Gonzaga-in-FlorenceFor the Gonzaga-in-Florence student, Italy is much more than a boot-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean; it is truly the chance of a lifetime. In 1963, Gonzaga University, a Jesuit institution located in Spokane, Washington, developed a program in Florence, Italy, in the hopes of providing students an opportunity for cultural immersion in both Italian and European life.
Gonzaga chose Florence because of the city’s significance to the history of Italy and to European civilization as a whole. Capital of the region of Tuscany, Florence inherits the culture of the Etruscans, the mysterious forgotten people who were heirs to the glory of Greece long before the founding of Rome. Florence was founded by Roman veterans who were returning from the wars. More than any other city in Italy, Florence was the stalwart defender of civic liberty during the Renaissance. Her intensely loyal citizenry produced the people and ideas that served as models for a Europe in transition from the medieval to the modern. Florentine museums are flooded with paintings that transformed European taste in the fifteenth century. Her streets are lined with buildings that initiated modern architecture, and yet the city is far more than a museum piece. It is intensely and beautifully alive, and remains a center of modern art, fashion, and refinement today.
Florence is three hours by train to the region of Lombardy, the humming center of Italy’s economic miracle, and a stepping-off place for the ski slopes and lakes of the Alps. It is three hours to Venice, a city to which no photograph can do justice. It is two hours to Rome, the capital of both Italy and the Church, where ancient, medieval, and modern culture mixes and mingles on every street. Florence is four hours from Naples, Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius, the famed southern region of Italy that no traveler will want to miss.
The Gonzaga-in-Florence campus continually offers courses in subjects such as history, business, Italian culture, English, engineering, sociological studies and more. Class content among the different courses is rich and varied, but all courses are unified by the experience of Italy, past and present.