Study and live this summer in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Florence, Italy. Filled with amazing art, world class restaurants and breathtaking scenery, Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. During your major course, choose to learn Italian, create a digital photo portfolio, cook like an Italian chef or become next season’s Versace. Our Cultural Workshops enable you to discover the workplaces of famous artisans, learn about designers in the Italian fashion industry and appreciate the role of food in Italian culture. Live like a Medici in our private residence in the best location in the city, just steps from the Duomo. Florence has changed very little from its inception; it is a small, largely pedestrian city, overflowing with culture, making it one of the preeminent destinations for study abroad. This program prepares you for the academic and personal challenges that come with entering college. When the three weeks are over, we promise that you will never want to leave!
Make pedestrian-friendly Florence your home for the summer
Eight unique morning cultural workshops throughout the city included in your tuition
Choose an enrichment or college credit course for your afternoon Major
Located in the heart of Florence, your residence is steps away from the city-center, Accademia and Duomo
Enjoy day trips to Pisa, Siena and Cinque Terre, as well as a weekend getaway to Venice!
Fashion, food and fun as you explore all that Florence has to offer with your new friends
ALL STUDENTS PARTICIPATE TOGETHER IN THE MORNING CULTURAL WORKSHOPS.
Workshops are private and exclusive to Westcoast Connection students.
FLORENCE GUIDED CITY TOUR
Tour the center of Florence with a historian to learn about sights including the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria.
INTRODUCTION TO ITALIAN GASTRONOMY
Visit the central food market and historic cafés and food vendors. With tastings of local products, gain an overview of the social and cultural aspects of typical Italian food such as extra virgin olive oil and prosciutto.
BASIC ITALIAN PHRASES
Learn basic phrases to help your daily interactions with the locals.
FASHION: MADE IN ITALY
On a walking tour of Via Tornabuoni, the high-end fashion area of Florence, journey through Italian fashion history, with an emphasis on Italian design and designers from the 1950s to the present: Gucci, Ferragamo, Cavalli and Tod’s. Visit the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PASTA IN THE ITALIAN DIET
Learn to make fresh egg pasta with various accompanying sauces during this hands-on workshop. Work in groups to prepare the menu and dine on your creations at the end of the lesson.
On a guided tour, explore the home to Michelangelo’s Statue of David and learn about this Renaissance masterpiece that 500 years later is arguably the world’s most renowned sculpture.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY: THE ROLE OF ITALIAN FAMILY BUSINESS
Visit the Oltrarno district and an artisan workshop to explore the role of artisanship and small family businesses in the Italian Economy.
THE ITALIAN SOCCER EXPERIENCE
Enjoy an introduction to ‘calcio’, its history, rules and the personalities – players, trainers and managers who have shaped the game. Visit the Museum of Soccer at Coverciano and the world-renowned coaching school. Show off your skills during an optional game of soccer at a local facility under the supervision of a FUA soccer coach.
CHOOSE ONE AFTERNOON MAJOR COURSE (EITHER COLLEGE CREDIT OR ENRICHMENT).
Florence University of the Arts (FUA)
All afternoon courses are offered by FUA, a consortium of higher education institutions. Classrooms are located throughout Florence’s city center in historical palaces equipped with updated technologies and equipment, including free Internet access.
COLLEGE CREDIT MAJOR COURSES
The following are college credit courses with Florence University of the Arts (FUA). If choosing one of these classes, participants are co-mingled with other students at FUA. Credit is conferred through the University of South Florida and is transferable to many colleges and universities. The decision to accept credits is ultimately made by the school you attend. A supplementary fee of $575 applies for each of these college credit courses.
INTRODUCTION TO ITALIAN LANGUAGE
Develop your conversational, reading and writing skills. An equal focus is given to grammatical structures, vocabulary and conversational skills. Vocabulary is intended to engage in simple, but useful, everyday conversations to enhance and support your Italian experience.
