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Courses & Credits

The program curriculum includes one required course and three elective courses.

Elective courses — Choose three courses from among the following:

Recommended credit is 16 semester credits, or four semester credits for each course. Except for Italian Language, all courses are taught in English. There are no prerequisites for any of the courses.

  More information about credit distribution and grades

Course offerings are subject to change based on the number of students enrolled in each course.

Note: Some courses have maximum capacities. See the individual course listings for details.


Italian Language

Instructors: Linguaviva staff
Required course, 4 semester credits

Classes are taught in Italian at Linguaviva, an Italian language institute in Florence. Linguaviva has been honored with multiple Star Awards from Language Travel Magazine and has received the Excellence Award in numerous years from LanguageCourse S.L. Instruction emphasizes spoken colloquial Italian and is most intensive during the first four weeks so that students may quickly acquire conversational ability. Classes are taught completely in Italian. Students who have previously studied Italian will be placed in language classes appropriate to their levels of proficiency. The Linguaviva instructors are not just language teachers but also rich sources of information about Italian culture, and they help students solve the daily problems which Italians and foreigners share.

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Patrons and Artists in Renaissance Florence

Instructor: Josephine Rogers Mariotti, Program Director
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Course syllabus

Our conversation begins with the figure of Leon Battista Alberti, humanist, artist, and art theoretician who plays a pivotal role in the development of the arts in Florence and beyond. Sharing in Alberti’s marvel expressed in his fundamental treatise “On Painting”, we will review the birth of the “new style” of Florentine origin, intricately tied to the humanist movement underway since at least the beginning of the preceding century. Florence, in effect, plays a fundamental role in the formation and development of the Renaissance style in the arts. The patronage of the Medici in the figures of Cosimo il Vecchio, Piero his son, and contemporary corporate, religious, and private patrons intrinsic to this history will enter our conversation as we investigate their interests, aspirations, and interactions with the major protagonists of contemporary art production in its related stylistic transformation.

Salient episodes over approximately a century of history will be our portals to the understanding of this artistic development that culminates with the high Renaissance masters—Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raffaello—and their contemporaries. Following the expansion of the Florentine “new style” to other centers of Italy and Europe, Rome becomes a major focal point, especially regarding papal patronage and the Vatican cycles of Michelangelo and Raffaello. Once again, a Medici enters our discussions with Pope Leo X, son of Lorenzo il Magnifico, whose cultural interests intersect with the later works of Michelangelo, bringing us full circle back to Florence and the early Florentine mannerists, creators of an aesthetic ideal heavily influenced by Buonarroti that underlies the refined artistic culture of the Medicean Duchy in the 16th century.

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The Sight-Size Tradition: Drawing and Portraiture

Instructor: Staff of the Charles H. Cecil Studios
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Course syllabus

This Studio Art course will teach a historic technique for drawing from a live model, from casts of famous statues, and from the city itself. Live models will be used for full figure drawing and casts for portraiture. Classroom instruction will take place in the Charles H. Cecil Studios, the most historic Florentine atelier still in active use. At the end of the semester, there will be an exhibit of the student work and a final critique.

Note: The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

Due to the unique nature of the workshop environment, this course has a maximum capacity of 12 students. Early enrollment is recommended; preference for placement in the course will be based on date of enrollment and particular credit needs of students.

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Masters and Workshops

ACM offers two elective courses that place students in the workshops of modern-day Florentine masters—an art conservator’s studio and a gilder—where they learn and practice the techniques of these arts. Students spend six hours per week of training in the workshop under the guidance of the course instructor. These workshops are contingent on enrollments and carry an insurance fee. 

An Introduction to Methods and Techniques of Restoration

Instructor: Rossella Lari, Art Conservator
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Course syllabus

This course is an opportunity for students to integrate studies of contemporary Florentine art conservation, methods and techniques with the history behind the discipline. Since the infamous flood of Florence in 1966, the city has become a world leader in the field of art conservation and restoration. That tragic event brought to the wounded Renaissance capital experts from all over the world who joined together to save and restore the immense patrimony of art that had been destroyed, threatened and damaged by the catastrophe.

