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italy art tuscany summer abroad

Program Description

The Learning Tuscany program focuses on the art and architecture of Tuscany and central Italy. Students live and work at Santa Chiara, a restored convent that now hosts students from across the United States. The facility is located in the heart of Castiglion Fiorentino, a picturesque Tuscan town located along the main train line between Rome and Florence.

Students enroll in an art history course and a studio course taught by faculty from the UT Department of Art and Art History. These courses focus on art and experience. How do we, as contemporary viewers, experience art of the past? How can daily observations, whether through photography, drawing or painting, help inform and enrich this experience? Group discussions and visits to other cities, such as Florence, Siena, and Rome, serve to frame student experiences within a broader view of Italy. The integrated approach of the program balances carefully designed trips with individual and small group projects in order to explore the forces that shaped Italian cities and landscapes.

In Italian culture, life and art are inseparable. Countless examples illustrate this: the still-life quality of window displays in Florence, the artisanal care taken by a Sienese stoneworker replacing part of a medieval byway, the sculpted harmony of the Tuscan countryside. One cannot experience these essential qualities of Italian life in a classroom. Only with time and careful observation can we begin to absorb the richness and rhythm of life and art in Italy.


  • ARH 374 | Art and Architecture of Pilgrimage in Medieval and Renaissance Italy
  • ART 319T / ART 320K / ART 320L / ART 379T | Studio Art in Central Italy: Books, Zines and Collection as Gestures of Travel

    ARH 374 meets Global Cultures flag. ARH 374 and ART 320K meets core curriculum requirement (VAPA). Other courses meet major requirements within ART/ARH.

Faculty Directors

Ann Johns

ann johns

Dr. Ann Johns, a professor in the Department of Art and Art History and Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Professor, played a vital role in revamping this longstanding program. She has been the program’s lead faculty director and art history professor since 2008, teaching Art and the Spectator in Medieval and Renaissance Art, Gothic and Renaissance Art and Architecture in Central Italy, Art and Religion in Central Italy, and the Painter’s Practice in Medieval and Renaissance Art.

Dr. Johns received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.  Her research and teaching focuses on the Gothic/Renaissance art and architecture of Siena and the role of monasticism from the late medieval and early Renaissance periods.

Leslie Mutchler

leslie mutchler

Leslie Mutchler, a professor in the Department of Art and Art History and recipient of a College of Fine Arts Teaching Excellence Award, joins the program as the studio art professor. She will be teaching Books, Zines and Collection as Gestures of Travel, in which students will actively investigate Italy and the phenomenon of travel through intimate gestures in handmade books, zines and collected ephemera.

Professor Mutchlerʼs multi-disciplinary installations are experiments in faux-functionality and imperfect design. Utilizing the material language of our everyday, she engages with issues of hand(craft), labor, sustainability, and commodity.

As a graduate student at the Tyler School of Art, she lived and studied in Rome, Italy.

Program and Application Details

For full program details and information on how to apply, go to the Program Page.

Questions? Email: Ellen Aoki.

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