Welcome to Pratt/SACI
Florence Summer Program 2011

Course Syllabus
Title: Florentine Art & Culture: Museum and Library Research and Documentation. 
Place: Florence, Italy
Dates: May 21- June 19 (*daily schedule for this course & conservation)
We encourage students to particpate in SACI Orientation, May 18-20
Instructor: Professor Maria Antonia Rinaldi (SACI Faculty)
Coordinator of International Programs: Dr. Tula Giannini, Dean & Professor, Pratt-SILS    (Florence Web site)                      
Course Objectives Course project Daily Schedule & Web sites Practical Matters Suggested Reading  
Beginning the Journey.
Imagine three weeks where you will live and breathe the art of Florence, birthplace of the renaissance, and enjoy its lively social life, fashion and exquisite cuisine. Through this course, students experience  Florentine culture  first-hand, not only through visits to cultural institutions such as museums and libraries, but as well through a program of total immersion in the life of Florence, a city where life and art are inseparable. The program begins with a walking architectural tour of Florence - your first opportunity to explore and interact with the city.  Perusing the daily schedule below, you will see at once the rich array of activities and visits that we have planned for your educational enrichment and cultural journey.  At the beginning of the course, we all meet  for a class dinner - and so our journey begins.

Course Objectives:
 Students will: 

  • Gain an intimate knowledge of the art and culture of Florence through experiential learning, observation, discussion and immersion in city life.
  • Participate in class visits and discussion.
  • Produce a thematic exhibition catalog based on a topic developed by the student using textual and visual media including photography of objects.
  • Use research to document art objects and to write a topic scholarly topic essay.
  • Construct knowledge based on primary and secondary sources conveyed from the author's perspective.
  • Understand the relationship between art and information and between primary and secondary sources.

Course Project:  A Thematic Exhibition Catalog

Project Methodology - a creative, interactive and organic process involving object selection, photographing objects, object and topic research and analysis.  This process of "knowledge construction" will lead students to discover new ideas and perspectives which will be expressed in their project. In using reserach to document the objects y selected the following sites might be helpful:
Boston University Libraries
UC Berkeley - How to Reserach a Work of Art -

Project Description -

Each student is required to produce a course project.  The project takes the form of an exhibition catalog for which the exhibit theme / topic is based on an aspect of Florentine art and culture and importantly, on individual experience and observation. Students should choose their theme by the beginning of the second week by which time you will have had a chance to experience and interact in ways that will inspire and guide your topic selection. This process will motivate and propel your project.  A key point is that your work moves from the specific to the general, that is, from selected objects to topic formation.  From museum tours and lectures you will see the way in which museum curators think about and discuss art and how they describe and talk about works or art bringing their individual perspectives placed social and cultural contexts.

The Project

Each student is required to produce a course project.  The project takes the form of an exhibition catalog for which the exhibit theme or subject is based on some aspect of Florentine art and culture and importantly, on the student's individual experience and observation. Students should choose a theme/topic by the end of the first week by which time students will have had a chance to experience and interact wiht Florentine art in ways that will inspire and guide their topic selections. A key point is that project work moves from the specific to the general, from selected objects to the topic formation. We encourage students to produce a digital exhibition catalog.    

Project Process by Week.

Note - "object" refers to any object / work that represents Florentine art and culture defined broadly - from a garden, a building and its design elements, paintings, sculpture, fashion, etc.
Research - the projects requires research of objects and research of a theme.  Your work begins with object research.
Camera - you will need to bring a camera to photograph selected objects and documents.

