Florence, Italy Off-Campus Program

Contact Information

Faculty Coordinators
Jonathan Reich, jreich@calpoly.edu

Staff Coordinator
Arlene Gomez, agomez25@calpoly.edu, 001 (805) 756-1316

Web page:

CSU IP Programs web page: Italy: Architecture at the CSU Florence Center

Cal Poly International Center (CPIC) Programs web page: CSU IP Italy: Architecture at CSU Florence Center


CSU International Studies Program offers about 20 Cal Poly, SLO Architecture students the rare opportunity to live and study for a full academic year in Florence, Italy.

Italy is incomparable as the country in the "western world" most famous for its long tradition of innovation in art, architecture, urbanism, science, religion, politics, fashion, film, food, and "La dolce vita." Florence, known as the cradle of the Renaissance, is itself full of famous museums, buildings and urban spaces, and offers a centrally located and culturally rich urban center in which to live and from which to easily explore Italy and the rest of Europe.

The CSU IP program has been in Florence since 1966. The program occupies two floors of a nineteenth century palazzo located near Piazza Beccaria, on the edge of the historical center, about a 10-minute walk from the Brunelleschi’s Duomo and about a 3 minute walk from Sant'Ambrogio market. Studio spaces, lecture and seminar rooms, computer facilities and a library with more than 4000 volumes are provided.

The humanities-rich program includes about 30 Architecture students (20 from Cal Poly SLO & 10 from Cal Poly Pomona) plus another 70 students from throughout the 22 CSU campuses studying Classics, Art History, Studio Art, Social Sciences or Italian Language and Literature. The courses are taught in English by excellent Italian faculty, drawn from both the academic and professional world. Because this is a full academic year cultural immersion program, students have the opportunity and instructional support to learn Italian while they are there. The administrative staff is renowned for their knowledge and friendly helpful support for students.

Students typically rent apartments, either with California roommates, Italian roommates, or alone in the historic center of Florence within very easy walking distance to the school, markets, other shopping, museums, parks, and train stations. Opportunities to live with a Florentine family are available.

The total costs of the program are similar to the cost of studying for a year in San Luis Obispo plus the cost of travel to and from Italy and any additional travel in Europe.

Since 2004, the architecture students have participated each May in the week long "Coast2Coast" design workshop on coastal and urban design issues at the Università di Camerino, Facoltà di Architettura, in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. 

​The CSU Florence program is located at Via G. Leopardi 12, an easy walk from the center of the city and most of its major monuments and museums. Go to a Google Map of the site.

La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind is an entertaining book on life in Italy. Go to a NYTimes Review of the book.

CSU Florence Architecture Faculty

Paola Giaconia, architect, Fulbright Scholar, is in charge of organizing the Architecture design studios. For additional information go to:
Paola Giaconia Florence program web page

Marco Brizzi, PhD, architect, also teaches design and runs "iMage" which sponsors exhibits around the world including at this year's La Biennale di Venezia.
Marco Brizzi Florence program web page

Gianni Pettena is a world famous and accomplished scholar, critic, and architect.
Gianni Pettena web site

Achille Michelizzi, the newest faculty member, is a practicing architect in Firenze and has employed several past Cal Poly students studying at CSU Firenze.
Achille Michelizzi Architects web site


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