Summerfuel Summer Programs: Study Abroad Programs for High School Students

Florence and Venice

Join us for a study abroad experience in one of Europe’s most elegant and fashionable cities.

Scroll to learn more

June 29*-July 25, 2014
*Group flight departs NY on June 28
Rome Extension, July 25-28
Program Fee:
$8,295 + airfare
Completing grades 9-12
Want more information on
Summerfuel in Florence?

Join us for an extraordinary summer study abroad experience in one of Europe’s most elegant and fashionable cities. Florence is the spectacular city of the Renaissance, and synonymous with high culture and sophistication. Surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, the historic is everywhere you turn. From the street vendors gathering on the Ponte Vecchio to the wonders in the Ufizzi, and the hills of Chianti across the river, Florence is an exciting place to live and study, and you will quickly feel at home in this magnificent setting.

Over the last twelve years Summerfuel in Florence has established itself as the preeminent Italian cultural immersion program by offering a select group of high school students a unique hands on introduction to Italy’s art, culture, food and language. The program combines active, field-based learning, extracurricular activities and weekend excursions throughout Tuscany. A brilliant and unparalleled team of world-class artists, historians and university professors opens the eyes, ears and minds of our students to many aspects of Italian culture.

Program Schedule

  • June 28 • Group Flight Departs NY
  • June 29 • Welcome to Florence!
  • June 30 • First day of Classes
  • July 4 • Lucca
  • July 5 • Cinque Terre
  • July 6 • Siena
  • July 12 • Pisa & San Gimignano
  • July 13 • Florence Activity Day
  • July 19 • Viareggio
  • July 24 • Final Dinner & Dance
  • July 25 • Depart Florence
  • July 25-28 • Rome Extension

A Florentine Education

Discover a new interest in one of the most beautiful and culturally rich settings in the world. Let Florence be your classroom, as you experience the Italian language, food and culture in an engaging study abroad experience. Your Florentine education will develop through both your courses and through your day-to-day experience of this exceptional city.

Sample Courses

Summerfuel classes take place at Palazzi, a prestigious international university located in the heart of the city. Samples courses include Italian Language, Italian Cooking, Fashion Design, Art History, International Relations, Photography and Architecture.

Italian Adventures

Summerfuel’s daily activities are designed to help you fully experience cultural life in Florence, while enjoying a fun, relaxing summer with new friends. Under the guidance of our experienced staff you will participate in private tours of some of the city’s most important museums, galleries, palaces and more. Of course there will be ample free time to enhance your cultural immersion with independent exploration as well as sports, movies, concerts, food tastings, dancing and more.

Exploring Tuscany

Part of the fun of being in Italy is not just enjoying Florence, but exploring some of the magnificent countryside and coastline in Tuscany and beyond. Explore the medieval city of Siena, visit Pisa and its famous leaning tower and rent bicycles in Lucca. Enjoy the beach and hike the beautiful coastline of Cinque Terre, or sunbathe at the magnificent resort town of Viareggio.


I decided to study abroad with Summerfuel in Florence, Italy because I wanted to learn Italian and indulge myself in another culture."

Kaite C., Washington, DC

Student Life Intro
Life in a day

Every day in Florence is a combination of learning, exploration and fun

Student Life 01

Enjoying a typical Italian breakfast at Convitto della Calza

Student Life 02

All courses are offered through Palazzi, the prestigious Florence Association for International Education

Student Life 03

Play a pick-up game of soccer, sample some local cuisine, or visit one of Florence’s many cultural destinations

Student Life 04

Expand your knowledge of the Italian culture every afternoon

Student Life 05

Sample an array of Italian specialties, and enjoy our historic dining room

Student Life 06

Florence provides an exciting backdrop for a variety of evening activities

Your Summer Home

Your summer home in Florence is the historic Convitto della Calza, a beautiful 16th century palace in a privileged location in the sought after and trendy Oltrarno district of Florence. Oltrarno is a true Florentine neighborhood, far from the hordes of tourists and day-trippers, yet minutes away from the city’s historic center. From this comfortable base, you will set out to explore the great city of Florence and the province of Tuscany.