FLORENTINE ART WALKS
This introductory course is for students who have little or no background in the history of Western art. Before examining the beginnings of Renaissance art, which took hold in Florence in the early 15th century, you are given a broad overview of Greek and Roman art and architecture, which is fundamental to understanding the cultural revolution of the Renaissance. Emphasis is given to Florentine and Italian art of the 13th and 14th centuries and to the “Golden Age” of the Renaissance period. Classes include visits to museums, churches and palaces, as well as architectural walking tours.
INTRODUCTION TO CREATIVE ACCESSORY DESIGN
This course introduces you to the design and construction of straw accessories such as hats. 3D design principles and hat making techniques are studied and applied to wearable creations. Learn basic skills of millinery construction through the methods of patterned and blocked forms, how to manipulate straw and how to acquire an in-depth understanding of the material.
Students work on pottery and ceramic sculpture projects. Initial emphasis is on different clay handbuilding techniques. Students then progress to a variety of surface decoration techniques and different methods of firing and coloring. Lecture content provides essential information about the nature of clay and glazes and the history of Mediterranean ceramics. Students are introduced to local Tuscan artisan traditions and the work of contemporary ceramic artists during field learning activities.
ENRICHMENT MAJOR COURSES
Enrichment courses are private and exclusive to Westcoast Connection students only.
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL
Use the digital photographic method as a tool to create a visual diary as a record of your interaction with society and the self. Emphasis is on Florence and cultural understanding. The goal is to develop meaningful journals that function at both public and private levels. Visits and walks around Florence and its sites are an integral part of this course.
A DSLR or bridge camera with manual functions having at least a 12.0 megapixel sensor is required.
COOKING: THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF ITALY
For students with an interest in Italian cooking, classes are interactive and hands-on, and focus on the different aspects of regional food in Italy and the preparation of dishes that distinguish traditional Italian cuisine. Emphasis is on the history and how food relates to the local lifestyle and culture through introductory lectures. During practical cooking labs, you are introduced to cooking methods, techniques and preparations utilized in Italian cuisine and learn how to use different ingredients to prepare Italian dishes.
Gain an understanding of different types of businesses and the traits needed for success in a global business environment. Interpersonal and communication skills will be examined and students will build an understanding of the qualities which make up successful leadership and management. Students will also be introduced to the Italian family business model and its significance to the social and economic fabric of Italy in an increasingly global environment. Course content will be connected with site visits outside of the classroom exploring local businesses.
You’ll receive a complimentary membership to this facility. Enjoy free weights, strength training and cardio machines.
All included in your tuition!
FLORENCE EXCITING ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHTS
This magnificent Renaissance dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and its cathedral is named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore. The best way to see the dome, and all of Florence, is to climb to the top of the cupola. Get ready to climb the 463 steps to the top, with close views of the interior of the dome and Giorgio Vasari’s the Last Judgment fresco painting being featured along the way!
The Oltrarno district is located directly across the River Arno and features some of the region’s top sights. Within the Oltrarno district is the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens and the Brancacci Chapel. This area is also well-known for its popular museums and artwork. When in Oltrarno, you will find it hard to miss out on the plentiful Tuscan cuisine at many of the local eateries.
The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is known as an everlasting symbol of Florence. Considered to be one of the most famous bridges in the world, it is a Medieval stone three-arch bridge over the River Arno with shops built along it.
Medici Riccardi Palace
Visit the first Renaissance building to be constructed in Florence! The Medici family lived at Palazzo Medici until 1540 and the next residents to move in were the Riccardi family. In 1489, this is where 14-year-old Michelangelo came to live as a teenage artist under the mentorship of Lorenzo de Medici. If you love artwork, the palace itself is filled with iconic frescoes, sculptures and grandiose décor.
The Uffizi Gallery displays a variety of masterpieces, roughly in chronological order, along a U-shaped Renaissance building. The collections feature a series of Gothic and Renaissance works from artists such as Sandro Botticelli and Giotto. Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci are among the many artists who boast artwork in the Uffizi’s halls. Maybe this visit will inspire you to become the Uffizi’s next upcoming artist!
Piazza della Repubblica
In modern day Florence, this square comes alive with a variation of street artists and shows, especially during the evenings. It is home to many historical cafés, which have been important meeting spots for many of the city’s artists and writers in the past. Although at one point the plaza was predominately designed in a Medieval style, today, you will find that traces of that are still evident.
