Study Abroad in Florence, Italy

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Study Abroad in Florence: Courses

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Courses are subject to change at the discretion of AIFS and Fairfield University.

Courses run Monday through Thursday and mandatory course related field trips are held on Friday

Italian Language Courses (Taught in Italian)

Students must take an online entrance test in order to register for any level higher than Elementary Italian I. Since language requirements are strict, students are often placed in a level lower than requested. Students should gain pre-approval from their home institution for several levels of Italian in order to ensure that they receive credit for the level that they place into following the placement test. Please note that not all courses listed will run, in order for a course to be offered there must be enough interest generated from the preliminary course forms.

ITAL 260 (6)
Basic Italian in Its Cultural Context

This is an intensive Italian language course for beginners, with a focus on Italian language and a comprehensive view of the Italian culture. The course teaches essential vocabulary and grammar, develops students’ ability to communicate in an authentic linguistic context and enables them to deepen their understanding of the typical aspects of the Italian culture and customs.?

ITAL 101 (3)
Elementary Italian I

A thorough, basic introduction to the Italian language for those with little or no previous experience, the course teaches essential vocabulary and grammar and develops students’ ability to communicate in an authentic linguistic context – key to making the most of the experience of their stay in Italy.

ITAL 102 (3)
Elementary Italian II

Designed for students who already have some knowledge of Italian, the course revises basic grammar and vocabulary before progressing to more complex structures and functions leading up to the next, Intermediate, level. Classes are conducted mainly in Italian, with ample opportunity for student oral practice. Prerequisites: ITL 140 Elementary Italian I, and/or min. 70/100 score on the diagnostic test.

ITAL 201 (3)
Intermediate Italian I

This course helps students to develop their ability to communicate effectively and accurately, using an expanded range of vocabulary. Conversation practice improves listening and interpretation skills for better understanding and response. Reading and writing exercises improve skills in understanding prose and writing letters and simple messages. Prerequisites: ITL 150, Elementary Italian II, and/or min. 70/100 score on the diagnostic test.

ITAL 301 (3)
Intermediate Italian II

This course builds upon the skills gained in Intermediate Italian I and develops them to enable students to understand and respond to quite complex lines of argument, both in oral and in written form. Students review complex grammar structures and carry out tasks in reading, composition, phonetics, syntax, and style. Continued practice in conversation provides students with an increased capability to communicate competently in Italian. Prerequisites: ITL 240, Intermediate Italian I, and/or min. 70/100 score on the diagnostic test.

ITAL 401 (3)
Advanced Italian

This courses introduces students to advanced structures and vocabulary, which will enable them to interact with the Italian world at a sophisticated level. It enables them to understand lectures and complex lines of argument, including various attitudes and viewpoints, both in oral and in written form. They should become fluent and spontaneous in verbal interaction, and well able to present and sustain an argument, both orally and in evidenced-based writing. Prerequisites: Four/five semesters of Italian and/or a pass at ITL 250 level and/or score 70/100 on the diagnostic test.


A minimum of 10 students is required to run a course.

AHST 210 (1)
Italian Art: Selected Topics

This course, taught during mandatory site visits to Venice and Rome, is a survey of Italian figurative art and architecture from c. 1200 to 1600. Emphasis is put on artistic techniques, styles, patronage, and the political and religious contexts in which the artists worked. During site visits to museums, palaces and churches in Florence, Rome and Venice students will have a unique opportunity to experience the works as their original viewers did and as their creators intended.

Participation to Rome and Venice field trips is mandatory.

AHST 340 (3)
Palaces and Villas of Florence

This course examines the development of public and domestic buildings - specifically villas and palaces – from the 12th to the 17th century. The course will have an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the buildings which will be analyzed from an architectural point of view but also from an historical point of view with a special focus on their public and/or private functions in relation to the social, political and economic evolution of Florence through the centuries. Students will discover the role of the great families of Florence, such as the Medici and the Strozzi as patrons of the city, their need to live in the public environment, and their private world of the Palazzo and the Villa - places of retreat from city life. On-site visits are an essential component of this course. In addition to on site classes the course normally includes a visit to a Villa outside town.

AHST 351 (3)
Origin and Evolution of Italian Fashion

Fashion is intrinsically connected to the idea of nation, identity and place, and while Italian fashion at first sight appears as a contemporary project, its roots trace as far back as early modernity. This course will investigate the origins and evolution of Italian fashion, of manufacturing of costumes, dresses and fashionable wear through the renaissance and up to present, emphasizing its’ relation to arts and tradition in craftsmanship and textiles. The new area of Italian fashion making its way in the 1950s, often referred to as the birth of Italian Fashion and ‘Made In Italy’, was solidified by international relations between the US and Italy and this course will explore how it was in this context that the embodiment of a new tangible, modern and glamorous ‘Italian Style’ was born.

