Cover Photo Image


Florence, Rome, Italy

Program Description

“Michelangelo’s Italy” provides first-hand knowledge of the art and architecture of Italy through on-site visits to the archeological sites, monuments, and museums of Florence and Rome.
We begin our study by tracing Michelangelo’s origins in Florence, a city still devoted to its most famous son. Often referred to as the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is celebrated for its contributions to Western art, literature, philosophy, science, politics, and cuisine. We will traverse streets and piazzas once familiar to Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo, all of whom honed their artistic skills in the workshops of Florentine masters.
After a week in Florence, we will follow Michelangelo to the Eternal City, where he became deeply invested in the study of classical antiquity and managed the demands of multiple popes. Over the course of two weeks, we will consider the evolution of Roman art and architecture, beginning from its days as a small settlement on the banks of the Tiber River, one that became the seat of the Roman Republic and Empire, where Julius Caesar was both assassinated and deified. We will make our way through the Renaissance of the "divine" Michelangelo and his papal patrons. Our journey concludes with the Baroque glories and dramas of Bernini and Caravaggio as they redefine the conventions of painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Class meets each day on-site for 2 sessions (approx. 3.5 hours each), in the morning and afternoon. A small number of pre-departure, on-campus class meetings will be required during the Spring 2022 semester.

Students will gain a working knowledge of the history of Florence and Rome, their artists, and patrons. Above all, the program aims to provide a deeper understanding of the specificity of images and sites—that is, their materials, colors, textures, scale, size, proportions, and contexts. It also aims to instill a full sense of the importance of Florence and Rome for the understanding and interpretation of the centuries of Western art and architecture that followed, up until the present day.

Location Description

Location 1: Florence, Italy (1 week)
Florence has long been celebrated as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, home to artists, writers, and thinkers who had a profound influence on the Western tradition. Built around the banks of the Arno River, the small scale of the city allows for an unhurried exploration, encountering Florence’s rich cultural heritage at every turn. In a single piazza one finds the intersection of Italian genius across six centuries – the haute couture Italian powerhouse Salvatore Ferragamo faces off against the church of Santa Trinita, home to Ghirlandaio’s 15th-century frescoes for the Sassetti family. It’s only a few steps more to Ammannati’s Ponte Santa Trinita, destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt with stones raised from the Arno.
Program itinerary includes:
Cathedral & Brunelleschi’s Dome
Uffizi Gallery
Accademia Gallery – Michelangelo’s David
Palazzo Medici
Santa Maria Novella – Masaccio's Trinity
Given the small size of Florence, daily transportation will be on foot.
Location 2: Rome, Italy (2 weeks)

Often referred to as the Eternal City, Rome has been a site of continuous cultural development and change for several millennia. Though Rome is the largest city in Italy and a bustling center of modern life, evidence of its past can be found everywhere, woven into the fabric of Roman daily life. A visit to the Feltrinelli bookstore at Largo Argentina reveals ancient temple ruins now converted to a cat sanctuary, a stroll down the shaded Via Giulia meanders past Raphael's house, a gelato from Giolitti is best enjoyed while sitting on the low walls next to the Pantheon. This is our classroom. 
Program itinerary includes:
Roman Forum
Golden House of Nero (Domus Aurea)
St. Peter’s
Vatican Palace & Sistine Chapel
Villa Borghese

Daily transportation will utilize Rome’s extensive public bus lines. The subway, necessarily limited by Rome’s status as a sprawling archeological site, will be used on occasion. The cost of public transportation passes is included in the program fee.
Admission fees for all sites visited as a group are included in the program fee. 


Jessica Stewart | | Art, Design, and Art History


Accommodations will be provided through furnished apartments or hotels with 2-4 students per room. (One bed per student.) Housing will be centrally located, with easily accessible public transportation. Students will be able to take advantage of vibrant summer markets, as well as a wide array of open cafes, ice cream shops, and outdoor entertainment.

Students will be allocated a meal stipend, which will be distributed every 3-5 days. We will have two group meals (welcome and farewell dinners). 
Italian cuisine is among the most celebrated in the world, and summer markets are teeming with fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, and meats. Students will be able to explore an abundance of cafes, espresso bars, bakeries, gelaterias, and pizzerias. 

Additional Items to Consider

Travel to Italy:
A current passport is required. Italy has currently reopened to tourism, and the director and CGE will be following the situation for any COVID-related requirements for travel. Typically, daily flights are available from Dulles International airport in Washington, DC.
Mobile service:
US cellphone plans can be extended to Rome through the student’s carrier.
No knowledge of Italian is required for this program. Italian is the native language, but English is widely spoken and common on signs and menus.
All logistics, including these, will be fully discussed in group meetings leading up to the program. 

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to all majors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • List of academic references
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 


Program Closed

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HUM 250: Foundations of Western Culture: Ancient & Renaissance Italy (3 credits)

ARTH 205: Survey of World Art: Prehistoric to Renaissance (3 credits)

ARTH 327: Topics in Pre-Modern Art: The Cities of Rome & Florence (3 credits)

ARTH 489: Special Topics in Art History: Patrons and Curators: Building Italy's Greatest Collections (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


Back to Top