Florence Leather Market
The San Lorenzo Market is comprised of two separate markets, one with all things food and another section that features leather, clothing and many types of unique souvenirs. The hundreds of stalls that line the Central Market are filled with vendors selling pottery, clothing, notebooks, souvenirs and leather goods, such as bags, belts, wallets and jackets. From magnets to leather jackets, they have it all!
The Boboli gardens are considered to be Florence’s best open air museums. Neighboring the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens host centuries-old oak trees, sculptures and fountains. You may even notice that, in time, these gardens have inspired many royal European gardens, including Versailles.
This gallery is Florence’s second most visited museum, after the Uffizi Gallery. Within the gallery resides the original statue of Michelangelo’s famous David, which has become the most admired work of art in all of Florence’s museums. Also, don’t forget to admire the many Florentine paintings from the 13th and 16th centuries.
Piazza della Signoria
This plaza was actually home to Michelangelo’s David before it was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia. It has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century. Many notable sculptures adorn the plaza, such as a replica of Michelangelo’s Davis, Baccio Bandinello’s Hercules and Cacus and the Neptune Fountain.
Located just outside of Florence, the Tuscan village of Fiesole offers some of the most breathtaking views of Florence from the Fiesolean hills! See if you can spot the top of the Duomo! To this day, Fiesole still holds on to its ancient history with the remains of ancient walls and traditional architecture.
All included in your tuition!
Marvel at coastal views of unparalleled beauty. The “five lands” are made up of quaint fishing villages built into the clifftops overlooking the sea. Soak up the sun, eat some pesto or hike in the protected UNESCO National Park that joins one village to another.
Take pictures and be intrigued by the famous Leaning Tower.
Visit the enchanting city of Siena, known for its pedestrian-friendly streets, amazing shell-shaped Campo, red-brick lanes and the summer celebrations in the main square.
All included in your tuition!
Piazza San Marco
Also known as St. Mark’s Square, this is the principal public square of Venice. Over time, it has famously been called “the drawing room of Europe.” See why as you observe the unusual and stunning design of the Basilica San Marco that sits at the east end of the square. Look right next door to find the illustrious Doges’ Palace, the late headquarters of the Doges, the rulers of Florence.
Did you know that Doges’ Palace houses the largest oil painting in the world? As the original center of the Venetian Republic, this palace acted as the seat of the Venetian government, the home of secret police and the justice courts. Feel like Venetian royalty as you explore the Gothic architecture and elegant artwork.
Walk across the most famous of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal. Architect, Antonio da Ponte, competed against designers Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract, so you know it has to be impressive. As you pass through the three walkways, venture through the rows of small shops that sell jewelry, linens, Murano glass and other souvenir items.
Murano Glass Blowing
Although glass blowing used to be done in Venice until 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered all of the glass makers to relocate to Murano. Witness this traditional craft being done in real life by artisans who may have belonged to some of the same families that have passed this craft down for centuries. You will be seeing this well-known and internationally respected tradition come to life!
Perfectly located in the heart of Florence’s historic pedestrian center, these residences are nestled between the city’s two most famous sites: the Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s David) and the iconic Duomo. Step outside your residence doors and you will be able to enjoy all things quintessentially Florentine!
This is not a not typical dorm, it is a modern residence that quickly becomes your home away from home! Your residence is exclusive for Westcoast Connection’s use. It is located steps away from Florence’s most famous site, the Duomo, and is surrounded by cafés, boutiques and parks. Rooms have air conditioning, Wi-Fi and personal work desks. Your residence features a laundry room, common areas, full kitchen and work stations. The residence is a short walk to all classes, school facilities and all of the excitement that Florence has to offer.
After exploring the classic streets and canals of Venice, relax in the modern and comfortable Antony Palace Hotel.Visit Website
At Westcoast Connection nothing else comes first. From our extensive program planning department through our management team and our leaders, it is our single biggest priority! Safety procedures, equipment – we’ve got it covered. All Program Leaders and Directors are certified in First Aid and CPR. We are extremely proud of our safety record and welcome all questions you may have in this area. Please see more under Safety First.