Week  1.  During the first week, students will begin to formulate a theme / topic for their research project. Topics will evolve from visits to museums, libraries and monuments during which students will identify paintings, sculpture, architecture and or other artifacts that speak to them , inspire them and are linked thematically to express a topic.  
  • Collect images.  You will need a camera, preferably a digital camera, so that you will be able to capture objects that you find of particular interest.  Some of these object will be used for you exhibition catalog.  
  • The exhibit catalog will contain 12 objects.  Take two photographs of each object selected, the object and object detail expressing the theme.   
  • Remember to document as you go.  In the first instance, copy the museum information on the object plaque and any additional information resident in the objects physical environment - thus you will avoid the need to retrace your steps which can be very time consuming.
  • Obtain a library card for the BNCF; you will need to present your passport for identification; use this library for researching objects.
  • Choose a topic/ theme.  A key aspect of the project's methodology is to work from the particular to the general.  This means that rather than starting with a predetermined theme, and then looking for objects to fit that theme, you will start with objects that attract you from which you will develop a fuzzy notion of a theme.
Week 2.  Once students have identified some of their objects and related theme, they will submit their topic to the instructor for discussion and approval.  This should be accomplished by the beginning of the second week.  Some examples of themes in Florentine art might be: aspects of the male or female figure, Medici women, ceremony, conflict, design elements in architecture, etc.    
  • Select objects and take photographs.
  • Research objects at the BNCF and other Florentine libraries having a good number of books in English.
Week 3.
  • Complete object selection and photographs so that you have at minimum 12 object for your exhibit catalog.
  • Focus your theme/ topic based on your research.  
  • Some examples of student project themes for past summers:  Images of Women in Florence; On the Wings of the Renaissance: The Florentine Spirit (this exhibit featured winds of angels depicted by  artists such as Beato Angelico and Sandro Botticelli); Birth Announcements: Annunciation Scenes from Florence.
  • Once you selected and captured your objects, study and research each individually and then think about what meaning they convey to you as you bring them together thus forming an original juxtaposition of objects.  Thus, you are constructing meaning from your selection and arrangement from which you will draw your theme.     

Project Format and Content
(note, students have the option of submitting digital projects.)
  • Cover - Exhibit title, author and image.
  • Title page - title, author, date, copyright information, course and instructor information. Topic essay:  The essay should be from the specific perspectives of your research that you have gained from your object selection, experiences and observations.  This is NOT a general topic essay so that you should not try to give an overview of your topic, but rather speak from your own specific focus.  Make sure to cite sources that you have used in your research.  You are required to cite several sources.  These should be used to augment you own analysis and interpretation, not as the primary focus. Bibliographic essay:  A discussion of sources and libraries as they pertain to your topic.
  • For each of the 12 objects you have selected, in a one or two page format, include your object photo, a full object citation (author, title, location, physical description including media and size), a one paragraph discussion of the object with a minimum of 3 cited sources for each object discussion included at the end of the paragraph.
  • Bibliography -  Include 5 to 6 of the most recent sources related to your topic with a brief annotation (about 2 sentences).  Personal perspectives: your thoughts on your experiences and the program.

Submitting the Project.

Because there will not adequate time to do library research while you are in Florence, you will have until the end of 3rd week of July to complete your project.