AHST 362 (3)
Museums of Florence

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the city of Florence and its renowned museums. Students are trained to comprehend the uniqueness of the artistic heritage of the city known as ‘the cradle of Renaissance’. They will have the extraordinary opportunity to experience works of art in their location, often churches, as their original viewers did and their creators intended, and in museums, through visits to the major cultural highlights of Florence such as the Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello, Santa Croce and Opera del Duomo.

COMM 340 (3)
Fashion Communication

Fashion in itself is a form of communication with both tangible and intangible elements; often its visual and aesthetic value is greater than its functionality. This course sets out to explore the key developments of communication within the fashion industry, from the early and iconic fashion magazines with their role as promoters of both new images and identity, through the importance of fashion photography to new and developing social media platforms and digital technologies. The means of communication used by fashions firms, brands and companies to communicate their identity will be discussed and seen in light of challenges and opportunities the fashion business faces, such as sustainability, gender identity and the importance of fashion influencers as new key communicators.

Italian Society Through Film

The course analyzes the evolution of the main aspects of Italian culture and society from the end of World War II up to the present day as portrayed in representative Italian movies. It examines the social significance of the most successful cinematic styles and genres belonging to the history of Italian cinema, such as Neorealism and the Commedia all’Italiana, and analyzes social phenomena such as the evolution of the family, Italian migration patterns and the relations between North and South that have shaped the cultural and political identity of Italian society.

COMM/MUSC 360 (3)
Italian Opera and its Heroines

This course explores opera as a cultural phenomenon influenced by the historical, political and social environment in which this innovative cultural art form flourished focusing also on the role of women in this context . Opera heroines have portrayed women models of their times: tragic characters oppressed by their husbands or fathers, betrayed in love but also courageous characters who manage to take control of their own destiny. The connections between music, text and drama are analyzed with a particular emphasis on the operatic representation of women and of feminine style rhetoric in famous operas by composers such as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini.

COMM 372 (3)
Social Media, Journalism and Public Relations

This course analyzes the main aspects of the professions of Public Relations and journalism focusing on the writing techniques used by journalists and PR practitioners and on how these groups use social media communication to reach a mass audience. The course also examines the similarities and differences of both professions as well as the ethical issues that both journalists and PR practitioners have to cope with. It teaches students the principle writing techniques and social media strategies that ournalists, news organizations and PR firms use.

COMM 383 (3)
Symbols of Made in Italy

Italy leaped from being mainly an agricultural based economy up until the post war area, to becoming one of the worlds’ greatest industrial entities and biggest global economies today. This course covers themes of contemporary Italian society that brought about such change, focusing on how traditional artistic and craft excellences were combined with technological modernization and the creation of a mass-consumer society. By looking at Italy’s achievements in sectors such as fashion, interior design, industrial design, automobiles and advertising, it will emerge how designers and industrialists played a critical role in manufacturing an iconic Italian image, appealing to domestic and international consumers. Through social, cultural and anthropological approaches, this course sets out to detect the symbols of Italian identity.

HIST 345 (3)
The Medici: Masters of Florence

This course covers the full history of the famous House of Medici from the humble beginnings of founder Giovanni di Bicci and his tyrant son Cosimo, to the extraordinary life of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the final collapse of the house of the Medici with the death of the last Medici Duke in 1737. The Medici where merchants, bankers, statesmen and patrons of the arts thus students are introduced not only to the socio-political history of Florence but also to the philosophical and artistic movements that flourished under their patronage.

The course uses primary source readings by such authors as Giovanni Villani, Niccolò Machiavelli, Agnolo Poliziano and Francesco Guicciardini to depict the life of Florence and of the Medici family as perceived by their contemporaries. Students will visit palaces, churches, museums, and galleries, which are relevant to the study of the Medici family.

HIST/CRIM 350  (3)
History of the Mafia

This course analyzes the evolution of the Mafia as a criminal enterprise from Italy’s national unification in 1861 to the present day. Although this course has an historico-political focus it follows a multidisciplinary approach considering also the sociological aspect of Mafia not only viewing it as a form of organized crime. The criminal justice component of the course will take into consideration the history of the fight against it by critically examining the achievements and shortcomings of Italy’s government throughout the years, and the efforts, often successful, made by Italian law to enforce its fight against organized crime from the early 1990s onwards. Its most recent developments and its move towards a global dimension of crime are analyzed in the last part of the course. Visits to relevant organizations in Florence and a guest lecture with Anti-mafia investigators have been scheduled.

