Studying in Sesto Fiorentino

Unique opportunities for foreign students

Ryan Panzer
March 25, 2010

In search of an experience rich in history and culture, thousands of American students come to Florence each semester. While they study just outside of Florence, students from the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin living at the Villa Corsi-Salviati have a variety of options to integrate with the community of Sesto Fiorentino. Here, the richness of the past is inseparable from the experiences of the present.


Exactly six miles from Florence, the Villa Corsi-Salviati was built by the Corsi family in the early 1500s. Though the building and its surrounding gardens have changed slightly throughout the years, they remain an excellent example of a late-Renaissance suburban retreat. Throughout the corridors lined with sixteenth-century paintings and within the masterfully tended late-Renaissance garden, the villa retains its original atmosphere of serenity and tranquility. Today, this same atmosphere creates a unique academic setting for some 40 students each semester.


Living in a place of such beauty and historical significance might make one reluctant to leave the grounds. However, the academic programs at the Villa Corsi-Salviati are focused on cultural immersion, community dialogue and outreach. Throughout the week, students venture beyond the walls and into the community of Sesto Fiorentino to exchange experiences with locals, often through internships in education, community social service, museum work and journalism.


Of the numerous internships available, the most popular are teaching positions at local schools. The students teach English at elementary or middle schools in Sesto on a weekly basis. While their Italian students have the opportunity to converse in English with a native speaker, the university students at the villa have a unique opportunity to learn about Italian culture and language. Their daily hour of discussion becomes a staple in the curriculum of the participating schools.


Locals in Sesto can improve their English skills through a well-established conversation partner program with students at Villa Corsi-Salviati. Students from the villa are paired with community members for one-hour sessions, 30 minutes focused on learning English and 30 minutes on Italian. Similarly, ties with Florence's British Institute enable students to participate in one-hour group sessions with Italians who want to learn the English language. Though the aim of most of these programs is language acquisition, these experiences create ties that extend far beyond the walls of the Villa and straight into the heart of Italy.


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