Students will have the opportunity to study with one of the most prominent art conservators of present-day Florence, Rossella Lari, flanking her in her activities and projects during an intensive on-site experience. Workshop practice will take place at the studio and other places of pertinent interest, including museums, churches and workshops of other restorers. Techniques of art production, restoration and diagnosis will be introduced by short film clips. This video support will serve as an introduction to the student’s first approach to the techniques of creation, maintenance and restoration of paintings. Students will be required to keep a restoration notebook which will serve in completing a final presentation that documents the technical and theoretical knowledge acquired during the course. In effect, the city’s museums and their holdings provide firsthand case studies for every aspect covered in the course material. 

Note: There is an additional fee for liability insurance (approximately $100).

Note: The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

Due to the unique nature of the workshop environment, this course has a maximum capacity of eight students. Early enrollment is recommended; preference for placement in the course will be based on date of enrollment and particular credit needs of students.

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An Introduction to Methods and Techniques of Gilding

Instructor: Carlo and Stefania Martelli, Gilder/Restorers 
Elective course, 4 semester credits

This course is an opportunity for students to study gilding and related decorative techniques, with an introduction to the restoration of gilded wooden objects following the official standards and techniques of the Italian Superintendence of Fine Arts. The course will augment students’ aesthetic appreciation of beauty and the artistic patrimony of Florence, as well as its conservation, specifically focusing on gilded wooden works of art and artifacts created by the Florentine artists and artisans over the course of centuries. Students will have the opportunity to study with Carlo and Stefania Martelli, cousins and heirs to a multi-generational workshop of restorer/gilders. Laboratory work in their studio will involve a series of interdisciplinary activities in theory, technique, and methodology. Students will examine works of art from a more technical point of view, with an understanding of the difficulties and challenges faced by the creators, through the investigation of the original creative process, as well as the methods and techniques appropriate for an eventual restoration. The course is based on practical experience of ancient techniques and materials. Theoretical emphasis will be largely technical in nature, but will include historical contextualization and related curiosities. This opportunity offers students a full immersion experience into Italian culture and art production, through the lens of the Florentine artisan tradition. Students will be required to keep a workshop journal and as a final project will create gilded objects of their own design using the theoretical and technical knowledge acquired during the course of the term. In effect, the city’s museums and their holdings provide first hand case studies for every aspect covered in the course material.

Note: There is an additional fee for liability insurance (approximately $100).

Note: The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

Due to the unique nature of the workshop environment, this course has a maximum capacity of eight students. Early enrollment is recommended; preference for placement in the course will be based on date of enrollment and particular credit needs of students.

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The Spirit of the Renaissance: In Search of Florentine Humanism

Instructor: Joseph Neisser (Grinnell College), Affiliated Scholar in fall 2018
Elective course (Fall 2018), 4 semester credits

Course Syllabus

It is a powerful idea that the Florentine Renaissance was animated by a spirit of the times, a zeitgeist that pushed Italian culture out of the medieval period and toward modernity. This spirit of the Renaissance is often called Humanism. But what was Renaissance Humanism? This course will investigate the culture of Florence in search of clues to this guiding question. How has the lens of humanism focused and shaped the understanding of Renaissance history, and where did this lens come from? How does the period look different when seen through another lens? Why would changing your “lenses” on the Renaissance also change your experience of contemporary Florence – the great museum city and site for study? We will explore ideas, works of art, and the city itself in an effort to discover and rediscover the meaning of humanism and its place in and the modern world.

