group night: pizza and profiteroles :)

David, Erin, Katie, and Sara

Quintessential Italian birthday cake- pizza!


Adam Ribkoff shares his experiences in Tuscan Cuisine Class:

“The Tuscan Cuisine class is an amazing sensory experience.  I love seeing the beautiful ingredients, smelling them, hearing the oil sizzle, feeling the pasta dough as I knead it, and of course tasting the end results.  Now that I have learned how to make pesto, I’m going to put it on everything because it’s so good. Maybe I’ll become fat from all that good food we’re making, such as gnocchi, bruschetta, and a bunch of different pasta sauces.  I think next week we’re making desserts, so I’ll just become fatter.”

Sam and Tess listen carefully while learning how to knead pizza dough

Best part of class: tasting the final product!


Ilana Duek shares her experiences in Italian class at Lorenzo de Medici:

“Italian has been helpful throughout this experience because we don’t learn the language in a boring way.  We actually go out and talk with people, ask them questions- and when we have doubts, we talk with our teacher.  She is really nice and good at explaining everything.  Italian is not as easy as it seems but definitely learning it here in Florence is just PERFECT!”

Stuart, Andrew, Ilana and Evan head to class

Taylor works on an assignment during class

Andrew, Ilana and Evan 


Emma Rosen shares her experiences in Fashion Design class:

“From trend forecasting to figure drawing, this summer we have thoroughly explored the world of fashion design.  Every day brings a new learning experience.  We have traveled to Florence’s top stores and visited vintage markets as well as fabric stores.  Along with our excursions, Jessica, our teacher, has perfected fashion figure drawing and aided us as we work toward creating a final collection.  She creates a very fun and encouraging atmosphere that makes class even more enjoyable.  Because of this course we have all grown as artists and designers and learned valuable information about the industry that will be very helpful in the future.”

Helen at the Santa Reparata International School of Art

Nicki works on a figure drawing

Nicki building her final project

Brittany and Julia working with a pattern

Lena considers fabric choices

Guest blogger Emma during class


For our third weekend excursion, we traveled outside of Tuscany to the nearby region of Liguria, about two hours south of Firenze.  We arrived in La Spezia and took the train to Riomaggiore, the first of five towns that make up Cinque Terre.  Together, our grande famiglia walked the first part of the trail- Via dell’Amore (Lovers Lane) and witnessed breathtaking views of the coastline.  Upon our arrival in Manarola, the second town, our group split into Team Hikers and Team Beach.  I am happy to say that a record breaking twenty-seven students chose to trek- the biggest group we’ve ever had! The hiking crew continued onto Corniglia where they stopped for lunch (pesto is a local specialty!), and then forged on to Vernazza, the fourth town.  After a quick break for water and to catch their breath, they completed the last and most strenuous part of the trail, climbing up and down endless stone stairs.  Luckily, the weather was breezy and not as scorching as usual- plus, studenti got an unbelievable view each time they stopped for a water break.  After almost three hours of trailblazing, the group arrived triumphantly in Monterosso, the final and largest of the five towns, where they were reunited with the rest of our group who had been enjoying a day on the beach.  All were eager to jump into the Ligurian Sea and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  Studenti enjoyed some local specialties (pesto, focaccia, sea food) during dinner, and by evening everyone was satisfied, sun kissed, and smiling after a wonderful adventure. 

Abbey Road does Cinque Terre!

Helen, Brittany & Stuart on Via dell'Amore

Nicki found a shout out to ABBEY ROAD on Via dell'Amore :)

3 members of Team Hike: Jordan, Isabel and Emma 

WE DID IT! Celebrating as they enter Monterosso

Victory pose at the end of the hike

Beach time!

Rare staff photo! Anastasia (our fearless leader), Antonio, and Winnie