Florence Daily Schedule, May 21 - June 20, 2009


Pratt SILS Florence Summer Program

May 21-June 19, 2010








May 16


May 17

May 18

May 19

May 20

May 21

10am: Orientation

12:30pm: SACI Tour

SACI Student Dinner


May 22




 7pm: Student Dinner TBA

May 23

Fiesole Trip


May 24

9am: SACI

10am: FT
Bibl Riccard

Nenad Studio- Hist of Paper
7pm: Opening

Open Dwg

May 25

Urban Tour Duomo



R. Cohen


May 26

9am: SACI

9:30am: FT
Gab Dis Stampe G Marini

SACI Printing

 7pm: Film I’m not Scared

May 27



2:30 pm

May 28



Dutch Lib


Group Meeting

May 29

May 30


Volterra S Grimignano

*Grp B

May 31


SACI Printmaking Conservation

SACI Etching

Open Dwg

June 1

Laur Lib S Lorenzo


 Uffizi Gall

June 2


9am BNF

S Ambrogio

Conservation Bookmaking Exercises


7pm Film

Last Kiss


June 3

S Marco



British Academy


 7pm Lect


June 4

Palatino + Mod + Costume

Argenti + Boboli

June 5

June 6


Plsa Lucca

*Grp B

June 7



9am SACI Drawing

2pm FT-CTS


In Class Exercises


Open Dwg

June 8




 SM Nov

Marino Marini 4pm

June 9



9 Lectures




2pm FT Walk Alinari/Nora


 7pm Film
Ignorant Fairies

June 10


Op Duomo



Marino Marini

Opt 2



7pm Lecture

June 11


Bologna Trip

June 12

June 13


*Grp B

June 14

Conservation Nenad Studio



Final Exam


 Open Dwg

June 15





7pm Lect

June 16

Train Conservation

FT Rome



FT Rome


Film-Life is Beautiful

June 17


June 18


June 19


Web site of cultural institutions scheduled for visits

BNCF -  Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze
Uffizi Gall - Uffizi Gallery
Uffizi Lib - Uffizi Library
Alinari - Alinari Photo Archive and Museum
Gabinetto delle Stampe -  Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe
Argenti - Museo degli Argenti
Bargello - Bargello National Museum
Cappelle Medicee - Museum of the Medici Chapels
Villa I Tatti - Villa I Tatti and Berenson Library
Boboli - The Boboli Gardens
Bib Laurne -  Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana
Basillica -  Basillica, Sante Croce
Vecchio -  Palzzo Vecchio
Cap -   Cappella Brancacci
Buonarroti -  Casa Buonarroti
Orsan michelle (also San Marco and other Florence churches)  - Orsanmichele
Academia  -  Galleria dell'Accademia


A general guide to Florence

Florence Live

Virtual Florence Tour

Florence History
Professor Witcombe presents an extensive outline of the Italian Renaissance consisting of links to art works, cultural institutions, churches, artists, architects, sculptures, etc.

Florence libraries and museums.

Union Catalog of consortium of libraries in Florence

Virtual Uffizi - Complete Catalog of  the Uffizi Gallery -

Architecture of Florence

Florentine Illuminated Manuscripts

The museums of Polo Museale - Florence

Digital Dante

History of Italy - Primary Documents

Medici Archives Database - Archives houses at the Archivo di Stato in Florence

The Prince by Machiavelli - from Project Gutenberg

Florence Archives List


Blue Guide to Florence (required basic text for course to use as we explore Florence. 

The Italians, by Luigi Barzini - unique look at the people, customs and unique features of Italy.

A Short History of Italy from Classical Times to Present Day, by H. Hearder & DP Waley - A good introduction to Italy form pre-Roman times to the political crisis of 1960.

 The Italian Painters of the Renaissance, by Bernhard Berenson - A study of the four principal schools of Italian Painting: Venetian, Florentine, Central Italian and Northern Italian.

 Michelangelo, by Howard Hibbard - 2nd ed., Penguin books Inc.

 Italian Gardens, by Georgina Masson - A study including the finest examples of the Roman, Medieval, early humanist and the Renaissance garden.

Italian Villas and Palaces, by Georgina Masson - The various architectural designs of the Italian masters Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Della Robbia, Vasari, Raphael, itc., are represented in the study of over 95 palaces and villas in Italy.

Brunelleschi’s Dome, by
Italian Fiction Novels
The Garden of the Finzi Contini, by Giorgio Bassani.
Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio.
Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino.
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco.

Curriculum Perspectives - Professor Caradonna.

The encounter with the city, a place foreign and yet familiar, profound and contradictory, is intended to place Florentine design within a frame for documentation and collection and creative curation. 

The program undertakes an intensive study of the city's architectural, artistic and cultural history, providing the student with experiential insight into the precedents that have had an enormous impact on the development of art, architecture and design in the western world.

Special field trips to institutions and sites in Florence and day trips to Bologna and Siena extend the depth and range of study.  Students also have the option of a weekend in Rome.

The program provides an opportunity for students to live and study in this unique context.  The lesson of Florence is one that goes beyond its strong artistic heritage.  It presents a different culture, language and landscape, where history assumes a dominant role in the continuum of time.  This is an environment which generates particular responses, specifically toward people and toward an appreciation of urban place and international culture.

In the five years that the program has been offered, it has always been intended that the contrast between New York and Florence would stimulate discourse and inspire re-evaluation of existing preconceptions.

Emphasis is placed on Florentine design, and documentation, inventive and creative selection and collection and curation as a critical tool for analytical consideration of and as a condition of within the existing, historical and contemporary context. 

The program also includes a three credit course in which places its emphasis on "seeing" Florentine Art & Design in a more intense way and developing critical visual abilities.

The course initially focuses on survey and analysis of historic models to reveal distinct design themes within heritage of Florentine design culture.  First hand, on site study and documentation will allow students to explore a range of subjects in order to discover and construct thematic approaches to and the creative process of assembling a collection.  Students will create a collection of ten art/design elements linked by a common theme.  Studies will conclude with formal visual documentation and exhibition catalog/brief.

