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Eye on Florence

January 15, 2006

Over a thousand UW-Madison students have participated in the International Academic Program in Florence since it began in 1982, making the study-abroad program one of the Division of International Studies’ most renowned. Since 1986, students have studied and lived at the Villa Corsi-Salviati, a historic monument located in the village of Sesto Fiorentino, six miles, as its name implies, from downtown Florence. The special location allows students to easily explore the countryside of Tuscany while learning from expert faculty from UW-Madison and its program partners, the University of Michigan, and Duke. Though the Villa has been modernized over the years to include a lecture hall, computer lab, and small library (the Villa even went wireless in 2005), its architectural history still remains visible in the form of frescoes and manicured gardens.

Students participate in the Florence program for a semester, summer, or academic year, and attend special lectures, symposia, and excursions within the city and across Italy. This spring, 33 UW-Madison undergraduates, with majors ranging from art history and journalism to psychology and economics, will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the program at the Villa. UW-Madison alumnus and former resident director of the program, Gino Casagrande, has created an extensive Web site that gives us a glimpse into the unique Corsi-Salviati experience. Click here to view photographs and historical information.

While life at Villa Corsi-Salviati has remained much the same since UW students first took up residence, IAP programs in the region have grown along with increased interest in study abroad. In 2004, IAP, UW-Madison’s College of Letters and Science, and the University of Michigan inaugurated a summer Honors Program at the Villa. The program consists of a spring semester course at the students’ home campus and four weeks of study abroad in Florence. Additionally this summer, UW-Madison art and music majors will have the chance to participate in two new international seminars in painting, and music composition and performance. Although the classes will be in downtown Florence, not the Villa, could there be a more ideal location to learn about some of civilization’s greatest paintings, sculpture, architecture and music? For more information on these three new programs, please visit the study-abroad web site.

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