Students in the European Union Policy Studies graduate program live in Florence, Italy (when they are not traveling elsewhere in Europe). Florence is the perfect setting for scholarly pursuits. As the birthplace of Humanism and the cradle of the Renaissance, the city has long been associated with great human endeavors in the arts, letters, sciences, and politics. Dante, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, and others are indelibly linked to the city of Florence. Florence's historical role in culture and commerce--and its contemporary role as an academic hub--draw interest from all over the world and make it an ideal site for studying European politics, history, and society.
Although its historical and cultural contributions are immense, Florence retains the charm and atmosphere of a smaller city. It is quite manageable by foot and is serviced by an excellent public transportation system. In minutes, you can find yourself at the famous Ponte Vecchio, Il Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Santa Croce, and other historic buildings, structures, and piazzas that have remained largely unchanged since their medieval or Renaissance beginnings. A twenty-minute bus ride will take you to the hillside town of Fiesole, with its Etruscan roots and notable archaeological sites. A ten-minute hike from the River Arno will take you to the hilltop of Piazzale Michelangelo, which provides one of the best views of the city. The city also has a major airport and full rail service, making travel to other European cities convenient and affordable.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Steps away from the Pitti Palace and its Boboli gardens, JMU's Florence center is located adjacent to Piazza Santo Spirito. This typical Italian piazza is a hot spot for local artists, musicians, and international students. Daily farmer's markets and weekend antique markets are perfect places to find fresh produce and to meet local residents. On summer nights, the piazza is often full of music. Some of Florence's most authentic pizzerias, trattorias, and cafés are located in and around the piazza.
Piazza Santo Spirito is also home to one of Filippo Brunelleschi's famed architectural works, the Basilica di Santo Spirito. One street away from the piazza is Via Maggio, a historically significant street that runs directly to the Santa Trinita bridge and its magnificent views of the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Tuscan landscape.
EUPS students are provided with a wide range of resources to assist them in making the transition to life in Italy and to help them take advantage of Florence's many charms.
Palazzo Capponi in Via dei Michelozzi
JMU's European Union Policy Studies graduate program is based in the university’s beautifully restored 16th century Palazzo Capponi.
Palazzo Capponi is a building of considerable artistic and historical significance. It was once a residence of the noble Capponi family, whose coat of arms can still be seen above the building's entrance. In 1829, the building became the headquarters of a charitable instituiton founded by Count Girolamo dei Bardi, the Pio Istituto de' Bardi.
The palazzo runs the entire length of Via dei Michelozzi and is bordered by Via del Presto di San Martino to the west and Via Maggio to the east. Via Maggio is one of the most prestigious streets in Florence; in 1530, it witnessed the imperial procession of Charles V following his conquest of the city. Today, Via Maggio is the site of many of Florence's most well-known antique shops.
Palazzo Capponi contains JMU's classrooms, computer and printing facilities, administrative offices, and meeting rooms. The palazzo also serves as home to JMU's Semester in Florence program.