Special Events

Guest lectures, site visits and workshops are an integral part of the program.  Scheduled regularly and held on site in major monuments, state and private museums, archives and libraries, lecturers are selected from among important international historians, theoreticians, and librarians, and have included, in recent years Polomuseale, Itatti.  encourage interaction between our students and the Florentine cultural community.


Course Supplies: 

Digital camera is required to document your selection of art objects and places for your exhibition catalog.

Laptop computer - Notebooks & Sketchbooks - Whether you bring a laptop depends on how you wish to take notes and document your work.

Something to carry all necessary supplies including guidebook, maps, umbrella, hat, sunglasses, extra sweater or windbreaker & things purchased along the way.

Shoulder bags are convenient but vulnerable to "snatching".  Backpacks are more secure but more difficult to access.  Jackets with many pockets, like photographer's vests are useful yet have storage limitations.  The minimalist approach would be to carry a foldable bag to carry items acquired along one's way.  Belt packs are very convenient.  Students should be aware of potential problems and make most appropriate choices.

Although there are good bookstores in Florence which sell English language books, it is advisable to take some basic books with you as they are less expensive and easier to find in the US.

Housing - Student apartments are provided by SACI.
A list Housing options are provided for students who choose not to stay at SACI apartments.

E.T. Economy Touring sas.
Via Magenta 31 Firenze (Italy)
Tel 011 39 055 211 114
Fax 011 39 055 757 029

Florence & Abroad
Via San Zanobi 58
phone/fax 011 39 055 490 143

Buckland & Abeti
Via Cavour 32
ph 011 39 055 284 828
fax 011 39 055 289 448  

ph 011 39 339 319 6028
fax 011 39 055 713 4040

Perlage Agency

Milligan & Milligan
Istituto Oblate Dell'Assunzione
Borgo Pinti 15
50121 Firenze
Tel 011 39 055 24 80 582
011 39 055 24 80 583Fax 022 30 055 23 46 291

Italian cuisine and wine, Tuscany’s in particular, is famous for its richness, diversity and taste.  As tempting as it may be to sample every and all forms of Italian cuisine, dining out is not always the most economical way to survive the semester.  Living with a group of students in an apartment equipped with a kitchen allows the opportunity to sample the fresh produce, breads, pastas and desserts in a more economical way.

Avoid tourist packaged restaurants and shops.  Consult Program coordinator for names and addresses of the fairest and highest quality establishments in Florence.

Currency Regulations - Italy has no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency imported.  However, everyone entering Italy should declare the amount he/she is carrying.  This procedure establishes for the Italian Customs Office that the currency came from abroad and that, therefore, the same amount or less may be re-exported. The US Customs Office does not allow amounts of more than $10,000 to be taken out of the country on one’s person.

Clothing & Personal Items Clothing 
Light packing is recommended-excess is a burden for the nomadic traveler. The climate in Florence. The interiors of Florentine stone buildings, especially churches, can feel damper cooler than the city outside.  Bring clothes that can be layered to respond to varying climatic conditions. Lightweight, waterproof, windbreaking fabrics which can be easily folded, stored away, washed and dried, are extremely useful. Florence is a fashion capital and high quality clothing can be purchased in Florence. Other waterproof items such as umbrella, jacket/raincoat(w/ zip-out lining to double as overcoat) & comfortable shoes are recommended. 

In June is generally mild and pleasant but gets progressively hot and humid as mid June arrives. Students will be doing a lot of walking in 3 week program. A good pair of sturdy, padded-sole shoes is recommended. Jogging shoes are fine but not useful or appropriate in all situations. Desert or hiking boots are appropriate if broken in before departure. 

Italian culture includes a heightened sense of individual appearance as a form of communication. Students should be aware of the "message(s)" interpreted misinterpreted by their form of dress. Clothing and actions should be well considered in this context. Such precautions tend to increase levels of respect and safety between Italian residents and visitors. Students should be aware of cultural differences and be respectful and careful, including Florentine and Italian gender politics. Dressy clothes are not necessary, neatness and cleanliness are guidelines for dining out and visits to institutions and especially churches. In churches, long pants and skirts and long sleeves are usually required. Simple sports-jackets, button-down shirts, tie or scarf are fine.  Italian style is comfortable but distinguished. Sunglasses are recommended as well as sweaters, robes, thick & thin socks for damp/cool apartment interiors.  