ANTH/HIST 360 (3)
Food Culture in Italy

In exploring the history of Italian foodways, a myriad of aspects of Italy’s culture and history unfold. Through the means of food, this course aims to uncover changes and trends in Italian history and society. The most striking factor that emerges is the important role gastronomic traditions have had in shaping Italian national and regional identities. Food as nourishment of body and spirit, as a social divider or unifier, as a means of communication and ultimately as a promoter of power takes us through history up until the contemporary rediscovery of ‘authentic’ and ‘traditional’ foods; a response to on-going globalizing processes and a way to construct new social identities. An ultimate expression of this is the Slow Food Revolution, a movement initiated in Italy that has now worldwide following.

HIST 380 (3)
A History of Epidemics from the Black Death to Contemporary Times

This course explores the history of epidemics on a global scale, starting from antiquity to modern days. It will critically engage with classical medical theories, sickness and epidemics in the media and in literature, and it will cover the emerging ecological issues of the last decades. It will examine also how contagion affected different countries and cultures, for example discussing the impact of smallpox in the “New World”, the Americas; the spreading of cholera in the provinces of Asia and in Europe and then diffusion of AIDS in the African continent. The religious context will be considered, especially when dealing with medieval sickness and the plague. It will then analyze sickness through literature, employing Mary Shelley’s work “The Last Man” as one of the first examples of post-apocalyptic novels. Finally it will critically deal with contemporary pandemics such as COVID-19 and the relationship between humanity and the living world.

BUSI 340 (3)
European Union: Business and Institutions

Europe is the largest market in the world, and also the most complex and highly regulated. Numerous business regulations and directives have been implemented as a result of intense political bargaining between member countries over decades, with the aim to create a single market in which goods, services, labor and capital can move freely. Understanding the implications of this legal, political and economic complexity is essential in understanding how business and organizations operate in Europe. This course will examine the factors and influences at work in the European business environment.

ENGL 340 (3)
Dante's Journey

The aim of this course is an in-depth exploration of Dante’s works, Vita Nuova and his masterpiece, Divine Comedy, with references also to other works (Convivio). It will focus on both the poet’s philosophy and the events of his life, to understand the origins of his poetic, his concept of love and his relationship with the town of Florence. It will also give to students a general understanding of the medieval background. Literary, historical and philosophical views will be addressed to better approach Dante’s poetry.

ENGL 350 (3)
Masters of Italian Literature

This course examines the works of the great Italian authors of the Italian Middle Ages and the Renaissance, focusing on both their historical, religious and political milieu and on their enduring influence on contemporary literature. Readings in translation will include Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio.

MKTG 340 (3)
Marketing Today's Fashion

The marketing of a brand occupies a crucial role in the fashion industry; alongside the creative work of designers and stylists, successful fashion brands will also heavily depend upon marketing plans, publicity, communication and advertising strategies in order to develop their business and brand worth. This course will introduce students to the principles of fashion marketing and explore how the fashion industry faces challenges in the global market and is constantly striving to investigate unconventional and innovative tactics within the field of marketing.

MKTG 350 (3)
The Marketing of Wine in Italy

The world of wine is divided in parallel spheres; is wine a cultural expression, a result of passion and tradition, or even an art form? Or is it simply a business, and if so, what business? Wine has deep roots in our Western way of life and this course aims at exploring wine as both an agricultural product but also as a luxury product that is sold on markets. By applying the most relevant theories and techniques from the marketing discipline this course aims to equip students with a powerful set of skills and knowledge for the practice of wine marketing. Students will be introduced to the use of consumer and market behavior theory, branding and services techniques and business-to-business theory. In combining the understanding of wine both within a cultural context and in a business setting, students will analyze wine as ultimately both a “local” produce, and a “glocal” product.

MKTG 364 (3)
Marketing of Italian Luxury Fashion

Italian fashion occupies a prominent place in today’s globalized economy. This course explores how luxury and fashion have evolved in the past and how they are marketed to-day. For this purpose, we will analyze and discuss innovative and effective marketing strategies, branding and consumer behavior within the context of the consumption of luxury fashion products and services. The focus will be on key Italian luxury brands such as Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, Versace. Field trips and visits to fashion retailers, corporate museums and design studios will allow students to acquire a first- hand knowledge of trend-setting marketing strategies developed by Italian fashion brands.

