Florence, Italy

Location and Facilities:

Università di Firenze
Piazza San Marco
4-50121, Firenze

The City:

Set on the Arno River in the midst of hills covered with olive groves, vineyards and cypresses, Florence is known as the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, a period of exceptional artistic and intellectual activity.  Under the aegis of the wealthy Medici family, Florence's most famous patrons, artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and Vasari produced their great masterpieces. As the banking center of early Europe, Florence was home not only to wealthy patron families, but to innovations in banking and accounting practices. Home to Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, the "Three Crowns" of Italian literature, Florence is also the birthplace of modern Italian. Today, Florence retains the indelible imprint of her great artists and geniuses, and the magic of this most fascinating Italian town pervades daily life. As Brunelleschi's towering dome dominates the city and the Tuscan countryside, so does Florence dominate Italy's cultural life. The University of Florence (L'Università di Firenze) is an urban university and departments are located in the heart of the city.

Academic Program:

Holy Cross students will direct enroll, which allows students to 180 hours at Unifi, as the university if affectionally known.  At the Facoltà di Lettere (Humanities) students can take courses in literature, history, philosophy, and art history, among other subjects. The Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, one of Florence's most renowned schools, offers courses in political science, law, economics, etc. Students are responsible for reading assignments and class attendance. Qualified tutors selected by the Academic Advisor will tutor Holy Cross students at LINGUAVIVA and assist students with exam preparation. Most exams at Italian universities are oral; the amount of written work is extremely limited.

Holy Cross students with a high level of training in studio arts have, on occasion, studied at the Libera Academia di Belle Arti di Firenze (LABA), a cutting-edge institute for the applied arts. Annual courses in Nude Drawing and Lithography are offered, and students are required to take final examinations at the end of the year. Acceptance in such courses is subject to mid-October entrance examination.  Students are required to submit a digital portfolio.

Students with training in music and voice can apply to the Accademia Musicale di Firenze, located in Via Adriani, 27-29.  The school offers regular music classes throughout the year and a rich program for voice. Voice selections are usually made in the beginning of October.

Intensive Language & Culture:   

The Holy Cross program in Florence includes an eight-week pre-university intensive language and culture course at LINGUAVIVA prior to the start of the Italian academic calendar. The program will also include accompanied excursions to cultural institutions in both Florence and its environs. Students will live with families throughout the year. They will share breakfast and the evening meal.

Special notes: The intensive Language and Culture course will be recorded as an 'overload' and may not be used to makeup a college deficiency.

Course Load:

Three University courses and one course at LINGUAVIVA are the equivalent of 8 Holy Cross courses.

Courses taken at Università di Firenze for Holy Cross credit (PDF)

Current Course Catalog

Independent Cultural Immersion Project (ICIP):

Successful completion of the ICIP, in addition to the required course load, is necessary. The project director will help the students in focusing the subject and in finding resources and contacts.  ICIP meetings will take place at the Centro Linguistico Dante Alighieri.

Language Support:

The College of the Holy Cross has contracted with LINGUAVIVA, a premier foreign language school in Florence, to organize and provide an Italian language reinforcement program throughout the year to develop oral and written skills and offer practical support for courses taken at the University. A final exam at LINGUAVIVA is usually scheduled before Easter Break.

Living Arrangements:

Holy Cross students are placed in families in Florence within walking or short commuting (bus) distance from the University. Breakfast and supper are taken with the family, Sunday excepted.  A set number of  weekday lunches are provided by the College at "Il Cantinone", a central restaurant in Florence.



Students are required to have a visa to study in Italy. The Office of Study Abroad has arranged to procure your visa for you from the Italian Consulate, but you will need to provide Professor Smith in the Office of Study Abroad with the following information: a) completed Schengen Visa Application, b) one recent passport size photograph, c) passport valid six months after your actual return date from Italy, d) notarized affidavit of support e) notarized affidavit of insurance, f) round-trip flight itinerary.


Study Abroad Contact Person:
Professor Brittain Smith,
Phone:  508-793-3057
Office:  Smith 219