Florence: Living with History

(September Course)
Prof. Palmer lectures to students in the Basilica di San Lorenzo.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Xhesika Bardhi

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.

The September 2024 program will take place from Saturday, August 31, 2024 through Saturday, September 21, 2024. Participants will be required to commit to the full duration of the program in line with these dates.

    In September 2024, “Florence: Living with History” will be led by Ada Palmer, Associate Professor of Early Modern European History in the Department of History.

    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.

    Housing abroad can vary from year to year, and precise details will be confirmed during the pre-departure process. Florence program students have historically resided in shared apartments in a variety of neighborhoods throughout the city. It is important to recognize the cultural context of housing in Italy and understand that the size and location of housing may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Florence will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    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’ Summer Quarter course load and is recorded as a course enrollment on their Summer 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, units of credit, and grade are placed on the College transcript.

    Completion of a September course abroad will earn students 1 point toward Global Honors, the College’s recognition of exceptional global engagement. Visit the Chicago Language Center’s website for information on how to apply for Global Honors.

    Study abroad students pay regular Summer Quarter tuition at the one-course rate, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for Summer 2024 are listed below:

    Summer tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office for one course

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Florence program fee: $4,000

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • 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.

    Participants in summer College-sponsored programs are eligible for need-based financial aid, following the procedure described on the Summer Financial Aid page of the Financial Aid website. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our general Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    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 Xhesika Bardhi.