PSYC 310 (3)
Cross Cultural Psychology

This course explores human behavior from the social point of view and in a cross-cultural perspective, both in theory and in practice. The focus will be on Italy and the Italians. Through elements of sociology, ecology, anthropology, biology, sociology, it gives students the opportunity to discuss the shaping and deployment of human attitudes, behavior, values, communication process and social organization. Specific attention will be devoted to issues such as the individual vs the social, mental health and cross-cultural communication. Students will engage in field research, conducting interviews on topics related to their own study abroad experience while visiting various locations in Rome and Italy. The research as a practical tool of the course, and the course itself, aim at providing students with the opportunity to apply methodologies of inquiry focusing at studying how relationships and behavior in cross-cultural contexts take shape.

RLST 310 (3)
Comparative Religions

Explores the entire panorama of world religions from a comparative perspective and using methodologies from various related disciplines. Ancient Roman, Greek, Eastern religious traditions, as well as the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and the polytheistic religious systems - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism – will be discussed and analyzed along with current developments and the “new-age” religions. Religious, historical, anthropological, sociological, philosophical approaches will be considered to discuss the evolutions of religions and central religious issues, such as the problem of evil, free will, the construction of organized religious institutions, and the shaping of religious identities.

SOCI 345 (3)
The Role of Women in Italy

The life of Italian women is intrinsically linked to the history of family and its centrality in Italian society. While traditionally the social and economic condition of women often manifested itself through domestic labor or in function of the family, this course will explore how social conditions have changed for women in areas such as work and career, health and political representation. In tracing the transformation of Italian society, this course will touch upon areas such as the progressive independence of Italian women and modification of gender roles in the Italian society; of feminism and of media representation of the female imagine.

SOCI 353 (3)
Soccer and Italian Identity

Analyzing the role of soccer in Italian society the course provides unique opportunities to investigate and understand the multidimensional features of contemporary Italian identity. Through sociological lenses, the course examines the role of soccer within Italian history, culture, politics, media environment, and social change. The main focus is on the socio-cultural dynamics of the relationship between soccer and Italian society. Field trips to matches at the local soccer stadium are an essential part of the course. Students can have field experiences and interpret the social dynamics of sporting events, adopting a comparative, cross-cultural perspective.

SOCI 364 (3)
Magic, Religion and Popular Beliefs

The course is based on an interdisciplinary approach focusing on the sociological and anthropological analysis of the role of magic, witchcraft, and the supernatural in various religious and cultural contexts in both past and contemporary world. It will critically engage with classical theories, considering positivism and the first ethnographic studies. Differences and similarities between Magic and Witchcraft will be analyzed. The role religion plays in human experiences of sickness, death, and uncertainty will be explored along with a discussion of contemporary pagan religions and unconventional beliefs.


Courses require 15 hours per academic credit for a total of 45 hours plus 15 hours of guided independent work. Students purchase their own materials; in some cases, there may be a studio fee. All studio art courses require a minimum of 10 students. Students should budget approximately 70 euros for supplies.

Final grades and evaluations are based on student progress, technical ability, attitude and adherence of the final product to the material as well as projects given in class. Students enrolling for Intermediate or Advanced courses must supply evidence of previous study at college level. Students should bring slides of their work to show the instructor. Painting courses use only water-based paints.

FNAR 140 (3)
Introduction to Drawing

This course introduces students to traditional and contemporary drawing techniques and concepts. Students will practice figure drawing, structural drawing, and outdoor drawing in the city of Florence and in the surrounding areas, thus developing both technical abilities and creative responses to the assigned materials and subjects. A wide range of drawing media, such as lead, graphite, charcoal and ink will be experimented. Practical demonstrations, traditional lectures, group and individual critiques will be given throughout the course in order to develop students critical thinking skills. No prior experience with drawing is required. A studio fee is required for this course.

FNAR 150 (3)
Introduction to Painting

This course is intended for students with little or no previous Painting experience. Students will learn how to handle brushes and mix colors in order to create the illusion of light, shadow, perspective, volume, and proportion. Students will explore different materials and the way to use them, different techniques and the way they have been used by famous master painters of different periods. Assignments will progress from specific exercises intended to build on techniques to complex projects which will include out of doors landscape paintings of the hills around Florence and of the beautiful gardens of the city but also still life and figure painting. A studio fee is required for this course.