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Avant-Garde Florence: Modernism and the Long 20th Century

Instructor: Joseph Neisser (Grinnell College), Affiliated Scholar in fall 2018
Elective course (Fall 2018), 4 semester credits

Course Syllabus

What are the relations between art, ideas, and history? How can we become critical and sensitive interpreters of culture, rather than mere spectators or consumers? How do ideas about humanity, modernity, and Florence itself influence the way Florence appears to visitors?

The focus of this course is Florentine Modernism as expressed in Futurismo Fiorentino, the Neoavanguardia, and subsequent Italian cinema. First, we look at the historical background: the Risorgimento and the capitol of Italy period in Florence, and the philosophical ideas of the time. We soon turn to the specifically Florentine avant-garde movement in the early 20th century, comparing it with other modernist expressions in Europe. We will explore literary journals, like La Voce, and inhabit cafés, such as Le Giubbe Rosse, that were central to the avant-garde culture and politics of the period. The emergence of fascism and the experience of the two world wars had profound effects on Italian culture, and one way we will study it is through its representation in the great neorealist and then high modern cinema of the post-war period. Finally, we turn the critical lens on the present and on ourselves. What traces of Modernist ideas still inform the experience of tourists and students in Florence today? What is the relation between, say, the café Le Giubbe Rosse that we can visit and the “same” café 100 years ago? What is the fate of the “real” Florence the “authentic” Tuscany?

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Seat of the Muses: From the Origins of Art Collecting to Modern Museology in Florence

Instructor: Dott.ssa Alessandra Nardi
Elective course (Fall 2019), 4 semester credits

Course syllabus coming soon

Museum Studies course

Museums are fascinating places that preserve, exhibit and interpret the natural and cultural heritage of humanity. The word "museum" has classical origins. In its Greek form, mouseion, it meant “seat of the Muses, the nine goddesses who preside over the arts and sciences” and designated a philosophical institution or place of contemplation. The role of museums in society has changed over centuries. In addition to preserving the world’s heritage, today museums play an increasing role in supporting the development of communities and fostering dialogue, curiosity, and self-reflection.

This course will introduce students to the history of museums and the field of museum studies. It will present some of the current and emerging issues that museums face in different areas such as management of the collections, museum education, and communication. Using the city of Florence as a case study, this course investigates the role of artists, collectors, art dealers, and philanthropists in the formation of the early public galleries. After discussing what a museum is today, we will explore the history of museums and collecting practices from the Renaissance curiosity cabinets to the present day. 

The second part of the course will focus on the contemporary museum, the evolution of its function, social change, and tourism. Particular attention will be given to the social, economic, political, and cultural contexts that determine museums and the main functions of museums—collection and care of objects, exhibits, interpretation, education, and governance.

In-class sessions will be alternated with on-site visits to various museums.

Based in Florence, one of the world’s most important museum centers, this course will enable students to approach museums from a series of critical perspectives and to gain an understanding of the challenges that museum professionals encounter.

Note: The offering of this course is contingent on a minimum course enrollment.

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Credit Distribution & Grades

Recommended credit is four semester credits for each course. Except for Italian Language, all courses are taught in English. There are no prerequisites for any of the courses.

The course credit you receive for the Florence program is determined according to policies at your college. Check with your advisor and college registrar in advance to find out how much credit you will receive and how it will be distributed, especially if you plan to use your courses in Florence to fulfill college or departmental requirements.

Grade reports

All students who complete an ACM off-campus study program receive a grade report which lists their courses, credits, and grades. Most colleges accept this grade report as an official academic document. If a college requires an official academic transcript, ACM can arrange to have an official transcript issued through Beloit College for a $350 processing fee. To request an official transcript, students must make a formal request through ACM at the time of acceptance.


The Beloit College Florence Program is registered with the Italian Ministry for Universities and Research and recognized as a private non-profit institution of higher education in Italy. Beloit College is a founding affiliate of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and a member of the American Association of College and University Programs in Italy (AACUPI). The Beloit College Florence Program is facilitated in the US by the ACM on behalf of Beloit College and the other ACM affiliates.