Florence is home to many expats: those who have longed
to live here, those who have found love and moved here, and those who have come
to Florence and
felt immediately at home here. Many people arrive here at a point in their
lives when they seek to redefine themselves: whether they were not completely
happy, were searching for something new, or were looking for love, it seems
that those who come to Florence
are reborn. Florence
will always be the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ for the art world, but it also
welcomes people of all walks of life who are seeking to follow their hearts.
Rocky Ruggiero has always lived
among Italians. He grew up in an Italian-American community in Providence, Rhode
Island. When he moved to Worcester,
Massachusetts, to study at Holy Cross College, he was unable to choose between
art history and medicine, so he studied both. But the opportunity to study in Florence for his junior
year tilted the scale: he ended up majoring in art history and taking a minor
in pre-med. After graduating, he attended Syracuse
University’s graduate program in Florence to study fine
art. He studied Renaissance art, his first love, as well as Italian
metaphysical art. Art history came very naturally to Rocky, who claimed, ‘It
didn’t seem like work; it was all pleasure.’
After completing his thesis, Rocky stayed on at Syracuse University as a teaching assistant for
two years. While living in Florence, he found
jobs at Kent State
College, Accademia Italiana as well as
a few other American universities in Florence,
where he continues to work today.
Although a degree in art history opens doors to many
professions, Rocky wanted to continue teaching. He loves sharing his knowledge
about art history and believes that one of his skills is making it interesting
for everyone. His favorite subjects are medieval and Renaissance art as well as
that of ancient Rome.
‘There’s no other place better in the world than this
city,’ Rocky said about studying art history in Florence. A course in medieval and
Renaissance art essentially encompasses the works of Giotto to those of Michelangelo.
Because, as Rocky stated, ‘The city is a classroom,’ art history in Florence could start in
the Baptistery to look at the Byzantine art, then Santa Croce and Santa Maria
Novella to examine the paintings from the fourteenth century. After studying renaissance
art in Florence students can then go to Rome to study high
Renaissance and baroque. Through his classroom lectures, Rocky prepares the students
for the visits to the city’s museums to see the actual works of art.
Although he spends much of his
time teaching students in programs at Florence’s
American universities, Rocky has also decided to share his knowledge of art
history with adults. Besides juggling numerous classes, he also organizes
specialized private tours for small groups of people who are interested in a
particular aspect of Florence’s
art history. In addition, he has recently developed cultural programs for the
arts (www.rockyruggiero.com), which
are one- to two-week courses akin to intensive study abroad programs for adults.
Students take Italian, art history, and studio art courses taught by university
instructors. Travel seminars are also in the works for those who want to learn
more about art history by visiting Venice, Florence and Rome.
Rocky also took part of the History
Channel’s series Engineering an Empire (http://www.history.com/marquee.do?marquee_id=51188)
and was in the ‘Da Vinci’s World’ episode. His passion for Florence’s wealth of
art and his love for sharing his knowledge are both gifts that he shares with
anyone, not only university students, who comes to the city.