FNAR 240 (3)
Intermediate Drawing

This course is a continuation of Introduction to Drawing. It aims to reinforce basic drawing skills and introduces additional drawing media and techniques focusing on linear perspective, objects, spatial perception and human anatomy. Some classes and the relevant assignments will focus on a more realistic approach, others will focus on more conceptual approaches such as abstraction and surrealism. Emphasis is placed on the development of expressive and perceptual skills. A studio fee is required for this course.

FNAR 250 (3)
Intermediate Painting

In this course students work to develop their technical proficiency and emphasis is put on specific light related issues such as artificial lighting, candle lighting and side lighting. Students will continue to develop observational skills through assigned and independent painting projects which will include open air paintings of Florence and of the surrounding areas, and in studio works. Students at this level are encouraged to confront and to discuss their projects with the teacher and with other students. A studio fee is required for this course.

FNAR 260 (3)
Italy Sketchbook

Through this course students will acquire a broad grasp of the roles and aims of drawing as both an analytical and an expressive tool of artistic and communicative inquiry. Florence is at the center of the drawing process, which aims at exploring and communicating in a visual way the most peculiar sites of the city, from the Arno river to the art collections of the numerous galleries and museums of the town. The course is organized in both indoor and outdoor sessions. The production of a sketchbook is an essential part of the course and it helps the students to record the city, create ideas, and show how drawing is an open and mobile tool for exploring reality. A studio fee is required for this course.

FNAR 340 (3)
Advanced Drawing

This course aims to develop students' personal styles using all the knowledge and experience acquired in previous art courses. Students will develop and refine drawing techniques and concepts and be guided towards a better understanding of human anatomy for the purpose of artistic expression. Emphasis will be put on spatial perception, compositional structure, linear perspective, figure/ground integration. Students will work on complex assignments which will require not only strong technical skills but also critical thinking, and analytical abilities necessary to verbalize the conceptual projects from which they originated. A studio fee is required for this course.

FNAR 350 (3)
Advanced Painting

This course is intended for students who already have a good grasp of techniques and concepts of painting. Students are guided to develop a personal style, expression, and analysis of the painting process while familiarizing with professional painting techniques and materials. The course includes outdoor painting in the most beautiful spots of Florence and work in the studio. Discussions and critiques are an important part of this course aimed to develop students’ conceptual skills, critical and visual vocabulary of art, creative expression. A studio fee is required for this course.

PHOT 370 (3)
Street Photography

Aims to capture everyday life in public places and create realistic images focusing on the way people act and interact with each other and with the environment. Students learn how to use visual intelligence, skills and strategies to create meaningful images that reflect different multicultural realities. The works of the masters in this genre from its origin to Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt, and Robert Frank will be analyzed and provide a source of inspiration. The course has a strong on–site component and students will be guided to identify meaningful ‘local' subjects and acquire confidence in photographing people on the streets and in a variety of different situations.

Required: A digital single lens photographic camera (DSLR): 10,0 megapixels minimum with an optical zoom lens at least 3X and a laptop.

Study + Internship Program

GE 298 (6)
International Internship

Students will engage in a work experience with organizations in a wide variety of fields. The experience is designed to be relevant to the student’s academic pursuits, personal development, and professional preparation.

The internship is a substantive career development experience and provides students with the opportunity to gain experience in workplace settings and to translate classroom learning into practice. The intent is for the student to be exposed to business ideas and concepts while being mentored. Doing analysis, contributing to decisions, and communicating meaningful ideas should form the bulk of the work, although some low skill work (for example, data entry and making phone calls) can be a part of the assignment. At the end of the internship experience, students will be able to reflect on their personal and professional growth and begin seeing themselves on their career path.

While every internship is different, AIFS Abroad has adopted the internship definition recommended by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE.) The criteria are as follows:

Course Objectives

Through a highly customized international internship the student will develop their own professional abilities, draw on their StrengthsFinder attributes to navigate their assigned duties, and cultivate an understanding of the business norms of the host culture. Interns may be tasked with a variety of projects, events or presentations. Students will utilize Gallup coaching, mentoring, and reflective exercises to develop their professional skills and industry knowledge. This will be an applied learning experience. Internships will require students to continually assess and interpret different work styles, industry methods and cultural approaches to their chosen profession. Students will gain self-awareness of their own strengths, have developed intercultural understanding of foreign work culture, gained professional work experience, and completed career communication essentials such as an online LinkedIn profile, interview skills, and networking training.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Identify and apply their own strengths to work better individually and as a team
  • Gain meaningful professional work experience in a multicultural setting
  • Develop and use written, spoken and body language skills effectively across cultures
  • Reflect and evaluate their personal and professional growth during the internship


Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Italy programs!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Italy, Florence programs!