Students reside in double rooms, each with its own private bathroom. Sheets and towels are provided by the residence, and changed on a regular basis. Your Resident Advisor (RA) will live on your hall to create a community, provide support, plan activities and help you get the most out of your stay in Florence.


Convitta della Calza has 24-hour front desk supervision to monitor the entrance, sign in visitors, assist with lost keys and answer questions. Calza is a gated community, and Summerfuel students have exclusive access to their residence hall.


You’ll have full access to Calza’s facilities, including an outdoor courtyard and cloisters, a large library and multimedia room. Calza combines historic appeal with modern amenities; its many important frescoes and sculptures live side by side with state of the art audiovisual equipment, wireless Internet and air-conditioning.


Breakfast and dinner are served on-campus. Lunch is not provided to encourage you to explore Florence’s many restaurants, sandwich shops, and cafés.


Florence offers endless opportunities for cultural engagement and entertainment, all just a short walk away!

Uffizi Gallery

This museum houses the most important collection of Renaissance art in the world, including works by Leonardo, Raphael and Botticelli.

Ponte Vecchio

The first bridge built across the Arno still stands today, and is lined with shops selling jewelry and souvenirs.

Duomo & Campanile

Situated in the heart of Florence’s historic district, the Duomo, with Brunelleschi’s Cupola and the stunning bell tower, is the city’s most popular tourist attraction.

Giardino di Boboli

Florence’s most famous public park features manicured gardens, rolling hills, imposing foundations, and countless sculptures.

Piazza della Signoria

This Florentine square was once the center of the city’s political life, and is still home to the town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio.

Santa Croce

The burial place of many noted Italians, including Michelangelo and Machiavelli, Santa Croce is one of the largest and most ornate churches in all of Florence.

Piazzale Michelangelo

This famous square is popular with tourists for its stunning panoramic views of Florence and the surrounding countryside.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Second only to the Uffizi, this museum houses a remarkable collection of Italian art, including Michelangelo’s David.

San Lorenzo Markets

The streets surrounding San Lorenzo church serve as the locale for Florence’s most famous outdoor market, known the world over for its leather goods.

Academics 01

Mastering the art of the still life in Florence Sketch Book

Academics 02

Students compare notes in Italian language

Academics 03

Enjoying the sites on an architectural tour of the city

Academics 04

Discussing the European Union in International Relations

Academics 05

All Palazzi courses are eligible for college credit

Academics 06

Fashion Design students consult on a collection

Academics 07

Art History students prepare for a visit to the Uffizi Gallery

Academics 08

Italian Cooking students prepare a delicious meal

Academics 09

Coming in for a close-up in Digital Photography

Academics 10

Taking part in a true Italian Soccer Experience

Academics 11

A Summerfuel students shows off her work in Fashion Design

The interdisciplinary curriculum in Florence allows you to explore your interest in the arts, culture and language while taking advantage of the program’s unique setting. All classes are taught by a carefully selected team of faculty from Palazzi, the prestigious Florence Association for International Education. Students take two-courses during their time in Florence, which meet for two and a half hours, four days a week throughout the program.

The majority of classes at Palazzi are field-based, with students taking regular field trips to Florence’s many important art and cultural institutions. Florence will be your classroom as you learn about the city’s unique history and culture, perfect your photography skills, or sketch the stunning architecture. All courses are eligible for college credit for an additional fee of $500.

Morning Courses

Art History

This introductory art history course will take students through seven centuries of Italian and European art from the classical Greek and Roman world period up to and including the eighteenth century. Special emphasis will be given to Florentine and Italian art of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and to the 'golden age' of the Renaissance period. This course is aimed at students who have not taken a history of western art course before. Slide lectures will alternate with on-site teaching in Florence, including architectural walking tours and visits to museums, churches and palaces.