Participants on this program have the option to fly overseas on our chaperoned group flight that leaves in the evening from the New York area to Florence. Our staff will be with you from the time you check in onward. For the many travelers from outside the New York area, you can choose to join the chaperoned flight and we are happy to assist you with arranging connecting flights at suitable times into New York; or if you prefer, you may meet us in Florence and we will help you coordinate your flight and times and greet you after you proceed through immigration and customs.
For the 21-day trip return flight from Florence, our leaders help you to check in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed. They then remain in Italy for the duration of the longer 28-day program and chaperone that group flight home. Depending on the number of students departing after 21 days, one staff may chaperone that flight as well.
Once you are on your program, you will have sensitive leaders that are caring, approachable and always there for you. Your Program Director and Program Leaders are people with incredible backgrounds including teachers, guitar players, IRONMAN triathletes, SCUBA divers, volunteers, and so much more.
Every staff member takes part in and must complete our extensive training weekends that review our philosophy and procedures to provide a well-supervised and fun-filled program.
Our Program Directors, the individuals responsible for overseeing each itinerary, take on the roles of teachers, coaches, camp counselors, mentors, concierges and hosts. They’ve been trained to provide individual attention, help you navigate your courses and pre-college life, and create an inclusive environment within the residence and each class. There’s a definite art to building dynamic groups, and we’ve worked hard to master it! We want you smiling on day one right through to a teary goodbye at your farewell banquet.
Our leaders are non-smokers. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Summer Leaders section.
Our Pre-College Enrichment programs are designed to give you a taste of the excitement and independence you will experience in college. Just like in college, you will be part of a large group of students, live in a residence, be assigned a roommate, and have your choice of classes. And like in college, you will enjoy a warm, family environment within your residence where you enjoy many opportunities to socialize with other students within your residence and classes. Our staff hiring and training emphasizes social safety and establishing an inclusive culture. We are extremely skilled at this. We take great care in crafting an environment that simulates and prepares you for life as a college student, both academically and socially.
The Florence University of the Arts was founded to promote and renew creative disciplines in a city renowned for its history-changing innovations. Each course is taught by an international faculty member with an academic structure based on lectures, workshops, seminars and/or labs that promote learning and creativity. Classrooms are located throughout Florence’s city center and are equipped with the most updated technologies, including free Internet access.
Course offerings cover a diverse range of academic disciplines and interests so you can explore your passion, whether it’s Italian language, business, photography or cooking to name a few. The courses are taught by university faculty. Some classes earn 3 college credits, which are transferable to many colleges and universities, while others are enrichment courses and include a Certificate of Completion at the end of the program
8:30 AM - Wake Up
9:00 AM - 9:30 AM - Breakfast
9:45 AM - 11:45 AM - Cultural Workshop
12:00 PM - 2:30PM - Lunch
3:00 PM - 5:30 PM - Major Course
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM - Student’s Choice (Sports, Gym, Staff-Planned Activity, City Exploring)
8:30 PM - 10:00 PM - Dinner
10:00 PM - 11:30 PM - Evening Activities (Group or Several Options)
11:30 PM - Curfew
Talk about an incredible summer. This program is the perfect balance of study, cultural immersion and touring highlights. You will have the unique opportunity to study at an internationally renowned university while living in the heart of Florence. You will get a true taste of the college experience while staying in a college residence, taking challenging university level courses, working out at the gym and exploring your local surroundings.
Getting a sneak peek at college life wouldn’t be complete without gaining some independence. Within structured daily schedules, our summer leaders provide guidance and supervision and are always available at designated meeting spots. This means that, together with your classmates, you’ll be able to navigate your way around the city, and explore neighboring sights, restaurants and cafes. Our tightly knit groups also come together for evening meals and activities, making it easy for our students to meet and build lasting friendships!
As you travel to new places and experience different cultures, your journey may challenge your ideas and preconceived notions. We recognize this and strive to provide an environment where you are free to question and learn. This is nurtured by our leaders’ open and non-judgmental guidance.
