When I created “Cultural Programs for the Arts” in 2008, the idea was to meet the ever- increasing demand for on-going education and active tourism. So many of the people I have met and worked with in Florence have expressed the desire to experience the city and its art not as tourists- but as students. Students of all ages who wish to look at the history, art and architecture of one of the world’s most beautiful cities and understand its raison d’etre. Why did Florence produce what is arguably the greatest expression of artistic genius in history? What role did the Medici Family have in all of it? Who were the artists and architects who produced all this beauty and who were their patrons? These questions are still the focus of much of the scholarship regarding the Renaissance and of the art history courses I offer. But our programs allow participants to move beyond art history into the studio arts. These classes not only reveal the mechanics of creating art through painting and sculpture in various media, but also the meaning of creativity and expression.
However, “culture” means more than history and art; it means the language, food and traditions of a people. So our cultural programs aim to offer opportunities to explore these other themes in an interactive way. A language reflects the way a people think, and the Italian language is one of the world’s most beautiful. To study Italian, even over a short period of time, is to more fully understand the Italians. Food, of course is the very substance of a people, and our culinary courses aim to move our students beyond just the pleasure of consumption to the art of preparation. These classes take place in some of Florence’s best restaurants and are an opportunity for a true “hands on” experience in preparing Tuscan cuisine. For those who simply want to admire the cultivated natural beauty of Tuscany, our Villas and Gardens course offers the opportunity to visit and study some of the world’s most extraordinary gardens in their idyllic settings.
ROCKY RUGGIERO | Art Historian | Florence, Italy
Art Historian at Kent St. University, Boston College and Syracuse University in Florence
Advisory board member of Friends of Florence since 1998
History Channel Expert Witness:
Engineering an Empire: Da Vinci’s World, 2007
Museum Secrets: The Uffizi Gallery, 2013
PBS Nova: Cathedral Mystery, 2014