Florence: Living with History

September Course

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Damaris Crocker De Ruiter

Application Deadline:


The College’s September course in Florence provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to earn History credit by exploring Renaissance art, history, and culture in an intensive, three-week course.

    In September 2021, “Florence: Living with History” will be led by Larry Rothfield, Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature.

    Florence is a living museum of the Renaissance. Over three intense weeks, daily visits to monasteries, tombs, historic residences, and the most celebrated art collections on Earth bring to life the triumphs and tumults of an age of merchants and conquests, scholars and city states, alchemists and innovations, plagues and kings. Students stay and study within the historic center of a city at once so small one can stroll from the west gate to the east in thirty minutes, yet so influential through culture and commerce that its actions shaped the destinies of great empires from England and Spain to the Ottoman world. In-person visits to libraries and historic palaces unpack how historians work, and how the uniquely rich documentation surviving from Medieval and Renaissance Florence helps us understand not only Italy’s history, but the whole pre-modern world whose material, economic, and social history is visible in the meticulous records and copious visual images created by this unique merchant republic. In addition to studying historic events, art, and architecture, students also examine contemporary Italian culture from food to friction with the growing demands of tourism, and examine how people living in the modern city of Florence work to preserve and live in balance with an urban landscape so saturated with history that every house is a world heritage site, and frescoes peep from behind every shop window display.

    Apart from classroom work, the Florence program offers a series of excursions to sites of artistic and historic interest within and in the vicinity of Florence and the Tuscany region. Indeed, Florence itself plays a central role in the academic and cultural components of the program as detailed above and students will be expected to make full use of its cultural resources.

    Florence program students live together in shared, furnished apartments with full kitchens in the city center.

    Participants in the Florence program will take and receive credit for one History course (HIST 22907-99 Florence: Living with History, 100 units). This course is considered part of the students’ Autumn Quarter course load and is recorded as a course enrollment on their Autumn Quarter registration. For History majors or minors, the course will count as an elective. The use of the course credit in a program of study (major or minor) other than History must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective department. The course title, unit of credit, and grade is placed on the College transcript.

    Provided students enroll in no more than three (3) additional 100-unit courses in the Autumn Quarter after the Florence program, the tuition cost of the Florence course will be part of students’ regular College tuition for the quarter. Students participating in an Autumn Study Abroad program following the Florence September course will be permitted to use the Florence course as a fifth course with no tuition surcharge.

    In addition to Autumn tuition, students pay a Florence program fee and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and Florence program fee are paid via myUChicago in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in the program. Precise figures for the 2022–2023 academic year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Florence program fee: $3,700

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $275 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Florence is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Since participants remain fully registered in the College, they retain financial aid eligibility for Autumn Quarter tuition while participating in this course.

    The Florence program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the course is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite.

    Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program, please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Florence: Living with History program and the possibility of participating, please contact Damaris Crocker De Ruiter.