Florence tends to be humid, located in the Arno River   Closing windows and shades and keeping lights off to avoid insect infestation is recommended valley, it is also prone to flies and mosquitos.

Personal items - Although many of these items are easily acquired in Italy, time & money may be saved in bringing personal items from the U.S: 

Battery powered alarm clock
Toothbrush, comb, brush, razors
Travel sized toiletries
Personal toiletries [hygiene products, allergy relief products]
Batteries [spares]
Digital cameras & battery recharges
Electrical transformers & Current Converter [Italian current is 22OV] (try B&H or Radio Shack)
Plug adapter[available also in Florence] (try B&H or Radio Shack for these)
Hair dryer [w/ built-in converter]
Travel iron [w/built-in   converter]
Laundry Kit/Shoe cleaning kit
ipod - CD player/earphones

Money, Currency  & Communication                                                         

 Euro vs. Dollar

At the time of the writing of this document, the Euro is worth about $1.32  US citizens are getting 75% value on their dollar.  Budgeting travel, meals and lodging should be calculated this way.  Moreover, summer season prices are higher from June to August than the rest of the year in major Italian cities.

Carrying Money

Carrying an ATM debit card and removing cash directly from available machines in Euro may now be the most convenient and economical method of taking currency. 

DO NOT CARRY LARGE AMOUNTS OF CASH.  It is recommended that each student carry the amount of cash necessary for the trip to Florence and perhaps enough euros for the first day in Florence.  While traveling plan to carry enough cash to avoid changing money at airports or train stations, as the rate is obviously lower at a bank.


ATM or Bancomat machines are the most readily accessible way to extract funds from personal bank accounts based in the USA or elsewhere. 

No matter what ANYBODY says, it is NOT POSSIBLE to open your own bank account in Italy. You must be a permanent resident with documents to prove it.

Wire transfers from bank to bank should not take more than three days, but sometimes they have taken longer.  If you wish to do this, banks in Florence open a 8:30 a.m. and close at 1:30 p.m. . Class time coincides with these hours, making it difficult to get to the bank before 1:30 p.m.

DO NOT PLAN TO CASH: MONEY ORDERS / PERSONAL CHECKS / BANK CHECKS requiring signature identification.

 Credit Cards

Also an easy  method to get cash is to use a Mastercard or a Visa card with the bank name on it. 

The time difference between New York and Florence is:
Eastern Standard time + 6 hours = Italian Time

If a relative or friend wishes to call you, they should use IDD(International Directory Dialing):

US International Access Code     :011 (01 if person to person or Credit Card)

            Country Code / Italy       :39

            City Code / Rome          :055

            Telephone Number         :(7 or 8 digit number)

Your living accommodations may or may not include a telephone.


When in Florence you can plan to call the United States from a public telephone if you do not have access to a telephone where you live.  You might consider getting an ATT or other Telephone Credit Card which is useful in placing calls to the US.  You can buy 5 and 10 euro calling cards in Florence.

Public telephones accept plastic phone cards.

Students may also buy a European cell phone for the duration of the trip or longer in Florence.

T-Mobile phones are 3Lband or GSM types that can be used both in Italy & the USA.  Blackberries

Function, iphones are the most up to date of technologies.  Please consult these companies if you are interested in pursuing these options.  The Institute, School and Program are not responsible for any information or errors in these areas.

Internet - Hotels may have internet access, the convent does not.  Florence is a university town, and also has numerous conveniently located Internet and telephone centers that charge by the quarter, half and full hour.  Shop around to find the best bargain.

Mail -  Be aware that first class letters between the US and Italy take about ten days form sender to receiver.  There is a special rate for printed matter --- each package limited to 2 kilos(approx. 4-5 lbs.). if you plan to send packages home, the cost will be from $25 & up, will involve packing and will take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive in the US.  All packages are required to have a piombino (lead seal) which can be purchased at any cartoleria (stationary store).

Federal Express is not the prevailing carrier in Europe. Documents and Packages can be easily handled by DHL, the most widely used private express mail carrier in Italy.  Locations may be found via Internet.

Post Offices are located:

Near Borgo Pinti (convent) and across the Arno near the Ponte Vecchio.

Poste Italiane SPA is a semi privately run government agency.  Offices are conveniently located
throughout Florence and Italy.

(Florence Web site)