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Study Art History in Florence on a Budget

The Prestigious British Institute of Florence Offers a Wide Variety of Creative Courses

A view of Michelangelo's David at Accademia Gallery of Florence.
A view of Michelangelo's David at Accademia Gallery of Florence.

If you wish to study art history in Florence, you have many options. A web search will turn up well over 20 institutions offering such courses. However, many are taught only in Italian, are provided only in the summer, or have a very high cost of tuition.

The British Institute of Florence — housed in two 15th-century palazzi on opposite sides of the Arno River a few blocks from the Ponte Vecchio — offers year-round Italian language and culture courses, including art history, opera, drawing, and cooking. In addition, it organizes guided day trips to destinations such as Rome, Bologna, Siena, Prato, and many other locations related to specific courses.

The art history course, taught in English, ranges from a week to four weeks or more, with plenty of free time for exploring on your own and at an affordable tuition.

All art history courses at the British Institute are taught in English by professors with doctoral-level expertise in Renaissance painting, architecture, and sculpture. Even for art history novices, these lively courses provide an excellent way to see and learn about Florence. Admission to lectures and tours can be purchased on a per-event basis. When sightseeing on your own, you can have the thrill of accidentally stumbling upon (or intentionally finding) precisely the same works of art discussed in the formal lectures.

The intensive week-long art history courses consist of introductory lectures and a whirlwind of on-site tours, which are equally superb.

Botticelli's Birth of Venus with onlookers at the Uffizi Gallery.
Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" with onlookers at the Uffizi Gallery.

In addition to courses on art history, the Institute hosts regularly scheduled receptions, lectures, and other cultural events that allow the English-speaking students to meet Italian students.

The Harold Acton Library has over 52,000 largely English-language volumes, and still growing, published between the 16th and 21st centuries covering art, Italian studies and language, music, travel, history, and English literature. Students can borrow books or use the comfortable reading room that overlooks the Arno.

For more information on the fascinating, ever-changing, and creative courses offered, as well as the precise yearly costs and dates, see the website of The British Institute of Florence.

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