Florence Sketchbook

This course is designed to take full advantage of the student's unique experiences living and studying in the city of Florence. With on-site inspiration channeled into artistic creativity, students will draw on location at sites of historical significance and visual interest ranging from architectural masterpieces, landscape vistas and medieval streets to formal gardens, street markets and Renaissance fountains. Slide lectures will document the rich history of how Florence and its environs have attracted and inspired visiting artists for centuries. Students will develop individual sketchbooks with the aim of building up source material for future projects.

International Relations

This course introduces students to the theory, history, politics and institutions of the European Union, which plays an increasingly significant role both internationally and domestically for European countries. The following topics will receive the most attention: the European commission, the council, the European Parliament, judicial politics, the Single Market, common agricultural Policy, Economic and Monetary Union and Foreign and Security Policy. In the second part of the course particular focus will be given to 1) Italy as a member state of the EU and; 2) the relationship between the United States and the European Union (the so-called 'transatlantic relationship').

Italian Language

This course develops basic conversation, reading and writing skills. Equal focus will be given to grammatical structures, vocabulary and conversation skills. Students will develop a vocabulary that will enable them to engage in simple but useful everyday conversations, thus enhancing and supporting their Italian experience. After taking this course, students will be able to express themselves in the Present tense, Passato Prossimo and to use both nouns and adjectives in the correct form with reference to gender and number. Emphasis will be given to oral expression of practical vocabulary and newly acquired grammar structures. Two levels of Italian language will be offered, to accommodate beginner and intermediate students.

Afternoon Courses


This hands-on introduction to architecture is designed to get you out and about so you gain a real appreciation for the history and importance of many of Florence's architectural jewels. Our resident art historian Charlie Hall will lead you on fascinating walking tours and visits to The Medici Chapel, Museo dell' Opera del Duomo, S. Croce, Pazzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Pitti Palace as well as behind the scenes private visits to the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia.

Digital Photography

This introductory class introduces contemporary technologies for producing photographic images. Approaching the medium in its current complex and pluralistic state, students explore a variety of photographic concepts and techniques. This course also introduces seeing, thinking, and creating with a critical mind and eye in a foreign environment to provide understanding of the construction and manipulation of photographic form and meaning. Assignments, lectures, readings and excursions progressively build on each other to provide students with a comprehensive overview of both the history of the medium and its contemporary practice. Color correction, retouching, and compositing techniques are covered and complemented by further development of digital capture and printing techniques. A digital camera of 8 - 10 megapixels minimum with an optical zoom lens of at least 3X is required.

Fashion Design

This course is an introduction to creative design development and fashion design skills. Topics include: design processes of trend research, storyboard compiling, color story, fabric selection, draping design concepts, design innovation and the 2-D to 3-D development of creative ideas. There will be assigned projects in all of these areas. Students will also be introduced to the basics of fashion illustration. Students prepare for their fourth-semester design collections by exploring the roles of research, design development, and editing in the fashion design process. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge of key fashion categories, markets, and price points.

Italian Cooking

Although characterized by unique and distinctive features, Italian cuisine is still perceived as the result of many different regional culinary traditions that, although merged and diluted over centuries, still maintain their particular flavors and distinct ingredients. The course consists of lectures, workshops and tastings. Each class includes a hands-on cooking lesson, during which a new typical Tuscan recipe will be explored. The instructor explains the importance of the essential ingredients of Tuscan cuisine and then begins preparing recipes with students. Students gain the experience to repeat the recipes and create them on their own at home. The course objective is to make students aware of the regional roots of Italian cuisine through the exam and preparation of the most relevant dishes from Tuscany. Through the examination of products and the understanding of local cooking methods, students will be provided with a sound understanding of the preparation of Tuscan dishes.

