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 morning course, choose to learn Italian, create a digital photo portfolio, cook like an Italian chef or become next season’s Versace. Our afternoon Florence activity highlights enable you to discover the workplaces of famous artisans, visit the workshop of a leather designer and appreciate the role of food in Italian culture. 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. Enjoy a grand finale on the Amalfi Coast and Rome. When the four weeks are over, we promise that you will never want to leave!
Make pedestrian-friendly Florence your home for the summer
Exciting afternoon highlights throughout the city included in your tuition
Choose a morning course
Your beautiful and modern student residence is a short walk to all classes and features a rooftop pool and game room
Enjoy day trips to Pisa, Viareggio, San Gimignano, Siena, Fiesole 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
Explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii, swim in the grottos of Capri and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain during our Grand Finale week on the Amalfi Coast and in Rome
Courses are private and exclusive to Westcoast Connection students only.
Choose one morning course.
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL
This course uses photography to help you record your personal experiences while immersed in the local culture and way of living. Develop a better understanding of shutter speed, aperture as well as composition to improve your picture taking skills. Record your stay in Florence and create a journal using captions and other techniques to record your summer in Florence.
A DSLR or bridge camera with manual functions having at least a 12.0 megapixel sensor is required.
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. During practical cooking lessons, you are introduced to cooking methods, techniques and preparations utilized in Italian cuisine and learn how to use different ingredients to prepare Italian dishes.
A supplementary fee of $195 applies.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS & WORLD FINANCIAL MARKETS
Explore the dynamics of the world financial and business markets. You will be introduced to the Italian family business model in the local Florence community and its significance to the social and economic fabric of Italy in an increasingly global environment. The forming of the European Union, the Euro currency and current events challenging the markets will be covered.
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.
FLORENCE ARTIST WORKSHOP (DRAWING AND PAINTING)
This course offers you the chance to navigate the artistic process under the mentorship of teachers who will cover drawing, color theory and painting. You will find inspiration from the vibrant city around you, as well as from the previous artists who have made Florence the artistic center it is today.
Develop an understanding of the cultural revolution of the Renaissance. Through on-site visits, you will become familiar with the Romanesque and Gothic styles in which the first Renaissance painters, sculptors and architects had their roots and from which they were dramatically to diverge. The focus will be on Florentine artists including Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
This course is an introduction to the world of fashion design. It will show you the process and strategies of making a new collection. It includes trend research, color story, fabric selection, draping design concepts and innovation. You will create a collection of your own with illustrations, drawings and collages. This introduction class does not include sewing or actual garment creation.
THE ITALIAN MAFIA: CULTURE, HISTORY, AND POLITICS
Explore the fundamental aspects of the Italian mafia, including the relationship between the mafia and Italian politics, the history and contemporary issues and the social relationships within the organization. Learn about the differences between the Italian and American mafia and the mafia’s influence on Italian culture.
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN OF FLORENCE
This course introduces students to the analysis and interpretation of architecture and urban design as they learn to apply technical sketching methods and render architectural observational drawings. Students will also develop their understanding of the history of architecture and the visionaries who shaped the skyline of Florence.
Basic Italian Phrases Workshop
Learn basic phrases to help your daily interactions with the locals.
The Italian Gastronomy Experience
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.
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.
Climb the Duomo Tower
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!
Boat Ride on the Arno River
Enjoy a cruise down the Arno River and rediscover Florence seen from aboard your barchetto, a traditional Florentine boat.
Make Your Own Pasta Italian Dinner
We know how important pasta is in the Italian Diet; enjoy this hands-on workshop on how to make fresh egg pasta with various accompanying sauces. Students will work in groups to prepare the menu and dine on their creations at the end of the lesson.
Uffizi Museum Visit
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 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!
Florence Leather Demonstration and Market Visit
See products being made and a short lesson on leather quality. This visit is followed by free time to check out the leather market.
Explore the Boboli Gardens
The Boboli gardens are considered to be Florence’s best open-air museum. 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.
Galleria dell’Accademia Guided Tour
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 miss out admiring the many Florentine paintings from the 13th and 16th centuries.
Guided City Tour to Include:
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 predominantly designed in a Medieval style, today, you will find that traces of that are still evident.
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 David, Baccio Bandinello’s Hercules and Cacus and the Neptune Fountain.
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.
You’ll receive a complimentary access to the residence fitness facility featuring free weights, strength training and cardio machines. Enjoy amazing views of the city from your rooftop pool.
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.
Explore the medieval architecture in what is known as the Town of Fine Towers. Walk along the city walls and see the breathtaking scenic views of the surrounding hills and valley.
Visit this beautiful seaside city. Enjoy dinner at an outdoor local café for a traditional Tuscan meal as you take in the views of the sea.
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!
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!
All included in your tuition!
THE AMALFI COAST: SORRENTO, CAPRI & POSITANO
Swim in the grottos of Capri and tan on Positano’s Marina Grande beach, taking full advantage of its delicious cafés and restaurants, admiring the terracotta tiled roofs and enjoying the perfect lunch and resting spot.
Enjoy La Dolce Vita during your grand finale in Italy’s capital. Visit the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum. Whether discovering Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel or enjoying some pasta in Piazza Navona, you will visit all of the must-see places in the Eternal City.
The Forgotten City! Explore ancient ruins of Pompeii buried in volcanic ash when Vesuvius erupted 1,900 years ago. These excavated ruins offer a fascinating and unforgettable view of history.
This is not your typical dorm. It is modern hospitality in a historic Palazzo and will quickly become your home away from home! It is just a short walk from Florence’s most famous site, the Duomo, and is surrounded by cafés, boutiques and parks. Rooms are single occupancy and feature air conditioning, Wi-Fi, private bathrooms and personal work stations. Your residence features an incredible fitness facility, awesome rooftop pool, game room, laundry room and 24/7 front desk security.
Click here to be “WOWed” by our residence
After exploring the classic streets and canals of Venice, relax in the modern and comfortable Novotel Mestre Hotel.Visit Website
After a day of relaxation and exploration on the Island of Capri and Positano, find yourself swimming in the great outdoor pool, relaxing at hotel’s private beach, or resting comfortably in your room at the beautiful 4-star La Residenza Hotel. Our location is a short walk to all of the action in the heart of the city center.Visit Website
Best Western Blu Hotel Roma is surrounded by Rome’s famous monuments and landmarks, such as the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.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 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 your return from Rome, we offer a chaperoned flight to New York. For travelers from other areas, you may choose to join that flight and arrange transfers at suitable times from New York after the group has cleared customs and immigration in the USA; or you may fly from Rome to your home city and our leaders help you to check in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
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, 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.
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. Receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the program.
8:45 AM - Wake Up
9:15 AM - 10:15 AM - Breakfast
10:30 AM - 1:00 PM - Morning Course
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM - Lunch
3:00 PM - 5:30 PM – Exciting Afternoon Highlights
5:30 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 while living in the heart of Florence. You will get a true taste of the college experience while staying in a student residence, taking enriching 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 208 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 37 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 are eaten in the residence and at 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 or commute by local bus to all classes, activities and meals within Florence. On day and weekend excursions, as well as for the grand finale week in the Amalfi Coast and Rome, 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 do it yourself at the residence or 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!