Our experience lends itself to trying new things and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. While living, working and learning together, you are afforded the chance to interact with very different communities. Everybody grows in their social acceptance of others. Your perception will change as your understanding of and empathy for others grows. Whereas prior to your travels, you may have held stereotypes for some communities, your new first-hand experience will enable you to see we often share more in common with others than we may have known.
There really is a difference in how different summer programs operate! Motivated students going away with qualified leaders is a given. But what sets us apart is the depth of our qualified personnel that allow us to perform with the greatest consistency at the highest level.
Your Program Director and Program Leaders are with you throughout your program. They have daily contact with one of our two 24-hour Communication Centers and are in regular contact with our Company Directors. Our Company Directors are the most seasoned veterans who each oversee specific programs providing support to program staff and to assist with any situations that may arise. Our Company Directors alternate between traveling to visit programs and being reached in the office. Program visits enable us to provide ongoing support and development to our Program Directors, allows program staff to have a sounding board for their own progress in reaching program goals, helps us to identify any challenging areas for improvement while it still has relevance to your summer rather than as a mention on your end-of-summer survey, and helps us to identify the future Directors from the current crop of all-star summer staff. These visits are by Company Directors along with our Regional Supervisors, who are former Program Directors with further experience out in the field. Collectively our planning, supervisory and management team is an incredible resource with over 420 summers of combined teen travel experience. This way we can lend a hand wherever and whenever a little extra effort is called for. Last year we had 205 scheduled supervisory program visits to make sure all was running well, provide ongoing support to our staff in the field, and have fun! This investment in depth of personnel is unrivaled in teen travel and is a critical element to achieving consistent, excellent program quality and surpassing client expectations!
Included in the trip tuition are all activities and entertainment described, breakfast & dinner daily, lunches as indicated on your specific program, gratuities, taxes, land transportation, accommodations, and fanatical customer service from our full-time team and summer Communication Centers. This can add up to tremendous value!
With 36 years of experience creating perfectly-planned summer programs, students will also take in the sights, impressive weekend and day trips, all included in the program tuition. Considering travel as education in itself, students get to immerse themselves in a new city and culture for an overall enriching experience. This study - travel balance is unique as, when not in class, our groups can be seen enjoying Florence and many of Italy’s most famous sights and simply having the summer of a lifetime!
A big part of your Pre-College Enrichment program’s success depends on how well you eat. We are proud of the fact that year after year we are complimented for our quality, quantity and choice of food! Breakfasts in Italy are eaten at local cafés around the residence or hotels. For dinners, there will be occasions when the whole group eats together at the same restaurant. When not dining as one group, we will divide into smaller groups with staff to sample quainter restaurants and a variety of cuisines. For lunches, you enjoy the choice of eating in smaller groups and choosing from local cafés and small restaurants. Food options are varied and plentiful; taste fresh pasta, mouthwatering pizza, delightful gelato, fresh fruits and vegetables and so much more. But don’t worry, they also have North American style options on the menu.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive personal experience in this area. International travel may present more challenges than domestic locations and we are happy to review your personal needs and help you select an appropriate itinerary.
Your central location makes it a short walk to all classes, activities and meals within Florence. On day and weekend excursions, you’ll ride in a chartered deluxe, air-conditioned motor coach with a professional driver or on occasion with our staff on Public transportation.
You only need to bring one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in our packing list as you will have the opportunity to do laundry at your convenience. You can drop off your laundry at a local wash and fold service and then pick it up clean, folded and ready to go.
While you’re out having the summer of your life, your parents should feel like they are in on the action as well. We post updates to our blog and Facebook page and e-mail photos approximately once a week so those at home can be in on the fun. Parents also have access to our dedicated office Program Monitors 24/7 for any questions and/or concerns. We’re as in touch as any program operator could possibly be via smartphones with e-mail and text. The goal is uncompromising safety and peace of mind, day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Participants may bring their personal cell phones.
In last summer’s surveys, 98% of responding teens and parents said they would recommend us to others. We must be doing something right!