The Italian Soccer Experience

Saul Steinberg famously observed that it is impossible to understand America without a profound knowledge of baseball. The same could be said for Italy and soccer. For many, 'calcio' and Italian society are inextricably intertwined and "the beautiful game" is never just a game. This course traces the history of Italian soccer and the personalities - players, trainers and managers - who have shaped the game. The technical aspects of Italian soccer - rules, tactics, strategies, psychology, and training - will be explored during the training hours. A field trip to the Coverciano museum of soccer and the world-renowned coaching school forms an integral part of the course.

Activities 01

Florence is home to countless museums and cultural institutions

Academics 02

Taking part in the annual Summerfuel gelato hop

Academics 03

A roof with a view in Florence’s historic district

Academics 04

Aspiring art historians on a visit to the Uffizi

Academics 05

Excursions include stunning beaches on the Italian Riviera

Academics 06

Exploring the Arno on a sunset boat tour

Academics 07

Students prepare for a tour of the Galleria Accademia

Academics 08

The spectacular Cinque Terre

Academics 09

Enjoying an afternoon stroll through the heart of Florence

Academics 10

An impromptu concert in the Palazzo Vecchio

Academics 11

Cooling off during a trip to Viareggio

Academics 12

Getting ready for another weekend of exploring Tuscany

Academics 13

Taking in the splendor of Rome’s Colosseum

Academics 14

Piazza hopping on the Rome Extension

Included Trips

Each weekend, you’ll travel to fantastic, historic sites to make sure you see the best Italy has to offer.


Take a bike tour of this stately city, which features a Roman ampitheater, ducal palace and botanical garden.

Cinque Terre

Hike the scenic path that connects these five picturesque villages on the Italian Riviera.


Experience the beauty and cultural heritage of one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe.


Enjoy a guided tour of this quintessentially Tuscan city, famous for its Leaning Tower and Romanesque cathedral.

San Gimignano

Explore the most popular Tuscan hill town, complete with impressive museums, historic churches and countless looming towers.


Bask in the sun on the pristine beaches of this famous Italian resort town.

Something Extra

Summerfuel provides the following optional trip at an extra cost. Space is limited, and registration takes place on a first-come, first-served basis.

Rome Extension: July 25–28, $995

Put the finishing touch on your summer in Italy with a four-day cultural visit to Rome. Experience the energy and history of Italy’s capital and visit such iconic sites as the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. From Vespas to the Vatican, exploring markets on cobblestoned streets and shopping on the Via Condotti to sketching on the Spanish Steps and sampling the many coffee bars and trattorias, you will have the opportunity to discover the true soul of this enchanting city.

Daily Activities

Summerfuel offers a wide range of activities each and every day on campus and around Florence.

Past favorites include

  • Food Tastings
  • Films, Concerts, Aperativo
  • Arno boat tour
  • Florence secret passages
  • Swimming
  • Soccer
  • Biking
  • Yoga
  • Bocce
  • Sunday Markets
  • Disco Nights
  • Karaoke
  • Talent Shows

Program Staff

Program Staff

At Summerfuel we are particularly proud of our extraordinary program directors, staff and faculty. We believe that strong, nurturing and experienced leadership sets the tone for a successful program. The senior staff consists of a Program Director, Residential Directorand Activities Director. The Program Director, Charlie Hall, has worked with Summerfuel since 2005, as serves as the director of the John Hall Pre-University Course in England and Italy during the academic year.

Resident Advisors

Resident Advisors (RAs)

RAs are an essential part of the Summerfuel experience and are hired solely to support and act as role models to our students. RAs are college upperclassmen or recent graduates with experience in residential life. They live on each floor, with one RA for every ten students. RAs will always be available to organize activities, provide tours around Florence, answer questions and make sure our students get the most out of their summer.

Safety and Supervision

Safety & Supervision

The safety, security, and overall well-being of our students is our top priority. We implement the following measures to ensure our students are well cared for and safe at all times.

  • 1 to 8 student to residential staff ratio
  • 24/7 front desk staff at both residences
  • Designated zone in which students can travel
  • Buddy system to ensure students never travel alone
  • 11pm daily curfew
  • Zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use